Writing Malpractice

"The most recent research shows that millennials in the U.S. workforce, once the best educated in the world, are now among the least well educated in the industrialized world," says Marc Tucker in Leading High-Performance Schools. Every time I read that, it bugs me. As a writing teacher of old, I can't help but wonder if that's because teaching writing appears so...backburner to many.


What do you think? Do you agree that K-16 writing instruction in America is education malpractice? Maybe you are not willing to call the way we teach writing and train teachers (or not) to teach writing education malpractice, but you must agree that we have not lived up to the call to “First, do no harm.”
The truth is, even before the pandemic, teaching writing became a pointless endeavor for some. Why? It didn't rate as a priority. After all, it's easier to focus on teaching discrete skills, provide student writing prompts on low interest topics than it is to put the time and effort in. It makes me wonder if people consider writing a waste of time, and that it's far better to put that effort into making videos. But kids are doing that on their own, aren't they? The truth is, what are we trying to teach in schools today? Could we boil it down to less? 

These days, I agree with Mike Schmoker that schools need to dump out everything except "proven, reliable methods with a record for getting both short- and long-term results" (source). You can find lots of ways approach writing instruction, but somehow, it's not happening, as you can see from info below:
...nearly 75% of the nation’s children and adolescents are not able to produce texts that are judged to meet grade-level expectations. 
Likewise, nearly one third of high school graduates are not ready for college-level composition courses, and...
three fourths of college faculty and employers rate students’ and employees’ writing as only fair or poor. 
Source: as cited in Troia, G. (2014). Evidence-based practices for writing instruction (Document No.IC-5). Retrieved from University of Florida, Collaboration for Effective Educator, Development, Accountability, and Reform Center website: http://ceedar.education.ufl.edu/tools/innovation-configuration/
It's not like we don't know how to teach writing....

Source: Young, R., & Ferguson, F. (2021) Effective writing teaching: what the research says [Available:https://writing4pleasuredotcom.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/effective-writing-teaching-what-the-research-says-writing-for-pleasure-centre-1.pdf]

Whether it's Nanci Atwell's writing workshop approach, or something similar, writing programs have an effect size of 1.75. Wow. Read the research at the site linked above, as well as explore the research at VisibleLearning MetaX database.

Maybe we're too busy trying to teach everything else and writing simply takes too long. Although some suggest "one hour" a day, the truth is, kids (with their teachers modeling) need to be writing every day, as much as possible, in as many ways as possible.


As a writing workshop teacher, I relied on Atwell's writing workshop approach. Of course, that experience is long past. But I know that if we were to bring this approach into classrooms, something magical and wonderful would happen because...

Writing makes the magic happen. Whether you have technology or not, it can work with paper and pencil/pen. I'd rather do writing workshop with a roomful of kids with a bunch of Chromebooks and Google Workspace for Education. But, even without the tech, you can do so much with Memo composition books and pens.

Why aren't we making it possible for students to get it done? Oh wait, some are. Way to go!


Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Comments

doug0077 said…
Perhaps, Miguel, teaching writing in this "post-literate" world should be treated with the same degree of concern as teaching one how to shoe horses or dial rotary phones? Writing is certainly MY preferred method of communication, but not for many younger people I know!

Doug

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