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May 2, 2006

the irreplaceable "aha" moment

I was just reading Kara's essay on What's Wrong with Writing. The junior Communication majors in this writing class have been wrestling with me all semester to convince me of the fact that writing sucks. :-)

I'm waiting on Kara's confirmation (or anyone else's, for that matter) to verify that I finally understand something that has not been clear to me for the past two months. Kara wrote:

"The process of writing has come to be extremely time-consuming and restricting as rules of standard writing have expanded."

I've always read this to be a general criticism of writing, the writing process, not to mention reading, and the reading process. As such, I've understood it more as a misunderstanding of what writing has always been about - as if students are "just now" getting on board with "the way it has always been." But (!), what just clicked, is that their phenomenological experience and accountability as a writer has been expanded to include more things (that were always there) which many of them (as students) have not been required to address before (for whatever reasons - deliberate pedagogy, poor instruction, low expectations, etc.). In other words, it does feel to students as if "the rules" for "standard writing" have changed. They have! (Ok, so maybe I'm a little slow. Sometimes.)

The argument, (if we could call it such) between me (representing the junior writing requirements for the university) and the students in this course, has been about this fact: I would say "the rules for quality writing" have not changed at all, but the measure of acceptable quality is higher now than it has been in most of their previous experience as writers. This feels like a change in rules, yet I'd say it is a change in expectations. Students say (!) that changing the expectations is changing the rules!

Here is a real life example (that belongs in a textbook!) about why diction matters so much! :-) I love having this kind of brainstorm. Thanks Kara!

Posted by Steph at May 2, 2006 12:21 AM


Evidence from another student's quiz:

"This class structure has been different than a lot of my previous classes, because rather than stress the memorization of facts it has emphasized thinking outside the box and exploring reading and writing on a level that is higher than I'm used to."

Posted by: Steph [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 4, 2006 10:00 AM

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