Revolution Lullabye

March 25, 2009

Strenski, Recruiting and Retraining Experienced Teachers

Strenski, Ellen. “Recruiting and Retraining Experienced Teachers: Balancing Game Plans in an Entrepreneural Force-Field.” In Resituating Writing. Eds. Janangelo and Hansen. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 1995. 82-99.

Strenski argues against the push to departmentalize writing programs by arguing that the traditional departmental model does not serve the mission of the writing program – to teach and serve students across the university. Rather, WPAs should capitalize on the opportunity of creating dynamic writing programs at the margins of the university that can act as change-agents. The tension, then, in the different populations within a writing program (part-time instructors, full-time faculty, students), can be spun into beneficial, entrepreneural energy. She uses an extended case study between two instructors – Eve (a middle-aged part-time instructor) and Adam (a young graduate student) – to show how they might begin to collaborate instead of conflict with each other. Strenski’s argument is different from many who talk about the labor conditions or the place of writing programs in the university; like Phelps, she argues that there can be productive good in the heterogeneous mix. She argues that the best writing programs come when WPAs recruit, train, and develop good teachers who hail from a variety of different teaching philosophies and methods.

Quotable Quotes

“This very marginality is the major source of energy in the writing program force-field.” (83).

“Edges can be cutting; they can be dangerous, exciting places” (83).

“An entrepreneurial model offers explanatory power and hope. It interprets the anomalous, liminal nature of a writing program as essentially dynamic, and uniquely valuable for that very energy” (85).”

“The culture of a writing program is informed primariy by the central activity of teaching (as opposed to expertise in professing a disciplinary subject), and as a result writing program instructors must be perceived by undergraduates as good teachers who care about teaching” (90).

“Any writing program is really nothing but the people we hire, retrain, and retain.” (97)

Notable Notes

a cadre of diverse teachers

ways to select teachers: interview, evaluate their responses to a sample student paper, ask for syllabi

group grading of papers is an extremely simple and valuable professional development activity (See Edward M. White Teaching)

it’s OK – and even good – to have non-tenured writing instructors

Advertisements

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: