Re: The Main Problem

Fred Kemp (
Tue, 24 Oct 1995 09:40:19 -0500

Couldn't agree more, Connie. All of us are forced by the exigencies of our
job to perform much less effectively than we can idealize, and me perhaps
more than most. The problem lies in those who have rationalized their
formalism to the extent that they can no longer idealize or even recognize
something more to writing than the display of fixed behaviors. I am not an
expressivist; I do not support the 'brain dump' school of writing. The
discipline that we need in writing, I think, can be acquired through
practice and cannot be acquired though the application of conscious
prescriptions, and whatever the pressures upon us and whatever we can or
can't do because of limitations beyond our control, we can at least keep
such goals foremost, as it seems in your message you have. What causes me
to 'vent,' as John puts it, is a local school situation which has raised
the celebration of formalism to absurd levels, in which (I kid you not) the
honors AP program brags in writing that all formal essays will be
five-paragraph essays with the universally recognized characteristics of


>So, Fred, there are at least some of us--probably many of us--who agree with
>you and try our damnedest to read, think, and write--to do what we ask of our
>students. Sometimes we succeed; othertimes, we're just treading water, and
>occasionally go under.
>Connie Ostrowski
> (alma mater, not employer)