Monday, March 24, 2014

Unless You Know You Don't Know How to Write, You Can't Learn How to Write

I know I have recently argued that colleges don't know how to teach people how to write, but when students come into college with the attitude that they have mastered writing, we have to admit that the odds are against teaching them much of anything.

You simply cannot teach anyone anything if they think they are already a master. I have experienced this problem myself as a college composition professor. Students think they know how to write, and they often cite their teachers' praise for their writing as evidence. The students who have done so demonstrate with their writing skills that our high school teachers have no earthly idea what good writing looks like. So the problems go deeper than college. But colleges don't improve the situation by then offering writing classes designed for advanced writers who need other advanced writers to help them fine-tune their work.

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