Why either-or?

Judy Williamson (jwillia9@GMU.EDU)
Tue, 13 Feb 1996 09:11:57 +0100

Greg and Mike,

You're *both* right.

I don't think it's an either-or thing. I think we get into lots of trouble
when we think in dichotomies.

I always try for both-and. Multiplicity! Polyvocality! Lots of choices
of tone and register and voice and lots of ways to establish an ethos for
any given audience and purpose.

Why not give them a full spectrum of choices, let them know there are lots
of ways of writing and that no one way is right? Why not show them what
the history or psych prof wants and teach them how to construct a good
response to an assignment?

Each one of you is arguing for something that's essential in writing
classes! Real writing situations *and*

Granted that it's pretty tough to teach it all in the course of one
semester, but at least we can work on awareness.


PS Thanks to Marcy for a great post recently on students reading assisned
essays and how much more valuable it is for them to read each other's
essays and to make choices!

> Greg said:
> The solution? Provide freshmen with real writing situations? Make them
> write for publication, make them write letters to the editors, op-ed
> columns, etc.? But if we do this what will we do when they get to
> History 201 or Psych 376 or even English 420 where they're expected to
> write a good "undergraduate academic essay" and not an op-ed position
> piece?
> Indeed, why not expect them to write as theorists write? I'll bet
> the History and Psych Profs would be shocked to get a response which
> demonstrated even a little original thought. After all they are
> always complaining that "we (in English) don't teach students to
> write", they seem not at all sure what we do "over here."
> It ceratinly not the students' fault that our expectations are not
> rigorous enough. I find, quite often, that they are quite up to the
> challenge, once you get them to understand why what you are expecting
> is so different than the rest of their expereince in writing.
> Mike Hamende
> hamendem@cts.db.erau.edu