Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Small Rant Inspired by Richard Haswell's Gaining Ground in College Writing

“My model…sees writing development as three-dimensional, perhaps best pictured as an ascending spiral. It is not just an inner, maturational growth, nor just an outer, social acculturation, nor even the interaction between the two, but an educational life-process or lifework composed of three main forces or vectors, all on the move. Where the developments of student, field of writing, and teacher meet and are furthered by the meeting, there genuine educational development takes place” (Haswell 5-6). Is it only me, or does Haswell seem to be overanalyzing and overcomplicating some very basic and simplistic concepts? Maybe I’m just being too critical, maybe I’ve become too used to donning the rainbow colored glasses of the overly-smug yet vainly insecure grad student stereotype, but it seems like the majority of what I read these days involving composition and educational theory leaves me muttering “duh” to myself.

The concepts, in this case the idea that real developmental teaching takes place when all three factors - the student, the teacher, and the state of the field - achieve development, just seems to be something so obvious that it doesn’t even need to be mentioned. The fact that it DOES need to be mentioned, and even argued for, simultaneously disgusts and frightens me. It also, when I bother to think about it, kind of explains the state of the educational system over the past few decades. Which scares the shit out of me. If reform is so simple, so basic, and so glaringly obvious, then why have “the powers that be” been doing it so damn wrong for so damn long?

1 comment:

Kendra said...

I think you're totally onto it here Erin! It is frightening, isn't it??!! The state of education absolutely makes sense in light of these grad school "duh" moments. I think, though, in this particular instance he may be just trying to (over)emphasize the dynamic interplay between nature and nurture that you (so aptly) pointed out in your later post. I think you're right that he is offering a "grey trunks" perspective-- which is GREAT, but I wonder about even offering up the imagery of the nature vs. nurture debate (tending toward oppositional, "either-or" stances) when his real argument is for a "both-and" conception.

I really like how you write, by the way. Your blog is very entertaining.