Throughout reading Murray’s article, I had to keep reminding myself that this was written in 1972. For the most part, I thought, “This is how I learned to write.” It surprised me how strongly against examining literature as a means for teaching writing Murray is. I have to agree with him on this. Although literature is a good tool for teaching, I don’t think it should be teacher’s only way of teaching writing. It is basically telling students that they have to write like these authors, or they are stupid. These pieces of literature are perfectly finished products, and they do not teach a student how to achieve this perfection. A lot of students think their first draft needs to be perfect because it is their finished draft, and this simply is not the case. This is one part of Murray’s process of writing.
By saying writing is a process, Murray means that there are several steps one must go through before they can create a paper to be proud of. It is essential to teach our students how to form a good paper, but we must also teach them how to critically think about the paper before he or she starts it. The first step in this process, prewriting, is the most important part, I think. It helps writers get their ideas out and narrowed down. Writers cannot begin the second step, writing, without first critically thinking about the content of their papers. Many people would say writing is the most important part because that is when the writer is actually putting words to paper – or computer-. I find this part to be the most challenging because this is where I realize if I did or did not spend enough time prewriting. This step challenges student’s writing and language skills, as well as their ability to push past frustration and create a masterpiece. I also think the third process of rewriting is essential, yet it is the step student avoid the most. Students need to practice this step so they can properly edit and add to their papers to improve their writing.
When the papers are being graded, teachers need to find ways to give corrective and positive criticism in a way that is not demeaning. I think Murray was right on target when he said, “Year after year the student shudders under the barrage of criticism, much of it brilliant, some of it stupid, and all of it irrelevant.” If a sentence does not flow, a student needs to be informed and taught how to make it flow; not just told, “This sentence is wrong.” By saying this, students do not understand what they did wrong, and thus, will not learn from their mistake. Students need to be given useful feedback so they can learn. I also think it is a great idea to allow for rewrites; this way a student can fix their mistakes, learn, and be rewarded with a better grade for their hard work.