Writing in the Academic Disciplines: A Curricular History

By David R. Russell | Go to book overview

9

THE WRITING-ACROSS‐
THE-CURRICULUM
MOVEMENT
1970-1990

Cross-curricular writing programs were almost always a response to a perceived need for greater access, greater equity. They set out to assimilate, integrate, or (in the current phrasing) initiate previously excluded students by means of language instruction. So, it is not surprising that the greatest efforts came as the pressure for access increased. The cooperation movement and the first general-education initiatives began just after the turn of the century, when middle-class, rural, and immigrant students were clambering for admission; the core-curriculum experiments at Chicago and elsewhere, as well as the correlated curriculum movement, flourished in the 1930s when economic pressures forced students out of the job market and back into school—and when social agitation for egalitarian reforms was at its height in modern America; the communications movement and the postwar reforms in general education were explicit responses to the massive influx of GI's into higher education; and the current WAC movement was born in the early 1970s, when open admissions in universities and racial integration in secondary schools forced educators to rethink language instruction.

When pressures for greater access abated in the late 1950s and early 1960s, writing in the disciplines received little attention within English, as pressures for disciplinary excellence increased. At the secondary level, English, like the sciences, was immediately influenced by Jerome S. Bruner's emphasis on the structure of the

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