Want to create successful writers? Want to raise them from seedlings, make them strong and resilient and capable of writing oak trees of essays, not saplings of deadwood? The key has nothing to do with writing. If a teacher wants to help their students to become successful writers, they must make their students into successful readers. If a student isn’t a reader, they’ll never be a writer – no way, no how. The reading should be both academic and for pleasure: students need to bask in the glow of words for fun, and struggle with a snarling sentence when needed. They should delight in diction and syntax, but never be quite satisfied with them as-is – every student should always ask, “why this way?” and “why not like this?”. And no, they probably don’t need to know what “diction” and “syntax” mean: we don’t need to understand the nuclear reactions of the sun or the tidal effects of the moon to enjoy a sunny day at the beach, and they don’t need to know anadiplosis or synecdoche to appreciate a well-written paragraph. If we don’t put words in their hands and in front of their eyes, we’ll never get the words into their heads … and if we can’t get the words into their heads, they’ll never put those words onto paper. So … want to teach a kid to write?
Teach her to read.
~Tess Mueggenborg, Professor