Being critical

My students are trying to get critical! For homework our Academic English students have to write a paraphrase and a critical commentary. For many students this is a new type of writing. Students are often not used to commenting on what writers have said. Students often say things like: “Well, who am I to comment on what they say? They are real academics and I am just a student!” It doesn’t matter! The whole point of university education in our culture (and I’m writing in the UK!) is for you to question things. There is often no ‘right answer’ when you write an essay or a report. A good piece of work at university is not one which serves up the correct information. A good piece of work is one which shows that you have read and understood the issue and have an opinion on it. I have found a really good site which has an example about writing a critical review which I am going to show my students this week. Thanks to the Institute of Education at the University of London for their CAPLITS site with the page on Writing Critical reviews here!