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Bad Ideas about Writing

Bad Ideas about Writing

Edited by: Cheryl E. Ball, Drew M. Loewe

These essays, written for an educated public by a diverse group of writing scholar-teachers, provide a snapshot of major myths about writing instruction in order to spark debate and encourage us all to rethink our pieties and preconceptions.

Some of these bad ideas are quite old, such as the archetype of the inspired genius author, the five-paragraph essay, or the abuse of adjunct writing teachers. Others are much newer, such as computerized essay scoring or gamification. Some ideas, such as the supposed demise of literacy brought on by texting, are newer bad ideas but are really instances of older bad ideas about literacy always being in a cycle of decline.

The same core questions—what is good writing, what makes a good writer, how should writing be assessed, and the like—persist across contexts, technologies, and eras, but ultimately what emerges from the initial sense of exasperation is a hope that we can leave these bad ideas behind and start to write and teach writing in more productive, inclusive, and useful ways.