The Right Way to Teach Write

The readings of this week highlight the difficulty of teaching writing within a culturally diverse world and the problems students face transitioning from their secondary education to the university.  In Foster and Russell’s text “Rearticulating Articulation”, the authors create a “cross-national dialogue” regarding “articulating secondary/higher education writing” (3).  Looking at writing cross-nationally, Russell and Foster hope to “find ways of rearticulating the secondary-higher education transition in terms of writing development”(6).  Similarly, in Xiao-Ming Li’s text “‘Track (Dis) Connecting': Chinese High School and the University Writing in a Time of Change”, the author examines the transition from high school to university, questioning the writing preparation students receive prior to entering higher education in a time greatly influenced by modernization and the West.  After reading the two excerpts, I could not help but look back to my personal transitions from from high school to undergrad to graduate education.  To be completely honest, both of these transitions were rough as I arrived  ill-prepared.  In high school, the amount of writing was minimal, length short, and research non-existent.  From undergrad to grad school, the jump was large as well, requiring greater research, longer length, and original thoughts while (un)originally quoting other author’s in an original manner.  However, I do not fault my teacher’s or the education I received.  As discussed in the texts, the American education system is decentralized and specialization occurs late within a society heavily emphasizing individual advancement.  As a result, the educational system systematically selects individuals for advancement.  Thus, rough transitions have to occur within the system to eliminate some while elevating others.  The positive aspect of these rough transitions is the internal conflicts they create, causing individuals to stop and reflect upon their path.

What I feel is more important is the notions Tom Fox brings up in his text “Basic Writing as Cultural Conflict”.  In this article, Fox explains that “we need to convince students that this community is theirs, that it will not work against their identity and their interests”(75).  If we want students to succeed, we must develop within them a sense of ownership over their education.  Thus, when they face these difficult transitions, they overcome them with the ideology that academic success leads to identity reinforcement.  What we do not want as educators is student education abandonment when something difficult interrupts their smooth academic path.  Therefore, teachers must create obstacles that students are able to overcome.  The result being a more confident personal identity.

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