Dialogue on Writing: Rethinking ESL, Basic Writing, and First-Year Composition

By Geraldine Deluca; Len Fox et al. | Go to book overview

Part IV
Beyond the Writing Classroom

The final section of this book moves beyond the concerns of the conventional writing class to consider some related issues: the development of programs in writing across the curriculum; the impact of computers on the teaching of writing and, more generally, on the traditional classroom; the working conditions and job prospects of the many part-time faculty who staff lower-level courses in the university; and finally, the situation of the teacher in other roles as writer and scholar. All of these issues involve change. Some of that change is good; some is worrisome; some is demoralizing. The issues are also about the relationships among people: the economic and social contract between the university and its teaching staff; the connection between full- and part-time staff; the physical relationship, in a distance-learning environment, between students and teachers; and the relationships that teachers have as writers to each other and to their students.

The movement toward writing across the curriculum has its roots in the 1970s in the United States, and Toby Fulwiler and his colleague Art Young were among its leaders. For years they have been leading workshops for teachers in the disciplines to help them understand writing not just as a formal product but also as a mode of learning that can help students analyze difficult material, make connections among ideas, and do the critical thinking that is so much a part of a university education and that can help them to function successfully in their personal and professional lives. Fulwiler's “The Argument for Writing Across the Curriculum” describes the principles that guide his workshops and suggests a basic plan for working with faculty groups.

Using British writing theorist James Britton's scheme of three types of writing—transactional, poetic, and expressive—Fulwiler notes that the excessive emphasis on “transactional” writing—writing to make a point, to communicate with another—often undercuts students' development as writers. He advocates the use of expressive writing in the classroom as a way

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