Review: Effective Writing for Army Leaders

Last month (Sep 2015) in Military Review, editor Desirae Gieseman attemptds to redifine the Army writing standard in her article titled Effective Writing for Army Leaders. Ms. Gieseman surely has the chops to address this topic, after all she holds a BA from William Woods University with majors in French, business administration, and economics, and a master of education from the University of Missouri, Columbia, in curriculum and instruction, which includes graduate study in linguistics. Military Review calls is “a starting point for redefining effective Army writing. Effective means the essential elements of effective Army writing.”

In the article she states that “Nor can the U.S. Army’s writing standard provide twenty-first century soldiers and Army civilians the kind of guidance they need and deserve so they can become effective writers. The Army needs a new writing standard, one that would emphasize the functions of writing over its forms, one that would account for the effective thinking and reasoning that must underlie effective explanations.

In her article she carefully sets up the situation in reviewing traditional Army writing, and going over the purpose of writing, with a review of Blooms Taxonomy, which has become a de facto standard for writing in academia, especially Army institutions.

She make a great case point that “the approach introduced in 1986—predating the computer age and based on a traditional understanding of writing—remains overly focused on correcting discrete points of grammar, mechanics, and usage, and facilitating rapid reading of limited document types.”

This is a good article for strategic or critical thinkers who like to contemplate better skills. Ms. Gieseman calls for a new and reviesed approach to Army writing, and brings to the table the National Council of Teachers of English principles, which I feel are valuable enough to include here:

The NCTE believes—
• Everyone has the capacity to write, writing can be taught, and teachers can help students become better writers.
• People learn to write by writing.
• Writing is a process.
• Writing is a tool for thinking.
• Writing grows out of many different purposes.
• Conventions of finished and edited texts are important to readers and therefore to writers.
• Writing and reading are related.
• Writing has a complex relationship to talk.
• Literate practices are embedded in complicated social relationships.
• Composing occurs in different modalities and technologies.
• Assessment of writing involves complex, informed, human judgment.42

According to the NCTE guiding principles, sound postsecondary writing instruction—
• Emphasizes the rhetorical nature of writing
• Considers the needs of real audiences
• Recognizes writing as a social act
• Enables students to analyze and practice with a variety of genres
• Recognizes writing processes as iterative and complex
• Depends upon frequent, timely, and context-specific feedback from an experienced postsecondary instructor
• Emphasizes relationships between writing and technologies
• Supports learning, engagement, and critical thinking in courses across the curriculum.