Oscar Wilde, no slouch in the arena of writing and wit, said that. Writing and thinking aren’t mutually exclusive activities. When we write we exercise our ability to think
In a study conducted at Central Washington University, WA, researchers compared the critical thinking performance of students who took classes that focused on writing, as opposed to students enrolled in courses that used the traditional quiz-based education principles. According to the results, the writing group made a substantial improvement in their analytical thinking skills, whereas the non-writing group did not.
Another example of the connection between writing and thinking is the case history of New Dorp, a high school in Staten Island.
The school was facing closure because of the students’ poor performance. In 2007, with a dropout rate of 4 out of 10, the school was ranked as one of the 2,000 lowest-performing high schools in the U.S. Faced with the prospect of closing the school, the principal initiated a “Writing Revolution”—a program that focused on teaching the skills of good writing.
The results were dramatic: In 2012, the graduation rate shot up to 80 percent. And the percentage of students who passed the English Regents (a New York statewide standardized examination in core high school subjects), went from 67% in 2009, to 89% in 2011.
From one of the lowest-rated schools in the U.S. facing imminent closure, New Dorp high school became a model for educational reform—by focusing on teaching the basics of writing. Instead of ending up on backstreets in gangs, a lot of the New Dorp students are going to college.
If you can’t think well, someone else will do it for you. Oscar Wilde said that, too.