Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Writing Assignments

Susan Shapiro, in a New York Times opinion piece here tells us that she gets great writing from her colleagues in a Writing Workshop by telling them to write about their most humiliating experience.  Although I disagree with the main idea of her argument--that people love to read essays like that--I think the honesty that kind of essay would elicit would result in some pretty good writing.    

I'm not sure why the idea of it makes me feel squirmy.  Lots of readers thought the students' time would be better spent writing academic-type essays.  I don't agree with that but still . . . squirmy.  My comment on it:

In my many years of teaching, I found that students who did a great deal of personal writing were also much better academic writers.  They had a clearer voice, a more integral sense of organization, and a much more fluent, readable style.

I got some of the best writing from students with this assignment:  "Write about something you hated doing as a kid."

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