Saturday, June 19, 2010

Writing Myths Debunked by “Taking Initiative on Writing”

In How to Write Fast Under Pressure, I spend a good amount space discussing the myths of writing at work. Too many people place writing on a pedestal reserved for linguistic geniuses. While I do believe that writing is complicated, doing it well at work is achievable by those who have to do it—otherwise, they would not have the jobs they have.

I am reminded that these myths start early on in Taking Initiative on Writing: A Guide for Instructional Leaders by rhetorical theory giant Anne Ruggles Gere along with Hannah A. Dickinson, Melinda J. McBee Orzulak, and Stephanie Moody. In a sample chapter, the authors dispel the following myths:
  • Writing instruction is the responsibility of English teachers alone.
  • Teaching writing means teaching grammar.
  • Good teachers of writing mark every error every time.
  • All responsibility for responding to student writing rests with the teacher.
  • The purpose of school writing is to test students on what they have learned.
  • Automatic essay scoring systems will soon replace human readers of student writing.
  • Students should learn everything about writing in elementary school.
  • Good writing means getting it right the first time.
  • Good writers work alone.
These myths lead later in life to others that paralyze the writer's creative process. Taking Initiative on Writing provides research-based resources for administrators to develop quality writing programs. Language arts teachers from first grade through college would benefit from checking it out.

Books by Philip Vassallo

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