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Tearing Down Writing Instruction

Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews argues that writing instruction in most schools today is "academic and lifeless." Nor does he think the new common core writing standards—redolent, in his view, of "clerical work"—will help matters much.

So what's a language arts teacher to do? Matthews agrees with educator Paula Stacey that teachers should scrap all the prescriptive writing models and process-oriented approaches and, in essence, just let kids express themselves and give them feedback on their work. This, he says, is how people learn to write:

The professional writers I know got excited not in class but while compiling personal journals, or composing poems and songs, or sending long letters or e-mails to friends, or working for the school newspaper. I have been influenced by educators who think free reading is the best homework for elementary school. Why not add some free writing?
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