Saturday, April 13, 2019

CURMUDGUCATION: Obstacles To Building Better Writers

CURMUDGUCATION: Obstacles To Building Better Writers

Obstacles To Building Better Writers

Writing well is one of the great uber-skills, a quality that will open an infinite number of doors in a student's life. Unfortunately, we are living through a golden age of bad writing instruction, driven by high stakes testing and shrunken, meager ideas about the very purpose of education.
In 39 years, I had some success in teaching students to be better writers. If you are a teacher intent on building better writers in your classroom, there are several positive steps to take, but we'll get back to those another day. The first step is to avoid several major obstacles that will thwart your progress and send you down paths that do not lead to your desired destination.
There Is Little Useful Research Base To Help You
These days we call for research and evidence to support instructional approaches in the classroom, but there is no meaningful research to speak of when it comes to writing. The available research is based primarily on the one question--does this technique raise test scores. That's generally problematic, but it's particularly problematic because there is no good standardized test of writing, because there is no good simple objective standardized measure of good writing. The closest we come are tests that run writing samples past experienced human readers (not tests that run writing samples past scorers who are briefly trained and given simple instructions to follow), and then we will still deal with some bias.
Look, we know there are no universally agreed-upon objective measures of writing. Pick any writer, no matter how revered and successful, from Shakespeare to Hemmingway, and I will find you experts who can explain why that beloved scribe is really a hack. The canon is full of writers who CONTINUE READING: CURMUDGUCATION: Obstacles To Building Better Writers

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