Writing by the academic calendar

There is simply no way students coming into a first year college composition class can learn to write competently in one semester.

Unless, of course, they come in knowing how to write competently.

If I’m honest with students and tell them they won’t develop writing skill in a semester, they get angry.

They think they’re going to be ripped off.

A group of them will drop out immediately.

Why should they try to learn, if it’s impossible to achieve writing competence in a semester?

If I tell them at the start of the semester that they can learn to write competently (which is true) but fail to mention they won’t learn to write competently in a semester, they’ll be happy.

For a while.

Then they’ll get mad, work harder, complain harder, cry.

Those things won’t help.

Hard work isn’t what they need.

They need time.

Time to plan.

Time to try a different approach.

Time to figure out the real problem.

The real problem is lack of time.

At the end of the semester, when they haven’t achieved writing competence despite all our best efforts, they feel ripped off.

They get angry.

I get angry, too.

I feel ripped off.

I’ve never met an academic calendar that I didn’t hate.


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