I have six words of advice for people who want to develop their writing talents: “Read a lot. Write a lot.”
American students aren’t good writers because they don’t write enough, asserts Andrew Rotherham in U.S. News. That’s because English teachers “see far too many students to be able to assign the quantity of writing students need to do to become skilled.”
So why are we surprised that a 2015 Education Trust analysis of middle school language arts work found that only 9 percent of assignments required writing multiple paragraphs? Almost one in five assignments Ed Trust looked at required no writing at all.
Often, students are asked to “peer review” classmates’ work. I don’t think the average middle or high school student is capable of providing useful feedback.
To give teachers time to help students improve their writing, we’d need smaller English classes — and larger classes for other subjects, writes Rotherham. That’s politically impossible.
Common Core won’t help, argues Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews. It encourages a “furniture-assembly approach” to writing, he writes.
Robert Pondiscio proposes persuading selective colleges to “stop asking for personal essays and require instead at least two graded research papers with students’ applications.”
More students would write research papers, which would prepare them to write college research papers.
In addition, teachers are in a better position than admissions officers to tell when a paper was written by Mom rather than the student.