Presenting once doesn’t necessarily teach

Quote: As far as anyone knows, the only way to develop mental facility is to repeat the target process again and again and again.

There’s never enough time in the day to cover everything teachers want to teach. That’s undoubtedly why a teacher inquired about how much time to devote to teaching the thesis statement.

She asked whether she could teach the thesis statement to her sixth graders in one class period or whether it would take two.

In reply, I said something like this:

I don’t teach preteens so I don’t know how long it will take your sixth graders to grasp the concept of the thesis statement.

I do know, however, that when I teach the thesis statement three days a week to my college students and require them to use a thesis statement in writing an essay each of those weeks, most of my college students grasp the basic idea within 15-20 weeks.

What the sixth grade teacher didn’t get is that students don’t understand a thesis statement until they can—and do—use a thesis statement routinely in their writing.

Writing is a skill.

Until students can demonstrate writing skill in every situation where it’s appropriate, they haven’t learned the thesis statement.