Thursday, November 10, 2005

Moments of invention or long slouching into purpose?

Though I shouldn't (and won't) go into details, certain experiences lately have been bringing home to me the boredom that often passes itself off as composition pedagogy.*

The willingness to ask students to read boring prose.

The active pursuit of tedium in the writing process.

The relentless belief in "effective" but not "affective" writing.

The sober dedication to "what students need."

Says Jeff:
The moment as invention is not popularized in any textbooks I know of.

Indeed. What is popularized: goals and purpose. Audience and needs.

Which isn't to say that when I'm writing certain documents (a job application letter, say) I'm not thinking of goals and audience and such. But it is to say: where's the inspiration in that? Where's the delight? Where's the agony, for that matter?

Why is there a conviction that the way to get good writing from students is to disengage from affect? To focus on task rather than the moment that makes us want to write?

*I should hasten to add, for the benefit of certain potential readers, that these experiences do *not* include class observations that I have been doing of late. In fact, these have rather given me a degree of hope that "boredom" need not be the dominant affect or absence of affect in the composition classroom.

1 comment:

Becky Howard said...

It's very interesting to read this post immediately after aerobil's on Stanley Fish's assertion that academic discourse is about reasoned argument rather than opinion-staking. I'm not saying that they connect directly, but rather that (especially as I read some very rich FYC student position papers and as I write the handbook that works in the very traditions you name) they enrich each other.