02 September 2009


Editing should be, especially in the case of old writers, a counseling rather than a collaborating task. The tendency of the writer-editor to collaborate is natural, but he should say to himself, "How can I help this writer to say it better in his own style?" and avoid "How can I show him how I would write it, if it were my piece?"

That's James Thurber in a 1959 memo to The New Yorker.

Thanks to kottke.org for the reminder: it is great to be a good writer and an involved teacher, but sometimes the writer/collaborator has to sit in the back seat while the teacher takes over, especially when we are working on the blog or the wiki. If I were to focus exclusively on formal writing conventions, then the magic would POOF! They are writing more often and more clearly than I even hoped for before the blog. Last year, I saw them to begin monitoring themselves, as they needed new modes and styles to discuss more complex ideas and emotions. It is not always possible to see the line that I need to draw in the "blogger" sand, though. This year I am giving myself more detailed requirements for their self-reviews as well as my assessments, especially with my seniors. More or that as the year progresses.

update 9/20: first blog done last week. UCK! chapter 2 will be an assessment activity. Maybe have them read other posts and choose a good one--but I tell them how to decide what's good--1. mention of more than one device used by the artist, 2. some criteria directly mentioned by the writer of the post, 3. direct reference to work of the artist, 4. what criteria they mention--should have some connection to the artist as writer, creator, producer (I mean, come on, guys, this IS an english class, the 11th you've had already!) entirely too many people just noted the subject of the artist's songs. a few mentioned genre--incorrectly used by most mentions, etc
and then have them apply lit terms to music, duh! it works. maybe they will finally remember their terms--or more accurately, find them useful