Sunday, July 06, 2003

Using computers to teach writing

Amy Clark of UVa's College at Wise has this interesting commentary in the Bristol newspaper on the use of computer software to grade the writing of students.

Maybe there ought to be similar software for law students (or even lawyers). A topic of the law school deans at the judicial conference (still fresh in my mind) was the inability of law students to write. I would not have thought that this was exactly a new problem, but one of the deans posed the interesting point that maybe as the law schools devote more energy to teaching writing, at the same time the problem of incoming students who can't write is increasing, and so the law schools aren't making progress so much as staying even.

In my own work, I observe some strange or not so strange mechanical rules for writing briefs that work for me, and one is that every paragraph must have three, four, or five sentences. 2 is too few and 6 is too many. Every person who has ever heard me say this laughs out loud, but judge for yourself - here is a brief of mine available online.

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