A RhetNet SnapShot Reply:


Claudine Keenan

I think Fred is right about rules, but I also agree with Richard that the "90% of writing teachers don't write" seems a bit high. But Richard says that he sees the rule-pushers rarely, and only among "old-timers." I consider myself a "new-timer" as an adjunct with a RhetComp degree, and I see the tendency toward RULES coming from the most unexpected of quarters.

In our quest to unify, to codify, and ultimately to stupefy our students, many writing teachers, new and old, have embraced "writing as a process" as a new, improved set of rules!

At several of the institutions where I work (alongside dozens of other writing teachers, who do try to publish when they're not busy being exploited, Fred) English departments "recommend" uniform texts for adjuncts, which have become every bit as prescriptive as their predecessors, shifting their emphasis from rhetorical modes (but by no means eliminating this approach) to pushing each stage of the process as a fixed activity. Somewhere between grad school and the printed text, we've lost the phenomenon of recursion and the magic of felt sense.

But the fault lies not only with our texts, but also with our students, who seem to CRAVE rule-based pedagogy. Very few of my students accept Fred's notion of writing to handle their feelings. They want to use writing practically, pragmatically, as in "how will this help me in the real world?" They balk at journal writing, and they prefer to use writing realistically, not creatively.

Sadly, perhaps this is a microcosmic melody to the brainless beat we've been goose-stepping to since midterm elections changed the tide and swept all that stinking sea sludge of conservatism on our shores.


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