The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0266  Friday, 30 January 2004

From:           D Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 29 Jan 2004 09:44:35 -0600
Subject: 15.0240 "Would Shakespeare Get Into Swarthmore?"
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0240 "Would Shakespeare Get Into Swarthmore?"

Al Magary makes us aware of the following from the upcoming Atlantic

 >The College Board recently announced plans to introduce a new essay
 >section to the SAT. The essays-some 2.5 million of which will be written
 >each year-are to be graded "holistically," on a scale of 1 to 6, taking
 >into consideration "development of ideas, supporting examples,
 >organization, word choice, and sentence structure." Three senior staff
 >members at The Princeton Review wonder: How would several well-known
 >writers ([including Shakespeare] and the Unabomber) fare on the test?

I suppose this is a joke, but it strikes me as a silly premise. How can
you possibly tell how someone might fare at writing a college essay from
how they wrote an Elizabethan play or sonnet? I grade many dozens of
these essays every year and I have yet to see a connection between
writing to inform and writing to engross except that some people do well
at both.

Given Shakespeare's intelligence and command of English, you would
expect him to do well -- *extremely* well -- if he turned up in your
Freshman Comp class. But there's no guarantee. Some people who are
already way beyond elementary work get bored with it and do poorly. This
is especially true of imaginative ones. They would rather write
*Othello* than a 6-page, properly-referenced, well-structured,
well-supported essay on it -- as who wouldn't? But that doesn't mean
they couldn't.

As to grading holistically, I guess that's what I do, though I'm not
sure precisely what the term means. Some of my less successful students
would likely agree, especially if they could modify the term slightly.


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Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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