Blogging and Other Forms of Writing

[Featured image from Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano @langwitches]

Everybody in education is retweeting a version of this tweet for the obvious reasons that the graphic is both engaging and right on target for those of us who want to promote purposeful writing. It’s kind of a forehead slapper to bloggers—yeah blogging is good writing and good for writing. But I think it’s being passed around because it is a mini workshop in a poster. It makes a strong case for using blogging as a primary form of writing in a college course, and I would say even in a composition course. You are probably sick of hearing me rant about the dismal academic essay we torture students to write, particularly because we focus so much on form that the learning we hope comes from writing takes a back seat, maybe not in our purpose as teachers, but clearly in the written results.

Silvia Tolisano, in the Langwitches blog where the graphic comes from, spells out the argument in her post, if you need that. I like the graphic representation of arguments and think you can figure this one out, but you can find the original image and full blog post here:

The other thoughtful piece about writing pedagogy making the rounds this week is Jesse Stommel’s “What is Good Writing?: A Meditation on Breaking Rules and Grammar Pedagogy.” It’s the kind of piece that makes me jealous for a job where I could have been more creative in my teaching and not locked into a department’s special rules and requirements for adjuncts, but let’s not dredge up that sorrow. Stommel’s concern is the policing of grammar and his argument complements the graphic in Tolisano’s post in its focus on higher goals and a “grammar pedagogy” that doesn’t stifle the argument or the imagination:

When the goal is reflective dialogue, critical thinking, content mastery, or even good writing, grammar is usually a red herring.

How to get us out of our grammar police uniform, then, and focus on experimentation and good writing? Encourage disobedience. Or at least turn a blind eye to it in the service of a better argument. I’ll admit that I frequently suggested to students that learning the rules first should come before breaking them, but I also stopped marking grammar long ago in papers in favor of the larger issues in composing. Especially since writing can always stand more revising, I couldn’t see the point. Stommel suggests teaching “the rules and how to break them simultaneously.” I like that simultaneity. I used to tell students trying to figure out the writer’s thesis in a professional essay, that real writers did not always have a thesis in the opening paragraph and were not bound by the strict rules of a composition class. I wonder what they thought of that? Finally, Stommel suggests that you learn writing by writing and this is where the piece dovetails with the post on blogging. You know how I feel about blogging.

A good week for discussions of writing. No, I never wanted to teach it, but I did, anyway, and these pieces of writing have me a little jazzed up about it.



Categories: blogging, pedagogy

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