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 […]
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 […]
[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 […]
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.
A teacher must be selfish. While her classroom must be something other than her private laboratory, it must also be her private laboratory. In fact, her classroom cannot be something other than her private laboratory – something dynamic and good other than her private laboratory, I mean – unless it is also her private laboratory. […]
I teach high school English to hang around writing. Like most people, I learn best when I teach, and I hope to learn writing by teaching it. It has always worked for me with the other strands in our English curriculum. Teaching grammar, for instance, has helped me to learn a lot of grammar I […]
An irate parent called the school office this week. In her most recent newsletter, his daughter’s teacher had ended a sentence with a preposition. He told the office he was going to take the matter up with the school board. The young teacher’s principal confirmed to her that she had erred. The teacher was pretty […]
I started class yesterday as I often do: I turned off the overhead lights to draw attention to the Promethean board, and I turned on the lamp up front for some house light. But the lamp didn’t work. Not being particularly handy, I asked the class for advice. “Maybe it’s not plugged in.” “Maybe the […]