Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What he said ... John McIntyre's first-day-of-class speech

John McIntyre, whom I am proud to call a friend, has posted the first-day "welcome" he gives to editing students.

I suspect versions of this will be showing up in classrooms across the nation - maybe the world :)


This is not a gut course. Writing is difficult enough to do. It does not come to us as naturally as speech, and we have to spend years learning it. Editing is even harder. We can write intuitively, by ear, but we have to edit analytically.


Before we even get to the analytical aspect, we will have to do some work on grammar and usage, because if you are like most of the five hundred students who have preceded you here, you will be shaky on some of the fundamentals. You will have to learn some things that you ought to have been taught, and you will have to unlearn some things that you ought not to have been taught


I should also caution you from the outset that this course is appallingly dull. A student from last term complained in the course evaluation that “he just did the same thing over and over day after day.” So will you. Editing must be done word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, and we will go over texts in class, word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph. No one will hear you if you scream.


I’m going to turn my back for a minute so that anyone who wants to bolt can.
Now, if you are willing to stay—and work—I can show you how it is done.
 There's more good stuff, but you really can't get the full flavor until you know John's somewhat patrician speech pattern - so check this out first.



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2 Comments:

At 8/23/11, 3:01 PM, Blogger Dallasmom said...

That is a good speech! I taught college English for a year, and some of my students complained that it was dull, too. But I was trying to teach them the same things as McIntyre: good grammar, spelling and composition, which means a lot of repetition and not much excitement. Unfortunately most teenagers today know too much textspeak and not enough good grammar.

 
At 8/24/11, 8:50 AM, Blogger Jan Arzooman said...

I loved this: "Editing must be done word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, and we will go over texts in class, word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph. No one will hear you if you scream."

But I was laughing out loud at the ending of the video ... "This joke is a production of the Baltimore Sun." Awesome.

 

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