ERIC Number: ED241949
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Mechanical Correctness in Composition Instruction.
Connors, Robert J.
Only with the beginnings of a structural system of social classes in America--a system based on both wealth and education--did an ethic of gentility and "correctness" arise in American attitudes toward speaking and writing. Rhetorical instruction was forced to move away from the abstract educational ideal of "mental discipline" and toward the immediate instructional goal of simple mechanical correctness. Skill in writing, which had traditionally meant the ability to manipulate a complex hierarchy of content-based, organizational, and stylistic goals, came to mean but one thing--error avoidance. The mechanical grading and evaluation that ensued invited mechanical support systems, usually in the form of systems of rules to which students could be referred. Materials on mechanical correctness bloomed, and in 1907 there appeared a new sort of textbook--the logical culmination of the move toward rule-governed composition--the modern composition handbook. After 1925, handbooks and handbook-rhetorics were in control of college composition classes. Following close behind were drillbooks and workbooks that introduced completely arhetorical practice in error-recognition and sentence construction. Criticism and opposition to this tradition began in the late 1940s, gathered strength during the 1950s and suddenly burst into full flower during the early 1960s. The problem today is striking a balance between traditionalists and rhetoricians. (HOD)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council of Teachers of English (73rd, Denver, CO, November 18-23, 1983).