Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Topic: Basic Writing

10-second review: What is a “basic” writing course? What is its purpose?

Title: “Resisting Privilege: Basic Writing and Foucault’s Author Function.” Gail Stygall. College Composition and Communication (October 1994), 321-341. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary/Quote: “Any article or research report on basic writing has to be read carefully for how its author describes basic writing…. Sometimes [basic writers] are called ‘remedial,’ implying that they are re-taking courses in material that already should have been mastered. Sometimes they are called ‘developmental,’ suggesting a cognitive or psychological problem. At other times and in other places, they may be called ‘Educational Opportunity Students,’ suggesting division by access to education. Or they are just ‘basic,’ requiring foundational or fundamental instruction in writing.” p. 320.

Comment: What do we expect to be accomplished in a “basic,” non-credit course in writing? An understanding and production of the five-paragraph essay? Elimination of such basic problems as run-on sentences and fragments? The ability to use the writing process: brainstorm, thesis, draft, introduction, summary paragraph, revision, editing and final copy? I think goals need to be specified in concrete terms. Starting point for the students will be different, but they need to know the end point. Clearly specifying the goals will help students achieve the goals. RayS.

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