Writer's Block

The Buffalo News ran an article about the challenges incoming freshmen face when faced with writing tasks. It's most likely that we all found an opportunity to read it. The article raises questions about the mixed messages kids are getting about the importance of writing vs. the writing requirements of the SAT.

One part of the story stuck out to me, and it's something I'm actually sick of hearing.

No doubt about it: Writing factors into the lives of today’s teens in much different ways than it did just a generation or two ago.

In one sense, it’s a dying art. For proof, just ask the composition teachers who face classes of newbie writers in freshman college classrooms, only to find out that they need to teach the basics of grammar and sentence structure before they can go any further.

“For some of these kids, it’s all new,” said Marne Griffin, an assistant professor in the English Department at Hilbert College in Hamburg.

What is the deal with the disconnect between upper level high school writing instruction and introductory composition teachers? Is there really a problem or is it a case of a vocal minority of pedantic instructors? In a perfect world, what abilities would an introductory composition teacher want his/her students to possess? What good resources are out there that address this issue? Why isn't this conversation organized and happening? Please use the comments section to lend your thoughts.

- Joel

1 comment:

mr. federick said...

I used to teach at the University of Wisconsin and I read all sorts of work from many undergrads. While I'm far from an expert on the subject, I do think there is a disconnect between high school and college writing--however, I don't think it is the type of disconnect mentioned in the article.

There will always be profs that complain about grammar and sentence structure. In my admittedly limited experience, those things were never an issue. Instead, students had trouble writing in an original way about original thoughts, insights and ideas. I read 5 paragraph piece after 5 paragraph piece that simply regurgitated stale ideas I had expressed in class. Students had a strong grasp on grammar and structure--it had been drilled into their heads. However, the idea that the act of writing is and should be connected to personal expression was completely foreign to them.