ERIC Number: ED345273
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
Teaching the Teachers of Writing: Evolving Theory.
Pytlik, Betty P.
The phenomenon of the graduate assistant grew out of the turn of the century need for larger teaching staffs. A debate was formed that still influences the way teachers are prepared for today's freshman composition courses. This debate arose from philosophical and methodological differences in English departments, which at that time emphasized a rigorous scientific investigation of language. Humanistic critics of this emphasis, especially Irving Babbitt, expressed deep concerns about how writing was being taught. Harvard and Yale held to competing programs which can be compared to the basic oppositions of culture versus efficiency described by Babbitt and Glenn Palmer as representative of English department factions. Generally, professors acknowledged that new teachers needed better training for the task of teaching writing, as demonstrated by Modern Language Association (MLA) questionnaires in 1900 and 1912. Several approaches to teacher training began taking shape in the early part of the century, such as the one at Harvard. Seven assumptions about teaching writing can be inferred from Harvard's first graduate methods course: (1) students in methods classes need to write; (2) the impulse to write must be genuine; (3) peer discussions of drafts are useful; (4) revising peers' work helps new teachers explain revision processes to students; (5) observing other teachers aids the development of teaching style; (6) new teachers need practice in correcting manuscripts; and (7) role playing can help new teachers to anticipate classroom problems. These assumptions are suggestive of the theories that have shaped the training of teaching assistants through the decades. (Twenty references are attached.) (HB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Composition Theory; English Teachers
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (43rd, Cincinnati, OH, March 19-21, 1992).