kitchen table math, the sequel: bad writing, bad thinking

Friday, September 28, 2012

bad writing, bad thinking

From the Atlantic article (Grace's post  here):
And so the school’s principal, Deirdre DeAngelis, began a detailed investigation into why, ultimately, New Dorp’s students were failing. By 2008, she and her faculty had come to a singular answer: bad writing. Students’ inability to translate thoughts into coherent, well-argued sentences, paragraphs, and essays was severely impeding intellectual growth in many subjects.
"Writing is thinking."

You hear that, and, if you're me, you believe it.

But what does it mean, exactly?

I'm thinking Douglas Biber's work on corpus linguistics has light to shed. Will try to translate my thoughts re: Biber into a set of coherent sentences in the not too distant future.


Grace said...

Intuitively this makes so much sense, so I look forward to your post.

Michael Weiss said...

For the last ten years, every syllabus I've distributed (at the secondary, undergraduate and graduate level) has included the following paragraph:

“Say what you mean, and mean what you say”: Precision in the use of language is a leading indicator of intellectual clarity. Sloppy language and undecipherable handwriting usually indicates sloppy thinking. Please think deeply and write carefully.

Catherine Johnson said...

oh that's nice!

Katharine Beals said...

The problem is that some writing instructors think that this means you can teach writing simply by teaching thinking. Teach kids how to think (however one does this!) and they will automatically learn how to write.

But clear thinking doesn't eliminate, say, dangling modifiers. Also, what I know of the cog sci research suggests bi-directionality: while clarifying one's thinking will improve one's writing, learning to write better also helps to clarify one's thinking.