Thanks, Michael Hoechsmann, for posting that fascinating piece
by Laurance Yap, the student who sets out his disillusionment with
academic writing--though also his success and satisfaction with a
piece not written to rule. I would distance myself from the advice
of the writing advisor who visited his class, that essays should
always be non-narrative and logical and serious. It's harder, though,
to stand back from the emphasis on scholarly sources as appropriate
reading. I have to admit that as a writing tutor I do find myself
rationalizing the insistence on research papers rather than Maclean's
as sources, while wishing that research papers were more readable....
What do other CASLLrs think? In what ways can writing instructors
nurture creativity within the academy? Should we keep on justifying
academic essays (including working with instructors to shape
assignment design and to respond appropriately)? To what extent is it
our mission to encourage students to bend and break the rules to
express their knowledge and ideas?
I agree that Inkshed is an entirely appropriate place to publish this
piece, and hope that Amanda and Janice will pick it up. But let's also
include some responses from writing teachers.
Coordinator, Writing Support
University of Toronto