No Small Thing: Sarah Palin’s Speech Redux

In our junior curriculum, I am expected not only to teach students to read, but also to write and speak effectively. As an amateur writer myself, I try to convince them that good writing is never really finished. There’s always a better word, a better sentence structure, a better organization that can be found. So I get quite frustrated with the students who think they should be able to write a perfectly polished piece of argumentation in one draft.

It never takes one draft.

I show them an essay of mine that was published in an online magazine; I submitted 3 1/2 pages, and it came back 7. That is nearly four pages of comments, revision suggestions, and copy edits. It took another 3 drafts before it was deemed publishable, and every time I read it, I still find things I wish I could change.

Writing is no small task. Neither is public speaking, which is why I find this Vanity Fair experiment so fascinating.

Yes, I understand that the purpose is to poke fun at Alaska’s former Governor, but I choose to view it as a valuable teaching tool. Regardless of where you might fall on the political spectrum, I think most everyone can agree that her resignation speech could have used some polish. And if I get at least one junior to understand that even former vice-presidential candidates need to proofread and revise their speeches, maybe I’ll sleep a little easier at night.

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