Monday, February 27, 2017

Let's Talk About What We Talk About When We Talk About Teaching Let's Talk About Love

Part Six of an ongoing series. Catch up with part One here. 
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Part One - The Modern Age 

With deep appreciation to Carl Wilson, who wrote the book
This is an intensive writing course. You will have writing homework every night and reading homework many nights. The theme of this course is taste – what you like, what other people like, how we define ourselves according to our likes and dislikes, and how we articulate these preferences. We will be examining the rhetoric of taste, as well as writing about how tastes are shaped by environment and culture. By investigating issues surrounding taste – good taste, bad taste and everything in between – we will be able to explore ideas of genre, audience, and persuasion that are central to the writing you will be expected to perform in this class as well as throughout your college career.

I taught college composition from the Fall of 2012 to the Summer of 2014. Freshman comp, compulsory general education requirement. My time teaching the subject was split between two courses, UWP 1 and ENL 3. UWP stands for University Writing Program, the department that administers the bulk of writing education on campus. ENL stands for English.

The two courses teach the same thing. My lesson plans in terms of writing education remained largely unchanged between them. UWP isn’t a “literature” course in the way most students are expecting – there’s still reading, but the course description specifically excludes fiction, plays, and poetry. Some degree of self-selection is anticipated, with students migrating to their preference. In reality the requirement is impacted to the degree that students land in one or the other class by virtue of scheduling. Everyone needs it – most students need very badly to become better writers – but freshman composition is nobody’s favorite. I accept that and try to make the topic interesting for students who may have very good reasons to dislike writing.