26 September 2016


At times, student writing activities and assignments seem like more of a chore for instructors than the students (although I hear them complain too).

In a recent article by John Warner entitled Why can't my new employees write? for Inside Higher Ed, Warner writes about the importance of 'choice' in student writing. I've cut and paste the end of the article (spoiler alert) here but encourage you to read the whole piece available here:
Writing is balancing, making choices while considering audience, purpose, occasion. The rhetorical situation has been at the core of writing instruction forever, and yet much of the writing we ask developing writers to do keeps them from fully wrestling with those choices because we strap on the training wheels and never take them off. 
For me, the key to changing this is to make writing more engaging in every sense of the word, to require students to make meaning about subjects that are meaningful to them, to create stakes that go beyond assessments that mostly measure how good students are at passing an assessment.  
What we do should reflect what we value. If we value writers who can communicate, we should be doing things very differently. 

This post fits nicely with the previous post about making students into public intellectuals. If the act of assigning writing projects to 250 students or more frightens you (hence the title of this post), you have a choice too. Follow up on Rob Borofsky's Community Action Project which sees students from around North America writing Op Eds about contemporary issues in Anthropology.