How to deal with pushy, misguided reviewers

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In my last post, I described what to do with document reviewers who say too little. But what about those who say too much? Here’s a comment from last week’s post: Josh, what is your advice for responding to the person who is asked to “review for accuracy only” and sends back an article completely … Continued

Could the five-paragraph essay be the reason we’ve forgotten how to think?

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David Labaree published a devastating takedown of the five-paragraph essay, that pernicious container that’s corrupting the teaching of writing everywhere. He’s made me wonder about my own rules and advice for writers. In my mind, writing and thinking are two sides of the same process. Separate the two, and thinking ceases to be important, which … Continued

Why you should read Academia Obscura instead of actually working

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Instead of actually completing his Ph.D., Glen Wright has wasted his time writing a book called Academia Obscura: The hidden silly side of higher education. The result of this effort is to reveal in a funhouse mirror every possible idiotic and ironic aspect of academic life and publishing. I heartily recommend that you waste your money on … Continued

John Warner talks sense about how to teach writing

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Finally, I found a writing teacher in higher education whose philosophy about teaching writing matches mine. But we still need to align how we teach writing with how people actually use it at work. John Warner teachers writing at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. In his piece “We Know How To Teach Writing” … Continued

Going beyond a Washington Post academic’s prescription for college writing teachers

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Jeffrey Selingo wrote a piece called “Why can’t college graduates write coherent prose?” for the Washington Post. He’s right to require more practice, but ignores the need to practice writing that’s appropriate for a screen. Lots of college students can’t write I know. I’ve hired or mentored many of them. Writing skills are spotty and … Continued

Paul Romer set out to reform writing at the World Bank. He lost his job.

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Paul Romer ran research for the World Bank. He took aim the bank’s impenetrable writing style, known as “Bankspeak,” asking for shorter, more pointed reports. That cost him his management position. I’ll explain what he was right about, why it didn’t work, and what it really takes to fix a writing culture like this. Romer’s objections … Continued