Question from Matt
There are many forms of writing and one philosophy cannot accommodate all of them. So in the interest of promoting a diverse experience for students, explain how you would attempt to use each of these philosophies. Would you try to use them in concert or present them individually in a sequence? Which ones can be used in concert? How would you sequence the philosophies? Which one(s) could be omitted?
Response from Sonya I think all four philosophies have something to teach first year writers and should be included in a comprehensive writing course. Although the philosophies are just that "philosophies," there are techniques and ideas from each that could be introduced as tools or strategies. Each student will learn differently and therefore benefit from one or more of the philosophies. I think the mimetic approach is important because it focuses on teaching students how to think and helping them learn enough about various topics to have something worth saying. I would include library research and source information under this philosophy. One of my first classes in graduate school was Bib and Research and I wish it had been offered as a first year undergrad class. Knowing where to find information is imperative in gaining self-confidence in writing. I am also a proponent of expressive writing as a strategy for discovering topics and ideas to write from. I think even a quick lesson on the techniques of expressive writing: freewriting, journaling, etc. would give students an introduction to techniques they could employ as needed in their writing. The rhetorical philosophy is a necessary evil. If there is one style of writing that has stood the test of time it is writing to the audience. Not the only form of writing, but definately an important format for basic writers to learn. It is important for students to learn from a model (said Quintillian) in order to mimic the style and form for themselves. Giving them a strong basis in this type of essay will help them feel confident enough to branch out into other styles. The formalist philosophy could be used as a final tool for editing. There is definately a right and wrong when it comes to presentation of scholarly writing. Giving students the tools for editing and proofreading their work is a necessary step in a basic writing course. In conclusion, I think the four philosophies could be incorporated into a basic writing course. I'm sure I have severly dummed down the empasis of each, however, there are ideas from each that would definatley benefit first year students. I would love to teach that course!