What Is Good Writing in the 21st Century?

Throughout Hobbs “The Seven Great Debates in the Media Literacy Movement”, I could not help but think about the lack of objective standard of what good writing should be.  We as educators should have a goal that we desire our students to attain.   If using videos of “The Simpsons” allow my students to become better writers, then we should employ such techniques.  Throughout all of the recent articles, I have failed to read what are goals as English teachers are.  We all agree that students need to be better writers.  Great.  What does that look like? Without answering that question, most of these debates about new media are merely secondary issues.   Or at least, these debates on technology cannot truly be waged without a clear understanding of what we want to achieve in regards to writing samples from our students.  We need a weighing mechanism in this debate.  We all need to agree on a value – excellence in composition.   If we cannot agree with what a good term paper looks like or what the end result should be, then it seems we will simply argue in circles.  Once we have defined what good writing is or what our desired outcome is, only then can we engage in the new media debate.

1 comment for “What Is Good Writing in the 21st Century?

  1. October 3, 2009 at 1:13 am

    I feel a little underqualified to comment much about the subtleties of pedagogy and the teaching of writing. This class, 5010, is my first exposure to the rhet-comp major, and I have no background in the classroom, except as a student. I have done tutoring in a community college writing center, however—a place that gave me access to attempts by a wide range of developmental writers struggling to grasp the principles of basic compostion. Based on my admittedly limited experiences, I have to say I think that even with technological change, certain things about good writing seem likely to endure. Good writing, “excellence in composition,”—regardless of shifting conventions, styles, or fashionable content—aims at communicating with readers. To do that, writing must reflect clear thought, must make its writer’s arguments apparent to readers, and must demonstrate competence and even facility with the elements of language. Some of these criteria are not as objectively quantifiable as answers on a math test, but they are identifiable. Perhaps the situation with “good writing” boils down to that old adage spoken by legislators trying to define pornography: I may not be able to tell you exactly what it is, but I know it when I see it.

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