Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Compositional Radical

Today I told students not to be afraid to include new ideas in the conclusion.  If I had told them not to be afraid to stand on the ceiling, they'd have been no less shocked.

Perhaps other college composition teachers share this experience.  Many students have been taught rules on writing throughout their education, then get to college and find teachers telling them it is OK to break those very rules.  I don't think I'm a radical on composition theory (I'm almost certainly not), but when I tell students it is OK to use the word "I" in a paper, they look at me like I am telling them cats have wings.

1 comment:

  1. I face a similar issue when I have to teach kids not to include super obvious preview statements. They think all intros have to end with the formula:

    In this essay, I will explain _____, _____, and _____.

    When I tell them to be subtle or to say in in another way, they are shocked.

    They also have a hard time believing me when I tell them that it can be okay to start sentences with conjunctions, even when I give them pretty easy examples like:

    Because I studied, I got an A.

    I guess on one hand it is good that they are retaining what they are told about how to write well. But they often end up with really rigid expectations for themselves when they write and they don't get create or put themselves into the words as much as follow a prescribed plan. They need to be able to follow that plan, but the goal is to get them past that, and some of them just don't want to.