The complaints came bubbling out of my students, and I was not prepared for the volume or substance of their GRIEVANCES. In a lather, I spent the entire class hour writing their concerns on the blackboard. When the black board was filled, we wrote more complaints on pages torn out of my notebook, which I thumb-tacked to a wall of the classroom. When the hour was up, we all sat numbly still, staring at this overwhelming sea of bad news. After the students had filed MEEKLY out of the classroom, I wrote down the contents of the blackboard in my notebook, collected the pages we had tacked to the wall, then went back to my office where I locked myself in. Suddenly, teaching students how to improve their writing seemed like an impossible task.
In many ways it is impossible, because the learning never ends. There is no such thing as the perfect writer because there is always something more to learn, another skill to master. Even now, no matter how hard I work to strengthen my writing, there is always something I can't do as well as I would like. My GRAMMAR skills are still weak and I still struggle to find the best structure for each of my writing efforts. Until very recently, my writing was horribly disorganized.
But my writing has improved and most of that growth can be ATTRIBUTED to this embarrassing confession: I started to practice the process skills I had been preaching to my students. I started to listen to my own advice.
Writing is so much more than simply taking a piece of paper and a pencil and SCRIBBLING away. There are so many things I need to take into consideration before I make my scribbles.
I have repeated the exercise I did in that first class in every writing course I have taught. I find it interesting that there are a few core complaints my students have about writing which show up on the blackboard every time I do the exercise. What I would like to do now is introduce these core GRUMBLINGS to you and talk about how this course and this computer program intend to make these concerns more manageable. Do you recognize these? Do you HARBOR some of the same complaints about writing?