Part of an ongoing series detailing our Lost Tools of Writing adventures. Previous posts here.)
A thought I have been pondering:
These rudimentary lessons bring essay-writing down to its lowest common denominator, enabling students to learn a process. I hesitate to be happy about that. As I work on my own basic persuasive essay, I find that I want to go deeper and explore the issue more than the form allows.
As an autonomous adult student, I can break out of the basic rules in LTW in order to explore the issue, but I wonder about students enrolled in a class or being taught this at home by their parents. They will be brought back to simplicity if they want to include elements not yet covered. I have already done this once or twice with my own kids. The student may adhere to form while either struggling internally over what he wants to SAY or pacifying himself with his passing grade. When lessons are made simple, it is tempting to believe that getting 100 means you have everything you need, when in reality it is only the beginning of understanding. How do you teach simplified lessons without lowering the standard?
I have tried going from complex to simple. I originally taught the Essay to my oldest by having her rewrite great essays-- a method described by Benjamin Franklin in his Autobiography. Franklin successfully learned to write by doing this, but I am not sure our attempts were effective. Now I am going the opposite route, moving from simple to complex. It is easier, but the temptation to lower standards bothers me. I would love to hear from folks who have successfully used LTW and can explain how it actually raises both a student's standards and the quality of his writing.