Monday, July 14, 2008

Topic: Expressive Writing

10-Second Review: We should emphasize expressive writing as opposed to the five-paragraph essay.

Title: “Class, Codes and Composition: Basil Bernstein and the Critique of Pedagogy.” Myron C. Tuman. College Composition and Communication (February 1988), 42-51. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: This article is primarily concerned with the process of reforming composition studies, complete with Marxist studies, a topic that has little interest for me at this time. But one issue as part of reform is “expressive” writing, personal writing, narrative writing as opposed to the now stereotyped five-paragraph-essay.

Comment: “Expressive writing” (subjective, personal, narrative) vs. the type of expository writing represented by the five-paragraph essay is another educational either/or situation. We need both, not either. I think these issues are drummed up just to gain valuable publication space.

I do have a reluctance to using expressive writing. Students sometimes become too personal in writing about things that I, the teacher of writing, have no business reading. In my classes, I assigned personal narrative writing, but I was careful to warn students not to become too personal, not to write anything that could embarrass them. “If you don’t want to hear it read aloud, then don’t write it for class. Put it in your diary,” I said.

Many people will disagree with me, but that’s how I feel about it. I’m not a psychiatrist or a psycho-therapist. I’m an English teacher. No confessional boxes in my class, please
. RayS.

The purpose of this blog is to share interesting ideas I have found in recent American professional publications dealing with the teaching of English at all levels, elementary, secondary and college.

No comments: