ERIC Number: ED382983
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Mar-19
Reference Count: N/A
Resisting "Habits": Prospective High School Teachers Meet Theory in Practice.
A composition course for preservice teachers that emphasized writing as a means of inquiry elicited mixed results on student evaluations. The reading and writing assignments were designed to foster what the instructor calls "arguing to inquire." The purpose of this kind of writing is not to take a position and convince others of its rightness but to explore a range of positions to learn what is at stake in adopting any of them. Thus the emphasis is less on learning argument as a universal form or method or as an epideictic form (where argumentative conventions are deployed as if performing a ritual for an audience of one, as taught in most composition textbooks) but as a means of exploring content. Intellectual content is best represented not as a static, impregnable monolith, but as a contested territory. When there are open questions and multiple positions, there is always more to learn. Arguing to convince assumes that questions are settled. The mixed responses on student evaluations might be attributed to the course content--which examined Robert Bellah's "Habits of the Heart" and other readings responding to it--but it may also be attributed to the writing approaches employed, which were not as pat or neat as students are accustomed to. Writing instructors and writing students stand to gain much through an open acknowledgement of theoretical differences about teaching writing. Indeed, instructors should put these differences to use. (TB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Composition Theory; Student Expectations
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (45th, Nashville, TN, March 16-19, 1994).