Saturday, April 9, 2011

Illiberal Composition

"Over the past three decades, freshman writing instruction in most of the institutions of higher education in the United States has gradually been taken over by composition theorists, who hold literary study in disdain and insist that reading and writing are different skills with no necessary connection," writes R.V. Young — Liberal Learning Confronts the Composition Despots. "Freshman composition, which was often a waste of time in the past, has become a means of deadening the intellect and sensibilities of college students."

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Blogger Enbrethiliel said...


My own favourite quote from the article is:

We cannot "reform" our system of education because it is not at all a system of education in the original, root sense but instead a curious and uneven amalgam of job training, indoctrination, and custodial care.

I can also relate to the author's experiences in teaching Freshman Composition, as I do a bit of "remedial" work with many of my own tutees. Digital technology has made the "copy-paste method" a favourite among students who sometimes don't even understand that it's wrong to pass off someone's writing as one's own. Try to get them to write something original is often as hard as drilling the rules of grammar and the elements of style into them. This is another effect of divorcing writing from reading.

5:22 AM  

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