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May 18, 2004

Comments

Howard

I believe you are right, Holly, when you suggest that first-year students are at a loss when processing much of what they receive via electronic databases--which begs the larger question as to our intentions in the first-year comp or lit course. Should we see ourselves as preparing students to become critics (consumers of scholarly works) or something else?

Holly

Yes, that's one of the big questions all right, and one I've been thinking a lot about. It seems to me that it's almost a disservice to students (or to most students, at any rate) to even try to prepare them to be critics (for me that makes problematic such things as literary research papers and talk about the rhetorical triangle, etc.). Very few of our students will become scholars, and few of them WANT to. What they NEED is to be able to write complete sentences with a minimum of spelling and grammar mistakes; some of them could use writing instruction tailored to their career goals as well. (From my POV I'd also like them to understand that writing can be valuable to them in their personal lives. And critical thinking fits in there somewhere too.) There are so many issues tangled together here. More to come...

Howard

For me, the issues don't cut quite as cleanly,Holly. Having been trained to ask a lot of questions and to enjoy the process of exploring ideas, I welcome the chance to model that habit of thinking for my students and to provide them with opportunities to acquire that habit of mind. In fact, what is wrong with seeing the intellectual life--cause that's what we're talking about--as useful to our students? On the other hand, we must find a way as writing and reading instructors to allow passion to inhabit our classrooms. Passion and intellect: not a bad combo, in my view.

Holly

I guess I identify myself more as a writer than a scholar. Not to imply at all that the two are mutually exclusive (scholars write and writers think), but I suppose what I try to model is more a writerly habit of composing than a scholarly habit of thinking. I spend a LOT of time in class talking about generating specific detail--whether from memory, observation, or "outside" sources (there's yr scholarship)--making lists, looking for patterns, chunking (my technical term) information together. I think it's a little bit different emphasis or slant than the scholar's, maybe, but it's interesting to speculate where and how the two "world views" intersect. The coin of my realm is detail to your idea, maybe? But I think we're both in favor of that passion/intellect combo.

Holly

Or consumers of scholarly works vs producers of creative ones? Gourmand vs chef? (I seem to be falling into the dangerous habit of relying on metaphor...not good for my academic rigor.)

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