Sentence Outlines (updated)

This post officially opens a thread on pedagogy, especially higher education pedagogy.

Mark and I exchanged emails about the level of interest in this (“…are you kidding? how many readers are profs and teachers, and of them, how many care anything about technique? Very truly yours, M”). If and when we can discern whether it gets any readership, I will decide which side I took in that debate and announce it.

Here is a memo about the Sentence Outline, my favorite device to help people (including me) write, especially in a professional context. In my introductory course for undergraduates I require the first draft of term papers to be a sentence outline with a section or two developed into prose; in other courses I browbeat and wheedle my students to try it, and about two-thirds do. I wish I could claim to have invented this wonderful form, but I didn’t and I have forgotten where I came upon it. If you know, send me a citation so I can add it to future versions.

Update: Andrew Sabl has been plowing the same field: “I don’t know who

invented them either, but I was taught them in high school (OK, prep

school), and my students and I have found them invaluable ever

since. Not all of my students can be brought to use them, but those

who do say that it changed the way they draft papers forever.”

Here’s his memo.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.