Essays Through The Eyes Of An Object Essay Beauty Beast
Sundikova/Shutterstock In her article "The Writing Revolution," Peg Tyre shows the teachers at New Dorp High School beginning to ask the question too few writing teachers ask: What skills do these students lack?
She quotes Nell Scharff, an instructional expert brought in by the school, as saying, "How did the kids in our target group go wrong? " It's a crucial question for those who want to reform the teaching of writing, because once you ask what skills are missing, you can make a list and start a counter-attack.
I wanted to remind her what she knew but had forgotten: that abstractions are what you get when you pull back from (or abstract from) concrete reality -- from the world of things.
But she was on her way to class, and we never did finish the discussion.
Orwell went a step further than Fowler, actually advising writers to start wordlessly, to think of a visual thing, and then to try to find words that fit it.
If the professional writers whom Fowler and Orwell addressed had to be warned away from over-abstraction, how much more do our students need that advice?
Few will notice that the terms relationship, wealth, productivity and market society need definition or examples.
One fellow instructor, Bernadette--and she's a very good teacher--said as much one time when I was trying to talk about the topic of writing with objects in freshman comp.
Show me a stock exchange floor where bids are shouted and answered.""What is a concrete noun?
" a student might ask."It's something you can drop on your foot," I always answer.
They don't realize that it's because they lack certain skills that were common among college freshmen 40 years ago.
Tyre points out how small some of the important skills are, and how conscious instruction in them can make a difference.