Are we teaching students to be good writers?

Last week Scott MacMillan, assistant professor of Management at Mount Saint Vincent University, and Bill Barker, professor of English at King’s College, presented to teachers at my school on the subject of teaching students how to be good writers.

Photo: Jonathan Kim via

They raised lots of interesting points, some I agreed with and some I thought didn’t completely take into account the reality of high school teachers. Discussion in the room brought this home – one teacher noted that MacMillan’s ideas were nice for a class of 25 university students (he noted that he was grateful to the university for capping his class at that size) but not feasible in a class with 38 10th-graders with varying needs and levels of intrinsic motivation.

I tweeted a series of the take-away points, which someone then asked that I post to my blog. Several of the points were conclusions from a survey in Barker’s 3rd-year English class which asked students what they wished they had learned more of in high school.

What do you think of these suggestions? Feel free to post replies in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Are we teaching students to be good writers?”

  1. Number 5 is my favourite. Not sure if grade 5 is the best time to teach that. Perhaps it is… Temma

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