Writing Process/Revision: We Need to do Better

“Instead of teaching finished writing, we should teach unfinished writing, and glory in its unfinishedness.” -Donald M. Murray (4)

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I never seem to get bored when it comes to reading our weekly articles. I love the adrenaline feeling when I learn something new. There were many nuggets throughout both articles that I had never heard before or seen the perspective of. Both quotes from the articles above stood out to me because of the honesty it carried. The first one, from Donald M. Murray, discusses the process of writing and how it affects the students’ writing. Murray states that we should treat writing as a process and not a product. What I found interesting was how he described the process we should teach:

  1. It is the process of discovery through language.
  2. It is the process of exploration of what we know and what we feel about what we know and what we feel about what we know through language.
  3. It is the process of using language to learn about our world, to evaluate what we learn about our world, to communicate what we learn about our world.

(Murray, 4)

I never heard someone say that we should appreciate the fact that a piece of writing is never truly finished. Usually, what students are taught is to hand in a draft, revise it, and then hand in a final draft. Some teachers allow two or three drafts. I personally have not that opportunity unless I was in one of my required writing courses during my undergraduate years. In high school, it was just that “process.” Write, revise, hand in “final.” I value lessons that allow teachers to not be so set in their ways and prideful that teachers can’t learn new ideas and tricks. That is exactly what Murray suggested in the first quote above; teach unfinished writing.

Murray also mentioned ten implications to the writing process:

  1. The text of the writing course is the student’s writing.
  2. The student finds his own subject.
  3. The student uses his own language.
  4. The student should have the opportunity to write all the drafts necessary for him or her to discover what he has to say on this particular subject.
  5. The student is encouraged to attempt any form of writing which may help him, or she discover and communicate what they have to say.
  6. Mechanics come last.
  7. There must be time for the writing process to take place and time for it to end.
  8. Papers are examined to see what other choices the writer might make.
  9. The students are individuals who must explore the writing process in their own way, some fast, some slow, whatever it takes for them, within the limits of the course deadlines, to find their own way to their own truth.
  10. There are no rules, no absolutes, just alternatives. What works one time may not another. All writing is experimental.

These implications don’t require much. According to Murray, they require, “a teacher who will respect and respond to his or her students, not for what they produced, but for what they may produce, if they are given an opportunity to see writing as a process, not a product” (Murray, 5). This statement is what the article is all about. As a future teacher and learner, I believe applying this method would show a significant shift in the classroom culture.

“Good writing disturbs: it creates dissonance. Students need to seek the dissonance of discovery, utilizing in their writing, as the experienced writers do, the very difference between writing and speech-the possibility of revision.” -Nancy Sommers (387)

Tieing Murray’s article to Nancy Sommer’s article, she discusses another important aspect of writing that I don’t hear much about either, which is inspiration. Just like the unfinished writing, inspiration was something that my teachers did not strive upon. I had to be analytical and sound a certain way to have the “okay” for my teachers to give me a passing grade. Sommers, however, explains how a student’s level of inspiration is what’s going to allow them to write to their best ability.

“For the students, the extent to which they revise is a function of their level of inspiration. In fact, they use the word inspiration to describe the ease or difficulty with which their essay is written, and the extent to which the essay needs to be revised. If students feel inspired if the writing comes easily and if they don’t get stuck on individual words or phrases, then they say that they cannot see any reason to revise. Because students do not see revision as an activity in which they modify and develop perspectives and ideas, they feel that if they know what they want to say, then there is little reason for making revisions” (Sommers, 382).

There needs to be more of a push for students to want to write, not a need. What I took away from these two articles are not only reviewing strategies but that we need to rethink what the purpose of the classroom is for. Is the classroom a place for sacrificing young minds to create a product that doesn’t benefit them? Or is a place to create and recreate a writing process for students to become experienced writers and become inspired?

“This process of discovery through language we call writing can be introduced to your classroom as you have a very simple understanding of that process, and as soon as you accept the full implications of teaching process, not product” (Murray, 4).

We need to do better…

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POTLUCK!: Reflection on Final Project

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I was really inspired from last week’s class from the idea created by my classmates of having a Potluck website for our final project. The theme that I had in mind to bring to the table was the idea of language. The two articles from my presentations during this semester have broadened my spectrum when it comes to the idea of what language really is and how it can affect students during their learning process. Starting off with my own experience of language and discover how my home dialect conflicted with academic writing. Second language speakers, native English speakers, ASL, all of these language barriers are brought to the classroom. Unfortunately, there are not many methods and teachings on how to deal with them. I would like to contribute the articles and findings of my own from this semester to the Potluck along with whatever my fellow grad classmates have in mind as well.