Student Perspectives: Structure and Style for Students: Noah’s View

Jan 22, 2020 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team

One of Andrew Pudewa’s Structure and Style for Students (SSS) high school students was Noah. At fifteen years of age, Noah arrived at his first SSS with little writing experience, feeling less than pleased to be there. Still, he approached the class with an open mind. What he didn’t realize at the onset of this experience was that very shortly he would come to discover that he actually loves writing. He just needed to learn concrete ways to structure his writing and to be taught how to insert style, using the Structure and Style method. Having the opportunity to learn from the master teacher Andrew Pudewa himself was simply icing on the cake.


IEW: How did you find out about the SSS?

Noah: My mom found out through one of her friends that they were looking for students to be in a recorded class, and my mom really wanted me to learn to write with Structure and Style. She wanted me to take an IEW class before I graduated from high school. She felt it was the best way to learn how to write, and she wanted me to be able to write for college. So I was going to do an IEW class one way or another, and she felt it would be best for me to actually do it with Mr. Pudewa directly in order to learn from the master.

IEW: How did you feel about that?

Noah: I wasn’t thrilled. Until I was about halfway through the SSS, I despised writing. It was my least favorite thing. It wasn’t uncommon for my mom or me to end up in tears at the end of a writing lesson, and then the idea of this being recorded and someone somehow watching my misery one day wasn’t appealing.

IEW: So you went into this experience with fear and trepidation and perhaps a little bit of old-fashioned resistance, but you still went! Tell me about your first experience meeting Mr. Pudewa.

Noah: It was kind of nerve-wracking. A few years ago I didn’t do so well meeting new people, and this was a whole new environment, where I only knew a couple of other folks in the class, so this all made it kind of overwhelming. But after the first couple of weeks, it was a lot of fun.

IEW: What made it so fun?

Noah: Partly it was that I became more comfortable, so I wasn’t going into class automatically thinking, Oh, this is going to be a terrible day. Also, Mr. Pudewa is very engaging. He’s an excellent teacher, and he is teaching things that I hadn’t known before. I was able to see that week upon week my writing was getting a little bit better and a little less hard.

IEW: Reflecting back on your experience in SSS, what is one thing that you learned that has made your writing better?

Noah: Learning how to plan and structure what I was going to write rather than just being told, “Write something.” Learning the structure of the various units really helped.

IEW: What were your thoughts about adding in the stylistic techniques?

Noah: I wasn’t sure about it at first. I didn’t think that it would make a huge difference, and especially at first when we got into sentence openers, a lot of it felt really forced because I wasn’t used to it. And because it felt forced, it didn’t sound good. And I thought this is making my writing sound worse, not better. But with repetition came a smoothness to it, and suddenly I found that instead of having to work in every sentence opener because I’d only written all #1 sentences, I had naturally worked in a #2 and a #5 and was even able to write in a #4 automatically as well. My writing was no longer forced. It was natural.

IEW: Do you have a favorite lesson that you can reflect back on?

Noah: I can’t really say that I have a favorite lesson really, but I can share a favorite memory. It is one of the first times I had managed to do a #4 opener and have it sound excellent because they were the hardest ones for me to do. Just being able to write one and have it sound natural, like it belonged, was great. Or actually maybe even better than that would be comparing my first and final papers taken from the beginning and the end of the year. Seeing not only the quantitative difference but also the qualitative difference was really satisfying.

IEW: If you had one word that you would use to describe Mr. Pudewa, what would it be?

Noah: Approachable. It kind of combines a couple of other adjectives I’d want to use to describe him.

IEW: Go ahead and share those too, if you don’t mind.

Noah: He’s personable, and he’s an excellent teacher, so he can explain things and make them make sense really easily, and he’s also a really nice and fun guy. He would always start off the beginning of each class with a joke, and that would make everyone get relaxed and ready. It wasn’t like he was standing there saying, “Here we are. We’re going to learn. We’re going to follow the textbook” and nothing else.

IEW: What are your future plans? You’re now sixteen, so you’ve still got a bit more school to get through before you have to decide.

Noah: I’m not sure yet what I want to do. I want to be an audio engineer someday eventually. And for something like that, a college degree possibly isn’t necessary although it might be helpful. So I’m starting to look at whether I need to go to college, or if it is something that will just generally not be helpful to me.

IEW: You know one thing I know you’re going to need? Excellent communication skills, no matter what you do. And I think you’ve really learned a lot over the past couple of years. Would you do it all over again?

Noah: Definitely!

Despite his initial reservations about attending the SSS writing class, Noah decided to keep an open mind, and to his delight he found that writing isn’t something to fear and avoid after all. Sometimes it simply takes learning in a way that makes sense, that is clear, and that is taught by someone who thoroughly knows the subject. That someone is Andrew Pudewa. We are gratified that we are able to offer the same class that Noah attended, now as a video-based course. To learn more about Structure and Style for Students, click on this link. The Level C high school course will be released in late spring of this year.


Jennifer Mauser has always loved reading and writing and received a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1991. Once she and her husband had children, they decided to homeschool, and she put all her training to use in the home. In addition to homeschooling her children, Jennifer teaches IEW classes out of her home, coaches budding writers via email, and tutors students who struggle with dyslexia.

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