‘Lived experience’ and loving a good argument

Anonymous Headteacher

(Firstly, isn’t ‘lived experience’ a tautology? What does the ‘lived’ add?)

All through my career, and for longer than the above phrase has been in oh so common usage, I have told students to avoid using the first person when writing analytical essays. I circle every ‘I strongly believe’ and each ‘It seems to me’ and talk about why it’s a no-no when talking to the class next lesson. It’s not ‘wrong’ per se, as writing essays, whilst reliant on a web of principles and conventions, has very few actual rules. Whether you like the slightly stiff pragmatism of Orwell, the not so slightly smug but nevertheless illuminating waffle of Russell or the modern confections of Pinker, the essay is a glorious form and one whose decline in popularity pains me greatly – and I welcome the variety of voices that one finds when leafing suggestively through collections of essay…

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