“Learning to write is learning to think. You don’t know anything clearly unless you can state it in writing.”

~S. I. Hayakawa

My 1010 students come with various degrees of trepidation related to scriptophobia: fear of writing. For many of them, reading and writing are a tedious chore, a formidable task.

One of the first things I try to show them is that writing is an art. You get to play with it like paints, shape it like clay. And when you discover the intricacies of words, both reading and writing come alive. And in the process, you learn how to think and reason in new ways.

Our Intro to Writing class is definitely what it’s called: an introduction. I find that ironic, though, since it’s not like Intro to Biochemical Engineering or anything. I mean, this is writing we’re talking about. We all learned how to write in preschool or kindergarten.

The challenge I’m up against, though, is that I have a collection of students each semester of all age ranges and abilities. Some are fresh out of high school; others have been in the professional world for years. Some can write well coming into my class; others don’t know how to punctuate the most basic sentences. I look at my course as a “catch-all,” which means that I try to introduce my students to everything they might have missed before and everything they’ll need to know from here on out about writing.

The nice thing is that so far it’s worked well enough that my good writers still learn a lot but my struggling writers aren’t left behind.

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