Thursday, June 25, 2009

The future of college writing

What is the future of writing and the teaching of writing? Not good. It's labor intensive, time consuming and undervalued in the marketplace. Already sweatshopped to the max composition adjuncts are at their limits. No one is going to give them more money and smaller classes in these trying economic times. More likely, class sizes and administrative paper work will increase. Where will the cuts come?

Requiring Revision

I keep finding and reading articles like these – and then comparing them to writing and attitudes toward it outside the academy. Is it research or masochism, obsession or idle curiosity? Blog fodder?

My reading: revision is on the way out, less for pedagogical than administrative reasons - too labor intensive unless admin can get it done on the cheap. Raised class caps in composition will put numbers too high to afford time for revision – even by academic sweatshop labor. The revision process no longer takes place in a meaningful way, shortened and corner cut to meaningless. Writing standards in the courses 1st year composition is supposed to prepare students for are already next to non-existent in most institutions.

Even graduate students, especially in more "commercial", less academic disciplines, write badly and are revision resistant for all that. Convinced they have already learned everything they need to know about writing in English 101, with perhaps a “business writing” (oxymoron alert) course thrown in for good measure. These students are neither stupid nor inarticulate – just never truly expected to write well or exposed to intellectual rigor. Perhaps gullible as well - first buying into self-esteem and then higher education seat-filling sales pitches.

Business and the relevance of Liberal Arts

In no way does this give a free pass to atrociously unreadable academic writing - jargon on steroids. That's another case for another time.

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