Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Writing isn't Easy

We are particularly sympathetic today to all students who sit with their head in their hands, at a desk or in front of their computer, trying to get started on a writing assignment. Even when the assignment is quite specific -- comment on how the lead character changed over the course of the book; or give three examples of how the United States economy was different in 1929 and 2009; or discuss the role of greenhouse gasses in climate change -- it is hard for some students to get coherent words on paper.

Think about it. First, there is the need to understand the question. That requires remembering the material you have learned on the subject. Next, you need to order that material in your mind to begin formulating a response. You need to be concerned with the mechanics of writing: spelling, grammar, sentence structure. You have to be competent at keyboarding or letter formation, and these skills need to be sufficiently automatic so you don't use so much mental energy getting the words onto the paper that you have no more space on your mental desktop to consider how you will be answering the question.

And this is where the question is set out for you and the response has a limited number of correct or good answers. Things are even more difficult when a student needs to use her creative skills, such as when she is asked to write an essay on any subject of her choosing. Here, the student needs to use her higher thinking, her creativity, and possibly her memory, to come up with a topic. There is an aspect of social skills, in the choosing of a suitable topic. Even more sophisticated language skills are needed to create a piece of writing that is interesting to the reader.

And so, on a day when blogging is not going well, yet our faithful readers are eagerly awaiting our lastest word on schools, education, and helping their child, we beg your indulgence and remind you something that we have realized once again today -- that writing isn't easy.

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