Teaching in the 21st Century: Adapting Writing Pedagogies to the College Curriculum

By Alice Robertson; Barbara Smith | Go to book overview

that students will “come at purely analytic discussions of texts in a much more shrewd and energetic way when they have had a chance to try out some of the same kinds of writing in an experimental, playful, ungraded way.” 13

Like Elbow, Seitz suggests that engaging students in various forms of exploratory writing through literary models (not necessarily imaginative literature by any means, in Seitz's view) correspondingly enhances analytic thinking skills: “The pleasure of parody, for instance, is an experience which all students should have the opportunity to explore, for parody is a cunning means to forging simultaneous distance and intimacy with a particular discourse.” 14

The postmodern debate as to the value of teaching traditional literary analysis continues. While the favoring of the close reading of texts—canonical texts, especially—has been attacked as theoretically naïve, or worse, as insinuating some disguised, hence sinister, agenda in reactive conservatism or elitism, it remains, nevertheless, vital for teachers to develop a student's ability to co-opt the language of any academic discourse and to emphasize in their assignments the alert critical faculties students need to do that co-opting well. Such abilities can make a huge difference in a student's success in the academy. These traditionally ex-alted language skills will endure, in spite of ivory tower theorists, as subtle, but powerful, credentials in academic, professional, and corporate gatekeeping for a long time to come. We do our students, especially our nontraditional students “caught” in the “double bind” imposed on them by an “oppositional culture, ” 15 a grave disservice if we are blind to these extant realities of a competitive society.


NOTES
1
Ron McFarland, “An Apologia for Creative Writing, ” College English 55 (1993): 17.
2
Bassel Stassis (Chairman of ESL Department at PCCC), interview by author, Paterson, NJ, 22 November 1997.
3
Ibid.
4
This “holistic” grading process conceptually follows the model adopted by the Educational Testing Service—that is, the use of selected “range-finders” as a standards control prior to actual grading, each final exam receiving the scrutiny of two readers (in PCCC's English department, two “outside” readers other than the student's professor), and so on.

-94-

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