Teaching Young Adults to Write Properly
I shepherd students along the way to becoming mature authors with distinctive, carefully crafted styles of their own. I begin by accounting holistically for each student’s needs and personality. Then I deliver tailored-to-fit, comprehensive guidance spread across the entire writing process, with as many as half a dozen one-on-one lessons put toward a single assignment. At the beginning, I address key concerns: identifying workable subject matter, delineating the paper’s trajectory, and formulating a helpful thesis statement. Later I come at finer details such as improving sentence structure, enhancing diction, organizing thoughts, elaborating missing connections, conducting effective research, and using evidence correctly. The goal is to elevate students’ innate compositional faculties—and to elicit the unique authorial style that every student possesses—such that eventually I no longer will be needed.
Teaching Young Adults to Read Efficaciously
I show students how to interrogate their readings and other sources via the Socratic Method. Practitioners of this ancient technique employ progressive chains of questioning to ferret out the full meanings and connotations of written, oral, and visual sources. These will be assigned in advance and must be evaluated by the student at home before meeting me in person for a one-on-one discussion. During these encounters, I examine the student’s depth of understanding and lead him or her toward further truths, already latent in the sources, that he or she has yet to discover. This prompts the student to develop observational, inferential, and critical thinking skills far beyond what otherwise might be possible. An expert practitioner, in fact, is very much like a veteran police detective who has the ingenious ability to espy patterns and syllogisms amidst morasses of indistinct facts and seemingly unconnected ephemera.
The Art of the Argument
I am a historian. Practitioners of my discipline use written prose—and the spoken word—to try to make sense of the world in which we live. There is no perfect way of going about this, and we spend a great deal of time pondering how best to articulate our thoughts. Yet our bread and butter is questions asked, evidence found, and hypotheses proposed and tested. Our expression is artistic, but our methods are scientific. Students need to learn how to communicate, but in order to do so, they must first have something to say. I teach them how to write and speak about the Truth.