Sunday, March 25, 2012

Thoughts on Writing and New Ideas

There were recently a series of posts online that took a different look at the horrible writing that we as instructors sometimes (often) have to grade (and by extension, the horrible writing that we, as students, hopefully less than often, hand in). I especially appreciated the discussions about how writing style can go down the toilet when people are struggling to make sense of new ideas. I am appreciating it as a student, as I find myself writing in circles as I tussle with new ideas, theories, and applications. And I'm appreciating it as an instructor, as I know my students are encountering ideas and information completely foreign to many of them (physical anthropology; 'nuff said). Here are the links; I recommend each of them.

Tenured Radical, So You Think You Can Write During The Semester. Well, yes I did. And it's difficult to the point of not happening, at least not re: The Book. Though I have written other non-class stuff, including conference papers, an article, a book review, and two grant proposals. All of these are good, productive things, but they've also been procrastination about The Book. There is navel-gazing going on over this issue that will hopefully result in unjamming the jam. Back to TR! Though a lot of what she writes is about academics and squeezing in the writing, I saw several places where prof and student writing lives were not that different (last minute-ness; hopes for a social life; being unprepared...).

And two really great posts from Dr. Crazy about evaluating writing and why it's important (and where students need more direction, specifically: take what you learn here and apply it Over There...) and about writing quality when students run up against Unfamiliar Things:

Yes, English Majors Submit Crappy Papers, Too
I Know This Sounds Weird, but Thank You Dr. Crazy for the C-

And Flavia with a follow-up: Bad writing ≠ bad writer.

I think I'll talk with my students about some of this in class on Monday, and share with them some edits on one of my (not bad but still inked-up with edits) papers.

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