There is a common belief that writing, much like proficiency in athletics and music, hinges on a natural "talent” bestowed upon the select few who can type up an “A” paper in one night. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, but these misunderstandings about “talent” persist and they can have grave consequences. If we aren’t good at something relatively quickly, we are encouraged by ourselves, and often others as well, to stop trying that specific task. These beliefs can be especially harmful in college because students cannot afford to give up on writing.
My teaching philosophy strives to debunk these false notions of “talent” in writing and in doing so emphasize clarity and communication. Throughout the semester I often ask my students, “What is it that you are trying to say?” We can get so wrapped up in a paper that we lose our argument, and this difficulty creates a snowball effect of confusion and frustration. I also encourage my students not to be afraid to sit down and write and write and write. When I write I go through many drafts, which serves as a self-imposed low-stakes writing. By taking pressure off of myself I clear my head to think.
Ultimately, I want my students to get comfortable in that uncomfortable space where they begin to get confused, and instead of reacting with panic, I want them to learn how to respond by taking a deep breath and calmly re-evaluating their argument. Hopefully, given the opportunity, I can help steer them away from giving up just when the going gets tough, because once they do they will thrive not only as writers, but as thinkers.