To Write Is To Think
Tanvi Suryawanshi | May 2, 2023
The spring 2023 semester marks an interesting time in the world of academia. More reasons why the University needs to reform its fundamental assumptions about the value of post-secondary education have become plain as day. The goal of working towards a university degree and the desired learning outcome is simultaneously instrumental and arbitrary to an entire generation of students, professors and employers. As everything about academia moves towards increasing volatility, it is important to review why the skill of writing contributes to the antidote we need to rehash the goal of university education in a changing world.
One of the sweeping topics of conversation across campus this semester, in universities and at the writing centres, is whether teaching students how to write well is valuable, given that an artificial tool has demonstrated an ability to get the job done. While the tool in question has a considerable impact due to the efficient production of information, its effects in the context of education have been evidenced in the deteriorated value of writing skills and consequential negligence to hone the said skills among students and in the marketplaces of the world.
According to the leaders’ vision at Trinity Western, the primary goal of post-secondary education is to equip every graduate “to think truthfully, act justly and live faithfully for the good of the world and the glory of God.” The faculties of thought and action are the primary forces determining how we live. Thought and action come together in the way we write as much as they do in the way we live. When we write and genuinely wish to hone the skill as we engage in the act itself, we are not merely filling up blank virtual pages or drawing the letter on paper; instead, we write because we want to express an idea.
To a generation in which efficiency rules supreme, education aims to prepare students to demonstrate the efficient use of explicit knowledge alone, and the goal of writing is to manufacture and reproduce content. But the essence of education and writing has little to do with efficiency. At the heart of education and the practice of writing are the student’s thoughts, actions and embodied expressions of their ideas that make up personal knowledge. Such knowledge has a higher purpose than explicit knowledge; it is a body of personal thought that reflects the different stages of an individual’s academic and spiritual path. As for the practice of writing, particular writing experiences have been shown to impact a writer in that these experiences shape their understanding of particular topics. Reducing this practice to a computational mechanism endangers the life force of well-rounded students. It violates the principles of the pursuit of knowledge by accepting the mere transmission of information or content as a sufficient alternative to the labours of thinking through personal convictions, beliefs and learnings.
Writing is not instrumental. It cannot be arbitrary, lest it fail to serve its purpose. The act of writing, and that done well, demands of the individual his or her engagement with the texts and the world alike. Therefore, though it is highly disputable today, there is no skill more fundamental to post-secondary education than the practice of writing, especially if the goal of the education is to equip the students to be convinced that thoughts and actions mean something and impact the way we live in the world.
Applebee, Arthur N. “Writing and Reasoning.” Review of Educational Research 54, no. 4 (January 1, 1984): 577. https://doi.org/10.2307/1170176.
Trinity Western University. “Mission & Vision,” n.d. https://www.twu.ca/about-us/commitments/mission-vision.
Polanyi, Michael. Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy. University of Chicago Press, 2015.
Weil, Simone. Love in the Void: Where God Finds Us. Plough Spiritual Guides: Backpack, 2018.
 “Mission & Vision,” Trinity Western University, n.d., https://www.twu.ca/about-us/commitments/mission-vision.
 Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy (University of Chicago Press, 2015), 252–53.