What better way to re-launch my blog than by tooting my own horn? I also will provide ways for Soldiers, NCOs, or just those interested in Military matters to get published, get noticed, and follow your passion for prose. First, about me. Here it goes:
I got my Coin from the NCO Writing Excellence Program for my finalist essay “Improving Core Research Skills in the Modern NCO.” You must have a CAC card to read the essay.
Legal Writing Teaches True Research Skills
What is the paper about? My essay discussed two issues. First, that neither APA nor MLA closely approximate the Army writing style. The closest academic style to Army writing style is Bluebook, or legal writing. Second, I suggested that teaching NCOs the practice of legal briefing in NCO courses would improve writing and research skills in our NCO corps.
This idea is perhaps not as insane as it sounds. The focus for the past decade has leaned heavily towards STEM–science, technology, engineering, and math–fields.
Though there is certainly nothing wrong with these fields (I have great respect for people who can do more with Calculus than spell the word), education has begun yet one more change. Now, even in elementary schools, we look towards STEAM–the “A” is for arts–focused classes.
Gathering STEAM in with English Majors
The value of an English degree has gone up. This is good news for some of us. Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society states that many employers now seek out employees with degrees in English and the humanities.
Obviously, English majors possess better writing and communication skills. Or at least they wasted a great deal of money if they don’t.
Perhaps less obvious is that those majoring in humanities and English have greater research skills. My suggestion to teach legal writing borrows this idea. A paralegal must digest and analyze essentially endless amounts of information. (Paralegals are the ones who actually do most of the writing and research in law: the NCOs of the legal profession. Lawyers are like military officers: they make more money and take all the blame when things go REALLY wrong.)
English majors have similarly challenging tasks. My current class requires that I read three novels and one book on writing in ten weeks. Oh, and write about them. And apply the techniques to my writing. And write about that. If my professor is reading this… You are a wonderful person who will give me an A?
Literary Theory in Real Life
ts effects are similar to “having your brains smashed in by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick”
Legal writing requires application of specific rules and logic techniques. It is reading by sloloam. Trying to apply literary theory to a work is more like building a brick barbecue out of playdough. Anyone who has tried to make sense of Derrida or Henry James would probably agree that some things are not better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
This all supports one more reason for hiring English Majors. English majors and those in humanities and legal fields have excellent critical thinking skills.
Matinuzzi’s article also states that English majors are, by and large, more empathetic. If you are not an English or literature major, this may sound strange. However, you cannot truly understand a book until you understand the culture behind the book. English studies and literature teaches you to consider how other cultures think and percieve the world, and it teaches us that there is often more than one right way to view the world, and how we can evaluate those worldviews without passing prejudicial judgement.