A radical rethinking of the teaching of writing


Sarah Perry defends the plain style in the Times of London

Read this piece by Sarah Perry. author of The Essex Serpent, in the Times Literary Supplement. It’s the most eloquent defense of the plain English style in years: lovely, clear, concrete and impassioned.

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Hunter College instructor: “They understood concreteness more clearly because they were practicing on a smaller scale.”

3/10/2018   Dear Mr. Maguire, I used your College Writing Guide with my Advanced Grammar for ESL students, and my TOEFL preparation class last semester and saw great improvements in their writing.  More importantly, they saw their writing improve.   All students agreed that eliminating “be” verbs and using concrete nouns […]

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I’ll have a booth in Kansas City!

I’ll be at the CCCC convention in Kansas City, operating Booth 116 with the famous Kim Holcomb of Ohio University. If you are nearby, stop in! It’s March 15-17 at the KC Marriott Downtown. We’ll have handouts, including imprinted pens, and will conduct drawings for free copies of the guide. […]

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Dear John Langan: Here’s how paying attention to style improves thinking

I’ve been doing this method for 20 years, and it’s second nature to me now. I cannot imagine going back to the old ways any more, and frankly I have to listen hard to today’s teachers telling me what they do in order to remember what I used to do, […]

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RW enlarges student empathy for reader

Readable Writing only looks odd or seems odd. In fact, it’s quite close to what we teachers currently do. The difference is this: we recombine standard elements of writing instruction into a different sequence with a slightly different target goal. We wanted students to think all the time about the […]

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How is writing like juggling on a unicycle?

An open letter to Dr. Douglas Hesse at the University of Denver. In which I complain that the composition profession doesn’t understand writing that well. In which I assert that writing is much more like juggling while on a unicycle than the composition profession thinks. I sent this on 1/18/2018. […]

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Steven Pinker on style

Pinker gave an excellent talk at Oxford a few years back. He’s completely right about almost everything he says, and his analysis of how academic writing goes wrong is spot on. Take a look.

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Philosophy prof: “I’ve been reconsidering how I teach writing.”

Here are recent emails between me and a professor of philosophy I’ll call K.F. It’s an interesting discussion and I like KF’s seriousness about writing. I share this just for camaraderie’s sake. First me, then him, then me. JM: Thanks for ordering the book yesterday. It will be mailed to […]

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Speaking in Houston TX, attending CCCC in Kansas City

Next Feb 16 (2018) I’m the keynoter at a one-day conference on writing sponsored by Houston’s Community College system. It’s a Friday and it happens at the West Loop Campus. The program begins at 8 am and I will talk at 9 am and 10 am. The event is open […]

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Karen Pryor’s shaping laws

Karen Pryor, one of the world’s best animal trainers and dog trainers, inspired key parts of this course. Look at what she has to say about reinforcing new skills, in the scanned paragraph. Though she’s talking about animals, we can easily imagine freshman writing students in this paragraph. Read the […]

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John G. Maguire
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