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Bad Ideas About Writing

(12 reviews)

Cheryl E Ball

Drew M Loewe

Copyright Year: 2017

Publisher: West Virginia University

Language: English

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Reviewed by Lora Winters, Assistant Instructional Professor, Pittsburg State University on 12/22/22

This book covers a variety of different bad ideas about writing and writing instruction. The included essays cover topics including technology in writing, grammar, methods of teaching writing, what good writing is, and who good writers are. ... read more

Reviewed by Kristen Fink, Instructor, Portland Community College on 9/9/22

The book covers a range of tropes about what "good" writing is, how it should be taught, who teaches it, and who excels at it. read more

Reviewed by John (Tom) Williams, associate professor, Tidewater Community College on 7/24/22

Essays cover a wide and varied range of ideas about writing and the teaching of writing. These include essays about what good writing, good writers, grammar and style, assessment, technology, even writing teachers themselves. Content takes a... read more

Reviewed by Christina Davidson, Adjunct Faculty, Indiana University - Southeast (New Albany) on 4/30/22

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

Reviewed by George Zamzow, English Instructor, Portland Community College on 1/1/22

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

Reviewed by Beatrice Mendez Newman, Professor, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on 11/15/20

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

Reviewed by Colin Charlton, Professor & Chair, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on 10/28/20

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

Reviewed by Jennifer Burke Grehan, Adjunct Professor, ESL and ENG, Bunker Hill Community College on 6/29/20

This book is easy to follow, offers great directions, and moderate vocabulary. read more

Reviewed by Nancy Mades-Byrd, adjunct, North Shore Community College on 6/24/20

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

Reviewed by Angela Buchanan, Instructor, University of Colorado Boulder on 6/11/20

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

Reviewed by Karen Miele, Adjunct instructor, Worcester State University on 6/4/20

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

Reviewed by Angela Coffee, English Faculty , Minnesota State University System on 12/17/19

This offers a myriad of entry points and perspectives on issues around writing. read more

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

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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.

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