Friday, April 11, 2008

Drill and Kill

Both of my daughters have completed their middle schooling in Virginia. We moved to Loudoun County because they have great schools and I endure the long commute to ensure they had the very best.

Both girls had 8th grade teachers that were amazing. In Eduspeak, these teachers would be considered “drill and kill” methodologists when it came to teaching writing. Every week for the entire school year, their English teachers required them to write an essay of the week. They were required to write a rough draft and have it edited by someone who signed off on their editing by Wednesday. They had to turn in the rough draft along with a final draft every Friday.

The drill and kill they were forced to endure had them write essays on politics, poetry, current events, school culture, favorite pets, sports, music, literature, science and a whole host of topics – some optional and some required.

After this horrible drilling, both of my daughters write far better than I ever could and have formed the great habits necessary for great writing. It has set them up for success in high school and now college. They both scored a 6 on their SAT writing.

Drilling is necessary for mastery. Killing is not. By using a variety of different topics for the essay while sticking to solid essay structure, students in Loudoun County mastered the writing skills necessary for success.

It’s only drill and kill if the teacher has limited creativity to make the necessary drills challenging yet fun.

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