Monday, May 12, 2008

Introductions to Compositions

The purpose of this blog is to summarize articles on teaching English/language arts, from kindergarten through college, published in English education journals from the past.

Topic: Introductions to Compositions

Title: “Prologues to What Is Possible: Introductions as Metadiscourse.” Phillip Arrington and Shirley K. Rose. College Composition and Communication (October 1987), 306-318. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English.

Summary: What should an introduction consist of? Get a reader’s attention. Provide background on the subject. State or imply a thesis.

Comment: In the final paragraph of this article the authors suggest that textbook writers in texts for teaching writing believe mistakenly that most writers start with the first paragraph because they already know their purposes and intentions, the context, the readers’ assumptions and knowledge before they write. The real world of writing is not like that.

When I taught writing, the introduction was the last activity before revision and editing—and after (1) brainstorming,(2) the thesis, (3) the topic sentences and details for each middle paragraph and(4) the final, summary paragraph. Strange as it might seem, I have learned that the introduction is actually the last activity [before revision and editing], not the first.

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