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Monthly Archives: October 2016

A Closer Look at the Term “Remedial” (Part 2)

This post first appeared on Balancing Jane as part of the Blogging to My PhD series and is being crossposted here.  In the first part of this series, I took a look at how Harvard started freshman comp in the 1870's and expanded college access through meritocracy, a feat which hinged squarely on its entrance exam and essay component. This essay exam essentially existed to ensure that all of the students entering Harvard could write right. This post will further explore what the implications of that practice mean for students and for social perceptions of their education.  Have you ever taken an essay entrance exam? It's not really about the quality of writing at all. At least, not if writing means being able to articulately and convincingly share information with a specific audience in a meaningful way. No, an essay entrance exam is about testing whether or not you follow the conventions of writing and much less about whether or not you can actually say anything. This is why…

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A Closer Look at the Term “Remedial” (Part 1)

The following post originally appeared on Balancing Jane as part of the Blogging to My PhD series and is being crossposted here.  I teach "developmental writing" courses. You may also hear these classes referred to as "basic writing" or "remedial writing." Whatever the term, the point is the same: these classes won't count for college credit, and they're caught in a gap between college and not-college, a zone that everyone involved--administrators, instructors, and especially students--senses acutely. As much as I believe in my students' abilities, and as much as I know that they come into my classroom with rich experiences, perspectives, and ideas to share, there is nothing that I can do to convince them or myself that I am not teaching within a class of writing that is publicly perceived as less legitimate than, subordinate to, and at best working toward "real" college writing: the freshman composition class. While there have been many wonderful efforts to give students in developmental classes more (much-deserved) respect and…

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Fast Food Pedagogy: Slowing Down and Taking Stock

I don't think I need to do much to convince you that fast food (and its impact on everything from the economy to Americans' waistlines and heart attack rates) is frequently demonized in both media and casual conversation. Regardless of the widespread disdain for the Golden Arches' ubiquity, it's clear that most of us are still drawn to consume, even as we criticize. I'm not up…

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