I got permission to share this quote from a Facebook friend, which I think sums up an incredibly important and neglected point related to education:
“Based on my experience in high school, university, and graduate school and now as I’m tutoring a refugee college student in English, no one ever teaches writing. They assign writing. They grade writing. But no one TEACHES writing. Writing instruction doesn’t exist. It’s just testing what we haven’t taught over and over again until the student either figures it out or gives up” (Becky Rouzer Northcutt).
A colleague of mine introduced me to a nice terminological distinction that captures this point: it is the difference between “teaching to write” and “writing to teach.” Most professors do the latter, assigning writing to help students learn content and evaluate whether they have understood it. That isn’t the same thing as instruction in how to write well. And indeed, sometimes the content-oriented focus can distract from teaching writing, whether because the faculty member doesn’t spend time on it or because the student feels that they must spend all their time on researching content. Often both issues are probably factors.
Is this true to your experience either as a student or as an educator, or perhaps both? What are some of your best experiences of learning to write, and having someone else facilitate that learning?
Of somewhat related interest elsewhere:
I wonder how many people are vague or misinformed about what the liberal arts are and why they are called that.
There was a challenge to universities to think about what our role is in a world in which students never graduate – i.e. in which lifelong learning isn’t merely an ideal but a necessity.