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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Developmental Writing in the Historical Trajectory of Rhetoric

This post originally appeared on Balancing Jane as part of the Blogging to My PhD series and is being crossposted here. "So when you get your PhD, will they let you teach real classes?" This question came from a student in my first year of teaching developmental writing. I was saddened by her apparent belief that she wasn't a "real" student and told her so, but the question kept coming up in different forms. One particularly strong writer who had spent the semester producing complex pieces of analysis written with poetic flair seemed almost angry as he visited me in office hours (voluntarily) to talk about his future plans as a writer: "What is this? Are you just trying to be a big fish in a small pond? Why are you teaching this class?" Most heartbreaking of all was a student who said in front of the entire class, "You seem really smart, so why are you teaching us?" It's a question I've gotten from other…

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A Closer Look at the Term “Remedial” (Part 3)

This post originally appeared on Balancing Jane as part of the Blogging to My PhD series and is being crossposted here.  In Part 1, we looked at how Harvard's elective system expanded the boundaries of who got to go to college while using written entrance exams to police language standards. In Part 2, we examined how the creation of open admissions colleges and the expansion of community colleges imploded existing boundaries around college admissions and created new crises in language standard maintenance. I started this series by questioning what it means to label classes as "remedial." As we've seen, what was once "remedial" can quickly become the new standard. Some will view this as meaning that we have "dumbed down" our curriculum to accommodate students who couldn't meet the rigor of the previous standards. That's one way to look at it, I suppose. But once you take into account the socioeconomic elements of identity that are tied around educational inclusion and exclusion, it can't be that simple.…

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