Title: “Modeling a Writer’s Identity: Reading and Imitation in the Writing Classroom.” Robert Brooke. College Composition and Communication (February 1988), 23-41. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
Question: Why do we read literature in writing classes?
Quote: “Reading (especially the reading of literature) has often been justified in the writing classroom because reading gives students something to imitate…. The text, it is argued, provides a ‘model’ of effective writing which students can copy, and the process of reading critically, practiced on literature, can become a ‘model’ of how writers should behave in reading their own work. Reading is thus seen as useful because it models both form and processes for writers to imitate.” p. 23.
Comment: Nice theory. I don’t denigrate any ideas for teaching writing, but I have serious doubts about this one. I remember freshman comp in college. The textbook was an anthology of literary works. The forms of these works, in most cases fiction, were not the forms I needed to learn to write. The teacher made no attempt to show us the relevance of the literary works to learning how to write. For me, a complete waste of a valuable semester. I suppose, if I thought long and hard about it, I might come up with some ideas for showing students the relevance of literary works to freshman writing. However, I’m skeptical about the whole idea. RayS.