Writing a barrel full of…


by minwoo via flickr

When I am assessing student’s writing I am (unfortunately) often reminded of Schopenhauer’s Law Of Entropy…

It goes something like this:

If you take a barrel full of sewage and add a spoonful of wine, you are left with a barrel full of sewage. So, if you take a barrel full of wine and add a spoonful of sewage, what are you left with? A barrel full of sewage!!

Most of us will not waste a barrel full of wine in such way, would we?
So why do we waste our fine writing in that way? We should guard against adding extra, especially if the extra is not quite the same quality of as the rest.

While I am pretty sure I am sometimes guilty of adding unnecessary low-quality writing unnecessarily, I do not feel alone. I see it way too regularly with students. Post-graduate students that add stuff to writing that do not add value, just volume. Students writing exam answer a question fairly well, but then adds some additional irrelevant, if not plain wrong material which cast a serious doubt over whether they actually understand the work…

Next time when you write and you have the urge to add something, join me and first ask yourself whether this is wine or sewage?

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