Goldthwaite, Melissa A., ed. The Norton Pocket Book of Writing by Students. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010. Print.
This anthology collects writing by college students, and demonstrates the truly amazing writing in a variety of genres that students are capable of doing. It even includes a poem by Barack Obama, written when he was a college student, and, whatever you think of his politics, most people would agree that he developed into a fine writer, building upon the foundation of his student writing. Even if none of the other student writers in the book eventually write bestsellers as Obama did, most instructors at Ursuline would be thrilled to read papers of this quality. In fact, the book is aimed at inspiring students to develop their writing, even including a submission sheet in the back of the book for those who would like to have their work considered for use by W.W. Norton as examples of fine student writing. Though instructors often bemoan the quality of student writing, Goldthwaite, who once visited to Ursuline to host a writing workshop, suggests that a better use of our time might be to focus on the excellent student writing we do find, writing, “For most students there is little opportunity to celebrate such work and little chance for other students and teachers to enjoy, appreciate, and learn from such writing” (xii). Is her statement true of Ursuline? We do have Inscape, our fine arts annual, after all, which publishes the work of many of our students, but it tends to focus more on creative writing rather than more traditional academic writing. Perhaps we should celebrate student writing more when we come across an exemplary piece by having a contest or showcase each year. Some might worry about the opportunity for plagiarism this might create, particularly for papers written in response to assignments that are used year after year, but displaying exemplary student writing on our Web site or elsewhere might also help students understand more clearly what we want in terms of student work by providing accessible models of it. What do you think? The book is not available through OhioLINK, but we hope to have a copy in the college library soon.