Why Academics Stink at Writing

Steven Pinker writes about the problem of academic writing in the Chronicle (9.29.14). The thoughts are from his new book The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.

You can read the article “Why Academics Stink at Writing,” or download a pdf/booklet version of it with 4 responses from experts (“And How to Fix it”) here.

Some of the specifics offered by Pinker and his respondents will be useful in addressing the teaching of writing in the major. Pinker has his eye on discipline-based academic writing, and ways to make our writing, and by extension, I would hope, our students’ writing, more readable and recognizable to an audience beyond a journal specializing in one discipline. However, it might be even more useful to take Pinker more for his inspiration than to take him at his word. Think about developing a booklet for your department and your majors. Something like:” Why ________ [insert discipline here] stink at writing and how our students can do better.”

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