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" in discussions, the phrases were posted as prompts at the front of the classroom and much smarter-sounding discussions resulted.
When New Dorp discovered that students didn't know how to use such words as "although" or "despite," the school consciously set out to teach them, and the kids began to write better.
When New Dorp discovered kids didn't know how to say "I disagree" or "Can you explain your answer?
They don't realize that it's because they lack certain skills that were common among college freshmen 40 years ago.
Tyre points out how small some of the important skills are, and how conscious instruction in them can make a difference.
When you think of something abstract, you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning.
Fowler's advice to the writer was to strike out all the "-ion" words possible, to put every such word on trial.
An alternate approach might be to start the course with physical objects, training students to write with those in mind, and to understand that every abstract idea summarizes a set of physical facts. "If you are writing about markets, recognize that market is an abstract idea, and find a bunch of objects that relate to it," I say. Show me a wooden roadside stand with corn and green peppers on it, if you want.
Show me a supermarket displaying six kinds of oranges under halogen lights.
One is the skill of giving specific concrete examples in an essay. Put physical objects in your essay."As I recounted in a recent article for the National Association of Scholars, when I try to talk to other freshman comp teachers about object-based writing, I usually see their eyes glaze over.
One might naturally assume that giving good concrete examples is unteachable, that it's just an aspect of a student's thinking, and that a student with good mind will use good examples in his or her essays. I'm obsessed with the importance of writing with objects, and know it works, but it's hard to get the idea across.