Revolution Lullabye

November 22, 2010

CCCC Executive Committee, Statement of Principles and Standards for the Postsecondary Teaching of Writing

CCCC Excecutive Committee. “Statement of Principles and Standards for the Postsecondary Teaching of Writing.” College Composition and Communication 40.3 (1989): 329-336. Print.

This statement, which links the importance of teaching students valuable critical reading and writing skills to fair and ethical treatment of teachers, outlines the unfair and unethical labor practices at the university toward the teaching of writing and recommends strategies to correct these practices. They argue that teachers of writing be tenure-track faculty members and those who supervise writing programs be specialists in rhetoric and composition, and these faculty members should be evaluated for tenure on discipline-specific standards, which recognize pedagogical and administrative publication as scholarship. They also argue for better treatment of graduate teaching assistants, which includes training and support for teaching writing, better pay and loads, and access to benefits. The committee insists that universities should only hire part-time instructors for two reasons: to teach specialized courses (where the instructor may be a professional in another field) or to meet unexpected rises in enrollment. Part-time instructors should be given training, office space, adequate professional pay and benefits, and a voice in the department they teach in about the courses they teach and how the courses and they are evaluated. The statement also outlines conditions for good writing instruction: no more than 20 students a section (15 for basic writing), no more than 60 students per instructor per term, support through a writing center, and adequate access to scholarship and conferences in rhetoric and composition.

Notes and Quotes

part-time, graduate assistant teachers: “enormous academic underclass.” (330)

“Moreover, the excessive reliance on marginalized faculty damages the quality of education. Even when, as it often the case, these faculty bring to their academic appointments the appropriate credentials and commitments to good teaching, their low salaries, poor working conditions, and uncertain futures mar their effectiveness and reduce the possibilities for loyalty to the institution’s educational goals. All lose: teachers, students, schools, and ultimately a democratic society that cannot be without citizens whose education empowers them to read and write with critical sophistication” (330).

argue against full-time temporary faculty.

November 18, 2010

Smith, Louise Z. Smith Responds

Smith, Louise Z. “Louise Z. Smith Responds.” College English 51 (1989): 436-7. Print

Smith argues that a WAC program only works in context, and the challenge of any WAC program is to make it fit in with the individual institution’s needs and goals. She questions the Colgate Department of Interdisciplinary Writing, asking if it is prudent to value “retrained” compositionists from other fields (science, history, etc.) over literary specialists in reader-response theory, hermeneutics, etc., who might be able to bring a foundational understanding of composition theory and then some more.

Notes and Quotes

“Through helping a wide variety of colleges and universities to develop WAC programs, I’ve come to see every one of them as a living entity with a memory and an imagination, with a developing philosophical and political character – and with idiosyncracies, long may they wave! Consequently, I believe that any discussion of administrative models can carry us so far; then we need to think about the fit between a model and the character of the college where we hope it will serve. No model should be called ‘too idiosyncratic’ until thosewho will teach within it have tried it on and either discarded it or let the program director negotiate the tailoring and alterations for what can be used with durability, comfort, and pride, as the IWP clearly is” (437).

interesting connection here to Syracuse – Smith leaves it up to the program director to negotiate the tailoring and alterations, the Syracuse WP gave that responsibility, in part, to PWIs

November 17, 2010

Howard, Hess, and Darby, A Comment on ‘Only One of the Voices’ and ‘Why English Departments Should ‘House’ Writing Across the Curriculum’

Howard, Rebecca Moore, David J. Hess, and Margaret Flanders Darby. “A Comment on ‘Only One of the Voices’ and ‘Why English Departments Should “House” Writing Across the Curriculum.'” College English 51 (April 1989): 433-5. Print.

The authors comment on recent articles published by Blair and Smith about how best to constitute a WAC program, drawing on their experience from the Colgate University Department of Interdisciplinary Writing, recently founded in 1989 as a stand-alone program whose faculty are from a range of disciplines who don’t just assign writing but teach it in the disciplines.

Notes and Quotes

“The experience at our institution demonstrates that the interdisciplinary composition faculty is an achievable ideal.”

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