America's Writing and Teaching System

December 21, 2010
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Are we training students to become bad writers?

A 2005 study by Les Perelman, the writing director of MIT, stated that writing length on the SAT was more important then the actual essay. Perelman concluded that he could conclude the score of an essay just by knowing the amount of words used, even if the essay itself was full of factual errors. The average length of time spent reading the piece of writing is less than three minutes, further supporting Perelman’s conclusion.

Perelman argues that English teachers no longer focus on revision, depth, or accuracy, but are instead telling students to write according to a lengthy formula. This is further reinforced by the fact that creative writing is rarely used in elementary schools, which leaves children confused in lost when told to not write with a concrete topic.

Students are not as interested in writing anymore; partly due to the fact that many teachers are incapable of teaching the subject in an interesting and engaging manner, and partly due to the fact that students do not realize the importance of being able to write. Students need to know how important writing is in their future, and how writing effects their high school and university years, and ultimately their career. Our problem is most teachers don’t realize this, and thus are not able to teach it enthusiastically. This results in a vicious circle.

Without teachers teaching students how to write solo, no child will ever be able to write properly. America’s literature will be greatly reduced, quite possibly up to the point where the elements of both fiction and non-fiction will be completely ignored. Teachers need to focus more on actually teaching their students to write solo; rather then write according to a formula.

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