Thursday, March 10, 2005

I know it when I see it

Good article from CSM about the new SAT's which get rolled out this Saturday. They now feature a 25 minute, 2 page writing section. I've been practicing with some of my students with this exercise and, not surprisingly, find it to be stultifying. To succeed at writing an essay that an evaluator will spend maybe 3 minutes reading (mixed in with 8-10 hours of reading other handwritten essays -- what ring of hell do you suppose that fits into?) a student must absolutely fit their ideas into the old intro-thesis-topic sentence-evidence-conclusion format. Good writing is rarely so formulaic. If students come away thinking that that formula constitutes good writing, the College Board has done a grave disservice to us all. Hopefully, today's teens are more savvy than that. I think they are.

Of course, if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I'm no expert on good writing. But as a Supreme Court justice once said of pornography, I can't define it, but I know it when I see it. Let's hope the SAT evaluators do, too.

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