I somehow failed to transfer this six-year-old post to my blog’s current WordPress iteration. A friend wrote me today about Texas’s new slavery-neutral history textbook, and it reminded me of my post’s subject – my class’s seventh-grade history textbook. I’ve lightly edited the post. As best I can tell, the lesson plans my post refer to have been removed from the Internet. The […]
[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 […]
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 […]
Last week, I failed to secure the conviction of the five-paragraph essay. I start with the excuses. I haven’t practiced law for over a decade now. The judge had no concept of the learned treatise exception to the hearsay rule. The jury found against us by the thinnest of margins: three to two. The majority […]
I started to see triadicity everywhere whether or not it was referred to as such. Triangles always worked. One instructor at the University of New Hampshire read a few paragraphs from Susin Nielsen’s young adult novel We Are All Made of Molecules. In it, Stewart describes his mother’s death as the collapse of an equilateral triangle in which his father, mother, and he makes up the triangle’s sides. It reminded me of the sad reliance on dualistic philosophy in the Common Core, in American politics, in many American churches’ hermeneutics, and in Constitutional construction. Like Stewart, I visualized a triangle with a missing base in order to cope with a tragedy.
[This article appeared first in The Journal of the Virginia Writing Project‘s winter 2008 issue. I have made a few minor changes to it for publication here. My thanks to the Project for permission to republish. I discuss the philosophical underpinnings of my objections to the prevalence of literary analysis essay assignments in high school […]
I did have one of my professors pick me out of his giant English lit survey to take to lunch one day freshman year. I remember his pleasant patter at the University Cafeteria, but I never remembered anything he said. Like Stoner with his professor and, later, Stoner’s students with theirs, I must have been staring at my hands for most of the meal.
Rubrics therefore perpetuate the idea that a text can be read only one way and is, consequently, subject to a single standard. The rubric’s poor example, therefore, helps to keep poor readers reading poorly. . . . Part of fostering the art of reading, and the art of writing with it, is “rejecting the preoccupation with some illusory unspecifiable absolute or ‘correct’ reading or ideal reader” (Rosenblatt 140), the notion of a false absolute that rubrics tend to perpetuate no matter how subjectively their cells are written.
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 […]
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 […]