Sunday, April 29, 2012

"Voice" in Student Writing

The concept of “voice” is somewhat controversial in academic circles. Here I put that controversy aside to share my experiences with “voice” in my students’ writing. We are aware of voice in the writing of well-known authors. But it is much harder to discern, naturally, in that of amateur writers, especially students. Most students take a while to develop distinctive voices, and often produce a high proportion of pedestrian, unoriginal writing. But over time, whether in academic or creative writing, they gradually develop, or uncover, their own idiosyncratic and particular ways of expressing themselves. It is such a pleasure to see their imaginations at work, to read an unusual turn of phrase, or to note a sense of humor or a unique perspective. When this happens, something exciting occurs: the student’s voice calls out to the reader in a specific way that only that student could enact. What a joy that is for the reader!

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