June 18, 2007, by Teaching at Nottingham

Support for developing writing skills

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Kate: “Students are going to need to develop very high levels of writing and argument and different ways of presenting their ideas and the concepts that they’re learning about, how do you focus in and help them learn and develop those writing skills at such a high level?”

Andrew Fisher, Philosophy: “First off we drum into them it’s not easy and just because you’ve done philosophy at A-Level or you’ve read some philosophy you’re not going to be able to do it automatically. So that puts them at ease that they’re not meant to be at high skill level straight away.

“We offer the argument clinic where we go through key things in structure and argument, key writing skills and we talk about key spelling errors that they may make or things you should put in a conclusion and things you shouldn’t as well. But often the most hands-on approach is people email me essays beforehand and email seminar leaders essay plans and things and we go through and that’s useful. So they come and see me and I say ‘Well I think this is how you should approach it’, ‘Let’s have a look. Why have you put that paragraph there?’, ‘If you move it to the one underneath that would make more sense’, that sort of thing.

“But also all the first years that do philosophy they have with their tutors a sort of hands-on ‘Lets go through writing skills’ with their tutors as well so we’ll go through how you write philosophy, why is it different from anything else, and I think a key skill in philosophy is it’s more like science than it is like art, so that’s the thing that they can’t get their heads around.

“They think they have to be flowery and all that stuff but what they have to do is think like a scientist, clarify your terms, get it on the paper, tell me what you’re doing tell me what you’ve done, finish.”

Andrew Fisher
School of Humanities

Extracts from interviews with staff and students about teaching inclusively. This video was originally published as part of PESL’s Thinking about Dyslexia collection. Produced June 2007.

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