Re: BAD classroom exercises

Subject: Re: BAD classroom exercises
From: Matt Ion <mion -at- NEXTLEVEL -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 09:04:27 PDT

On Sun, 10 Sep 1995 11:11:13 -0400 you wrote:

>nonexistent audiences send the wrong message to students.
Y'know, this quasi-politically-correct phrase is really starting to wear thin.
Stop for a minute and think about exactly what it means.

Right. Exactly nothing.

>Why not a user manual for the office or campus standard telephone instrument,
>which nowadays is likely to REQUIRE a manual? Why not instructions for
>using that badly designed photocopier that all of us encounter in a public
>area--instructions BRIEF enough to fit on a poster located above the copier?

I think the whole idea is to convey, in a very graphic manner, just how much
we take some things for granted when writing for ANY audience. We're
assuming, in the shoelaces exercise, that for all his/her great grasp on the
language, the person receiving the instructions has never had to tie shoelaces

Now assume you're writing a software manual. It's easy to assume the person
reading it has a basic working knowledge of, say, what a mouse is and how it's

Or does he? Maybe the user has never used a mouse or a GUI before. Suddenly,
you can't just start right in talking about "point here, click there".

>There are lots of REAL and potentially USEFUL assignments--assignments
>that'll give students a clear sense of serving a real audience for a real
>purpose. They need that.

These are two different scenarios we're talking about here, Steve. You're
talking about teaching people to write about something... we're talking about
teaching them how to write if their audience has never had any previous
exposure to that something.

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