Friday, January 30, 2009

Gold, David. “Will the Circle Be Broken: The Rhetoric of Complaint against Student Writing"

Gold, David. “Will the Circle Be Broken: The Rhetoric of Complaint against Student Writing.” Profession (2008): 83-93.

Gold traces the tradition of faculty complaints about student writing from the 19th century to the present day, and suggests that instructors instead of complaining, which he often finds counterproductive, might more wisely “simply admit that eighteen-year-olds frequently write poorly, and consider it our job to take it from there” (86). He notes that “empirical research has shown that students today do not make significantly more errors than students did in the past” (87), which is striking considering that today’s students are often asked to do more complex writing tasks than yesterday’s students. He uses examples from student writing to illustrate his claims, and points out that often students having difficulty with writing can be assisted by their instructors quite easily by an adjustment of pedagogy. Ultimately, he argues that scholars of literacy need to promote the findings of their research to a wider audience so as to counteract prevailing myths about writing in the general culture. This essay is useful in putting today’s “literacy crisis” in perspective, and may help instructors realize better ways to approach student writing. Please contact me if you'd like to read it, as I have a copy of this issue in my office.

1 comment:

  1. As a historian, I am intrigued by this perspective on student writing. I look forward to reading the article, especially if it includes primary sources of student writing from the 19th century and today as evidence for his argument.