Writing Theory and Practice 2015-09-28 15:55:00

Quanesha Burr

            “Composition at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century” by Richard Fulkerson is an informative and challenging piece to read. In the article, Fulkerson explains “the variant contemporary approaches to teaching college writing” (658). He gives his readers a description of each techniques strengths and weaknesses, and he highlights four main areas he wants his audience to pay attention to. Fulkerson goal is to prove or show disconnection and issues which are more evident “early in the twenty-first century than it had appeared to be around 1990” (654). In my opinion, he does a great job trying to defend his assertions or prove his points. Readers become frustrated just by trying to understand and read his article. The audience is constantly trying to grasp all the information he provides which proves there is just too much going on in general. After reading this article, I would like to know more about what was occurring in 1990. From previous readings, extreme turmoil existed way before now.

Furthermore, I lacked knowledge about “critical/cultural studies [CCS], (2) expressivism, and (3) procedural rhetoric” (Fulkerson 655). This article helped me to really learn about all three and it also made me think about a conversation the class engaged in. While reading Fulkerson’s article, I started thinking about the question Dr. Zamora asked which was “How were you taught to write?” When I was reading this article, I really wished there was more of a variety or uniqueness to the way in which I was taught. I really liked “expressivist composition” (Fulkerson 666). I wish I was a student who experienced a teacher engaging in this technique.  What this technique engages in or practices can be compared to the way I write now.

 Moreover, one main point Fulkerson makes that stuck out to me was “the actual question of what is good writing is more problematic than ever” (681). This quotation goes back to a comment I made in class about students constantly having to adjust to their teachers. Effective writing to one teacher may not be effective writing to another.

Writing Theory and Practice 2015-09-28 15:55:00

Quanesha Burr

            “Composition at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century” by Richard Fulkerson is an informative and challenging piece to read. In the article, Fulkerson explains “the variant contemporary approaches to teaching college writing” (658). He gives his readers a description of each techniques strengths and weaknesses, and he highlights four main areas he wants his audience to pay attention to. Fulkerson goal is to prove or show disconnection and issues which are more evident “early in the twenty-first century than it had appeared to be around 1990” (654). In my opinion, he does a great job trying to defend his assertions or prove his points. Readers become frustrated just by trying to understand and read his article. The audience is constantly trying to grasp all the information he provides which proves there is just too much going on in general. After reading this article, I would like to know more about what was occurring in 1990. From previous readings, extreme turmoil existed way before now.

Furthermore, I lacked knowledge about “critical/cultural studies [CCS], (2) expressivism, and (3) procedural rhetoric” (Fulkerson 655). This article helped me to really learn about all three and it also made me think about a conversation the class engaged in. While reading Fulkerson’s article, I started thinking about the question Dr. Zamora asked which was “How were you taught to write?” When I was reading this article, I really wished there was more of a variety or uniqueness to the way in which I was taught. I really liked “expressivist composition” (Fulkerson 666). I wish I was a student who experienced a teacher engaging in this technique.  What this technique engages in or practices can be compared to the way I write now.

 Moreover, one main point Fulkerson makes that stuck out to me was “the actual question of what is good writing is more problematic than ever” (681). This quotation goes back to a comment I made in class about students constantly having to adjust to their teachers. Effective writing to one teacher may not be effective writing to another.

Blog: Donald M. Murray’s "Teaching Writing as a Process Not Product"

Donald M. Murray’s “Teach Writing as a Process Not Product” is both powerful and insightful; it is also a philosophy of teaching that should be common sense but is not common practice. Murray begins his argument that teaching composition should focus on the process of writing and not the final product by mentioning a common flaw shared by teachers of English: “Our critical skills are honed by examining literature, which is finished writing”. It is uncommon that we study the process by which these authors created their works. Therefore, when we later become teachers, we tend to focus on our students’ final products as well.

Murray suggests that it is much more beneficial to teach unfished writing. That is, the three stages of the writing process: prewriting, writing, and rewriting. He then addresses the question, How should I motivate my students during the writing process? His response: Shut Up! Students do not learn to write by talking about it, Murray writes. They learn by doing it! It is important that the teacher remembers their role. You are not there to initiate or motivate; you, as the teacher, are simply there to read and receive, to listen and respond.

This practice of teaching process has many implications for the composition curriculum, and Murray describes ten. Included in these implications are ideas such as there are no absolutes and that all writing is experimental. All that the teacher is required to do is be respectful and respond to the student. Students should be allowed to find their own subjects and use their own language.  Murray suggests that “we are coaches, encouragers, developers, creators of environments in which our students can experience the writing process for themselves”.

A note on the article mentions that the paper was presented at a conference in 1972. Why then, I wonder, has the philosophy of teaching composition not adapted to teaching process. In my experience, I have only had very few teachers who have focused on process. I think that it is still too common a practice to focus on a final product and to expect students to mirror one’s own writing style. I wonder if this is because we, as teachers, are still learning to teach by examining the product, as Murray notes.

Blog: Donald M. Murray’s "Teaching Writing as a Process Not Product"

Donald M. Murray’s “Teach Writing as a Process Not Product” is both powerful and insightful; it is also a philosophy of teaching that should be common sense but is not common practice. Murray begins his argument that teaching composition should focus on the process of writing and not the final product by mentioning a common flaw shared by teachers of English: “Our critical skills are honed by examining literature, which is finished writing”. It is uncommon that we study the process by which these authors created their works. Therefore, when we later become teachers, we tend to focus on our students’ final products as well.

Murray suggests that it is much more beneficial to teach unfished writing. That is, the three stages of the writing process: prewriting, writing, and rewriting. He then addresses the question, How should I motivate my students during the writing process? His response: Shut Up! Students do not learn to write by talking about it, Murray writes. They learn by doing it! It is important that the teacher remembers their role. You are not there to initiate or motivate; you, as the teacher, are simply there to read and receive, to listen and respond.

This practice of teaching process has many implications for the composition curriculum, and Murray describes ten. Included in these implications are ideas such as there are no absolutes and that all writing is experimental. All that the teacher is required to do is be respectful and respond to the student. Students should be allowed to find their own subjects and use their own language.  Murray suggests that “we are coaches, encouragers, developers, creators of environments in which our students can experience the writing process for themselves”.

A note on the article mentions that the paper was presented at a conference in 1972. Why then, I wonder, has the philosophy of teaching composition not adapted to teaching process. In my experience, I have only had very few teachers who have focused on process. I think that it is still too common a practice to focus on a final product and to expect students to mirror one’s own writing style. I wonder if this is because we, as teachers, are still learning to teach by examining the product, as Murray notes.

Blog #1 – Teach Writing as a Process Not Product by Donald M. Murray


Teach Writing as a Process Not Product
by Donald M. Murray

Murray talks about the importance of teaching writing as process and not as product. I feel like this is extremely important to teach. Looking back at my experience as a student I am able to see how often students are pushed to deliver product and submit it by deadlines created by the instructors. Along the way, I’ve also experienced the exception to this where I can say that I’ve had professors that have taught me writing as process and not product. Those professors are not the majority of them though but I am glad they were along the way. 
As Murray talked about what teachers do as they teach their students writing, he said “The product doesn’t improve, and so, blaming the students – who else? – we pass him along to the next teacher, who is trained, too often, the same way we were.” — This statement makes me go back and reflect on the teachers I’ve had along the way. And I realized that the ones I have most respect for are the ones that taught me writing as process and not product. The ones that allowed me to draft as much as I needed to. The ones that allowed me to create my own deadlines while giving me enough direction in one on one conferences to complete my writing on time. The ones that talked to me about the writing process and helped me discover what my writing process was – one that changes.
As I read through Murray’s essay I found that I could relate to some of the implications that he listed as a writer; more to some than to others. 
Implication No. 4 – “The student should have the opportunity to write all the drafts necessary for him to discover what he has to say on this particular subject.” This implication made me think about my own writing. I have no clear idea of how many drafts I go through when I am writing. The amount of drafts I go through also depends on what I’m writing about and what kind of writing I’m doing. For me, it is all about the connection I have with the piece I am creating. 
Implication No. 9 – “The students are individuals who must explore the writing process in their own way, some fast, some slow…” While as students we aren’t always able to experience this, I feel like we tend to learn to adapt to our professors. Some may allow us to explore our writing process at our own pace while others will just hit us with deadlines and therefore we must just produce. This implication makes me think about the times when I’ve felt like I’ve had the luxury to explore in my own way. When this happens, I feel pleased that I am able to work within my personal writing process. But when I can’t do that, I feel like I have to quickly tell myself to push through that situation and just tell myself that I have to get that done no matter what. While I’m able to push myself and get my product done, I don’t always feel good about it. I end up handing in my paper on time and I even get a good grade on it. But, I often have that feeling in me telling me “you know you could’ve done something differently, you could’ve made your characters go somewhere different” – if it’s a creative piece I’m working on or – “you could’ve done more research” if is a research driven piece. In the end, I give my professor what I’m required, but as I writer I am not always pleased. Having experience this myself, I think that allowing students to explore their writing process can be strongly beneficial for them. 
Overall, I feel like this was an essay I could relate to at a personal level because I appreciate those professors that have taken the time to teach me while respecting me as a writer. I’m sure it has probably helped them, as teachers, as well. After all, Murray says that “we are as frustrated as our students” so teachers knowing that they’ve helped their students become better writers will feel they’ve done their job well.

Blog #1 – Teach Writing as a Process Not Product by Donald M. Murray


Teach Writing as a Process Not Product
by Donald M. Murray

Murray talks about the importance of teaching writing as process and not as product. I feel like this is extremely important to teach. Looking back at my experience as a student I am able to see how often students are pushed to deliver product and submit it by deadlines created by the instructors. Along the way, I’ve also experienced the exception to this where I can say that I’ve had professors that have taught me writing as process and not product. Those professors are not the majority of them though but I am glad they were along the way. 
As Murray talked about what teachers do as they teach their students writing, he said “The product doesn’t improve, and so, blaming the students – who else? – we pass him along to the next teacher, who is trained, too often, the same way we were.” — This statement makes me go back and reflect on the teachers I’ve had along the way. And I realized that the ones I have most respect for are the ones that taught me writing as process and not product. The ones that allowed me to draft as much as I needed to. The ones that allowed me to create my own deadlines while giving me enough direction in one on one conferences to complete my writing on time. The ones that talked to me about the writing process and helped me discover what my writing process was – one that changes.
As I read through Murray’s essay I found that I could relate to some of the implications that he listed as a writer; more to some than to others. 
Implication No. 4 – “The student should have the opportunity to write all the drafts necessary for him to discover what he has to say on this particular subject.” This implication made me think about my own writing. I have no clear idea of how many drafts I go through when I am writing. The amount of drafts I go through also depends on what I’m writing about and what kind of writing I’m doing. For me, it is all about the connection I have with the piece I am creating. 
Implication No. 9 – “The students are individuals who must explore the writing process in their own way, some fast, some slow…” While as students we aren’t always able to experience this, I feel like we tend to learn to adapt to our professors. Some may allow us to explore our writing process at our own pace while others will just hit us with deadlines and therefore we must just produce. This implication makes me think about the times when I’ve felt like I’ve had the luxury to explore in my own way. When this happens, I feel pleased that I am able to work within my personal writing process. But when I can’t do that, I feel like I have to quickly tell myself to push through that situation and just tell myself that I have to get that done no matter what. While I’m able to push myself and get my product done, I don’t always feel good about it. I end up handing in my paper on time and I even get a good grade on it. But, I often have that feeling in me telling me “you know you could’ve done something differently, you could’ve made your characters go somewhere different” – if it’s a creative piece I’m working on or – “you could’ve done more research” if is a research driven piece. In the end, I give my professor what I’m required, but as I writer I am not always pleased. Having experience this myself, I think that allowing students to explore their writing process can be strongly beneficial for them. 
Overall, I feel like this was an essay I could relate to at a personal level because I appreciate those professors that have taken the time to teach me while respecting me as a writer. I’m sure it has probably helped them, as teachers, as well. After all, Murray says that “we are as frustrated as our students” so teachers knowing that they’ve helped their students become better writers will feel they’ve done their job well.

Tobey’s Writing Theory Thoughts 2015-09-27 23:22:00

Composition at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century
Richard Fulkerson
Fulkerson ends his piece with a quote by Scott McLemee that states that, “the field of composition studies is on the verge of what undoubtedly will come to be known as the new theory wars.” This pretty much sums up Fulkerson’s piece. He explains throughout, that the field has become “less unified” over the decades. There is a division in the goals of how to help students to become better writers. He goes on to address the three current axiologies  that are at the forefront: critical/cultural studies, expressivism, and procedural rhetoric. As he breaks down each, he examines them based on four questions he feels must be fully answered. The results of the four questions determine if a course can come to fruition based on the philosophy. The questions deal with axiology, process, pedagogy, and epistemology. 
He begins analyzing critical/cultural studies which are theme based approaches. Within this classroom, students are given theme based readings that deal with topics of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation. They are to analyze readings and create writing pieces that empower or liberate them from societal injustices. As I was reading this, two things came to my that were confirmed later in the text. First, this approach is much more suited for social sciences as it is a content based approach to writing. The second is that it doesn’t feel quite like a writing class. There does not seem to be writing instruction happening. Fulkerson goes on to explain that students often end up feeling confused about the grading and expectations within this type of course. 
The next approach he discusses is the expressivist approach. This approach allows for self exploration. Writings take place in the form of journaling, freewriting, and reflective writing. Writing with voice is an important aspect of this classroom. However, a main concern seems to the teacher’s role or decision making. Nothing seems to be “set in stone.” There is no specific way to teach expressive writing. This feels to me like there are worthwhile pieces to this approach. Freewriting and journaling are needed for writing students  in order to gain voice and practice techniques. However, there sounds as if there needs to be more structure within this classroom. Voice and expressing one’s feelings are valuable, but there are other types of writing that need to be incorporated.
Finally, Fulkerson discusses procedural rhetoric as an approach to the writing classroom. Rhetorical approaches seem to favor the WPA’s minimal standards for first year college writing courses which Fulkerson feels aligns more with 1970s/1980s tradition. Some emerging factors from this classroom is that the teacher is seen as a coach, writing skills and techniques are taught and practiced, and different types of writings are taught.  Within this approach it feels as though writing instruction is taking place. There is a structure and an understanding of outcomes. 
Fulkerson ends his piece with conclusions and implications. He lists seven points as to where the conversation leaves us; basically with a lot to talk about. When we finished discussing the Lauer piece in our last class one of the questions that was raised was where will writing theory be in ___ years. This piece shows us that there is a movement happening. There also feels like a divide. I personally feel like there is value in all three of the approaches he discussed. I wonder if the conversation can look and see a way of combining the best qualities of each approach and creating one universal writing classroom. Just an idea.

Tobey’s Writing Theory Thoughts 2015-09-27 23:22:00

Composition at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century
Richard Fulkerson
Fulkerson ends his piece with a quote by Scott McLemee that states that, “the field of composition studies is on the verge of what undoubtedly will come to be known as the new theory wars.” This pretty much sums up Fulkerson’s piece. He explains throughout, that the field has become “less unified” over the decades. There is a division in the goals of how to help students to become better writers. He goes on to address the three current axiologies  that are at the forefront: critical/cultural studies, expressivism, and procedural rhetoric. As he breaks down each, he examines them based on four questions he feels must be fully answered. The results of the four questions determine if a course can come to fruition based on the philosophy. The questions deal with axiology, process, pedagogy, and epistemology. 
He begins analyzing critical/cultural studies which are theme based approaches. Within this classroom, students are given theme based readings that deal with topics of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation. They are to analyze readings and create writing pieces that empower or liberate them from societal injustices. As I was reading this, two things came to my that were confirmed later in the text. First, this approach is much more suited for social sciences as it is a content based approach to writing. The second is that it doesn’t feel quite like a writing class. There does not seem to be writing instruction happening. Fulkerson goes on to explain that students often end up feeling confused about the grading and expectations within this type of course. 
The next approach he discusses is the expressivist approach. This approach allows for self exploration. Writings take place in the form of journaling, freewriting, and reflective writing. Writing with voice is an important aspect of this classroom. However, a main concern seems to the teacher’s role or decision making. Nothing seems to be “set in stone.” There is no specific way to teach expressive writing. This feels to me like there are worthwhile pieces to this approach. Freewriting and journaling are needed for writing students  in order to gain voice and practice techniques. However, there sounds as if there needs to be more structure within this classroom. Voice and expressing one’s feelings are valuable, but there are other types of writing that need to be incorporated.
Finally, Fulkerson discusses procedural rhetoric as an approach to the writing classroom. Rhetorical approaches seem to favor the WPA’s minimal standards for first year college writing courses which Fulkerson feels aligns more with 1970s/1980s tradition. Some emerging factors from this classroom is that the teacher is seen as a coach, writing skills and techniques are taught and practiced, and different types of writings are taught.  Within this approach it feels as though writing instruction is taking place. There is a structure and an understanding of outcomes. 
Fulkerson ends his piece with conclusions and implications. He lists seven points as to where the conversation leaves us; basically with a lot to talk about. When we finished discussing the Lauer piece in our last class one of the questions that was raised was where will writing theory be in ___ years. This piece shows us that there is a movement happening. There also feels like a divide. I personally feel like there is value in all three of the approaches he discussed. I wonder if the conversation can look and see a way of combining the best qualities of each approach and creating one universal writing classroom. Just an idea.

Composition at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century by Richard Fulkerson




I thought it was interesting how Fulkerson opens up his article by revealing that he is not trained in the field, but felt it was necessary to address the current theories that according to him have changed composition. “Frustration drives me to try to make personal sense of composition studies, a discipline for which I was not trained into which I have been inexorably drawn.”  Throughout the article I felt like his tone was a bit discouraged and it even seemed like he was calling nonsense to all the current changes in writing. He emphasized that in CCS the courses are not aimed at improving writing and are not necessarily needed in an English department. Fulkerson also asserted that CCS courses seemed “inappropriate because reading, analyzing, and discussing the texts upon which the course rests are unlikely to leave room for any actual teaching and writing.” Overall, I think Fulkerson seems to present the idea that the current theories and practices are not much useful to composition studies and that the current instructors put in place to teach composition may not be qualified to do so because they are not improving writing.
At the end of the article I was a bit  surprised because instead of providing a solution liked I had hope he would he instead gave a dooming prognosis and that is “the field composition studies is on verge of what undoubtedly will come to be known as the “the new theory wars.”

Composition at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century by Richard Fulkerson




I thought it was interesting how Fulkerson opens up his article by revealing that he is not trained in the field, but felt it was necessary to address the current theories that according to him have changed composition. “Frustration drives me to try to make personal sense of composition studies, a discipline for which I was not trained into which I have been inexorably drawn.”  Throughout the article I felt like his tone was a bit discouraged and it even seemed like he was calling nonsense to all the current changes in writing. He emphasized that in CCS the courses are not aimed at improving writing and are not necessarily needed in an English department. Fulkerson also asserted that CCS courses seemed “inappropriate because reading, analyzing, and discussing the texts upon which the course rests are unlikely to leave room for any actual teaching and writing.” Overall, I think Fulkerson seems to present the idea that the current theories and practices are not much useful to composition studies and that the current instructors put in place to teach composition may not be qualified to do so because they are not improving writing.
At the end of the article I was a bit  surprised because instead of providing a solution liked I had hope he would he instead gave a dooming prognosis and that is “the field composition studies is on verge of what undoubtedly will come to be known as the “the new theory wars.”