A. Michelini

(more to say)

Are we giving up on creativity?

“Writers—and teachers of writing—might sometimes wish all writing abilities could be learned once and for always, just as one can learn how to spell a particular word correctly or how to punctuate a quotation correctly once and for always.”

Adler-Kassner, Linda. Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies (Kindle Locations 1765-1766). Utah State University Press. Kindle Edition.

While I appreciate where Adler-Kassner is coming from in acknowledging how some writers may feel, I can’t help but feel slightly alarmed by his suggestion that teachers may wish for their purpose to be over in a sense. Since the book is directed at specialty writers and teachers in the field of composition, it is concerning that some may feel so tired that they wish their job could be done very quickly. While everyone knows the feeling of work dragging, I think the acknowledgement of this attitude could suggest a larger problem. By giving an official nod to this in the their book, Adler-Kassner is admitting that creativity may be squelched in a great many classrooms. After all, what is going to suffer if the writing teacher feels that he or she just wants to teach formulaically as fast as possible? I submit to you that the outcome might be a lack of creativity in the classroom. In this way, the quote becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, as the students will not be as engaged as they could be when completing dry activities as opposed to creative ones and then the teacher and the students will all collectively wish that the assignment would end as soon as possible.


  1. Interesting take on this. I think the assumption about teachers of writing is a little redundant, but I have trouble making the jump to how this assumption could equate to the desire to teach formulaically or an inability to engage in creative ways of teaching. Would love to hear more about this.

  2. Hi Abby. It’s so interesting that you connected the statement to creativity in the classroom. I’d love to know if you’ve experienced it as a student or teacher. My interpretation of the quote is that learning to write never ends. All writers, regardless of how skilled they are in one genre, have to learn something new when they encounter an unfamiliar rhetorical situation. This reminds me of language and how it is so different from every other school subject.

  3. “This reminds me of language and how it is so different from every other school subject.” – Bita

    I agree, Bita. There have been a few threshold concepts from Addler-Kassner where I’ve seen correlations to language learning.

    Abby’s concern and Bita’s comment has me wondering about the separation of school subjects. Are misunderstandings of the nature of language and writing partially due to how we have organized school (you are in Biology now, not English)? Though “writing is not natural”, communication is. Is there a way to have the natural develop naturally to support other academic content, instead of separating language and writing as school subjects?

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