A RhetNet SnapShot Reply:
THE GRADING VORTEX
I think this is a fascinating thread of discussion, so I'll emerge from a long period of "lurking" and join in. From my own experience, I definitely do not think my students are cognitively different from "us" (i.e. writing teachers). But I do think that many students are different from me (and, I would suspect, from a large number of writing teachers, in one important respect: These students are not, and have not been, active and enthusiastic readers.
Like several of the discussants so far, I came very late to an understanding of the formal rules (especially grammar rules) of writing. In fact, I had little explicit knowledge of grammar until I became a writing center tutor in the late 1980s. Yet I had been considered by virtually all of my high school and college teachers as an "excellent writer." I can think think of no factor other than my voracious reading which could have made me an "excellent writer."
At the same time, I don't pretend to know precisely what the connection between voracious reading and learning-to-write is. So I think a huge challenge for composition teachers and scholars is (and of course, has been) exploring what the connections between reading and writing are, *and* devising effective pedagogies for teaching writing to students who are not, and have not been, avid readers. And as far as the issue of excessively formalistic, rule-driven pedagogies goes, I'm absolutely convinced that they are *not* the answer.