You took driver’s ed to learn how do drive a car; you didn’t have to take a course in automobile mechanics to get your license. Am I right? So how about English grammar? They tried to teach me about adverb clauses, past participles, and indefinite pronouns. Just so I could write, I guess. But I […]
Still, the moral component persists in me. I guess it’s my hard-wired Calvinist-Strunkist upbringing. I still like to read a sourpuss like William Zinsser (On Writing Well, itself recently released in a thirtieth anniversary edition) just in case I’ve really backslidden. After reading that Times symposium this evening, I reread Strunk and White for the first time in five years. I’m happy to report that, unlike the last time I read the little book, I’ll have very little to unburden myself of in confession tomorrow.
Teaching grammar to children who don’t see themselves as writers ensures that they will neither see themselves as writers nor learn grammar. Teaching grammar as a strategy for writing will ensure that students who see themselves as writers will write pinched prose. Writing is a way of thinking, and pinched writers become pinched people. When […]
November and poetry. I named my only stuffed animal November; I don’t know why. I became aware of him when his eyes were scratched out and his rabbit ears were torn from their metal wires. I remember accepting on some level that I had done this before I was I, before I remembered anything, and […]
I don’t think the New York Times‘s “outrage” over preschool suspensions or the implementation of its suggestions found in today’s editorial will amount to much. I submitted this comment: I wonder if the inappropriate discipline of preschoolers is in part due to, and not counter to, what the editorial board describes as “the very mission […]
[This article appeared first in The Journal of the Virginia Writing Project‘s spring 2008 issue. I have made a few minor changes to it for publication here. My thanks to the Project for permission to republish.] Good courses teach me stuff I don’t know, but great courses are more like revelations of things I didn’t […]
Here’s a worthy little book to get you caught up on the sorry state of school essay instruction. I got The School Essay Manifesto: Reclaiming the Essay for Students and Teachers to find out some better ways to write first drafts before shaping them into literary analysis essays. Thomas Newkirk, the author, does describe three […]
On Modern bestsellers: a lack of 18th-century leisure and 19th-century boredom. Having dropped out of Little Dorrit after the first trimester, I am determined to see Bleak House through. I’ve been listening to a delightful audio recording. I woke up on an elliptical machine from a protracted daydream yesterday, though, and found that I had […]