Re: More snapshots stuff-reply

Kenneth Robert Wright (kright@OREGON.UOREGON.EDU)
Fri, 19 Jan 1996 21:37:55 -0800

Your points are well taken. Certainly some secondary school teachers
can and do instill fear in their students about college writing and
writing in general. However, from some research I've done on the Harvard
reports of the 1890s, in which Harvard claimed that the secondary schools
were nor properly preparing students to writing in college, I've found
that increased enrollments as well as increases in the number of
middle-class students entering colleges at the time, contributed at least
a little to the "crisis" in freshman writing abilities. Also, there is
evidence that the secondary schools, in general, were attempting to teach
writing the way the colleges wanted them to. That has made me wonder,
whenever I hear the secondary schools critisized for not teaching
writing correctly, if there aren't social/political reasons contributing
to the criticisms that have nothing to do with student writing ability.
I am not at all saying your are doing that, Claudine, but perhaps the
increases in our class sizes over the past few years and that we are
constantly asked to do more with less have given us the impression that
secondary schools are sending us worse students than in the past. In any
case, I have to feel for secondary school teachers who, where I come
from, see over two hundred students a day, five days a week, and while I
too feel upset about the poor students with the "bleeding" papers, I've
had students say almost the same things as yours, I try to be sympathetic
toward secondary school teachers who work at least as hard as we do
without anything near our academic freedom.

Ken Wright

On Fri, 19 Jan 1996, Claudine Keenan wrote:

> In reponse to Ken Wright's
> > I'm not so sure that Pubic Education, meaning the secondary
> >schools, I presume, is responsible for any or all the students' fear.
> I am instantly reminded of what new students repeatedly tell me when they
> learn that I only grade papers in pencil; it usually goes something like this:
> "I'm so glad you do that. In high school, the teachers cut my writing apart
> with red ink. It looked like blood all over the page when I got it back."
> So I think public educators do bear some responsibility, if only the
> psyschological baggage that these timid writers must carry over into college.
> Worse than that, however, is how some secondary public educators cast _US_
> to their students, in oft-repeated remarks of this sort:
> "Well if you think I'm tough on your papers, just wait until you get to
> college."
> If students already live in fear, imagine how they'll come to dread fresh
> Many of these educators may themselves have been "torn apart" by their own
> writing instructors when they wrote papers to earn their degrees. They are
> still carrying the scars, and inflicting similar wounds on their students,
> since secondary methods courses usually only spend a few hours covering "how
> to teach writing," leaving them to rely on teaching the way they were taught.
> -Claudine Keenan