John Warner talks sense about how to teach writing

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

Require my book for your students, and I’ll Skype into your class

Dear Professor: If you’re teaching writing in 2017, consider requiring Writing Without Bullshit as a textbook. Here’s why (plus a special offer to push you over the edge): In 2017, your students ought to have a writing book that acknowledges that writing must be different for those who read on screens. It uses modern real-world examples. It addresses … Continued

Why is there so much bullshit? (infographic)

Did you ever wonder why you spend so much of your day wading through bullshit? Every worker must consume masses of information, but most of it is poorly written, impenetrable, and frustrating to consume. How did we get here? I’ve actually studied this question. In fact, Chapter 2 of my book explains it in detail. Basically: Reading … Continued

Why students shouldn’t write on a smartphone

If you believe the Boston Globe or the Wall Street Journal, students are increasingly writing papers on their phones. While there are some benefits, teachers ought to discourage it, since it interferes with reflection and promotes a pernicious first-draft writing habit. The articles on this topic are anecdotal Like most trend pieces, both of these articles are … Continued

Rewriting the news with stupendous verbiage in place of simple words

California middle school teacher Leilen Shelton wants her writing students to eschew simple words like “good,” “said,” and “fun,” according to the Wall Street Journal. To demonstrate the problems with this dumb idea, I rewrote a news article about terrorism, replacing all the mundane words with longer ones. Misguided writing teachers are responsible for much of the bullshit … Continued

How we really should teach writing

Here’s a radical idea. Let’s teach high school and college students to write stuff that they’ll actually need to write in life or in an office: emails, blog posts, social media posts, marketing copy, research reports, and presentations. Take time from analyzing Plato, Great Expectations and Catcher in the Rye and spend it instead analyzing great non-fiction writers like Mary Roach, Malcolm Gladwell, Michael … Continued