Quick Fix For Public Education:  Focus on a Simpler Way to Teach Writing

How do we fix public education?   There are lots of things that need to be done, and most of them will take time.  But there is one quick fix schools can make right now, and it does not involve negotiations with unions or debates about the usefulness of charter schools:  We can teach our kids to write.  Because when we teach our kids to write, we teach them to “think on paper,” as writing guru William Zinsser observes.

If we want students to write well, we need to teach them to think critically, to assess the logic and rhetoric  in their own words and in the words of others.  When schools teach students how to think they take an important step toward bridging the gap between what employers want and what graduates can deliver.  More important, they remind students to assess the information that washes over them tsunami-like on a daily basis. 

There are volumes of  suggestions available for how to teach writing in the classroom.  But most of them are way too complicated. Teaching students how to think and write is not difficult. In a way, it is deceptively simple.  It requires that teachers regularly reinforce some fundamentals:  What’s your point?  How do you back it up?  Why do we need to know it?  Good readers and listeners ask these questions.  Good writers and speakers answer them.   From this perspective, teaching writing is one of the most important ways for schools fulfill a core requirement of their existence:  to prepare students to be responsible citizens, capable of  making reasoned judgements that will advance the way we live.

Please explore this site for ideas and resources to help teach students how to think and write in and out of the classroom.


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