Monday, January 5, 2009

Topic: Unacceptable Compositions

10-second review: What does the teacher do when a student writes an extremely racist paper?

Title: “ ‘So What Do We Do Now?’ Necessary Directionality as the Writing Teacher’s Response to Racist, Sexist, Homophobic Papers.” D Rothgery. College Composition and Communication (May 1993), 241-247. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: The standard response to an “unacceptable” composition is either not to accept it or respond as usual to organization, thesis, etc. The author suggests that the teacher posit the truth of the paper and then ask, “What’s next?” In other words, ask the class what happens next if the ideas are true and then discuss it with the class. In short, what are the consequences if the ideas in the paper are true?

Comment: What worries me about following the author’s suggestion is the emotion that might be unleashed and whether I could control it. His suggestion that we consider the consequences of the writer’s ideas is interesting, and I need to think about it. However, I’m not ready to use his suggestion. I worry about singling out the students who wrote the “unacceptable composition,” even if I don’t use their names. And until I am ready, I will simply not accept the paper. RayS.

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