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Writing & Education

2011-08-08 19:28:10.027289+00 by Dan Lyke 2 comments

NY Times: Virginia Heffernan: Education Needs a Digital-Age Upgrade:

Ms. Davidson herself was appalled not long ago when her students at Duke, who produced witty and incisive blogs for their peers, turned in disgraceful, unpublishable term papers. But instead of simply carping about students with colleagues in the great faculty-lounge tradition, Ms. Davidson questioned the whole form of the research paper. “What if bad writing is a product of the form of writing required in school — the term paper — and not necessarily intrinsic to a student’s natural writing style or thought process?” She adds: “What if ‘research paper’ is a category that invites, even requires, linguistic and syntactic gobbledygook?”

What if, indeed. After studying the matter, Ms. Davidson concluded, “Online blogs directed at peers exhibit fewer typographical and factual errors, less plagiarism, and generally better, more elegant and persuasive prose than classroom assignments by the same writers.”

That's Dr. Cathy Davidson, her book is Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn[Wiki]. I may wander down to the bookstore and order this.

Anyone wanna weigh in on what this may mean about education bubbles?

[ related topics: Children and growing up Interactive Drama Books Theater & Plays Writing Work, productivity and environment Education ]

comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-08-09 15:19:26.236548+00 by: Dan Lyke

Several years ago I was helping a young man do papers for High School English. I asked him about a couple of incredibly convoluted paragraphs, and he said "you'll see, that's what she wants". We could have cleaned them up immensely, but when the paper came back he had an "A".

I think that starting in grade school there's a push towards a writing style that's crap and obfuscates actual meaning, and I think in digging through various theses and papers recently that that continues to the point where it's allowing academics to convince themselves of things they wouldn't otherwise believe.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-08-09 02:47:47.864527+00 by: ebradway

She adds: “What if ‘research paper’ is a category that invites, even requires, linguistic and syntactic gobbledygook?”

In a word: yep. Instead of a drawn out publication process (research papers generally take 6-24 months from submission to print), why not just use a Wiki to publish results. Especially in light of the fact that journal publishers make billions printing intellectual output that is given to them for free (and probably funded by tax payers). Worse still, all editing of these journals is also done for free.

Does a PhD mean you're smart? I'd argue the opposite.

One advantage of working for the USGS is that no journal can claim copyright to my effort. They may get it for free but not exclusively.