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Monday, January 2, 2012

Peter Elbow on writing

The best writing has voice: the life and rhythms of speech. Unless we actively train our students to speak onto paper, they will write the kind of dead, limp, nominalized prose we hate--or say we hate. We see the difference most clearly in extreme cases: experienced teachers learn that when they get a student who writes prose that is so tied in knots that it is impenetrable they need only ask the student to say what she was getting at and the student will almost invariably speak the thought in syntax which is perfectly clear and lively, even if sometimes inelegantly colloquial. If the student had known enough to "speak the thought onto paper" and then simply cleaned up the syntax, the writing would have been much better than her best "essay writing."

1 comment:

Jabiz said...

Wow so well said. Will share with my grade 10's next week. Thanks.