Teach Writing as a Process Not Product
by Donald M. Murray
Murray talks about the importance of teaching writing as process and not as product. I feel like this is extremely important to teach. Looking back at my experience as a student I am able to see how often students are pushed to deliver product and submit it by deadlines created by the instructors. Along the way, I’ve also experienced the exception to this where I can say that I’ve had professors that have taught me writing as process and not product. Those professors are not the majority of them though but I am glad they were along the way.
As Murray talked about what teachers do as they teach their students writing, he said “The product doesn’t improve, and so, blaming the students – who else? – we pass him along to the next teacher, who is trained, too often, the same way we were.” --- This statement makes me go back and reflect on the teachers I’ve had along the way. And I realized that the ones I have most respect for are the ones that taught me writing as process and not product. The ones that allowed me to draft as much as I needed to. The ones that allowed me to create my own deadlines while giving me enough direction in one on one conferences to complete my writing on time. The ones that talked to me about the writing process and helped me discover what my writing process was – one that changes.
As I read through Murray’s essay I found that I could relate to some of the implications that he listed as a writer; more to some than to others.
Implication No. 4 – “The student should have the opportunity to write all the drafts necessary for him to discover what he has to say on this particular subject.” This implication made me think about my own writing. I have no clear idea of how many drafts I go through when I am writing. The amount of drafts I go through also depends on what I’m writing about and what kind of writing I’m doing. For me, it is all about the connection I have with the piece I am creating.
Implication No. 9 – “The students are individuals who must explore the writing process in their own way, some fast, some slow...” While as students we aren’t always able to experience this, I feel like we tend to learn to adapt to our professors. Some may allow us to explore our writing process at our own pace while others will just hit us with deadlines and therefore we must just produce. This implication makes me think about the times when I’ve felt like I’ve had the luxury to explore in my own way. When this happens, I feel pleased that I am able to work within my personal writing process. But when I can’t do that, I feel like I have to quickly tell myself to push through that situation and just tell myself that I have to get that done no matter what. While I’m able to push myself and get my product done, I don’t always feel good about it. I end up handing in my paper on time and I even get a good grade on it. But, I often have that feeling in me telling me “you know you could’ve done something differently, you could’ve made your characters go somewhere different” - if it’s a creative piece I’m working on or - “you could’ve done more research” if is a research driven piece. In the end, I give my professor what I’m required, but as I writer I am not always pleased. Having experience this myself, I think that allowing students to explore their writing process can be strongly beneficial for them.
Overall, I feel like this was an essay I could relate to at a personal level because I appreciate those professors that have taken the time to teach me while respecting me as a writer. I’m sure it has probably helped them, as teachers, as well. After all, Murray says that “we are as frustrated as our students” so teachers knowing that they’ve helped their students become better writers will feel they’ve done their job well.