One of the problems with freshman composition

Core Knowledge Blog is discussing posts that compare two 7th grade papers, one a nuanced character analysis of Anne Frank and one an essay on a chore the student hates. Robert Pondiscio had this to say:

You can’t ask kids to do “self-directed” writing about their family, their friends and their personal experiences throughout elementary school to the exclusion of nearly all else, then expect them to dazzle you with their insights into literature in middle school.


And it becomes even worse when they have written this way through high school and show up in college unaware of academic writing. It is one of the reasons I created my “Use of the Familiar to Introduce Literature” unit. Students had never, or rarely, written on literature and they didn’t understand what a literary analysis was or should be. (To read a presentation over the unit, keep reading the blog. I will be posting it here.)

I posted on “How to Create a Character Analysis” and that has become my top hit. I am fairly sure students are looking for the information they need to write a class assignment.

It is not because students don’t want to do the work we ask of them. They don’t know how.