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There seems to be widespread agreement that—when it comes to the writing skills of college students—we are in the midst of a crisis. The problem isn’t caused by a lack of rigor, or smartphones, or some generational character defect. It’s not the fault of teachers, either.
In reality, we’ve created a system that incentivizes teaching writing wrong.
High stakes standardized assessments, accountability regimes coming from on high, and a steady erosion of instructor and student autonomy has led us to a point where multiple generations of students have completed their educations while producing not writing, but “writing-related simulations.”
Writing is thinking, and to learn to write is to practice that thinking.
Why They Can’t Write: Killing the Five-Paragraph Essay and Other Necessities provides both a diagnosis for what ails us, and a blueprint for fixing our broken system to the benefit of students, teachers, parents, and society at large.
The Writer’s Practice: Building Confidence in Your Nonfiction Writing provides a series of experiences that allow anyone, regardless of level or expertise, to work on developing their writing practices: the attitudes, knowledge, skills, and habits of mind of a writer.
John is a frequent visitor to schools, university campuses, and other organizations where he speaks on a variety of topics for both students and education professionals, including his revolutionary approach to how we should be teaching writing, and how to develop your writing practice.