ERIC Number: ED344233
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
The Problem with Theory Is the Problem with Practice.
When composition educators talk about either "theory" or "practice," they are not referring to a monolithic and unified field, but instead to any number of competing, ideologically charged metacommentaries. The "problem with practice" refers to its own socially complex and temporally diffuse nature. Applications of theory to practice often are unsatisfactory because they confront (or fail to confront) the problematic site of text production and consumption that is the composition classroom. There are five pitfalls which such applications have succumbed to: (1) many so-called "applications" of theory are not concrete and therefore not applications at all; (2) many applications favor literary scholarship's predilection for textual analysis; (3) extended, even exhaustive expositions of theories frequently result in few if any concrete applications; (4) painting a picture of disempowered students oppressed by a draconian institution seems disingenuous; and (5) too much responsibility is heaped onto the instructor, who becomes a sort of puppet master. For composition teachers enamored of theory, a whole body of research exists that descriptively renders the writing behaviors of classes as discourse communities utilizing collaborative interactions. Theorists should present a rich, concrete amount of descriptive data to undergird their arguments, as exemplified by Patricia Harkin's essay in "Contending with Words." In this way, the teacher as theorist can begin the move to becoming the much more relevant and productive teacher as researcher. (HB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Composition Theory; Theoretical Analysis; Theory Development
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (43rd, Cincinnati, OH, March 19-21, 1992).