Re: Teaching writing (was FWD: Illiterate America)

Subject: Re: Teaching writing (was FWD: Illiterate America)
From: wburns -at- MICRON -dot- COM
Date: Tue, 5 Dec 1995 08:17:15 MDT

Theresa writes:

>It took much longer for me to learn to enjoy writing. The advent of word
>processing helped immensely! It also helped to realize that you tend to
>enjoy writing what you like to read. I read almost exclusively non-fiction;
>maybe my early teachers were pushing too much "creative" writing. If your
>sons are well-read, Win, maybe you can encourage them to try writing pieces
>of the same style that they like to read.

I agree with this suggestion. In my graduate studies, I read considerable
research suggesting that people who read for enjoyment tend to have better
writing skills and have a greater intuitive understanding of the language
than people who do not read for pleasure. According to much of the same
research, grammar exercises have far less influence. That's not to say that
grammar instruction doesn't help fine tune writing, and it doesn't mean that
some structure doesn't help children thrive as writers. No structure is
probably far more harmful to an art or practice as is too much structure.

I've read a lot of anecdotal evidence in this thread suggesting that good
writers have to know the "rules" of grammar (explicitly defined rules).
However, I know a lot of very good writers who know little of the formal rules
(my wife, for example) but have an excellent intuitive sense of the language.
I worked with a basic composition instructor who uses absolutely no
traditional grammar to teach remedial writers. His success rate is quite
impressive. Formal grammar might help some of us, but it's clearly not the
only good method.

(BTW, in some cases, grammar instruction is definitely the best method to
increase literacy--ESL instruction, for example.)

Bill Burns *
Assm. Technical Writer/Editor * LIBERTY, n. One of imagination's most
Micron Technology, Inc. * precious possessions.
Boise, ID *
WBURNS -at- MICRON -dot- COM * Ambrose Bierce

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