From a former High School Student, class of 1997:
“If I am remembering correctly, I came into 9th grade a terrible essay writer. I didn’t understand the manner in which one communicates a hypothesis or theorem and the basis behind it. I think I got my first bad grade ever on one of your papers and I was dumbfounded. I had to meet with you and you explained the logic and structure behind an essay and each one improved slightly until finally I became a pro.
I ended up getting degrees in engineering but in reality was always given writing assignments at work because I was one of the few engineers at my job who could take a scientific concept and create a document that could be read by scientists as well as political entities, stakeholders, etc.
Once I had kids and left engineering, I focused more on the other world that I am involved in, entertainment, and began freelancing as an editor/analysis provider for scripts and novels. A bit different than an essay, but I can probably credit my skills to the learning process I experienced back in high school – I am extremely attentive to detail, logic, flow, etc.
This email probably doesn’t show off the most fantastic writing skills, but that’s what happens when I’m trying to fit it in with a kid climbing on my lap
I think there’s a level of care that has to go into good writing that gets lost in the “problem set” method of learning. A standardized test can surely tell you if a kid has memorized mathematical methods, grammatical rules, or scientific concepts, but without asking for explanations of the why and having the student effectively communicate those answers, there’s no telling if correct answers are essentially automated responses vs. a true understanding of the material. Does a student really understand Bernoulli’s equation and what it is for or did they memorize a formula and know how to plug in values? I think learning to understand the greater concepts, whether it is reading about them or writing about them, will teach a student to be a better problem solver and be more analytical overall in their work. And that would certainly create a stronger workforce of creative, intelligent individuals rather than one comprised of those who simply regurgitate memorized information.”