ERIC Number: ED373348
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
On the Personal Essay, Mentoring, and Conversation.
Toso, N. Erec
A graduate student in a language program finds himself running out of reasons to write. He has been gaining a power of words but has been losing something at the same time, some autonomy or sense of community, of place, of being "somebody." Having spent several years teaching in a public high school, he returned to the university to learn that the expressivist theories of Peter Elbow, Donald Murray, and Brenda Ueland had been superseded by social constructivists such as David Bartholomae, Kenneth Bruffee, and Patricia Bizzell. Both these schools seek to empower, to mentor: one through finding a self, the other through mastering the social codes to gain membership into a discourse community. This student's concern with the latter group, the social constructivists, is that its emphasis on the rules of social discourse leaves little room for questioning, for dissenting, for the self to engage in dialogue with the group. Unfortunately, similar assumptions underlie most areas of practice in the field of rhetoric, including its views on language, learning and mentorship. Conversation is in short supply in this student's teaching, studying, and mentor-to-mentoree relationships. Constructivists, with all their radical leanings, seem to forget the potentially life-robbing capacity of a collective identity with its own rules. Uncritical community membership is not radical, but stifling. (TB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Composition Theory; Conversation; Social Constructivism; Student Empowerment
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (45th, Nashville, TN, March 16-19, 1994).