-> Bruce Harper's notes about the nature of a technical description

David K's personal thoughts about


especially for the


In many fields where I work, I love to just potter around creating this and that exciting project with no previous thoughts about what will come out at the end, everyone is valued equally for their unique contribution to a group, and everyone is amazed and says "I never imagined I could..."

But things are a bit different when we have to judge someone else for a university degree... In different schools and colleges, different tutors may be looking for different things: a delicious thick Russian sauerkraut pancake won't make a very favourable impression on a Belgian chef, if he's looking for a sweet crispy dessert crêpe...

My working idea is that a student can feel secure and function better if they know what I value when I'm looking at their work: the more all-sided my attitude is, and the better I express it, the more chance there is that they can find something there which enables them to feel "this is what I need to work well and develop"

Thinking of Robert Louis Stevenson's idea to "Affect the reader precisely as you wish" - it needs to be said that there are no absolute criteria for "good" language, except "did you achieve what you intended?" Of course if we're educating people, rather than teaching "English as she is spoke", we want even wider criteria than that: "did you achieve what you intended? - and what did you achieve that was more than you intended?"

Jan Helander has expressed some very stimulating ideas about learning, about what marking and evaluating do and don't do, indeed about all of life... I've been digesting its Swedish content into English for a colleague: here you have a taster, which can be interesting both for what it says, and to show how a native-speaker works - in this case rather quickly and without a lot of polishing - with expressing Swedish thoughts in English...

Well worth looking at:
Gowers, Sir Ernest, The complete plain words , latest ed. 1988
Fowler, Henry Watson, Dictionary of modern English usage, 1987



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