Conditions of Use
This book, Bad Ideas About Writing, takes on a wide range of issues within the field of Composition. A quick look at the table of contents reveals this book will approach issues from style and grammar to writing assessment, and even foray into... read more
This book, Bad Ideas About Writing, takes on a wide range of issues within the field of Composition. A quick look at the table of contents reveals this book will approach issues from style and grammar to writing assessment, and even foray into multimodal or digital writing. Just as the cheeky title implies, each chapter flips contemporary issues on their heads, showing the 'bad idea' that lies beneath some oft well-meaning pedogogical practices. While it may not cover all issues in composition, which is certainly a wide field, it does take a bold effort in that direstion. And it should be noted that while undergraduate students could certainly grasp the gist of each chapter with some instructor guidance, the nuance of this book is likely more aimed at graduate student readers or teacher-learners.
The content of this book is accurate and error-free. While some bias is to be expected in a book filled with opinions, we can trust the judgement of these authors to be sound, given their respective positions in their field. The approach of each section feels balanced, offering honest commentary from experienced professionals.
This book has great relevance because it serves as a catalyst for tough conversations about why these 'bad ideas about writing' even exist in the first place. It prods the reader to critically analyze their own pedagogical practices and to inspect ways that institutions support the continuation of 'bad ideas'.
This book offers highly accessible content. Although perhaps geared more towards current educators or those pursuing a career in Education, it still possesses enough clarity to make it accessible to any student learning about writing.
The structure, which outlines different areas in Composition Studies where we encounter 'bad ideas', is consistent and easy to follow. The terminology used by a variety of authors is also consistent and aligned with the overall goals of the book.
This text is easily divisible due to the way it is organized. For example, graduate students could be asked to read the entirety of this text to inform a final project, while a single chapter could be assigned for a group discussion.
While the scope of this project is quite large, the editors made great use of chapters to organize the ideas.
This highly accessible, open-course textbook is free of any interface issues.
I did not find any grammatical errors in this text.
Essays in this book are written from a diverse group of writers. BIAW takes great care to highlight cultural issues in Composition, such as the need for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. In fact, the book itself seeks to support critical pedagogical practices by examining how we can remedy these 'bad ideas' that persist in our field.
This text is a gem within the Open Textbook Library. Students will be well-served to digest this small volume and to chew on how they can remedy the 'bad ideas' still floating about in academia, and in their own minds.
It's hard to say that a book on writing is comprehensive. This book covers many of the most important bad ideas about writing. I was impressed with its range and coverage of the bad ideas I see more frequently. read more
It's hard to say that a book on writing is comprehensive. This book covers many of the most important bad ideas about writing. I was impressed with its range and coverage of the bad ideas I see more frequently.
Any book on rhetoric is bound to be biased. This one is biased in the right ways, and one of the brilliant things about it is that it points out longstanding biases in the field of rhetoric that are detrimental to learning, and that perpetuate oppression that operates through bad ideas about language
Very relevant, and not likely to go out of date soon
This is where I was the most disappointed in the book for use in my own classes. While the prose is usually lucid and precise, many of the texts here may not be accessible to students who have less familiarity with academic language. It was particularly frustrating to read texts written in advanced, jargon-heavy language, lamenting the ways that white, upper class English perpetuates oppression.
There was some variation, but I dont regard this as such a bad thing because the text is so modular, and I think most instructors will assign it as discrete essays.
Great for use as individual essays! Occasionally refers to other essays, but these references dont obscure overall meaning.
I found the sections to be useful, and the sections and individual chapters are ordered logically
Pdf version is excellent
No "grammatical errors" that I saw. It was also wonderful how essays challenged the concept of "grammatical errors"
I found it inclusive. It makes important challenges to bad ideas about writing that perpetuate oppression for people from marginalized groups.
Incredibly valuable range of ideas here, some practical, some theoretical. Brilliantly done! I may (or I may ask students to) revise some of the essays to have more accessible prose as derivative OER.
I selected this book for a teacher-prep course focused on composition pedagogy. Just about every instance of teacher-created writing frustration that these upper division English majors have ever encountered in their writing career is addressed in... read more
I selected this book for a teacher-prep course focused on composition pedagogy. Just about every instance of teacher-created writing frustration that these upper division English majors have ever encountered in their writing career is addressed in this book. The “bad ideas” approach gave my soon-to-be ELA teachers a platform for identifying their good ideas about writing. Additionally, they felt validated about their frustration in previously being criticized about writing “flaws” that in fact are not flaws. The book pulls together some “big names” (Muriel Harris, Scott Warnock, Beth Hewett) as well as a nice assortment of names recognizable from a variety of professional journals and some obvious newcomers. A particularly helpful feature, especially for prospective ELA teachers, is the “Further Reading” section that ends each article. This section includes fundamental resources that inform the pivot from the “bad idea” that triggers each article to the good ideas that should show up in our pedagogy and that can support our confidence as writers. There is no index and no glossary. Given how well-presented key terms are within each artlcle, the lack of a glossary is not a problem. And the author bios are provided right at the end of the article they wrote rather than the end of the book.
The approach—identifying a bad idea, debunking it, and presenting a solid writing practice to replace it—shows realistic attention to issues that truly matter to student writers, to obstacles they may have faced in their writing journeys. I think most professors and most students would agree that the scope of the bad ideas correctly depicts things that can go wrong in writing pedagogy but that can be remedied through application of good instruction.
The topics have predictable longevity because the same bad practices persistent in ELA classrooms from generation to generation of writers. The book addresses misconceptions and misteachings about grammar, creative writing, research, grading, the five-paragraph essay, the usefulness of technology—all topics that we ourselves contended with when we were students and that current students still face. Happily, the book also includes a section on online writing instruction. This OWI section might need updating soon but it does address basic issues in teaching and learning writing online.
A lot of composition and pedagogy “jargon” is integrated but all effectively contextualized and well-explained. That was a key decision point in my selection of this text for my teacher candidates. The terms and concepts in the book are reflected in the teacher certification exams that the teachers will be taking as part of their credentialing process regardless of the type of licensure exam that is required by their state.
The articles in the book follow a delightful “formula”: the bad idea is presented, usually in a disingenuous tone somewhat mimicking the way the bad idea is presented as gospel truth in classrooms; then there is a debunking of the bad idea, usually based on the author’s lived experience or on actual classroom stories featuring the author’s students; finally there is a section juxtaposing the good idea that represents best practices. The Further Reading section is a valuable research resource for students who may be interested in bolstering their rhet/comp credentials as they get ready to teach or for graduate school.
The sections of the book allow for reorganization based on the professor’s approach to the course. The sections are not linear or consecutive; you can literally skip around for what seems best for your course and/or your students. And there are abundant articles in each section which allows for selectivity in matching readings to course objectives.
The major sections zoom into the broad topics that are creatively subdivided into a variety of specific bad ideas. When I first reviewed this book as a possibility for my upper division class of prospective teachers, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I could not say, “Hmmm, this would be a better text if x topic had been included.” It seems quite liberal in coverage of and presentation of topics that guide students toward appreciating truly good ideas about writing.
The option for downloading the entire book as a PDF enhances its usability as a learning tool. Students can highlight, add notes, use the search feature, and all-in-all use the book as they do a print book.
No problems with grammar.
Most students, regardless of their cultural or ethnic background, will see themselves reflected in the approaches presented in the articles. I can see someone raising the lack of specific attention to translanguaging as a possible gap or cultural insensitivity; however, I can attest that in my classes of almost 100% Hispanic students many of whom are second language speakers of English, no one felt slighted and all found meaningful connectivity in the topics presented as bad ideas. Additionally, because so many of the authors in the text have established credentials as contributors to discussions of writing pedagogy, we know that their work represents egalitarian views about cultural inclusivity.
One of the major benefits of using this book is the way that it makes students almost hyper aware of best practices in teaching writing. They ended the course feeling empowered about what they would do in their own classrooms with their own young writers and what they would avoid. As the course project, each of my students created a chapter that they would add to the book, focused on a bad idea that they had encountered and offering their own writing experiences as evidence for debunking that idea. Finally, this a “fun” book to work with. The students almost joyfully responded to their initial reading assignments as they realized that things they had been told were wrong in their writing are in fact not wrong at all.
BIAW takes on a pretty daunting project: in one volume, collect and debunk misconceptions about good writing, writing students, style, techniques, genres, assessment, technology, and writing teachers. The editors and contributors pull it off with... read more
BIAW takes on a pretty daunting project: in one volume, collect and debunk misconceptions about good writing, writing students, style, techniques, genres, assessment, technology, and writing teachers. The editors and contributors pull it off with concise and rich explorations of the "literacy crisis" phenomenon (Babb), the assumption that gamification equals fun (Daniel-Wariya), or erroneous high school prophecy that you'll need ________ in college (Hollinger). With eight sections and sixty-two bad ideas, the quality of the collection is consistent and engaging. BIAW is an excellent supplement to a first year writing studies class dealing with problematic misconceptions or a graduate practicum for writing teachers in secondary and post-secondary classrooms. It's also helpful historical index of the stories that we inherit and an engaging call to reframe the public circulation of ideas about what writing is, how learning happens, and who we are as writing teachers and students.
With a host of experts in writing, the collection as a whole takes balanced view and contextualizes each of the bad ideas in terms of origin, longevity, and consequences.
Though most writing teachers wish BIAW was irrelevant, an engaging critique of the many bad ideas that inform our discussions of writing is likely to always be relevant and needed for students and teachers.
Thought the volume contains many voices and many topics, and the necessary historical references to provide detailed histories and analyses, the editors and the authors succeeded in creating a clear and readable collection.
One of the highlights of the BIAW for me is that it sports so many different voices with a consistency in quality and careful exploration of the bad ideas that pre-frame our writing classes.
As I say later in my organization comments, the sections and the arrangement of sections movies from concepts of writing (and writing students) through writing in difference contexts with different tools and lands on the writing teacher as a subject of study. The movement adds to the books clarity and historical unfolding.
The arrangement of the sections in BIAW moves meaningfully from bad ideas about good writing and good writers to bad ideas about writing teachers, beginning with the process(es) under investigation and ending with the people charged with understanding and teaching those processes.
I had no problems with BIAW's interface.
I did not note any grammatical errors, or at least none jumped out that prevented my understanding of the text.
BIAW hosts a range of teacher-scholars with an impressive diversity of backgrounds. With a built-in understanding of diverse language practices, the multifaceted image of writing that emerges offers a range cultural examples and calls for conceptions of writing that are more inclusive than our myths and misconceptions suggest.
This book is easy to follow, offers great directions, and moderate vocabulary. read more
This book is easy to follow, offers great directions, and moderate vocabulary.
The authors of this text are experts in their field
This text is timeless and can be used for decades in writing courses.
The authors took great care to reach students and teachers alike. This text is clear, helpful, and will be of great use in the classroom.
This text was designed to touch on so many topics involved in teaching writing. However, it can also be used to teach students to practice metacognition.
This text can be used for in class writing, citation work, and in research.
The text is organized in a clear, logical fashion.
The text is user friendly!
I did not see any grammatical errors.
This text does not include any cultural bias.
This is a text that I will incorporate into my classes as well as my own future research.
This is exactly the type of book I've been waiting for! After nearly two decades of teaching writing, finally a book acknowledges what we call know: people make mistakes when they write and that's okay. I also appreciate that the text... read more
This is exactly the type of book I've been waiting for! After nearly two decades of teaching writing, finally a book acknowledges what we call know: people make mistakes when they write and that's okay. I also appreciate that the text comprehensively unpacks why we need to rethink the way we teach writing and includes all voices - students, writers, teachers. It is unafraid to take on the sacred cows of rhetoric and genre which can only help to bring more voices into the conversation about who writers are and what writers write.
The book is accurate and error-free, but there is, but its very nature a bias. You can't entitle a book "Bad Ideas About Writing," and not have a strong point of view. For me, that is a good thing because the point of view of this text is a curative to the teaching of traditional FYC which, in my experience, doesn't work very well. I also like that the text offers me additional resources.
This book will basically never be obsolete because, unlike so many FYC texts, it's not stuffed full of example essays that will lose relevance much faster than the anthologies of yesteryear because of the explosion of social media. In essence, today everyone with access to a keyboard is a writer and this book addresses the very real need to rethink what we mean when we talk about "serious" writing or academic writing.
The writing is accessible and clear and each essay is thoughtful in that it approaches the reader and ask them to participate in the conversation, to work through the ideas for themself. The inclusion of critical vocabulary is a positive move, but I would want it at the beginning of the reading and with working definitions included. Providing definitions on the spot for critical vocabulary can be helpful for students who struggle with language.
The text, terminology,and framework are successfully constructed with meaningful consistency to address the needs of busy students. The consistency eliminates the potential stress that can interrupt learning if a students feels that the material is a moving target.
The modularity of the text makes for easy reading and, as a teacher, easy lesson planning. Would I assign every single essay in the book? Probably not, but within each module there are multiple examples of essays that would allow me to easily differentiate instruction.
The book is well-organized and flows easily. I also agree with the order of the subject matter addressed because it acknowledges that the reader's ideas about writing will evolve during the time spent with the book. Again, my only caveat would be to better address the handling of critical vocabulary.
There is a whole lot of prose in this book and nothing visual. I think the addition of the ideas presented visually would help support all learners. I understand that it's textbook, but many students need the additional support or scaffolding of something visual to address concepts with which they may be struggling.
I did not find any significant grammatical errors in the text.
One of the things I like about the book is that it, like me, acknowledges that language is fluid and as a result, writing is fluid and the ways in which we define what is "good" and what is "poor" must be reworked and flexible.
I think it's a terrific book that's been needed for a long time.
This edited collection would be ideal for a graduate-level pedagogy course, professional training for Rhetoric and Composition faculty, or for multi-disciplinary faculty trainings designed to explore and challenge commonly-held misconceptions... read more
This edited collection would be ideal for a graduate-level pedagogy course, professional training for Rhetoric and Composition faculty, or for multi-disciplinary faculty trainings designed to explore and challenge commonly-held misconceptions about the production, teaching, and assessment of writing. The collection is, by design of the editors, also meant to be a way to communicate insider discussions about these myths to a broader, public audience. The book is divided into sections that are designed to address many of the common misconceptions that still circulate about writing: overall conceptions about what “good” writing means; challenges to ideas about who can/not be a good writing; style, usage, and grammar issues; writing techniques; genres of writing; writing assessment; technology; and misconceptions about those who teach writing. There is a clear index of sections and essays, and the grouping of the essays is logical and useful. It is set up so that one section could be used for a training session or course segment. Individual essays could be used for public education about key ideas.
The essays are written by a wide range of scholars in the field, representing diverse ideas, viewpoints, and backgrounds. Not all of them are clearly written for a lay audience, but many of the essays would be useful for that purpose.
Since the misconceptions are widespread and long-lived, historically, one hoped-for outcome would probably be that the book would eventually render itself obsolete. Given that this is unlikely, it would be easy to update by adding new/revised essays around the general themes.
All of the essays are well written, with clear goals and support for key ideas. They range in terms of their level of accessibility to a lay audience, so some would be more useful for an insider audience and others are more suited to public education.
The essays all draw from ongoing discussions in the field, addressing research and practices that inform the teaching and assessment of writing and rhetoric.
The subtopics are clearly organized by key ideas, and could easily be used for assignments as described above. Flagging some essays as particularly friendly for lay-audience use could be helpful.
Each section has a range of essays representing different key ideas and voices. Some of the sections are more robust than others, but all are clear and well-represented.
There are no issues with the interface; the book is easy to navigate and information is clearly represented.
The text is well-edited, and has a whole section that addresses some of the problems with a fixation on grammar.
The collection is designed to disrupt some of the common, damaging ideas about writing that are grounded in white supremacy culture. Essays are written by writers from relatively-diverse backgrounds and demographics. One of its greatest strengths lies in analysis of some of the many ways that misconceptions about writing and its instruction are grounded in racism, classism, and sexism.
This book presents many short, easy-to-read essays that explore commonly held bad ideas about writing--from the idea that you can write "in general" (without a purpose or audience in mind) to the idea that the five paragraph essay is essential to... read more
This book presents many short, easy-to-read essays that explore commonly held bad ideas about writing--from the idea that you can write "in general" (without a purpose or audience in mind) to the idea that the five paragraph essay is essential to teach. The essays dispel these "bad ideas about writing" and provide readers with research and evidence to suggest why we need to let go of these bad ideas.
The content is accurate and research-based. Essays also include a "further reading" section for readers who want to delve deeper into the topics of each essay.
The content of the textbook is up-to-date. Each essay provides ideas that college students have likely heard about what makes writing "good." Articles in the book look at more contemporary issues, such as the machine scoring of writing, that will help readers think about the importance of human feedback. Another section of the book focuses on technology and the role that it plays in writing.
The text is free of jargon and technical terminology. The prose is extremely accessible and college students should think that it reads clearly.
The book is extremely consistent in that it dispels ideas that people have about what "good writing" is supposed to look like.
The articles are short and do not need to be divided into smaller reading sections or subheadings. Every article is fewer than ten pages.
The book is very well organized. It is divided into clear sections: "Bad ideas about what good writing is," "Bad ideas about who good writers are," "Bad ideas about style, usage, and grammar," "Bad ideas about writing techniques," "Bad ideas about genres," "Bad ideas about assessing writing," "Bad ideas about writing and digital technology," and "Bad ideas about writing teachers." Each section has a variety of articles that are relevant and accessible.
The text is easy to navigate and read. There are no images, graphs, or charts that are distorted. The table of contents makes it easy to navigate to essays that students are asked to read.
The writing in the text is clear and proofread well.
The text does not appear to be culturally insensitive.
This offers a myriad of entry points and perspectives on issues around writing. read more
This offers a myriad of entry points and perspectives on issues around writing.
The different voices/perspectives of this text trouble the notions of accuracy and bias-free writing. Instead, essays play with commonly held beliefs and assumptions around what makes writing, writers, and grammar "good."
The issues, examples, and stories align strikingly with many of the concerns my students grapple with each semester. I can imagine incorporating a myriad of these essays into class discussions to deepen our work on various issues and topics, and I believe these perspectives will remain timely for a long time.
There are significant shifts across the voices of different authors. This will support my students in engaging with different examples of voice and tone.
The organization and structure is consistent.
This is very clearly organized and easy to navigate.
The structure/flow makes a lot of sense.
I did not encounter any issues with this text's interface.
The writing in this text is clear.
I did not encounter any examples of culturally insensitivity.
I plan to incorporate these essays into my Composition courses in the future.
Table of Contents
- Bad Ideas About What Good Writing Is
- Bad Ideas About Who Good Writers Are
- Bad Ideas About Style, Usage, and Grammar
- Bad Ideas About Writing Techniques
- Bad Ideas About Genres
- Bad Ideas About Assessing Writing
- Bad Ideas About Writing and Digital Technology
- Bad Ideas About Writing Teachers
About the Book
We intend this work to be less a bestiary of bad ideas about writing than an effort to name bad ideas and suggest better ones. Some of those bad ideas are quite old, such as the archetype of the inspired genius author, the five-paragraph essay, or the abuse of adjunct writing teachers. Others are much newer, such as computerized essay scoring or gamification. Some ideas, such as the supposed demise of literacy brought on by texting, are newer bad ideas but are really instances of older bad ideas about literacy always being in a cycle of decline. Yet the same core questions such as what is good writing, what makes a good writer, how should writing be assessed, and the like persist across contexts, technologies, and eras. The project has its genesis in frustration, but what emerges is hope: hope for leaving aside bad ideas and thinking about writing in more productive, inclusive, and useful ways.
About the Contributors
Cheryl E. Ball is associate professor of digital publishing studies in the Professional Writing and Editing program at West Virginia University. She is also editor of Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy as well as the #writing book series with the WAC Clearinghouse/Colorado State University Open Press, both of which are open-access publishing venues available to anyone with an Internet connection. She teaches the importance of edit-ing content in a digital world, and offers a special thank you to all of the undergraduate and graduate students at WVU who helped with the publication of this book. She also thanks WVU Libraries for its support of the Digital Publishing Institute. Finally, she is grateful to Drew M. Loewe for coming up with the idea for this book and for agreeing to let her work on it with him.
Drew M. Loewe is an associate professor of writing and rhetoric at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, where he also directs the Writing Center. His scholarly and teaching interests include rhetorical theory and criticism, argumentation, prose style, legal writing, writing centers, research methods, and the first-year writ-ing sequence. He thanks St. Edward’s for supporting this project with time and money, and especially thanks Cheryl E. Ball for being the best co-editor anyone could hope for.