Thursday, January 15, 2009

Topic: Freshman English

10-second review: One way in which freshman college English is being taught—through literature.

Title: “Linking Composition and Literature Through Metagenres: Using Business Sales Letters in First-Year English.” B Devet. Teaching English in Two-Year Colleges (December 2008), 177-185. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary/Quote: “…first-year English composition courses, where literature is often the basis for teaching students how to write. Every English instructor recognizes this course. Although it is supposed to emphasize composition, the course frequently morphs into an ‘introduction to literature.’ And, then something is lost.” p. 177.

Summary/Quote: “These first-year English classes often devote too much class time to interpreting literature rather than to writing so that ‘the consumption of texts inevitably engulfs the teaching of writing and the production of texts.’ ” p. 177.

Comment: That’s the way freshman college English was taught when I had the course in 1952 and, apparently, that’s the way it is still taught at many colleges today. I didn’t learn anything about writing then and today’s students won’t learn anything about writing either if freshman English is taught the same way.

Just a reminder to college teachers of freshman English: introduction, thesis, topic sentences and concluding summary paragraph. Teaching the organization of expository writing is that clear. For heaven’s sake teach them to write. RayS.

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