Re: elite/elitism (fwd)

John M. Clark (jclark2@BGNET.BGSU.EDU)
Mon, 14 Oct 1996 09:41:01 -0400

Steve "I Am Not a Mechanic," Fill-up-Your-Own-Students Krause

>Carolyn Dean wrote:
>>I do not see fycomp as somehow separate from the rest of higher education,
>>nor did I say a word about grammar, behavior, rules, or the five-paragraph
>>essay. And I find it amazing that you and your colleagues rejected the
>>concept of the effective use of language. Is there no such thing in the
>>postmodern world as using the best word in the most effective way?
>> But I do see part of my job as preparing students for participation in
>>the rest of the University world (or just the rest of the World) -- that
>>is, teaching them to think, and teaching them to present those ideas
>-- I think I _sort_ of understand what you're getting at here, Carolyn, but
>it seems a bit contradictory to me. In the first sentence, you say you're
>not talking about various "rules" of writing, but then you go on to state
>(in the form of a rhetorical question, I assume) that there are ways to
>teach students how to use _the_ best word in _the_ most effective way. My
>own answer to this question is "no," there is no such thing as the "best
>word" in a transcendent sense. And I don't think there is a transcendent
>"effective" use of language, so no, I don't teach that either. I teach
>more about tailoring messages to particular audiences and purposes, about
>different perspectives in re-reading and re-presenting information in our
>reading and writing in the various contexts in which we live. Part of that
>is talking about "what's effective" in college writing and part of that is
>recognizing that different disciplines have different definitions of
>And then you go on to talk about what I would call the traditional role of
>composition: get 'em to think and present things right so they can be,
>well, "presentable" in their other classes. That's always been kind a
>bothersome perception about comp for me. I mean, think about it: all
>other introductory courses within the university are seen as just that--
>introductions for students to various subjects and topics. But how many
>introductory courses have the same burden as fy comp? How many "math 101"
>or "intro to lit" or "western civ" classes are seen as a key preparing
>course for the rest of the college/world experience? How many of these
>other courses are expected to train students in how to think?
>Maybe that is the goal of fy comp, maybe it should be (mo, pomo, or
>othermo). But it seems to me that this is such an impossible burden to
>meet with one or two classes (which is one of many reasons why I've always
>been a WAC fan), and it seems such an isolating experience-- us comp folks,
>saddled with this prepatory burden, are seperated from the rest of the
>university, and are frequently treated as a pre-college, service
>station-like place, a series of classes where students come to get "gassed
>up" and have their intellectual tires kicked, their writing engines finely
>tuned, and then off they go to the _real_ part of education, the rest of
>the college. I have no interest in being a "service" to the rest of the
>university in this sense.
> Steve Krause * Department of English * Southern Oregon State College
> 1250 Siskiyou Blvd. * Ashland, OR 97520 * Office Phone: 541-552-6630
> School e-mail: * Personal e-mail:
> WWW:

Dr. John M. Clark -- General Studies Writing -- Bowling Green State University

"A way of seeing is...a way of not seeing." -- Kenneth Burke