Suraya Dewing's blog

Pinker calls it ‘verbiage’

Some words and phrases that slip into our writing really deserve a visit from the delete key. I found myself frequently falling into the trap of being in love with certain words or phrases but later realising they really did not add anything to my piece of writing.

Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style

Over the summer break I found time to read Harvard Psychologist Steven Pinker’s ‘The Sense of Style.

Redefine 'Normal' and get change

This Christmas I have been haunted by one statistic – 1 in 3 New Zealand women are victims of physical or emotional abuse. The figure troubled me because, as I looked at my own family of girls this figure stacked up.

I have only dared to speak to closely trusted friends and family about what happened to me. So for 40 years it has been locked up inside me….my shameful secret…the one I didn’t dare tell anyone because I blamed myself for what happened. I should have known better.

Writing History

The writer’s journey can take many forms and so as a final blog for the year I want to talk about mine. It was, is, without doubt….long and arduous.

Last night our te reo (Maori Language) class had its end of year function. This is Bruce’s and my first year with Haare Williams and before that we had been going to night class for about five years so you might say we are fluent but we are not ….still learning but always gaining insights and confidence….slowly. Haare is a broadcaster, poet and wonderful artist.

Mental Toughness

Bruce is preparing a team of apprentices to compete at the World Skills competitions in Sao Paulo next year. There will be 75 countries competing and New Zealand (NZ) usually does well for its size. However, one thing consistently lets the NZ competitors down and that is their lack of preparedness for toughing it out when things get rough as they invariably do in such competitive situations.

The Magic Moment

I love that moment when something clicks and students start helping each other, giving them prompts as to possible answers to writing problems.

Last week I experienced exactly that moment when I had a group of three students gathered around the computer and they started working on one of the student’s assignments using the style Guide™.

Learning styles, writing styles and reading preferences

Do learning styles define our writing styles?  This is a very interesting question to consider especially if we want to write in a way that appeals to as wide an audience as possible.

The seven learning styles are:

Technology supporting learning

 Recently, I attended an EdTech meeting. For those who don’t live in NZ that is short for Education Technology. Earlier this year I attended a seminar as part of a series that aimed to bring together the disparate groups of professionals for whom part of their business was supplying educational products such as text books, games and information. EdTech NZ aimed to set up a Roadmap for developing educational product and services for the changing environment.

Storytelling as therapy

Many people use writing journals as a way to deal with crisis. Often they are advised to by counsellors. Those journals often remain private but the writer finds they feel a lot clearer about the direction they want to go in or gain greater clarity about how to deal with a problem with which they are grappling.

Writing style is like body language

Writing style is very much like body language. The way words sit on the page sends the reader a subliminal message about how the writer expects us to respond just as body language tells us what emotion underlies what he or she is saying. Invariably we respond to the unspoken message rather than to the words which is why email can cause so much trouble. Often they are easily written without giving heed to the tone and because they are so devoid of emotion the reader easily projects his or her interpretation on to the communication.


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