HD: English Composition 101
Posted: 17 December 2015 06:13 AM   [ Ignore ]
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A linked article and my two cents.

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Posted: 17 December 2015 10:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Great article! And a great addition on your part, Dave.

I’m at the end of my professional career and I am thankful to all the teachers throughout my academic preparation and beyond for the ways they helped me. On my master’s level, I had a professor who simply made punctuation, spelling and grammar changes in red ink to which I paid close attention. He wouldn’t comment on those but simply left the red marks speak for themselves. If he made comments within the genre, he explained them on the margins ("you might say this more simply like this” , kind of thing). As far as I remember, he never graded me on any of those, but on the content alone. He’s in his early 80s now and by now has written more than 50 books, so I paid close attention.

I also never attempted to write in an academic register for what that’s worth. Always thought that a bit pretentious.

A final learning was my first article written for a popular journal in my field and the editor there did a marvelous job of editing and then sending it back to me for my approval (by snail mail I’m sure). I learned the fine art of the semi-colon from him.

I think that my first papers (before personal computers) must have been difficult reading and grading. Hard work on their part, I think. I should remember to be thankful for those college teachers and now professional editors like lh here for their patience.

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Posted: 17 December 2015 02:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Yes, the teaching of sentence construction or essay-writing has to be aimed at the level of each group, as all teachers know.  Students: Clarity and logic in writing should prevail. Don’t show off and don’t consciously adopt a style.  Your writing will form its own style. I just want to follow your train of thought.  Say what you’ve got to say, shut up and sign off. Keep it simple.  And it doesn’t do any harm to have a beginning, a middle and an end, either.

I think the essay-led approach unfortunately does encourage weaker students who find it harder to produce original ideas to obfuscate or write in what they perceive as the correct register.

edited: typo

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Posted: 17 December 2015 05:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I’m glad I don’t have to teach English composition.

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Posted: 17 December 2015 06:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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OP Tipping - 17 December 2015 05:53 PM

I’m glad I don’t have to teach English composition.

there’s an English as a second language site that I go to now and then to help folks with grammar, syntax and idioms. Sometimes questions come from native English speakers. I find it fun and works best when the folks responding to the questions are generous and almost all are. When I post, I try to be as generous as my teachers have been.

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Posted: 19 December 2015 06:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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OP Tipping - 17 December 2015 05:53 PM

I’m glad I don’t have to teach English composition.

I’m glad I don’t have to learn it! :) It’s been a while and the Lord knows how many bad habits I’ve fallen into over the course of a lifetime!

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