Thursday, March 29, 2007

Patterns of Success

We have been discussing in class why we feel that some Basic Writing students' attempts at putting together coherent papers come out so poorly. We've discussed the possibility of these students being in a new environment with new concepts, new expectations and a different mindset than high school, and we have considered that perhaps this might be their downfall. I think the chapter for this week in "The Discovery of Competence" backs this up somewhat when it speaks of the diverse students and the differences they were encountering. For example, the book states that "These patterns [of differences in age and background] differ greatly from those used in the schools, and many of our students have had little successful academic experience; they are unfamiliar with the norms and conventions of academic discourse and with the patterns of thinking that underlie its forms" (Kutz, Groden, Zamel 94). I think this is comparable to what our Basic Writing students are going through as they encounter the changes to their lives that coming to college requires, and the levels of stress they go through probably contributes to some of the examples of poor writing that many students have experienced.

But then the authors go on to state "But they bring a rich diversity of perspectives that have been shaped by their differences in class, race, culture, age and gender and that diversity enriches the work of our classrooms, making possible a shared examination of how knowledge is constructed. . . " (Kutz, Groden, Zamel 94). I think that if we make use of this diversity in the classroom when thinking ahead to assigning work, then we might possibly be able to see better writing because they will be writing about what they know and not about what we expect them to know.

Works Cited
Kutz, Eleanor, Groden, Suzy, and Zamel, Vivian. The Discovery of Competence: Teaching and Learning with Diverse Writers. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook , 1993.

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