Laurie Endicott Thomas

Not Trivial by Laurie Endicott Thomas

Laurie taught herself to read at age 4, by analyzing the spelling of the rhyming words in Green Eggs and Ham.
She also enjoyed other books by Dr. Seuss, that gave her a head start in reading. So, she thrived academically in public schools in Ohio, Wisconsin, and New Jersey. In seventh grade, her progressive public school gave her the opportunity to work at her own speed in English class. As a result, Laurie went through the entire grammar book, thus learning what was once considered a year’s worth of grammar lessons that year. This strong grounding in the language arts, plus some hard work in her math classes, enabled Laurie to get admitted to the University of Pennsylvania, where she received a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in regional science (economic geography) and took some courses in logic and philosophy.  After graduation, she got a job as an editor in the medical publishing industry. Thus, Laurie ended up essentially teaching remedial English to some of the most highly educated people in the country: medical doctors. From having seen so much good and bad writing over the years, Laurie realized that bad writers write badly for a simple reason: they never learned the basic grammatical principles that she had learned in seventh grade. Laurie quickly found that once bad writers learned these principles, their writing improved dramatically, practically overnight. Laurie got such a good reputation for training writers that she was invited to write a column for the American Medical Writers Association Journal. When she set out to write Not Trivial, she originally intended just to write a book about how to be a competent technical writer. Yet she quickly realized that good technical writing stems from clear thinking. So she had to grapple with the question of why our schools in the United States have stopped teaching grammar, and why they have been failing to teach so many children to read.

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