Q: What are the major writing theories/categories?

A:

  • Darcy L.
    • As best I can tell, at the beginning, Gere is dividing up the major teaching of writing into two main categories: 'experimental' pedagogies and 'traditional' pedagogies. The 'traditional' are further divided into formalist, discipline-centered, and current-traditional.
      • Formalist emphasizes certain internal forms, the most valued being grammar.
      • Discipline-centered divides further into three subcategories emphasizing rhetoric, logic, and language.
      • Current-traditional emphasizes the composed product rather than the composing process.
    • However, later in the article, she categorizes three models: current-traditional, rhetorical, and expressivist, though she gives room for a fourth category coined by James Berlin for the 'New Rhetoricians.' The rhetorical approach is focused on the audience and achieving a desired effect appropriate to that audience. The expressivist approach utilizes 'prewriting' and values personal writing and cultivating a personal and honest voice in the writer.
    • She claims that the process approach is not a separate model and can be adapted to any model listed above.

Q: According to Gere, what is the biggest problem facing composition pedagogy/writing theories?

A:

  • Darcy L.
    • It seems that the big issue she sees is a lack of a clearly articulated philosophy regarding composition theory and pedagogy from the beginning. She attributes this to many lingering problems we have today:
      • Because there is no 'coherent philosophy guiding composition pedagogy,' the emphasis on mechanics and grammar has taken over. 'When a discipline lacks a coherent philosophy, it can be shaped by the most anti-intellectual forces, and this i precisely what has happened to composition pedagogy over the years' (34).
      • 'Approaches to invention' become substituted for pedagogical models, such as principles of classical rhetoric being appropriated as ways to organize paragraphs and essays, abstract modes of discourse used to organize the curriculum, etc.
      • The lack of a cohesive theory of comp pedagogy contributes to the abundance of pedagogical models and the lack of agreement on their core theories and methodologies. 'These models have been stretched almost beyond recognition because of the continuing separation of the teaching rhetoric from a philosophy of rhetoric' (44).
      • This also contributes to the 'dominance of time and expediency' in composition pedagogy that causes teacher to rely on the 'informal curriculum' of essentially being trained by textbooks.

Michelle Garza

Gere's basic argument is that the pedagogical models of teaching have continued to fail students and young people and will continue to do so unless a connection between the teaching of rhetoric and a philosophical approach to rhetoric is established (34, 45). She establishes this by going throught the major approaches to teaching composition--explaining their strengths, but emphasizing their failures as well. She states at the end of the essay that "when the teaching rhetoric and philosophy are united, the following questions will become central to each model: What relationship exists between language and reality; What realtionship exists between thought and language; how does this model define 'truth' or 'knowledge'; what system of logic does this model employ to arrive at 'truth'?" She argues that in order to develop this "philosophical basis" we must continue to ask questions like these concerning the current teaching models.

Q: Gere talks about Berlin's ideas of rhetoric in Composition studies: "According to Berlin, the current-traditional model "demands that the audience be as 'objective ' as the writer; both shed personal and social concerns in the interests of the unobstructed perception of emipirical reality...in current-traditonal rhetoric the writermust focus on experience in a way that makes possible the wdiscovery of certain kinds of information--the empirical and rational--and the neglect of other--psychological and social concerns" (as cited, 32). How I understood Berlin, is he basically believes that reading is an interpretive act--that we read "through the lense" of our individual experiences in the world, but not necessarily from our "world view" in the political sense of the word, I guess...Can the two be separated though? How so? If it is possible, how does this idea apply to how we percieve writing conventions and its processes?