Guerra covers the issue of literacy which he saw during his teaching years and possible solutions. The part that stood out to me was when Guerra was advised to go speak to Donald Murray, Peter Elbow, Marie Ponsot, and Rosemary Deen, who informed him that "the most productive form of literacy to us resided in the personal experiences of our students" (1644). Guerra then went on to tackle this issue with his own students by assigning them confessional writing, which he found greatly helped them to pass their tests.
I believe that this type of confessional writing can work wonders to improve writing skills, and believe it to have been an important part of my own composition classes in undergrad. My question is, how much should confessional writing be incorporated into the classroom so that student learn to better develop their skills, voice, and most importantly, literacy, yet not leave behind important rules of composition such as structure, form, transitions, etc.? In trying to improve literacy, are there other methods that you have seen work better?
Response from Caleb
Emily, you ask a very great question; however, I am not sure that I have the experience to answer it fully. I think that confessional writing does work well to improve student writing and voice, but I think it's more than just confessional writing. It's writing that students can be themselves in. It's writing that peaks their interests. Though not every writing assignment will be a bowl of sunshine for students, by allowing them to write about their interests, and about themselves, students can gain a deep connection to writing, learn how to better express themselves, and learn how to develop a strong writing voice. Personally, I think every class should take this approach and place the choice of topic and theme in the hands of the students, as granting them this power seems to make them more interested in the course and materials, and allows them to make connections with their personal outside interests. English basics, such as structure, form, transitions, etc., should be incorporated when assessing students work, and for students that struggle with these conventions, should be taught in conjunction with other elements of the course. Though the basics of English are essential, if they are taught in application with topics and themes that interests students, I think that they would be much easier to address without taking any confidence away from the students. Like I said, I don't have the experience to fully answer that question; however, from my limited point of view, this is my take on the situation.