Amy’s blog made me do some thinkin’. As I scratch my head I'm pondering whether we should only focus on the main thing - Academic writing - or allow our students to experience other genres of writing as well. This question is especially interesting when considering the experience our high school students receive in writing. For the last few years, writing for the MAP test has been a strong focus. This means that students learn how to write a five-paragraph essay in one paragraph: topic sentence, 3-4 body sentences, conclusion sentence. What I noticed, and was amused yet saddened by, was that my students so had this form drilled into them that they couldn’t hardly produce anything else! They were stuck! They assumed that, because this was so important that posters were made and journals were written in this format, there was no other way to write anything. When asking them to expand their minds, they looked at me like a deer caught in headlights!
So moving to the collegiate level… should we shock our students by allowing them to write in memoir style that seems a little more relaxed and personal and then spring academic writing on them? When put this way, it seems like a bad idea. However, I don’t think it is. I think it’s important for students to see that there is not ONE type of writing, that academic writing is not the end all be all. I think it’s important to let students see what the wonderful world of writing has to offer. Perhaps if they discover that a particular form of writing isn’t so bad, maybe even enjoyable, that the other forms will then not seem so scary. Let’s head towards the mountains! Perhaps we’ll never make it there, but maybe we’ll find something better along the way.