A writer-editor-teacher’s quote of the week #98

We are teaching writing as literature because literature is central to writing. You may object that the academic expository essay is instrumental and utilitarian, a specialized form of prose, like the textbooks students have been reading most of their lives. That is the root of the problem. Writing cannot be learned as something specialized, any more than you could learn carpentry by doing repairs or cooking by working in a short-order kitchen. We cannot begin with the peripheral. Except for technical schools, there is no sense in teaching the specialized at all. Competency can refine itself. We must teach the central first. However we define it, the true beginning is the center,  because the center is the core or heart, an axis on which the rest turns, the point of concentrated activity or influence, the subject seen in its most direct and simple form, as poetry is the center of literature. Centers are, moreover, the beginnings we never leave behind. We leaf and flower out of them and ripen back to them, returning to them and renewing our sense of them at every stage.

— from the chapter, “Transition to Expository Essays: Student Writing as Literature” in Beat Not The Poor Desk: Writing: What to teach, How to teach it and Why by Marie Ponsot and Rosemary Dean

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