The Hidden Discipline

Hey, again, fellow classmates ~

Interestingly enough, I understood the content in this chapter and found it quite interesting, even though Professor Zamora said to prepare for an academic read that might make ya snooze (lol). I mentally prepared myself to somehow read this chapter unconsciously but rather was intrigued by the historical upbringing of a controversial subject that I’m studying to teach. I also found myself consumed by the content as I’m doing my discussion lead presentation on the writing process (formulaic writing) and all the problems intertwined in that pedagogical style on teaching students how to successfully write. Lauer’s analysis and gathered research on Rhetoric and Composition led a hand to my understanding to why students hate writing and struggle to invent, create, and revise to this day.

I’d like to take some time to focus on how members of the field of Rhetoric and Composition challenged writing as a “product,” and the alternative ways for teachers to respond to this finished “product” of student writing. The main problem is viewing writing as a “finished product” because writing is never finished. From my understanding as an amateur writer, writing tends to be limitless and recursive. WRITING NEVER ENDS! Just because the editing stage of the writing process is complete does not equal finished writing. Writing is certainly a mental challenge that needs to be practiced and polished along the way, and even in the far future. Writing can always be revised and edited at any time. There is no “correct” way to go about writing, editing, and revising, as theories are still being researched and published to this very day. Think about it, all this extensive theoretical research in Lauer’s chapter began around the 1960’s and 1970’s. That’s not ancient research, ya’ll!

While reading, I found myself getting increasingly frustrated at the lack of creative expression in the history behind the field of Rhetoric and Composition. Little instructional attention was provided to help students get started, investigate and test ideas, consider audience, revise, and receive and understand their feedback. The issue with the linear and reductive conception of the composing process is that it emphasizes an endpoint to writing, even if it does not intend to. Modern writing teachers preach about diving back into your writing to edit and revise whenever needed but contradict this belief by giving students a final, rigid grade with little emphasis on personal feedback (Lauer 12). What does this teach the student? Ultimately and unfortunately, it teaches the student to despise writing and to doubt their ideas as they were trained to ingest and analyze what constitutes writing as “good” and “bad,” and to submit a final, finished writing product that will be judged, and criticized in a way that highlights mistakes over creative content (Lauer 13).

The root of the problem begins with the writing teachers as “many [of them] are unfamiliar with the [theories on discourse,] modes, and genre because they have not been educated in the field of Rhetoric and Composition” (Lauer 10). This is not the teachers fault as research and theories were not being investigated and published at the time, they were a student. This is positive news, though, because it demonstrates that the recipients of student writing noticed a lack of depth, purpose, and connection, concluding that writing instruction is surface-level and not meaning-based. If teachers subject their students to a one-way-avenue of writing and revising, are they ultimately telling their students that an aspect of their authentic selves is not “smart enough” for school? Hmmmm. . .

Thank goodness gracious for the introduction of intentional pedagogies like meditation and reflection, observational-scenic writing, the double-notebook, journaling, drawing as pre-writing, analogies, and other forms of expressive writing techniques. Teachers can even integrate yogic practices and breathing exercises into their writing lessons to ease the tension of judgment that has lingered over the field for decades. Processes as those listed above will guarantee students the opportunity to use their language and tongue of dialect in a school setting without harsh judgment. This way, students can not only enjoy the process of writing, but they are pushed to find their own version of the writing process and find their authentic voice along the way (Lauer 11).

I feel as though writing teachers focus too much on the writing process rather than practicing writing. As I said earlier, writing is a mental phenomenon that involves practice to master; although, I doubt one will ever truly master writing. Hmmm, I’m going to ask ya’ll . . . Do you think writing as a practice can be mastered? Would a Pulitzer Prize, NY TIMES Best Selling author answer “yes” to such a question?

In my opinion,      I.       don’t.         think.        So.    !!!!!


© (2006). Lauer. National Council of Teachers of English. Rhetoric and Composition

Rhetoric and Composition…and So Much More

As I went through this week’s reading, “Rhetoric and Composition” by Janice Lauer, I kept considering that although rhetoric and composition reemergence is a relatively recent, beginning in the 1960s, the study of how we communicate and why is not.

I found it interesting in the reading that although there has been this tension between writing for the individual and writing for the social when it comes to rhetoric and composition studies, the way we teach these subjects (at least in my experience in American schools) hasn’t much changed from the writing as a product perspective. As a substitute teacher, I try to pick up days where I will be covering either an ELA or literacy class, and I still see the focus on the five-paragraph essay, or the 6-7 sentence paragraph, or the ability to deconstruct sentences (with the intention of students’ ability to “test” better – so writing is still very much considered a product). I also questioned this tension between the individual and the social in the reading. Society is made up of individuals, so wouldn’t trying to understand each individual’s experience when it comes to writing help us to understand the social? In the same vein, an individual belongs to many societies, and as much as someone’s purpose for writing may be individualistic, the social will emerge from the writing because that individual, whether it is a student, writer, or teacher, belongs to their respective discourses.

I also recognize in this week’s reading that there is so much I do not know or understand yet in the field of writing studies. I had the impression that a lot happened in the discipline from the 1960s until now, and much of it was in answer to what came before or what was happening during those time periods, either challenging or qualifying previous theories or arguments.