Thursday, February 10, 2011

September 1976: Teachers' Problems with Teaching Writing

Archive 20: Articles and ideas published in the 20th century on the teaching of English that are still useful in the 21st century.

Question: Is the following list of conclusions about teachers and writing still applicable today (2011)?

Problems with teachers and Writing (1976):
(1) Writing is avoided and thus by implication is less important than literature or at the most a handmaid to it.

(2) Writing has been and is still used as a punishment.

(3) Topics suggested for writing are boring.

(4) Writing skills such as comparison, contrast, description, summary and analysis are accumulated but remain inert.

(5) Writing “creatively” is kept for special, and in most cases that means “better,” students or is assigned as a kind of verbal lollipop after the “real work.”

(6) Writing is theoretically important to most teachers but they do not write themselves and really do not have time [for teaching] it in the classroom.

Comment: I have not been in an English classroom since 1990. My window on English teaching is in the professional journals about teaching English that I read. Is writing still a problem for most teachers? Are these reasons still true? (Of course, much has changed about teaching writing with the introduction of the word processor.) What do my readers think about the problems of this generation of student writers. RayS.

Title: “Design in Art and Literature: Drawing Students into Writing.” Mary Ellen Foster. English Journal (September 1976), pp. 64-67.

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