Revolution Lullabye

December 3, 2010

Robinson, The CCCC Statement of Principles and Standards: A (Partly) Dissenting View

Robinson, William S. “The CCCC Statement of Principles and Standards: A (Partly) Dissenting View.” College Composition and Communication 42.3 (1991): 345-350.

Robinson, who contends that writing teachers lack adequate training and professional development, argues that the CCCC Statements needs to “argue as forcefully for improved professionalism in the field as it does for improved status and working conditions” (345). Robinson claims that part of the low status of writing teachers come from their lack of training and knowledge about the field of rhetoric and composition, and in order to have a more professional, scholarly, and respected standing in the academy, they need to work to obtain the disciplinary knowledge they need in order to be writing specialists and experts.

Notes and Quotes

“But in addition to the injustices wrought upon many of us, injustices are wrought upon the students in composition classes taught by teachers who do not know their business. These teachers in turn are produced by English departments that do not hire and place in leadership positions persons genuinely qualified in composition or that hire a token person to whom no real authority will ever be given” (348).

How can you demand better treatment of your faculty when they are not considered professionals because they lack training and preparation for what they teach?

What is successful teaching? How is someone assessed on it? How is someone trained to do it?

February 8, 2009

Moran, Technology and the Teaching of Writing

Moran, Charles. “Technology and the Teaching of Writing.” 203-223.

Computer-based technology is knit into the very nature of modern composition pedagogy. Four of the most prominent ones (and the ones most theorized and written about in the field) are word processing (which allow for easier revising and drafting but can mislead the student with auto-correct functions that do not take into account the writer’s context); e-mail (increases informal communication between student and instructor, for the good and the bad); online discussion forums (increased the amount of writing our students did and allowed for quiet students to voice their opinions, but can easily get out of hand, so it’s best to focus the discussion around a collaborative task), and the Internet (discussion and production of hypertexts, online research.) Those teaching with technologies must be aware that technologies don’t erase differences between students (English-centered Internet does not accurately reflect the diversity of society or the classroom) and must keep in mind issues of access (what students have access to use for assignments, both at home, in the workplace, and on campus.) Finally, it is essential that teachers using technology continually train themselves to keep updated about the latest applications to inform their teaching and help their students.

Quotable Quotes

Want students to become “reflective and critical users of emerging technologies” (220)

Notable Notes

Sources: Hawshier et al Computers and the Teaching of Writing in Higher Education; Palmquist Transitions: Teaching Writing in Computer-Supported and Traditional Classrooms; Computers and Composition journal

Language of email – discourse conventions: Hawshier, “The Rhetorics and Languages of Electronic Mail”; ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Exchange); English-only standards

women and men in online chat rooms

computer use among basic writers, women, race issues, ESL classrooms

January 30, 2009

Bridges, Training the New Teacher of College Composition

Bridges, Charles W. Training the New Teacher of College Composition. Urbana, Illinois: NCTE, 1986.

The training of TAs and beginning composition instructors happens at almost every college and university (especially those with MA and PhD programs), but it is rarely discussed across institutions or theorized about in the field’s journal. This collection brings together essays by rhetoricians and writing directors to answer two questions: how do you, at your institution, train beginning teachers, and what advice do you give new teachers about the teaching of writing. The essays, some by well-known members of the field, run the gamut from discussing how new teachers should be taught through the writing process they will teach their students to specific suggestions for grading, making assignments, and managing a classroom. I’ll include the table of contents with some notes for reference:

Richard Gebhardt “Unifying Diversity in the Training of Writing Teachers” – tremendous diversity in who these beginning teachers are and what content can form a teacher-training course and the composition course. A “responsible training course in composition” sees the students as writers, showing them how to teach others to be writers through the writing process. The writing process should form the foundation of composition instruction. Lots of valuable references to comp articles.

Charles Bridges “The Basics and the New Teacher in College Composition” – teach teachers that writing isn’t just a basic skill but a valuable “way of knowing, of discovering, of experiencing.” Student-centered, writing-intensive curriculum/

William Irmscher “TA Training: A Period of Discovery” – the importance of a stability in a writing program through a director who is grounded in and is interested in the research and practice of the teaching of writing. Give TAs independence over their own teaching

RIchard VanDeWeghe “Linking Pedagogy to Purpose for Teaching Assistants in Basic Writing”

Nancy Comley “The Teaching Seminar: Writing Isn’t Just Rhetoric” – the training course should look beyond composition (because not all TAs are studying comp/rhet) to show how writing can be incorporated in all different disciplines

Don Cox “Fear and Loathing in the Classroom: Teaching Technical Writing for the First Time”

O. Jane Allen “The Literature Major as Teacher of Technical Writing: A Bibliographical Orientation”

John Ruskiewicz “The Great Commandment” – don’t lecture away the class; the focus should be on writing, have the students write

Mary Jane Schenck “Writing Right Off: Strategies for Invention” – journals, freewrite, heuristics, small groups

Ronald Lunsford “Planning for Spontaneity in the Writing Classroom and a Passel of Other Paradoxes” – importance of the teacher’s role in planning and implementing group workshopping sessions

Richard Larson “Making Assignments, Judging Writing, and Annotating Papers: Some Suggestions”

Maxine Hairston “On Not Being a Composition Slave” – argues against the model of the good comp teacher as marking up all papers and holding non-stop conferences. It’s a huge, draining workload and a cognitive overload for students, putting too much emphasis on correction. Teachers should only mark up a paper on the 2nd read, teach students how to revise, have students work on papers in class, do peer editing.

Christopher Burnham “Portfolio Evaluation: Room to Breathe and Grow”

Timothy Donovan, Patricia Sprouse, Patricia Williams “How TAs Teach Themselves”

Quotable Quotes

Teacher training needs to be “an important and rewarded part of a given department’s activities” (viii)

There needs to be more communication so theories and methods can be developed or else “teacher training will remain a hit-or-miss process that departments assign to lower-ranking faculty members and then ignore” (viii) – in isolation

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