Perhaps the main reason students struggle to write conversationally is they’ve been told since kindergarten that it’s not acceptable—even though it’s perfectly appropriate for the vast majority of the writing they’ll be doing throughout their lives.
In contemplating this piece by Mr. Jenkins, I place my emphasis on “nice article.” A great place to begin a much-needed dialogue about how we teach writing. Personally, however, I would take the argument much, much further. Let me see if I can articulate my own thoughts, because this is after all a classic rant I tend to unleash without provocation.
Whenever we discuss how we teach writing in Western education, the argument tends to lean toward a navel-gazing justification of “academic writing.” It’s often as if those who work in academia are unwilling to contemplate that other forms of writing exist, or at least, matter. Which is fine – we’re all allegedly entitled to our own perspective on the world as we experience it. This observation largely pertains to academics working in the humanities and sciences, excludes those in the fine arts, and wholeheartedly includes literary academics (or anyone who can name more than one school of criticism). An issue arises here, however – the standards for taught writing are devised in an environment patterned for (almost purely) academic achievement. Writing equals academic writing. [Read more…]