Finishing up this fall semester, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it is about writing that makes some students want to bend the rules. I should set some context. I teach basic composition and research writing. In both these classes, but especially with research writing, there are a lot of rules to follow. There are rules of grammar, mechanics, punctuation, and then of course rules associated with the dreaded APA and MLA formats. There are rules about margins and fonts. There are rules about page numbers and running heads. There are rules about titles and in-text citations and references pages and works cited pages. I get it. There are a lot of rules. But they are, unavoidably, rules that must be followed.
So, why the pushback from students?
Let’s spin this and consider it from another angle. Let’s say I’m a mathematician. Let’s say I’ve just asked a student…
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