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The Value of Writing Practice in English Class
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Will Offline
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Post: #1
The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

I've been told that we write stuff in English to get good at writing through practice. Let's assume that we actually become good at writing the type of paper that we practice writing.

The papers I have written for English class have invariably focused on some broad philosophical idea or on literary devices. The arguments in the papers are invariably supported by a few examples from no more than three different works of fiction chosen by the teacher.

The topic of the paper is decided largely by the teacher, although the student generally has a few options and can argue any of the different positions on the issues supplied by the teacher. The student is not expected to have considered the issue deeply until he writes the paper.

With few exceptions, they have been no more than four pages long double-spaced. They generally follow a strict structure, a formal typographic style and proper grammar.

Outside of school, when would you write anything like this?
03-01-2008 12:02 PM
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rAnx Offline
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Post: #2
Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

You probably wouldn't write anything like that, but that's not really the point. In order to get a good enough grasp of writing to do complex works, it's important to learn its more fundamental aspects first. In art, for example, it's important to become familiarized with anatomy and value before making any truly stylistic choices regarding one's own art, otherwise the final product will be lacking quality in the viewer's eye, if not the artist's. Writing is the same way. Before an author can take artistic license, they must be able to effectively convey ideas, otherwise their attempt to meld the two will likely be a failure. Being forced to write in a particular format isn't about writing in that format as much as it is building the basic skills to go beyond that.

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03-01-2008 01:41 PM
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Will Offline
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Post: #3
Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

I'm not sure what you mean by "convey ideas", but I see why it is useful to learn the generally accepted rules before taking artistic license. I'm not suggesting that people should have to break these rules at all though.

Most English teachers don't really know grammar, and grammar and vocabulary—fundamental parts of writing—aren't really emphasized; most of the points that people lose on papers are from things other than grammar and spelling. Also, my grammar and vocabulary have been flawless throughout school except for when I used non-standard grammar according to my teachers' incorrect corrections.

At a higher level, the practice goes into the expression of a specific type of idea; there are other kinds of ideas.

We could learn to write by writing in any of the formats that people may actually use. This would be have to be slightly better "practice" (I happen to find the idea of labelling some creative work as "practice" quite sick though.) because it would be more useful and because it's relatively hard to get yourself to write something so strange, useless and stupid as an English class paper.
03-01-2008 02:00 PM
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Jackass McAwesome Offline
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Post: #4
Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

We have had four topics to write about in my literature class so far: Biggest Fear, How you feel about guns, How you feel about racism, and New Years resolutions. Of these three topics, I only took interest to one: the gun paper. I wrote the longest paper, and was written up for its content, because I didn't cover guns themselves. I'm very passionate about certain subjects. Those subjects I'm very good at writing about.

A trick my teacher tried to pull after I wrote the gun paper was to ask me why my New Year's paper was so mediocre in comparison to it. So I gave her the god-honest truth that she asked for: the New Years Paper was boring, so I felt the need to slap something down to shut them the fuck up (paraphrased). She responded that I needed to give my best effort. At this point I explained to her that the topics were practice, and that I rarely take practice seriously unless that crap is serious, and I made it clear that writing wasn't such a big deal.

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03-01-2008 02:24 PM
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Fire Elf Offline
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Post: #5
Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

Yeah, I have to with crap like this all the time. Hell, every week, my english teacher has us write responses to some stupid-ass "for-kids" article in the newspaper, and actually expects it to be several paragraphs in length, even though the ones that are chosen for printing in the newspaper are quite short, sometimes as little as two sentences. (ex. "When I get home from school I eat a bowl of cheerios. It's good" -(name of student removed for protection)) I've never actually done one of these, instead, I just usually go through the rest of the paper, reading the actual news.

And, then, there's the actual writing assignments, stuff we actually get graded for. We've only had two of these, and I did not care for the assigned topics for either of them. The first was a literature response, your basic "what was the theme, and why" nonsense, where I instead gave her a one-and-a half page rant on how I normal person is not able to read the mind of a dead writer, so we should not be assigned to and failed for not being able to.

The second was about what our new years resolution was going to be, and once again, why. I instead wrote that I had no new years resolution, and then said I was against the concept. Instead of explaining why, I let my writing sample slowly descend into a paper on how much of a mess today's world is, bringing up the truth about the whole school thing.

The teacher's response to this was to not grade either of the two papers. I ended up failing the term, because the only other marks were some novel quizzes which I did terribly on. Still, I did not care, because I already know, grades don't tell you anything about a person. If I was actually going to write stuff like that in my future, it would prolly be about stuff I actually give a damn about. Like I am right now.

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03-01-2008 11:44 PM
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Alucard483 Offline
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Post: #6
Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

college?

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03-02-2008 12:13 AM
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SoulRiser Offline
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Post: #7
Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

Hmmm. Well, people who like to write stuff will likely write stuff in their free time anyway (like me), and will get practice that way. People who don't like writing stuff will either not write stuff, or will write stuff if they find something compelling to write about.

Quote:Outside of school, when would you write anything like this?

Possibly in college, for similar reasons, or if you end up being a scientist or some sort of person who has to write arguments or proof for things. Journalist? Though I don't think journalists have such strict structure in what they write, depending on the topic.

I guess the main point (assuming there is a point) of being made to write things in such a style is just to get people used to writing in a very "formal" manner... totally objective, cold and heartless. Because as we all know, that's the type of personality everyone aspires to. Razz [/sarcasm]

It's stupid about the topic stuff though. I once had to write a story about "A dog's life" - supposedly about how it would suck to be a dog. I thought it'd be cool to be a dog, so I wrote about that instead. I got 50% because the teacher liked my story and thought it was good, but the topic was all wrong. But if I had written about the topic the way she wanted me to, the story wouldn't have been any good. Rolleyes

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03-02-2008 05:40 AM
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Will Offline
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Post: #8
Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

SoulRiser Wrote:
Quote:Outside of school, when would you write anything like this?

Possibly in college, for similar reasons,
College is school.

SoulRiser Wrote:or if you end up being a scientist or some sort of person who has to write arguments or proof for things.
Will Wrote:philosophical idea or on literary devices... few examples from no more than three different works of fiction... no more than four pages long double-spaced
03-02-2008 06:03 AM
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Mista Conspiracy Offline
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Post: #9
Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

Will Wrote:Outside of school, when would you write anything like this?

LOL
03-02-2008 04:51 PM
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Alucard483 Offline
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Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

Will Wrote:College is school.
Unless you go to ohio state, I dont know if you can learn anything there

Whilst some work diligently there are those who ask why. I am one of them
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This has been a test of the emergency pointless argument system. Had this been a real pointless argument, someone would have been called a facist.
Ceiling Cat: For that you need to wear a fursuit, though.

Inside sources say that Carla Franklin has had more dick in her than a public urinal.
03-03-2008 01:32 AM
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Will Offline
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Post: #11
Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

Alucard483 Wrote:
Will Wrote:College is school.
Unless you go to ohio state, I dont know if you can learn anything there
So? Do you learn anything in school?
03-03-2008 01:51 AM
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Alucard483 Offline
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Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

somtimes

Whilst some work diligently there are those who ask why. I am one of them
(\__/) This is Bunny. Paste Bunny into your signature
(='.'=) to help him gain world domination.
(")_(")
Soul#2: I already have a grip. Doc:and a porno mag and a tube of lube I'm sure"
Lifes a bitch, then you marry one
This has been a test of the emergency pointless argument system. Had this been a real pointless argument, someone would have been called a facist.
Ceiling Cat: For that you need to wear a fursuit, though.

Inside sources say that Carla Franklin has had more dick in her than a public urinal.
03-03-2008 01:52 AM
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Will Offline
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Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

Alucard483 Wrote:somtimes
You were exaggerating too, right? Anyway, we call places schools because they call themselves schools, not because we learn there.
03-03-2008 03:25 AM
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rAnx Offline
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Post: #14
Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

Will Wrote:
Alucard483 Wrote:somtimes
You were exaggerating too, right? Anyway, we call places schools because they call themselves schools, not because we learn there.
Are you saying school has not and cannot teach you anything?

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03-03-2008 03:33 AM
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Will Offline
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Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

Headspace Wrote:
Will Wrote:
Alucard483 Wrote:somtimes
You were exaggerating too, right? Anyway, we call places schools because they call themselves schools, not because we learn there.
Are you saying school has not and cannot teach you anything?
No, I'm telling Alucard483 that Ohio State is a school.
Alucard483 Wrote:
Will Wrote:College is school.
Unless you go to ohio state, I dont know if you can learn anything there
Will Wrote:we call places schools because they call themselves schools, not because we learn there.
If this is true, we logically don't refer to places of learning as schools unless they call themselves schools.
03-03-2008 03:37 AM
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Ariadnae Basilisk Offline
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Post: #16
Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

I remember that a few weeks ago, we had to write 5 paragraphs on a single quote. I can't remember what the quote was, and I don't care. My teacher had the nerve to glare at me when I handed her 3 sentences. Cuckoo

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03-03-2008 06:56 AM
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dreamer... Offline
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Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

Much as I hate to admit it, some of the essays I had to write in school really did improve my persuasive writing skills. Of course, I wrote the essays for the most part by myself (even when the teachers made comments, i tended to ignore them). It would've been nice if they gave us more leeway in choosing topics and arguments, though...and I suppose I could have also gotten practice at writing on my own.
but no, not all of the writing I did in school was entirely useless- only most of it was Rolleyes .
03-03-2008 08:06 AM
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SoulRiser Offline
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Post: #18
Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

They always marked me down when I answered their questions using as few words as possible. Why write a paragraph when 5 words will do just as well? It's not like I'm trying to become a politician, where rambling and beating about the bush (no pun intended) are encouraged.

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03-03-2008 08:27 AM
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youvebeenthunderstruck Offline
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Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

Precisely. But if you argue against doing unncessary things in school, they say that one day you will have to use it. I mean, come on!

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03-03-2008 08:37 AM
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SoulRiser Offline
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Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

And even if you do use some of it, that doesn't really make the the other 90% of useless crap and all the torment worthwhile.

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03-04-2008 03:00 AM
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Will Offline
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Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

dreamer... Wrote:Much as I hate to admit it, some of the essays I had to write in school really did improve my persuasive writing skills. Of course, I wrote the essays for the most part by myself (even when the teachers made comments, i tended to ignore them). It would've been nice if they gave us more leeway in choosing topics and arguments, though...and I suppose I could have also gotten practice at writing on my own.
but no, not all of the writing I did in school was entirely useless- only most of it was Rolleyes .
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03-04-2008 09:29 AM
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Trekkie_Aspie Offline
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Re: The Value of Writing Practice in English Class

Ariadnae Basilisk Wrote:I remember that a few weeks ago, we had to write 5 paragraphs on a single quote. I can't remember what the quote was, and I don't care. My teacher had the nerve to glare at me when I handed her 3 sentences. Cuckoo

5 paragraphs is nothing. In upper school, they once tried to make us do 2 pages on a single quote - double spaced.

ARRRRGH!

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03-05-2008 05:54 AM
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