A radical rethinking of the teaching of writing

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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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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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Geraldine worries about “concrete nouns”

Some teachers worry that emphasizing concrete nouns will reduce your ability to say interesting things about ideas. Geraldine A., who teaches freshman comp in Boston, expressed that worry recently.  She wrote: “I appreciate the section encouraging use of concrete nouns, but I would want to be careful not to jeopardize […]

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“Their writing improved a lot this semester.” — Kim Holcomb, Ohio U.

Hi John, I’m happy to explain how we used your book in my four sections of freshman writing last year. Your idea that students need to learn how to write good sentences before they can write essays struck me as game-changing, and I immediately ordered The College Writing Guide. When […]

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If you want better writing from students, order the low-cost CWG now.

Readable Writing  gets great results—much improved student writing—in record time. Plus–it engages students, gets them completely involved, wakes them up, and lights up their eyes. Readable Writing hammers home a few key writing behaviors that make all the difference.  Its exercises build from the simple in Week 1 to quite […]

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Teaching writing vs. learning ballet

I had a cup of coffee and an hour’s conversation with an artistic friend, Leslie M., in Andover, Massachusetts yesterday. Leslie has been the head of the Andover Cultural  Council for a number of years. I figure her to be much more a diplomat than I am, so I asked […]

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15 wasted weeks

“Information does not translate directly into knowledge. It must first be processed, accessed, absorbed, comprehended, integrated and retained.” –Robert B. Cialdini:  Influence,Science and Practice, p 237. If you are a teacher you know that. You know that telling students about active verbs will not change their writing. In the ongoing […]

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Is this a business or a movement?

The lady from the entrepreneurship group was on the phone yesterday and she asked, “Have you shown your book to the English departments?” “No,” I said, “they’re not interested. The department heads are resigned to the idea that today’s kids are semi-literate and nothing much can be done about that. […]

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John G. Maguire
307 Market Street, #306
Lowell MA 01852
maguirejohn@comcast.net
978-761-4515