April 27, 2001

Writing

The last class is done and now I grade. In the meantime, I've finally read the March 2001 issue of Educational Research, to find the following in one article:

Freire's theory appears to be insufficiently historicized, even though he places a historical and cultural praxis at its core. As we will see, this leads to a connected group of ontological and epistemological quandaries that require substantially different responses than Freire provides. In addition, because of the structure of his arguments, these problems impact Freire's ethical and political positions since he supports them by ontological appeals to human nature and by epistemic claims about situations (including self-understandings).
(Ronald David Glass, "On Paulo Freire's Philosophy of Praxis and the Foundations of Liberation Education," Educational Researcher 30 [March 2001]: 20)

In plain English, Paulo Freire naively assumed that human nature encourages peasants and poor people towards embracing radical democracy and redistribution of resources. I wish there had been a neon sign in front of the article: "We apologize for the incomprehensibility." Fortunately, immediately afterwards is an article cowritten by one of my favorite authors on writing, Mike Rose. "A Call for the Teaching of Writing in Graduate Education" (Mike Rose and Karen A. McClafferty, in Educational Researcher 30 [March 2001]: 27-33) describes a graduate seminar at the University of California at Los Angeles in writing. I have no idea if the editors of Educational Researcher intended that the issue itself help make the case for teaching academics how to write!

Mike Rose, author of Lives on the Boundary (1989, available from an alliance of local independent bookstores), has taught me a great deal about how adults become socialized into writing. I explain to my undergraduate students when returning the first batch of written work that I don't know if the mistakes I see are a result of sloppiness, lack of being taught, or because they are desperately trying to work with new ideas (which I realized, thanks to Rose, often happens with students). They are responsible for figuring out what happened and, if they need help, asking me or finding other resources. But I forget that my thick-skinned nature is the result of my own experiences, and too many students see comments on their writing as comments on their personal character.

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Posted in Research on April 27, 2001 5:36 PM |