A RhetNet SnapShot Reply:


Gerry O'Connor goconnor@ccmail.sunysb.edu

Thirty years ago when I started teaching I taught all the rules. I modeled myself on the way I had been taught. It was horrible. My students learned the rules but their writing had no life. It was dull, boring and deadly. Then I read Ken Macrorie's "Telling Writing" and it changed my whole approach. Now I liked teaching writing, though I had never been formally trained (we didn't have rhet/comp degrees back then). Students began to enjoy writing more and their prose now came alive and we didn't all shuffle off to snoozeville.

Once I formally jettisoned the rules, they began to play a more important role in the need for precision. Now students were asking about the rules or where to find the reasons for constructing a phrase one way or the other. The need for correctness became internal and not imposed by some "higher authority."

Students and faculty always do better when they are doing something they enjoy. Students can enjoy when they feel encouraged to say something meaningful rather than following some correct formula. It also makes for one hell of a semester of reading some real good prose. Correctness comes later once they internalize the need to say exactly what it is they want to say.


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