Academic journal article Composition Studies

Teaching Writing Teachers: Of High School English & First-Year Composition

Academic journal article Composition Studies

Teaching Writing Teachers: Of High School English & First-Year Composition

Article excerpt

Teaching Writing Teachers: of High School English & First-Year Composition, by Robert Tremmel and William Broz. Portsmouth: Boynton/Cook, 2002. 192 pages.

Robert Tremmel introduces Teaching Writing Teachers by relating a question that English education professors often ask and that writing program administrators should consider more regularly:

How is it [. . .] that I can be the coordinator of an English education program in an English department, working daily to prepare beginning writing teachers, yet I never walk down the hall to consult with our department's composition director, who is also working daily to prepare beginning writing teachers whose students are often only three months older than my students' students? (1)

The question is rooted in the intersection between secondary and post-secondary instruction, and as Tremmel and William Broz argue, the question calls for the development of a distinct discipline.

The book begins with a Foreword by Richard Gebhart that suggests reasons why both fields sometimes overlook opportunities to share ideas. The Introduction, "Striking a Balance-seeking a Discipline," then shares a succinct history of the research interests of both fields. Tremmel suggests here that bringing secondary and post-secondary interests must first begin with a well-developed writing pedagogy. The primary premise of the book is that we need ongoing dialogue.

In the first section Stephen Wilhoit, Jonathan Bush, and Margaret Tomlinson Rustick offer commentary on Tremmel's Introduction and call for a united discipline. Wilhoit examines some common grounds, such as the students both fields share, the similarity in program goals, and the similarity in pedagogies. He points out that we can learn from one another in terms of assessing writing, discovering both identity and power in our institutions, and benefiting from the intellectual and social rewards of writing. We can mentor one another. His piece is called "Identifying Common Concerns." Bush's piece is called "Common Ground: Toward Collaboration," and reminds readers that both English education and writing program administration serve similar roles, and that they both support students as they instill and help develop praxis. Finally, Tomlinson Rustick's "Methods for Building Bridges" offers a professional narrative account of this history in her methods courses.

Tomlinson Rustick's approach is similar to Chris Anson's approach. Anson's essay points out that writing teachers should be writers, should practice reflection, and should always work together. The chapter is entitled "Teaching Writing Creatively: A Summer Institute for Teachers." Among other things, Anson focuses on the reflective value of teaching portfolios, and that "where teaching portfolios may be used as a form of assessment, opportunities for collaboration and mcnloring should become the governing philosophy and goal of the portfolio system" (39). If the term "mentoring" could have been worked into the title of the book it probably should have, because it is such an important teaching and learning strategy in the book. Next, for instance, in "Bridging Levels: Composition Theory and Practice," Gail Sty gall shares her account of the similarities and differences in her English education and composition teaching methods courses. She finds that just like writing is a local and social act, so too is good teaching and mentoring Good teaching is reflective teaching.

Tom Romano then discusses the value of teaching writing instruction by writing in "Teaching Writing Through Multigenre Papers." Specifically, Romano writes about his use of the multigenre research paper and studies how the medium (genre) impacts the message (content). David Smit also discusses the importance of genre in writing teacher education in his chapter, "Practice, Reflection, and Genre," as well as the importance of sequencing assignments and keeping "reflection journals." Linda Miller Cleary focuses on reflection next, pointing out that students can be asked to "deconstruct and reconstruct their beliefs about writing instruction" (75). …

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