Working with what students already know

In this Inside Higher Ed article, John Warner offers counterpoint to controversial recent rejections of process approaches in writing courses.

But first, a little context…

One of the TESOL communities that TESOLidarity aims to shed light on is that of Composition Studies — a close companion of ESL in the United States, where every university student must take at least one course dedicated to the basics of university writing.

Trends and approaches in Composition often make their way into ESOL-focused instruction. One dominant example from recent decades is the focus on writing as a process: teaching students to generate ideas, draft, seek feedback and revise — training them in these stages so that they can use them on their own in later work.

Earlier this month in The Chronicle of Higher Education, English professor Joseph Teller pushed back against this approach, as well as the practice of having students critically examine heady texts in these courses. He couched his stance as controversial, but his actual recommendations formed not so much a rejection of process approaches but an encouragement to situate them alongside shorter practice pieces and occasionally vary process stages and weightings. In short: not so revolutionary.

This piece in Inside Higher Ed is a response to Teller, in which writer/blogger John Warner suggests that Teller’s frustration at students’ lack of engagement could be partially addressed by drawing more on their own lives and schemata as topics to explore.┬áSome good suggestions in both articles here. Worth a look!