Tag: remediation

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

Nov 9, 2016Uncategorized0
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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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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Are We Still Living in a “Tidy House”?

The following post originally appeared on Balancing Jane as part of the Blogging to My PhD series and is being crossposted here.  Today I'm reading a couple of landmark essays on developmental writing by David Bartholomae: "Inventing the University" and "The Tidy House." It's the latter that's really resonating with me and my work as a developmental writing instructor working decades after he published these words: "Basic writing has begun to seem like something naturally, inevitably, transparently there in the curriculum, in the stories we tell ourselves about English in America. It was once a provisional, contested term, marking an uneasy accommodation between the institution and its desires and a student body that did not or would not fit. I think it should continue to mark an area of contest, of struggle, including a struggle against its stability or inevitability. Let me put this more strongly. I think basic writing programs have become expressions of our desire to produce basic writers, to maintain the course,…

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