I trust my students.
My students tell me that writing skills are sexy. But how sexy is my teaching approach? Unfortunately, teaching writing skills often boils down to correcting (boring) home assignments. With not much effect.
Last week I asked my business management and intercultural communication students to reflect on the skills they need to write a proper academic paragraph. One would have expected them to mention typical assessment categories, such as 'grammar', 'organisation' and 'vocabulary range'. But they came up with surprisingly 'sexy skills', such as creativity, analytical thinking, work ethics, team spirit, imagination, critical thinking skills, etc.
But let's face it: Acquiring these skills takes time and practice. It takes proper research, deep reflection and profound discussion. And I am really asking myself: How can I adapt my teaching approach so that students can build these skills in a short time? How can I avoid the assignment trap? How can I make my students aware that transitions make all the difference and that it's all about contrast? And how can I ensure that they understand that designing the future of our planet asks for exactly the skills they need to formulate a proper academic sentence?
In times where time is money and we are asked to reduce complex issues to short tweets, where content is increasingly delivered via video, in small bites, and where we struggle to turn data into effective stories we need to make sure that we take 'academic writing skills' seriously. Universities need to acknowledge that teaching these skills goes far beyond teaching the correct use of tenses and vocabulary range. Actually, teaching these skills is a highly creative and responsible act. Personally, I think that academic writing classes need to be turned into a space that encourages and enables students as well as teachers to explore, reflect and co-create.