Re: Writing for a particular audience Was: When users want jargon (long, discursive)

Subject: Re: Writing for a particular audience Was: When users want jargon (long, discursive)
From: Dick Margulis <margulis -at- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 06 Jun 2002 06:35:23 -0400

Rachel and Emily,

I'm so glad that both of you had the experience of learning from a teacher who actually cared about teaching people to write.

Yes, the rules you were required to follow were arbitrary. But as both of you learned on your own, the lesson was not that there is only one suitable diction for all writing. The lesson was that your writing improves when you apply self-discipline, when you apply conscious thought to the way you string words together.

These are exactly the lessons that the advocates of whole language education reject, resulting in the wholesale release into the world of people who are incapable of constructing a cogent paragraph.

I hope your teachers are still working, still fighting the good fight.


Tsrouya Rachel-BRT022 wrote:

Sorry about the error in subject with my previous message ... I was saying:

It sounds like you learned a really great and important lesson. Without badgering you though, I would like to relate my version of highschool writing experiences. When I was in the 10th grade I had a teacher who focused solely on vocabulary and grammar. I don't recall having ever written a paper for her. I got As and I hated her 'cuz it was boring and useless in my opinion -- drills all the time.

In the 11th grade I had a teacher who focused on writing. Her rules were similar to those of your teacher, though being an educated African American who taught mostly lower middle class and poor black children, she never called it "Standard English". It was simply an English prep class for Honors students who were looking forward to going to college. She not only required present tense BUT SHE ALSO FORBADE "TO BE". I loved that teacher because she loved us. But I also went home crying on more than one occassion. How in the heck was I supposed to tell that Helen Keller was born on ... without "was"?????? My final grade in her class was A b/c it had been the biggest challenge ever.

Today, when I go back on those papers, I realize that she was right. Why? Being confined to such strenuous rules and "pretentious" concepts so to speak, forced me to find colorful language with which to express my thoughts.

Today I thank both teachers because it was all important and even though I don't write the way they forced me to every time, I know that it is b/c of them that I got good grades on my pretentious work at my pretentious university, without which I would not have my job and b/c no matter what I write, they confined me so much that it gave me the tools with which not to be confined and to actually more easily locate my audience and think more clearly about what kind of language really is appropriate.


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RE: Writing for a particular audience Was: When users want jargon (long, discursive): From: Tsrouya Rachel-BRT022

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