A. Michelini

(more to say)

Raw Error or Raw Roar?

I admit that when I first saw the chapter called “Basic Writing Pedagogy” in A¬†Guide to Composition Pedagogies, I was unsure. A lot of the time, when professors talk about their basic writing classes, it is with anything but joy. In meetings at work, the head of my department talks about how we have no entry point for students; they are allowed to attend our community college no matter what level they are at, and I certainly feel like I’ve taught a wide variety of levels in my short years teaching English there. Faculty roar back objections, feeling like they only get farther and farther behind each year in covering the material they feel they need to. The students come in raw with errors and the faculty are underprepared in dealing with it.

For me, however, teaching developmental writing classes (aka basic writing) is a treat. Not only do students come ready to work hard, but when they succeed they are elated. Their raw errors are often due to misconceptions, various learning styles, or different ways of thinking about things. Sometimes, they just need someone to care and believe in them. As Mutnick and Lamos quoted from Errors (5), “[Basic Writing] students write the way they do, not because they are slow or non-verbal, indifferent to or incapable of academic excellence, but because they are beginners and must, like all beginners, learn by making mistakes.” I appreciate the approach this chapter took to basic writing and would recommend it to many of my frustrated colleagues.

1 Comment

  1. This chapter in GCP is one of my favorites. The authors do a fantastic job of demonstrating the real complexity – educational, political, social – of the task of teaching basic writing. It’s an exciting and contentious area to both teach in and study/write about.

    I didn’t teach any basic writing during my PHD, but after I graduated and took a job as a visiting professor at Ohio University Zanesville – I did quite a bit of basic writing teaching there. It is extremely rewarding because you can really make an impact in your students’ writing and lives. I would love to get to teach a section at IUP.

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