Now you see the problem. Your list is already too long, and requires too much
preceding context for your average journalist (who wrote essays at school) to
understand -- much less joe or jo public. News isn't needs 15 second soundbites
like "profs drop essays from fear of plagiarism".
I'll take your number 1b slightly modified: "Essays don't prepare students for
writing in the workplace."
Although a counter-example: I have a friend who years ago did an English
degree. He's now a computer networks guy (very successful) and he recently
described how English had prepared him for his current job. "All of English,"
he said, "is just compare and contrast. Same with computers. Any time you're
solving a problem in a network, you're just comparing with an ideal and
eliminating contrasts." Was it the writing that prepared him? At some level,
I'd guess it was. That's the place where students develop and sustain ideas
more than in classroom discussion, so it is where the mind gets trained to look
at things in a particular way. Could something other than essays have achieved
that mind training... most likely but it would require similar sustained
Quoting Marcy Bauman <[log in to unmask]>:
> Oh, geez, it's like shooting fish in a barrel.
> 1. Nobody else writes essays. They are a very specialized genre that
> don't understand.
> 2. You can accomplish the same goals through other means (and here I'd
> mention discussion lists, ala Beth Baldwin).
> 3. What about multimedia? I'd point people to moveon.org and the "Bush in
> 30 seconds" ads, or my piece - soon to be released as pay-only - in the TCC
> Online conference: http://www.umich.edu/~marcyb/TCC-L </shameless plug>
> 3. Assign writing that's situated in local rhetorical contexts instead.
> Here we could mention Russ' Playgoers' Guides, or other service-learning
> Just a start,
> --On Tuesday, April 06, 2004 11:47 PM -0400 [log in to unmask] wrote:
> > Perhaps we might want to think of it as 3 (or 4 or 5) good reasons not to
> > write essays. If plagiarism paranoia is a bad reason, what might we
> > articulate as "soundbite" sized good ones? And with those soundbites,
> > what are the alternatives?
> > I like your point earlier Doug that writing with no context is still
> > better than no writing, but perhaps we can articulate that writing
> > doesn't need to be so contextless even in the imitation-ivory tower.
> > Rob
> Marcy Bauman, PhD
> Media Consultant
> College of Pharmacy
> University of Michigan
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