There are two components to writing; no matter whether it is a report, essay, letter, memorandum or something more ambitious such as a proposal, thesis, a plan or even a book – Message and Style.

The message is by far the more important of the two. When a college admissions officer, a grader of SAT essays or a potential employer or an actual employer reads a person’s written thoughts they are looking for authenticity. If the message or idea is the result of disciplined thought, it will overcome most lapses in style. An elegant piece of prose without a thoughtful message will not overcome its inauthenticity. Thinking before writing – Cognitive Writing – is a skill that must be taught, and Socratic Inquiry is the best way to achieve it.

We are boring and stressing our children in our quest for them to memorize instead of think.