ERIC Number: ED250685
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984
Reference Count: 0
Reconsidering the Usefulness of Rhetoric Textbooks in Freshman Composition Courses.
White, Fred D.
Rhetoric textbooks continue to proliferate while writing teachers continue to grow more skeptical of their usefulness. The key question educators need to answer is whether all available composition textbooks are ineffective in the sense of being based on false notions about the composing process, or whether they are "intrinsically" ineffective. Some instructors argue for the latter case, but inexperienced writers do need certain kinds of information during their apprenticeship: for example, on the abstract principle of coherence. Such information in the context of writing instruction is most meaningful when it engagingly illuminates strategies, ways of experimenting and trying something out to see whether it works. Good writing in terms of textbooks must mean writing that is colorful, fresh, and enthusiastic without ever compromising instructional accuracy and thoroughness. Reaching students in an area such as rhetoric demands that textbook authors instruct with examples that students can immediately acknowledge. In terms of teaching about structure, textbooks also need to realize that self-directed writers do not begin with a question of what mode to write in, but of how best to say what it is they have to say. It is, however, worthwhile to teach students something about discourse theory, but only as a theory. Textbooks that can demonstrate to students that personal processes of composition can be just as provocative as the discourse modes will very likely increase the rate at which students acquire the ability to perform as genuine working writers. (HTH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (35th, New York City, NY, March 29-31, 1984).