Re: student writing proficiency

Subject: Re: student writing proficiency
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2003 18:29:11 -0700

ASUE Tekwrytr wrote:

it is extremely difficult to teach strong writing skills to someone lacking the basic mindset that writing is important.

In my experience, the problem is not so much the mindset as the motivation. While most people in our culturd learn some literacy skills, on the whole, modern culture doesn't attach much importance to the skills. The majority of people don't learn to take any pleasure in either reading or writing.Moreover, those who teach or use these skills aren't generally highly regarded or rewarded. Even when they are popular or influential, writers receive much less than people in others; for example, Stephen King, one of the most successful writers of the last few decades , may have more money than any of us can ever expect to see, but, despite the impression he has made on popular culture, he's a spare change artist when compared to Bill Gates or Larry Ellison.

Under these circumstances, the average student isn't strongly motivated to learn strong writing skills.

I have very little respect for English instruction as a basis for writing skill, beyond the most simplistic.

I know what you mean - and I was an English instructor for seven years. But, often, English instruction is the last chance in people's education to develop their literacy. A few take advantage of the opportunity, but most don't. At times, I think that the most that a teacher can hope to do is present an opportunity to learn, or maybe inspire a few then encourage those who want to take advantage of the opportunity.

That's one of the reasons why, the long someone teaches, the more likely they are to gravitate towards advanced students. In many cases, it's not that they aren't interested in teaching - it's the fact that at post-graduate levels, the percentage of motivated students is higher. It may still be lower than a hyper-literate person would prefer, but it's less frustrating than teaching first year courses. The burnout rate at the lower levels is tremendous.

Bruce Byfield bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604.421.7177

"But the price that we would really pay,
I didn't see it then:
March until your feet get sore,
You never dance again."
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student writing proficiency: From: ASUE Tekwrytr

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