Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Little Red Schoolhouse

I was recently told about the Little Red Schoolhouse writing method and form of writing instruction, which was started at the University of Chicago in the 1980s. I was surprised I hadn’t heard of it before.

According to this website,

“LRS is an approach to writing instruction that proceeds from several core principles:
• Readers come to any text with a fairly predictable set of questions and expectations. (These expectations vary somewhat according to the community or discipline: literary critics v. behavioral psychologists v. political scientists.)
• Effective writing anticipates and responds to these predictable questions and expectations.
• In order to produce effective writing, good writers employ a fairly predictable set of routines in order to plan, draft, revise, and edit.
• Students who come to understand readerly expectations and writerly routines produce more persuasive arguments more efficiently.
• Most students already have good intuitions about what readers want and what writers do: our job is to help them articulate and define those intuitions, so that they can more consciously control their writing.
• Our teaching begins with intuition then proceeds to the principle.
• Students learn routines best by "over-learning" them; that is, by practicing until the routines are internalized and students can produce them with minimal effort. Because reading and writing are complicated tasks, it's best to break them down into manageable pieces, or sub-routines, for students.
• Once students are comfortable with the routine, they can learn and practice techniques for manipulating their writing to produce a range of effects.”

It sounds quite basic and sensible, and worth looking into for anyone who writes and/or teaches writing.

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