Re: freewriting

Becky Rickly (becky.rickly@UMICH.EDU)
Wed, 24 Jul 1996 15:59:36 -0400

Mike, while I really do agree with all that you've said, I'm going to balk
at your comment below:

>so, i think the whole project of applying our processes to our students
>should be moot. can we share our stories without prescribing our
>processes? can we model without imposing our own cognitive styles? to
>what use can we put our narratives?

Theoretically, I agree with what you're implying here. I also know that
research done using narrative/description/case study/ethnographic
approaches is supposed to only generate hypotheses that will lead to more
"hard core" research which will then be generalizable to the masses.


I know as a writer, a teacher of writing, and a researcher that, despite
what I SHOULD and shouldn't do, in my practice I DO tend to generalize from
experience, from narrative, from past students/classes, etc., then I use
that information to inform my new theoretical base, pedagogy, practice,
etc. It's what Isocrates/Aristotle calls Phronesis, or practical wisdom.
Seems to me that what we're asking for is a collection of stories/case
studies that will lead to practical wisdom, and this practical wisdom can
then inform practice.

I'm not saying we SHOULD make what we come up with prescriptive in that it
determines our/our students' practices; I do, however, think that what we
come up with can lead to certain generalizations (which, I hope, we will
continue to see as temporal and contextual and in constant need of
re-evaluation) that can inform, guide, and, yes, even determine our
(continually evolving) practice.

I also love the idea of opening the space for such valuable descriptions
(both confessional as well as descriptive, as in I'm observing someone
else's process from a variety of perspectives) of process to students.
What a wonderful, organic, useful, *practical* collection of wisdom!