Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Teaching of Writing - Truth Exposed!

Practically every college professor complains about the dramatic decline in writing skills of college students. “If you teach them nothing else, please,” they implore, “teach them to write!”

Writing, the pedagogy of writing (Pedagogy is such a fun, high-brow word, isn’t it?) has been somewhat of a fixation of mine. You see, ever since I learned that my husband - who doesn’t have a writer’s heart – made straight A’s on all his college essays, while I – a passionate writer – didn’t enjoy such an experience, I’ve wondered about this thing called writing.

Though I’ve always considered myself a writer, most of my teachers and professors didn’t view the methodical eloquence, the originality and style of my literary expositions as worthy of the high marks my husband received. However, one teacher in particular did give me excellent scores in writing. She loved, even published, my writing. That was my creative writing teacher. Yes, the student anthology was filled with my poems, my prose, my stories, my thoughts. My college experience was highlighted by exciting writing opportunities, including the student newspaper and the monthly magazine.

Why was it that I excelled when I wrote in one sector, but that same excellence didn’t translate to my college essay exams and papers? I later learned that I didn’t understand something very foundational about writing. In fact, I believe many people have missed this key concept, which could be the secret to success in scholastic writing.

So what is this big secret; what is this mystery that in my case spelled doom for my college essay, yet got me published hither and thither? It is this: There are two separate subjects in school, both called writing! How confusing is that? In essence, there are two kinds of writing. They should be taught as separate subjects. They produce two totally different kinds of written works. Yes, two kinds of writing, and rarely will the twain meet.

Over the course of this week, I hope to explore this on my blog. I will explain the two kinds of writing and how we, as educators, might approach writing instruction with our students.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jeannie,

I'm really looking forward to the posts on writing. I'm NOT a writer. I don't enjoy any part of writing, and I never have. :) We love science and history. Writing seems to fall by the wayside, because I just don't enjoy it and don't really know how to teach it.

Our kids read a lot (several chapter books a week) (twins age 10.)

I realize my weakness, so I'm resolving to pick up the pace this next school year. But, I'm looking forward to what you have to say about it.

How do you get good writers when MOM JUST DOESN'T LIKE IT? :)

Science and history buffs in Michigan

Louise said...

Hi Jeannie,

I am really looking forward to your posts on writing. It is the one area I feel I have failed greatly with in our homeschooling. Thank you for all your posts, I enjoy them very much even though I never comment (sorry). We love your science books. They are the best.

Kind regards,

Kindred Blessings said...

Writing is what I will be focusing on with my daughter during the upcoming "school" year (LOL...we "school" year round!). She is a good writer already, but I feel that there are two types of writing as well. I want her to become as comfortable at writng essays and papers as she is in writng poetry and stories.

I am very interested on reading your future posts about writng. I am really looking forward to your suggestions too.

BevG said...

I too am curious as to what you are going to write about writing! I am guessing it is the difference between fiction and non-fiction???