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Writing Without Teachers

de Peter Elbow

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In Writing Without Teachers, well-known advocate of innovative teaching methods Peter Elbow outlines a practical program for learning how to write. His approach is especially helpful to people who get ""stuck"" or blocked in their writing, and is equally useful for writing fiction, poetry, and essays, as well as reports, lectures, and memos. The core of Elbow's thinking is a challenge against traditional writing methods. Instead of editing and outlining material in the initial steps of the writing process, Elbow celebrates non-stop or free uncensored writing, without editorial checkpoints firs… (més)
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This is a book of some stature and is held in high esteem, so I suppose I commit something like heresy when I find myself mystified as to why--and articulate the question. Professor Elbow, if I understand him correctly, is a proponent of "process writing," which is all to the good. While I am in general skeptical of a pure process approach (for I am, alas, what some would call, hyperbolically, a "grammar nazi"), I see its merits. My problems with this book are twofold: first there is the argument about process writing, which I submit is overstated, and perhaps a bit too personalized (the upright pronoun is ubiquitous in this book) for my tastes. The second is that for such a slim volume about writing, there is an awful lot of prolixity afoot here.

All of this said, there is a section in the book in which Professor Elbow discusses process writing as a way of uncovering what one may not realize one has learned in a course--or in life for that matter. This is really a method of journal writing, and it is effective, I believe, in helping students get to the bottoms to their own understandings of how they understand what they learned in any setting. I think William Zinsser argued that case much more cogently in his book Writing to Learn.
  Mark_Feltskog | Dec 23, 2023 |
Peter Elbow's Writing Without Teachers, which I first encountered in 1974, changed the way I thought about writing and freed me from one of my chief impediments: the idea that I had to work out in my head, or in an outline, what I wanted to say before I wrote anything down. By introducing the concept of freewriting, Elbow made it possible to start anywhere, and trust that the process of writing without a teacher, and without editing, would be sufficient to get core ideas down, which later editing and revising could polish into something that might never have come to be, using the method drilled into me in high school and college. ( )
  dbookbinder | Dec 31, 2016 |
This book is amazing and every teacher of every subject at every level should read it. That includes you, too, you fancy pants professors of whatever it is you know so much about.
It is the best philosophy that a person can have for education. I don't even feel a little bit hesitant to use such superlative terms to describe this book. ( )
  danconsiglio | Apr 1, 2010 |
This is the most helpful book about writing I've ever read. Elbow advocates free, almost unconscious writing, followed of course by rigorous revision. While the traditional approach has the writer picking a topic and setting up a structure, Elbow argues that one can discover one's subject and one's organization through the act of writing. ( )
  CasualFriday | Feb 4, 2008 |
Free writing does work. ( )
  lachatte | Dec 19, 2006 |
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In Writing Without Teachers, well-known advocate of innovative teaching methods Peter Elbow outlines a practical program for learning how to write. His approach is especially helpful to people who get ""stuck"" or blocked in their writing, and is equally useful for writing fiction, poetry, and essays, as well as reports, lectures, and memos. The core of Elbow's thinking is a challenge against traditional writing methods. Instead of editing and outlining material in the initial steps of the writing process, Elbow celebrates non-stop or free uncensored writing, without editorial checkpoints firs

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