What about writing?
The problem of access
Increasing writing does not incurease writing proficiency: Writing is output, not input.
Recent evidence: Sari, R. IJFLT 2013 8(1) Is it possible to improve writing without writing practice?
COMPONENTS OF THE COMPOSING PROCESS
Writing makes you smarter, inspiration the result of writing, not the cause (Boice)
The CP: strategies to use writing to solve problems, keep your place
The classical composing process
I. Revision :
Neil Simon: “mediocre writers write, good writers rewrite.”
Vonnegut: "Novelists have, on the average, about the same IQs as the cosmetic consultants at Bloomingdale's department store. Our power is patience. We have discovered that writing allows even a stupid person to seem halfway intelligent, if only that person will write the same thought over and over again, improving it just a little bit each time. It is a lot like inflating a blimp with a bicycle pump. Anybody can do it. All it takes is time"
II. Flexible Planning: “experienced writers refuse to leave on a trip with a map." Murray, 1984
Good writers plan, but not always formally, are willing to change their plans
Overplanning: rigid plan – new ideas are an annoyance
III. Rereading: “I rise at first light and I start by rereading and editing everything I have written to the point I left off” (Hemingway, in Winokur, 1990, p. 247).
Jonathon Kellerman rereads to “segue into new material” (Perry, 1999, p. 178)
IV. Delay Editing: This draft may not be the final one!
Disturbs the flow, coming up with ideas. “Tony” (Perl, 1979): a concern with form “that actually inhibited the development of ideas. In none of his writing sessions did he ever write more than two sentences before he began to edit” (Perl, 1979, p. 324).
Peter Elbow: “Treat grammar as a matter of very late editorial correcting: never think about while you are writing. Pretend you have an editor who will fix everything for you, then don’t hire yourself for this job until the very end” (Elbow, 1973, p. 137).
Additional elements of the composing process
Incubation: "Composition is not enhanced by grim determination" (Frank Smith)
Problem-solving often requires “an interval free from conscious thought” to allow the free working of the subconscious mind (Wallas, 1926,)
Helmholz: After previous investigation, "in all directions," .. " happy ideas come unexpectedly without effort, like an inspiration ... they have never come to me when my mind was fatigued, or when I was at my working table ... They came particularly readily during the slow ascent of wooded hills on a sunny day" (Wallas, p. 91).
Tolle (1999): “All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness … Even the great scientists have reported that their creative breakthroughs came a a time of mental quietude” (p. 20).
Einstein: "'Whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work … he would take refuge in music, and that would resolve all his difficulties.'" (Clark, 1971) … "with relaxation, there would often come the solution.”
Poincare (1924) there must be a "preliminary period of conscious work which also precedes all fruitful unconscious labor.”
Incubation not allowed in school writing.
Rosellen Brown: writing “is a job, not a hobby … you have to sit down and work, to schedule your time and stick to it …” (Winokur, 1999, p. 188).
Walker Percy “You've got to sit down and follow a schedule. Unless you do that, punch the time clock - you won't ever do anything” (Murray, 1990, p. 60).
Irving Wallace: vast majority of published authos keep, some semblance of regular daily hours..." (Wallace & Pear, 1971, pp. 518-9).
WHEN is variable: Michael Chabon:10 pm - 4 am, Maya Angelou 6:30 am- 12:30, 1:30.
Time keepers: Irving Wallace (Wallace and Pear, 1971) (Balzac, Flaubert, Conrad, Maugham, Huxley, Hemingway).
Page counters: (Updike, West, Bradbury); Word counters: (Haley, Wambaugh) (Murray, 1990, pp. 48-65).
Kate DiCamillo: “When I turned 29, I had an epiphany: I’d never get published if I didn’t actually write”
Source of inspiration is writing:
Stephen King: don’t “wait for the Muse. Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you are going to be every day from nine 'till noon or seven 'till three”
Susan Sontag: "Any productive writer learns that you can't wait for inspiration. That's the recipe for writer's block” (Brodie, 1997, p. 38),
Madeleine L’Engle: "Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it”
Regular writing vs binging:
Woody Allen, "If you work only three to four hours per day, you become quite productive. It's the steadiness that counts" (Murray, 1990, p. 46).
Boice (1982): junior faculty members who had a “regular, moderate habit of writing,” were compared to those who were “binge” writers (“… more than ninety minutes of intensive, uninterrupted work)” over a six year period. The regular writers produced more than five times as much, and all got tenure or promotion. Only two binge writers got tenure.
The regular writers more relaxed: The binge writers showed three times as many signs of "blocking": When binge writers actually wrote, "they more commonly did nothing or very little (for example, recasting a first sentence or paragraph for an hour; staring at a blank screen).” Binge writers "were three times more likely to be rushing at their work … three times more likely to put off scheduled writing in favor of "seemingly urgent, no more important activities.”
Why DRW helps: incubation between sessions, warming up
Flaubert: "I have the peculiarity of a camel - I find it difficult to stop once I get started and hard to start after I've been resting” (Murray, 1990) Gore Vidal: "I'm always reluctant to start work, and reluctant to stop."
If Charles Dickens missed a day of writing, "he needed a week of hard slog to get back into the flow" (Hughes, in Plimpton, 1999, p. 247).
ACCESS to reading material and POVERTY
Child poverty in the US: Now 25%: The reason for our unspectacular international test scores: When researchers control for poverty, American scores are excellent: Carnoy, M. & Rothstein, R. 2013, What Do International Tests Really Show Us about U.S. Student Performance. Economic Policy Institute. 2012. http://www.epi.org/).
Improve schools to cure poverty (US DOE), or cure poverty to improve schools? "We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished.” (Martin Luther King, 1967, Final Words of Advice)
Dr. King was right:
1. No correlations between test scores and economic well-being (Zhao, 2009)
2. Devastating effect of aspects of poverty on school achievement (Berliner, 2009)
a. Food deprivation/nutrition
b. Environmental toxins (eg lead)
c. Lack of health care (eg school nurses in high and low poverty schools)
d. Lack of access to books: home, school, community
The Beverly Hills/Watts study: (Smith, Constantino & Krashen)
(1) Available books in the home: BH = 200; Watts = .4
(2) Classroom libraries: BH = 400; Watts = 50
The Philadelphia study (Neuman & Celano): middle-class children "deluged" with books, high poverty have difficulty getting any access
1. Full employment at a living wage for honest work
2. Short term: protect children from the effects of poverty
a. No child left unfed (S. Ohanian)
b. Improved health care at school (eg school nurses)
c. Provide access to books: support libraries
The importance of libraries
1. Children get their books from libraries
2. Better libraries > better reading (Keith Curry Lance, Jeff McQuillan)
3. Libraries/access to books can offset the impact of poverty
Predictors of achievement on PIRLS reading: Krashen, Lee, & McQuillan (2012)
r2 = .63
Other evidence: S. Krashen, Protecting students against the effects of poverty: Libraries (New England Reading Association Journal)
Closing the gap between African –American and white children: Fryer & Levitt (2004): SES accounts for 2/3 of gap, books in home accounts for the rest.
Meanwhile library funding is being cut: American Library Association, 2010. The State of America's Libraries. Kelley, M. 2010, Budget survey: Bottoming out? Library Journal, 2010. School library cuts greater in high poverty areas.
WHERE WILL WE GET THE MONEY? REDUCE TESTING The NUT Principle
The increase in testing: NOT supported by research
More standardized high stakes tests do not mean better performance: Nichols, Glass & Berliner, 2006
Adding SATs to grades does not improve prediction of college success: (Bowen, Chingos, & McPherson, 2009; Geiser & Santelices, 2007).
The cose of online testing: Must connect all students/provide computers/upgrade and replace/new "innovations". The winners: the .001%
.001% invests little, takes NO RISK: Taxpayers pay for everything, and if it fails: teachers blamed, but corporations win: Call for more tests and more technology.
A modest proposal: rely on teacher judgment – the most valid
Can we make tests more sophisticated? Requires years of careful research.
NOW: An improved NAEP, drop the rest. Need not test every child every year.
Are we falling behind in STEM? "… the impending shortage of scientists and engineers is one of the longest running hoaxes in the country" (Bracey, 2009).
1. Three qualified engineers for each position
2. the PhD glut
3. US labor statistics – no shortage of engineers (but electricians, plumbers, construction jobs)
4. Teitelman: cycles of shortage panic > oversupply
Salzman, H. 2012. http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/should-foreign-stem-graduates-get-green-cards/no-shortage-of-qualified-american-stem-grads.
Teitelbaum, M. 2014: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-teitelbaum-stem-fears-20140420,0,120851.story#axzz2zYCn7SCA
More Ph.D's than the market can absorb: Weissman, Jordan. The Ph.D Bust: America's Awful Market for Young Scientists—in 7 Charts. The Atlantic, Feb 20, 2013. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/02/the-phd-bust-americas-awful-market-for-young-scientists-in-7-charts/273339/