Erik (eriktrips) wrote,

  • Mood:

tunnel lighting

two papers left to go. they aren't bad this time around but I can't figure out if we are actually teaching them anything or if they'd have been fine without us. this is the way composition teaching usually goes for me. I talk and talk and we give them exercises and we talk some more and make them do group work sometimes and in the end the good writers get good grades, the mediocre writers get mediocre grades, and the lousy writers--those who don't just disappear in the middle of the term--get lousy grades. what I've never really seen happen though is for a mediocre writer to turn into an especially good one. they get better, but I honestly do not know how to teach someone to write well.

it doesn't help that I think the only things you can do to improve your writing are to read everything you can get your hands on and write at every opportunity. that's it. there are no techniques that I know of that can actually make you a good writer.

of course part of what we are teaching them is how to read, and that I think we have made some progress on. it seems we have gotten them to slow down and look at what is on the page and think about their own assumptions when they judge a text. that at least is teachable and in some ways far more important than learning good writing. if I can get just one student to question the value of binary logic I feel I've done my job.

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