I have to admit that although I have been doing this for a couple of years, I still find myself completely and utterly at a loss. I still walk out of most my classes wondering if I did anything productive.

(A part of me is completely OK with this, and I have long philosophical reasons for being OK with being lost, but I still find the feeling fustrating)

While looking at this week’s readings, the question that kept coming to my mind in response to the different theories is “how?” How do you teach students to be better writers?

CSS does not have “better writing” as its goal but rather “liberation from dominant discourse” which I think might be too over the heads of most of these freshmen. As Brianna pointed out in her blog post, my students, as well, have been reading the material incorrectly.

Then there are the expressivist, and like Phillipee, I too think that we should be helping students find their voice (also, I love Thomas Merton, and I think I resist this appraoch so much because a piece of me is an aspiring Buddhist looking for enlightenment).

Then there is the procedural rhetoric, which as Cassandra says, leaves out all the fun stuff ( a concern that Federickson addresses as “content envy”). And if what the class is doing doesn’t speak to them on some level, if the students can’t relate to it, then how will they learn from it? So I am back to my question that I have been unable to answer in the last five years: How, then, does one teach an other person how to be a better writer? I feel like my students, “Just tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it”

I understand though that teaching, like writing, is a learning process that comes with time and experience, which is what I tell my students. I can’t teach them how to be a better writer, but maybe I can teach them to think a little better and clearer, to write without using redundant terms like “due to the fact that” or to end their essays with “in conclusion.” Hopefully, (and I don’t see why there is always such a divide between these different schools of thought) I can show students that the world is full of injustices they need to be aware of, I can help them find a voice and identity within that world, and, also show them that if they know how to use rhetoric properly, that they can affect (not impact) the world with the written word.

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