So, the question becomes: does your spouse think that your spending time writing is a good idea? If so, great; if not, you have an issue in need of resolution. Again, similar to 1, many of us set out as writers after we are parents. Thus, scoping out the time to write becomes a series issue.
I speak from experience since when I began writing at age 38, I had to juggle career and three kids at home. One thing that helped in my case: time watching TV was not an issue since I haven't watched TV since my college years. But each writer is different. Christopher Buckley told me he would love to read the reviews I wrote for all of his books.
Nicholson Baker told me he generally shies away from reading reviews of his books. You will have to see for yourself. Your judgment's always tainted. I'd even go further: writing book reviews provides a stellar opportunity to sharpen your writer chops.
Of course, students still need to provide some semblance of subject matter for their essays. But there are plenty of handy resources available to produce relevant content on demand. When I was in school, the key resource for students who needed to write an essay on some topic or other was the encyclopaedia.
In my family, it was the World Book Encyclopedia, which offered glossy pages and ample illustrations, and which used fewer big words than the canonical but stuffy Encyclopaedia Britannica. Look up the topic, read a short summary piece, and then crib it for your paper. Then they need to succeed in school. And the encyclopaedia is the key to school success, the added element that will move your children ahead of their peers. The multivolume encyclopaedia has receded into history; the last hard-copy Britannica was published in The latter serves the same function for students — capsulised and bowdlerised content ready for insertion into the five-paragraph essay.
Plug and play. The perfect tool for gaming the system of producing papers for school. It is possible to teach students how to write as a way to make meaning rather than fill pots. For students, it takes a lot longer to get better at writing this way, and the path to improvement is littered with the discouraging wreckage of dysfunctional sentences and incoherent arguments. And for teachers, the difficulty of teaching the skill this way undermines their sense of professional competence.
In addition, grading papers for meaning takes a lot more time and involves a lot more judgment than grading for form — which, after all, can be done by a computer. Be clear, be concise, be direct, focus on actors and actions, play with language, listen for the music Carrying out this kind of teaching calls for concentrating effort at two levels.
One is teaching students how to make meaning at the sentence level, using syntax to organise words to say what you want them to say. The other is teaching students how to make meaning across an entire text, using rhetorical moves that help them structure a compelling argument from beginning to end.
I use all three in a graduate class I teach on academic writing. This is the analysis issue: what is your angle? Who says? This is the validity issue: on what data, literature are you basing your claims?
Who cares? This is the significance issue, the most important issue of all, the one that subsumes all the others. Is this work worth doing? Is the text worth reading? I say no. One difference is that these are clearly labelled not as rules but rules of thumb. They are things to keep in mind as you write and especially as you edit your writing , many of which might be in tension with each other, and which you must draw upon or ignore as needed.
Another difference is that they resist the temptation to provide a rigid structure for a text of the kind that I have been discussing here. Deal with issues in the literature where it helps to frame and support your argument rather than confining it to the lit-review ghetto.
Rules of thumb call for the writer to exercise judgment rather than follow the format. Of course, it takes more time and effort to develop writerly judgment than it does to follow the shortcut of the five-paragraph essay.
Form is harder than formalism. But the result is a text that does more than just look like a piece of writing; it makes meaning. When students get to college, their skills in writing five-paragraph essays start to pay off big time.
Compared with high school, the number of papers they need to write in a semester grows exponentially, the required length of papers also shoots up, and there is increasing expectation that these papers demonstrate a bit of professional polish.
And once again, the Rule of Five comes to the rescue. Nothing aids efficiency better than an easily reproducible template.
This leads to two elaborations of the basic model. The first is a simple extension of the model into a format with more than five paragraphs. The length is greater but the structure is the same: a general claim, followed by three pieces of evidence to support it, leading to a conclusion. The college version of the model also ups the ante on the kind of content that is deemed acceptable. Increasingly, the generic synthesis sources that were so helpful in high school — variations on the old encyclopaedia — are no longer sufficient.
Plug in a topic, and Google Scholar provides you with the most cited pieces on the topic. The second version of the model is for students who are thinking about graduate school.
This means that they need to define an issue, draw on the literature about that issue, develop a method for gathering data about the issue, analyse the data, and draw conclusions. The Rule of Five is up to the challenge. The paper format contains five standard sections. All you have to do is fill them with plausible content. The literature is a few things you found on Google related to the argument. Findings are some things you encounter that might support your point think evidence one, evidence two, evidence three from the five-paragraph model.
And the conclusion is that, wow, everything lines up to support your original claim. The transition from the college research paper to the doctoral dissertation is not as big a jump as you might think. Chapter 1 is supposed to have a problem statement and list of research questions.
Chapter 2 needs to cover both the theoretical and empirical literature relevant to the research questions. Chapter 3 needs to spell out research design, measures used, research procedures, and modes of analysis employed. Spheres of Interest List Another way of looking at potential topics is to ask students to think about their spheres of interest and influence.
I ask them to imagine themselves at the center of concentric circles:immediately outside themselves are their own personal interests and everyday lives, beyond that circle is the local community and the school they attend.
For many younger students, fifth or sixth graders, for instance, that is as far as their sphere of reference extends. As students get older, their spheres of interest should begin to extend outward, not just as writers, but as people. Writing can help students begin to extend those circles outward. I'll put the following list on the board, and ask students to add examples of issues that could be added as potential writing topics Spheres of interest: Issues that interest me, bug me.
Personal: cartoons, football. Home: TV usage, chores, which way the toilet paper should face. School: gum, homework. Local: litter, nowhere to skateboard. State: standardized tests, severe weather. Country: Internet dangers for teens, presidential election, capital punishment. World: climate change, terrorism, war, poverty. One thing we note when working on this list is that some issues can fall into more than one sphere and some perhaps the best ones to write about can be both national and personal.
If the military and war are national issues, they are also personal issues if you have a sibling deployed overseas. I will sometimes assign an essay to come from a specific "sphere" so that we can discuss how the "size" of the topic influences how you write about that topic. Writing about the school flip-flop policy requires a different kind of thinking than writing a paper about the war on terror. Ongoing Topics List As the year progresses, I ask students to begin looking for topics everywhere.
I try to encourage my students to do the same. I ask students to set aside a page at the front of their notebooks the fronts of their notebooks are very crowded and keep an ongoing list of possible writing topics-this in addition to things that they may already have thought of on their various maps.
It sometimes helps to remind them to add to this list on a regular basis, at the start of class every Monday or Friday, for example. Just make it a habit. My ideal is for students to have so many topics to choose from that they won't get to them all and can take some to high school with them. I also keep a list like this myself, and I sometimes share it with them. Issues Bulletin Board A class-wide strategy for keeping "big issues" in the forefront of students' minds is to create an issues bulletin board where you tack interesting articles, editorials, and printed Internet stories about various issues.
.Its entire utility derives from the fact that a particular syntactical structure can be used to convey an infinite number of meanings. At Summer Boarding Courses, we understand that English Grammar can sometimes be very confusing and unintuitive. And if you are a social drinker, that's easy - cut way back on socializing. Content, meaning, style, originality and other such values are extraneous — nice but not necessary.
Soon enough you will be able to deliver excellent work.