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Problems with academic writing

nbnguyen's picture

I think the biggest problem wih academic writing is that it's too logical and rational. It prevents us from expressing our emotion. However, emotion is also a way of knowing besides reason, perception and language. First, emotion is a significant factor to form intuition. We sometimes just intuitively know something without thinking a lot about it. For example, it 's human nature to keep away from huge animals. Second, emotion is also the motivation to gain knowledge. Wrights brothers would never invented airplane if they hadn't had passion toward flying. And at that time,their  ideas about flying was totally based on their emotion (passion) rather than reason (this idea was contradictory to gravity force in Physics). However, academic writing underestimates the importance of emotion in gaining knowledge. Furthermore, it's somehow impersonal which prevents us from express ourselves and sharing our experiences and point of view.


Giuseppe Ferrara's picture


I see eye to eye with you now. For the past half-decade or so, I personally execrate academic writing. You are so right about the fact that emotion is one of the salient things for gaining knowledge in writing because emotion (at least in my opinion. Expostulate me if you wish) these days is a way to show that we really luxuriate in doing the activities that we love. Take pianists for example. You probably have seen some pianists perform before, whether through videos or in person. They all express their emotions during their performances on certain pieces, right? That just goes to show that these pianists love their music that they put soul into in order to enliven the audience. With emotions, pianists show others that they enjoy it, which also shows that they like to learn music. The same goes with writing. We want to write to express ourselves by listening to what our heart says. In other words, we want to express our own feelings and use our own style to write. When we do, we love it because we get to express to the readers who we really are while still conveying a momentous message to them.

Now when I say that I abhor academic writing, I am not dismantling the importance of academic writing. We all know that nevertheless, it is important. What I'm saying is that I hate that academic writing does not allow us to express our inner-selves through our own style. I mean, it's great that English professors in schools are teaching us the rudiments of becoming a good writer. But I don't like that they have to teach us one exact way to write. That explains why I always felt obligated in the past to use certain words in academic writing that do not actually delineate myself as a person. I feel like I am being someone else and not me, and that I'm not savoring every moment of my writing, thus making me feel unmotivated to gain knowledge in my written subject. My question is: why does academic writing have to shoot emotion and style out of people's arm, and instead make everyone have to write the same exact way? I feel when academic writing does that, it makes all of us unspecial. When we are free to express in our own way and in our own emotion, we are all special in a way. Why does academic writing take that away?

All in all, emotion in an activity cumulates to passion in that activity, which cumulates to effort in gaining knowledge in that activity. But unfortunately, academic writing just sucks all that away.

Hummingbird's picture

I agree! I think acedemic

I agree! I think acedemic writing forces us to take a step away from the personal and turn issues that would otherwise be important to us into abstractions. I also think this means that we hold ourselves back from saying things passionately – which I think is extremely necessary if we're doing the sort of class discussion which we have been in this class. In my environmental studies class, one of our assignments was to take a scientific article and write a paper summarizing its information so that the general public could understand it. I had to read the article three times before I even began to understand it myself, and once I realized it was all about cell death in corals, I understood the implications of the information: slightly warmer temperatures could lead to massive die-off of coral reefs around the world. But the article never stated the information simply like that. Someone with basic high school biology would not be able to understand it without substantial outside research – so someone who has niether the time nor educational capital has no access to this information. If we expect people to care about making changes to their lifestyle for the sake of the environment, we have to de-class scientific writing so that it can be understood. Academic writing is, for many people, inaccessible. And this means there will be a class divide between academia and 'everyone else' until changes are made to the writing style.