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Arthur Applebee, a professor of education at Albany-SUNY, writes in The Atlantic about the growing concern of declining written skills in American classrooms. Students – from middle school up through high school – are being required to write less and less, with curriculums focusing more on multiple choice assignments and remembering and recalling specific material. Applebee urges that for students to be better writers, they must first be asked to, well, write, but the plea for American curriculums to require more time spent in front of a notebook and computer screen isn’t Applebee’s most important point.
No, his point is that for American students to be better writers, they must be required to be better thinkers first. They must be asked to form opinions and arguments about new material and drive discussions forward. Mostly, they need to invest themselves not in the pursuit of words, but in the pursuit of ideas. I’d argue that point isn’t limited to educational systems. That’s an important point for writers of all ages.
As part of a series where The New Yorker’s ‘Page-Turner’ blog is asking writers to share some words about a book or author they find themselves consistently coming back to, Brad Leithauser writes a fine essay about how he grew up, essentially, with Ernest Hemingway and found the author’s influence wherever he traveled. The best part about Leithauser’s piece is the examination of Hemingway’s vocabulary and grammatical tendencies. It’ funny to think that if a young, unknown writer turned in some of Hemingway’s writing today, it would get butchered into a million little pieces by copy editors.
One more Hemingway link from the Huffington Post: A 70-year-old has donated “the most complete collection of [Hemingway’s] primary works in existence” to the University of South Carolina so they can be used as resources for students. Pretty sweet.
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