Just some Thought’s on Bartholomae’s Piece

Bartholomae’s essay “Inventing the University” proposed a number of interesting aspects in regards to the connection between establishing authority and one’s audience. In a sense he expands upon Gaipa’s belief that writers gain authority by contributing something to the discussion. Yet, Bartholomae expands on the latter idea by analyzing how student writers contribute to the discussion. In simple terms, he believes student writers contribute to wider discourse by injecting themselves into discourse communities, regardless of their unfamiliarity with the discourse communities norms, vocabulary, and specialized language forms. He suggests that students, in some ways, mimic those who have a position in the discourse community in order to write towards a specific audience and gain authority within that specific discourse community.

An interesting claim that Bartholomae makes is that in order for students to distinguish themselves as contributors of a specific discourse they have to “…appropriate (or be appropriated by) a special discourse….by assembling and mimicking its language while finding some compromise….”(135). Although, immediately there is a sort of resistance I have towards the language of “appropriate” (because I take the word to mean to, in this context, to take on the role or language of other’s without understanding), I appreciate that Bartholomae did not use the word “assimilate” in its place. The word “assimilate” carries with it a sense of loss; loss of identity, originality, nuance, and especially voice! Although I am glad that assimilation was left out of the equation, appropriation also has a sense of illegitimacy. Now, I wouldn’t classify a student’s writing as illegitimate, as illegitimacy connotes a more negative sense of not belonging (-although I do understand they are attempting to nudge their way into a discourse that they are not actually positioned in). I understand that they are not familiar with the, perhaps, culture, of the discourse community, and it could be easily argued that they are trying to write into legitimacy, but I think there is a legitimacy in their action because, to be frank, it is what needs to be done in order to find their position in the discourse community (i.e to consider audience, state a claim, develop a claim, explain why their claims are important, and develop authority- the kind not based on a title.

Furthermore, I think Bartolomae’s analysis of student’s Freudian slips was very interesting. The fact that, as an audience member he was able to pick out this misstep his student took in claiming, “I don’t know”, has got me thinking about something else; what if your audience has more authority than you (the writer). Are you then writing for their acceptance/installment of legitimacy/authority, or are they merely judges for your claim? Any thoughts on this?

Translingual, and Multidialectism, and Pluralingualism… OH MY!

Horner, Lu, Royster, and Trimbur’s opinion piece on language differences in writing was, in my opninon, a great expansion upon the idea that Young introduced to us in the piece we read last week; the idea of the “translingual”, “multidialectism”, and “pluralingualism” in writing and learning.

They argue for a “translingual” approach to writing in academia (as well as in every day lives). Overall, they believe that “This approach sees diference in language not as a barrier to overcome or as a problem to manage, but as a resource for producing meaning in writing, speaking, reading and listening”(303). They immediately explain how the idea and practice of a Standard English or a “right” English is not conducive to or reflective of the ever-changing essence or nature of language. Although they mention many aspects of their proposed translingual approach that I whole heartedly agree with (mainly, for example, what this approach yields in terms of “more conscious and critical attention..”(304), the straying away from conformity and the innate discrimination in the idea of a standard english, cultivation of original voice, and the overall inclusion the approach will yield (especially in terms of minority communities and immigrants), as with most theoretical/philosophical endeavors, the application of them into our current society is a quite a bit more nuanced and complex than they are making it out to be. If only it was as simple as changing how the writing programs are centered and doing away with stigmatizing department names such as “foreign language” departments.

They say that they “…support the rights of all to use the language of their nurture” and “…reject discrimination on the basis of language identity and use”. Great! I do too! But something they don’t do as extensively as I would have liked to see was explain how they would implement their approach into our greater society, despite the existing set of systems in place that may push back against their translingual idea. They do not provide many solutions for or examples of implementation (they do mention what needs to be added to writing programs and how teachers can and should integrate the idea of “multi and cross-language work into graduate curricula”(309)-which is a good start). However, I think it would have been beneficial for them to address how beginning the writing program (at the elementary level) with these translingual approaches and how that may benefit students. Furthermore, if they had touched on how they thought the current systems (historically, socially, and politically based) would be “brought down” by the instillation of their approach (aka how the translingual approach will react when it comes in contact with these already deeply seeded systems).

On another note, yet in the same vein, I appreciated the questions the group of authors answered towards the conclusion of their piece. I had a couple of the questions in mind while reading, and answering them at the end served me well. I was specifically interest in the question of “My students are all English monolinguals. Why would they need to learn a translingual approach to writing?” First of all, this question has entitlement and American-Exceptionalism all over it. The way the teacher phrased this question implies that there would be no need for his or her students to learn to write translingualy, despite living in the diverse, ever-changing, global community that we call earth. This question assumes that the English, monolingual, standard is the superior standard in the language arts world and beyond. Which is ridiculous and absolutely ignorant. However, regardless of the problematic question, the author’s address it in an inclusive manner, stating “…virtually all students who are monolingual in the sense they speak only English are nonetheless multilingual in the varieties of English they use and in their ability to adapt English to their needs and desires”(311). To the author’s, I say bravo for relating their theory to all Americans, perhaps even extending it all people who speak a language! This just goes to further support their claim and makes it clear that their theory of translingual writing is not mutually exclusive.

A Refreshing Read, Indeed- Young and Using our Own Language!

Friends! I read the Young piece first and I got too excited to write a blog post on it, so that’s what I’m doing(before reading Gaipa…forgive me).

I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Young’s piece, “Should Writer’s Use They Own English.” It was, for lack of a better phrase, very refreshing to read. Aside from the ways in which I was able to understand it (being that I am African-American-although I think he went a little too stereotypical/cliché with some of the sayings if you ask me, but you know even within the black community there are different ways of expressing out language), the way in which he presented and explained his argument which suggested that everyone should know a semblance of each other’s written and oral communication (code meshing as he called it) was quite compelling (especially due to his brilliant mix of black American vernacular/linguistics and academic explanation/framework of analysis).

I think that Young brings a lot of things at the intersectionality of social and cultural frameworks and academia to light. He also suggests all the implications of not allowing people, or more specifically writers, to use their own language. The things that were highlighted through Young’s argument and simply by reading his paper, was the fact that in using one’s own language when communicating, a person is able to educate other’s in a way that may bring diversity and understanding. Writing in your own language not only adds “flavor and style”(3), but also allows one’s genuine, original, voice to shine through what often in academia is a structured style of arguing/persuading when writing. Furthermore, having a wider variety of accepted languages, linguistics, and vernaculars may lead to discourse communities (specifically in this case the academic sort) to be more diverse, thus perhaps leading to more innovative ideas and acknowledgment of certain realms of academia and how people interact with this realms differently based on their cultures, socio-economic background, political preferences, ect., without discrediting or invalidating their academic or intellectual capacities and capabilities.

What I thought was interesting (AND NECESSARY) was how Young argues against Fish’s belief that “…people make theyselves targets for racism if and when they don’t write and speak like he do”(1). This statement infuriates. First of all, how does a person render themselves to racism….being a black person in America, that statement is not only disrespectful but also void of any and all historical analysis of this country. Does Fish really think that the manners in which minorities (and for the sake of things I will also indicate immigrants as minorities as well) may speak is what renders them to racism (aka is he saying that the way a person speaks sets them up for racist attacks…it is as if he is saying that people of a different speech patter than the “norm” subject themselves to racism-aka its their fault- how are you going to tell a victim of racism that his essence/being is the cause of people’s hatred towards him?). LOL, No. The projection of racism stems from people who possess a mindset of superiority, entitlement, and a long history of the acceptance of norms being created for and around a certain people, excluding all those who are seen/ made not to fit these made up norms; essentially allowing a system to continually favor one race over the other in all aspects of life. Young’s response to Fish’s belief is right on. It’s the attitudes of prejudice/racist people and institutions that views different language forms as threatening to their own self-instated power, and thus view these original, valid, languages as “negative” or “improper”. The latter reason is one of the (older) reasons why I believe we have a standard language, and is the reason that our specific standard english can lead to discrimination in our education, discourse communities, and class structure. To be honest, after reading Young’s paper, I can see how even our standardized vernacular can be seen as a sort of tacit implication of prejudice or racism, being that a certain group of people designated a “right” and “wrong” way of speaking, one of the most prominent “wrong” ways being that of the way POC communicate within their own communities.

Although I think there should be more room for different language forms to inter into everyday discourse communities and the academic field, there are other reasons where I understand why we may have needed/need a standardized language system as well. There are practical social, political, and economic benefits that are yielded from having a standard language type (especially in a “melting pot” of a country such as the United States). Take, for example, running a country. In order to run a nation, everyone in a high power office should be able to communicate effectively within his or her discourse community. It may make endeavors more effective and efficient if the government communicated in terms and in a manner/tone that every cabinet member understood deeply (it is to be debated if they even do that now though, lets be honest).



The 1st step in addressing your problem is admitting you have one: WRITERS BLOCK

Writer’s block…am I right?

I mean, we’ve all, undoubtedly, gone through some variety of “block”.  Whether its not knowing how to transition to your next topic of discussion or paragraph, not being so sure of how to phrase an idea in an effective way for your audience, or whether you literally do not know where to start on a paper, writers block isn’t only frustrating, it also, in my opinion, carries an essence of disappointment and self-induced stress. (yum, these are the best feelings in the world, I don’t know what you are talking about, Maimouna?).

“Writer’s who use stiff rules are the ones who most often experience writers block”(Love 144). Stiff rules and standards.  Its interesting because personally, I have come to the realization that I, indeed, need some kind of rules, and definitely have a certain quality of standards for my writing. But, NOW what I’m hearing are these rules and standards can also be the cause of my writers block!?(BOOOO!). I understand how having such rigid standards hinders writers form a lack of creativity or a lack of ingenuity, especially when in situations of block.  However, I’m not too quick to put all the blame on standards and stiff rules. Having spoken with my sister, extensively(who actually called me seeking guidance on an english essay- experiencing some sort of writers block), right after reading this piece on writer’s block, we came to another source of writers block(take the following with a grain of salt…we were of course raised in the same household and went to the same college predatory all girls school, and although we have different writing styles, the our contexts are very similar, and I fully acknowledge that this suggested source of writer’s block is not applicable to everyone!).

Love touches on this briefly, but I will expand upon it.  She believes that writer’s block comes form an anxiety or fear of how “good” one’s work is and how well it will be received(Love 145). I agree, but why is this a constant fear while engaging in our own, perspective, writing processes, the fear of how “good” our work is? Where does that specific fear come from.  My sister and I discussed the idea of in today’s day and age, being a student and what that means.  We both went to a competitive high school where standards were high, and now being in college, although the competitiveness isn’t as outwardly shown or is more individualized, the sense of it is still present.  The thing is, the relative of competitiveness and student-ship, when mix, tend to contradict the overall idea of a student, and the connotations of the word “student” nowadays.  There is a stigma, however subtle it may be, that even though we are students, we all always have to know everything, and have to have the perfect response to every question.  As students, today we attempt to assume this “expert” or “connoisseur” status, and this can be reflected in our writing and in how/why we get writer’s block. To be clear, writers block comes from the forcing of this “expert” complex onto ourselves during our writing process, which limits the creativity and ingenuity I earlier mentioned, and renders us victim to the “this isn’t good enough” stage of writing (a stage that can/should be reached by different means or analysis of the piece/paper, not through this self-imposed status), and creates this fear of loosing this (to some extent, self -induced) form of legitimacy in our writing.

The “expert complex” is even evident in how Love presents the strategies for dealing with writer’s block(all of which I personally think are vey helpful, yet also play into this “expert” complex we try to take on.) She mentions how conversations and discussion on the writer’s topic with people with, perhaps, different perspectives and voices, can facilitate the break down of a writers block.  She also mentions how her students suggest, just getting some words down on the page can help one move past the block.  However, no one suggests the possibility of walking away from your paper as a potential strategy for overcoming writers block.  Of course, if time permits, I think the ability/option to give both yourself and your paper some time to breathe, and, maybe come back to it at a later time, when your mind is in a different stage of thought or mindset, or your environment has changed, is a great way to deal with writer’s block. This, coupled with one of the techniques mentioned by love’s students, is how I personally deal with writers block.  I think we don’t allow ourselves this luxury first, because of time (but really this could help with time because if you walk away from your paper you can focus on other things you need to do-unless your paper is THE THING you need to do…), and second because of our need to constantly be right and have our “expertise” shine through, even in times of not knowing what to do.

Do you all have any thoughts on what it means to be a student and how that might influence writers block? How do you all overcome being blocked?



Delving Deeper into Revision

“Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers” by Nancy Sommers was an article that, although I thought could have gone deeper into the issue of why there is such a difference in what the term and process of “revision” means to students as opposed to experienced adults, really opened the door to the discussion of revision. I think I will agree with her…but also I will try to expand her field of evidence solely based on my personal experiences with revising my and peer editing other’s writing.

The first thing that I found really effective in visually and more profoundly understanding her argument is her statement that most writing processes (she mentions Rohman’s model-pre-writing, writing, and editing- and Britton’s model-conception, incubation, and production) the process or “step” of revision is not highlighted. Sommers states, “In these linear conceptions of the writing process revision is understood as a separate stage at the end of the process…”(378). I think she correct, and in adding another “step” to the writing process is probably going to be a bit more intimidating to students than to experienced (even professional-as her sample indicates) writing adults. Specifically for me-a student writer- I have to admit, I can see how the linear models of writing seems easier and suggests more of an end to the writing process. But, let’s be honest. There is never a definite end to one’s writing process, and knowing a bit more about revision than I did(and doing way more than I did in high school) I’m sure we can call attest to the fact that the writing process has the ability to go on as long as the author would like it to. The latter is due to revision!

So, I understand how the addition of another step to the processes is not what students may want, especially after barreling through an essay, lab report, or research paper. However, the mere fact that there is a little extra work to be done after the “completed product” cannot be the only reason why student writers do not utilize effective revision skills, right? I think Sommers also hit another thing on the head too, and that is the vocabulary and syntax of the word “revision”.

Sommer’s notes that when her student writers identified the types of revisions they did, they did not once use words and explain their processes in terms of development or in terms of identifiying the broader issues with their papers. She concludes that, “what they(student writers) lack…is a set of strategies to help them identify “something larger””(383). My next question would be, why do we lack thee strategies. My response to my own question (lol), would be that the term revision holds different connotations and consequences for students as opposed to adults. In my experience “revision” has the connotation of “reform” and when I think of reform I think of restructuring and redoing something completely. Revision has a bit of a daunting connotation, especially if one hasn’t been introduced to it throughout their writing career. Revsion indicates things such as rewrite and restructure because when you revise something, it is widely believed that you change the essence or foundation of something to make it more sound and stable. Thus when the term revision is heard, it is possible that students, subconsciously, have the idea that they must change everything surrounding one aspect or one flaw of the paper, that they need to change the foundation. The words the students used to describe their revisions also lean on the more sugar-coated side(the side where words do not have the connotations of restructure and re-foundation). Sommers mentions that they use vocabulary such as “reviewing”, “redoing”, “marking out”, ect. These types of words have the tendency to suggest they should work on a focused part of the essay, a, for lack of a better word, superficial part of the essay that does not imply a major change or re-write.

So, perhaps this revision for student writers is a problem of language and vocabulary accessibility and understanding as well. Since the processes we have been taught are so linear it is difficult for students to access the vocabulary and meaning behind the vocabulary of revision. The vocabulary is not interjected in our discourse community of education (English classes, history classes, science classes, ect.) at an early stage. Thus accessing it and understanding it is more intimidating

The lack of knowledge surrounding revision(the word and in general) catalyzes student writers to only focus on surface level problems such as repetition and word choice. Or as Sommers refers sums up this problem, students are aware of lexical repetition but not aware of conceptual, semantic, repetition(382).

Finally, the idea of student writers being less experienced may also factor into their hesitation to utilize strategies of revision. Sommers realizes that experienced writing adults recognize revision as different cycles and levels of their writing, and that they look for dissonance in their writing and have a propensity to lean into it. Since student writers are not at that point of experience yet, they don’t lean into dissonance, instead they lean into their lack of self-confidence, their fear of loosing legitimacy in their paper, and they really lean into their status as a “novice”.

I suppose the main thing that needs to get done is figuring out how to relieve student writers of their intimidation by revision and figure out a way to integrate it into their writing processes whether they be linear or not.


Redefining a Process!? Reither, you are a brave soul!

The idea of redefining a process seems very daunting, particularly if the process has become so ingrained in our teaching and learning styles a the process of writing is. To redefine a process you’d have to redefine the terms of significance, re-explore the concepts of the process that are most important and should be most highlighted, and then find a way to make the revised/redefined process have specific relevance and legitimacy in its redefined aspects.

According to Reither, it is important to know what actually happens when people write; to acknowledge where the generation of their original ideas comes from and where their process or structure of writing stems from as well. Although Reither’s idea may seem a bit abstract or ambitious to conventional writers, I see it as having important implications in writing, especially in terms of the production or development of a personal voice in writing.

“We need to broaden our concept of what happens when people write”(Reither, 288), “We should use studies, ethnographic studies, longitudinal studies, textual analysis thinking aloud protocol analysis…”(Reither 289). Combining these two statements, reading them side-by-side, the latter is in essence a response to the question of how we broaden our concept of what happens when people write. First, I would like to suggest that, in general, Reither is calling for us to formulate or determine new ways of regarding writing and the writing process. Specifically, he is calling us to analyze writing through multiple, diverse, frameworks. In doing the latter we have the potential to acknowledge where one’s writing is from.

We also have the potential of answering a question posed by Reither(“Why do people think writing is self-contained?”(Reither, 288). It is easy to think of the writing we do as a response, but we do not necessarily think of it as a response that is based off of our realities. We tend to think of it as merely a response to a prompt, we think of writing as a single, stand alone, response that occupies one space and one time at any given time. However, by analyzing and acknowledging the writing process and final product through different frameworks, we can stop the tendency of thinking of writing as a merely a singular response, and rather further try to understand why and how we write. Furthermore, (somewhat of a tangent!?) I think that looking at writing and the writing process through different frameworks allows people an entry into certain discourse communities and allows a wider variety of people into discouse communities. This type of “investment” in the diversification of discourse communities can potentially lead to advancement/change in individual communities, that would have never happened without the different analysis of frameworks. In short, the analysis of writing through different frameworks can provide access (for example into the academic discourse community) to those who may not fit the conventional analysis framework.

Transitioning to Reither’s quick discussion of discourse communities, he mentions the idea of writing from within a discourse community. I have a few questions in regards to this idea. I assume that writing from within a certain discourse community gives you a certain amount or sense of legitimacy and confidence, but at the same time, is it possible that writing from within a specific discourse community has the ability to limit ones analysis and writing process skills due to the fact that each community has its own vocabulary (shoutout to Bizzelle), standards, and perhaps even their own processes. If so, we can definitely see how important it is to acknowledge processes of other communities and discourses!

If you were to redefine the writing process, what would you want to highlight (especially for novice writers)? I think one aspect I would want to highlight would be to encourage us to think of writing as any other form of expression. I think it is easy to compartmentalize writing as an academic, scholarly, assignment. It is important to keep the latter in mind because it will keep writing relevant for novices.

Do You Even Use First-Order Thinking Though?

“It turns out that…unplanned narrative and descriptive exploratory writing will almost invariably lead the person spontaneously to formulate conceptual insights that are remarkable shrewd” (Elbow, 56).

Thank you, Elbow. Thank you for indulging my propensity toward “chaos” in writing and explaining why it is of the utmost importance. But also, thank you for knocking me half off my “pro-chaos” high horse, I’ve learned I still need to learn how to willingly engage in freewriting. Although for a good minute I thought you were going to only argue for chaos and against criticism and standards (which would have definitely rubbed me the wrong way, especially after having profound conversations on the legitimacy and, perhaps, the necessity of standards in college-level writing), I am glad you linked the two and explained how we can’t have one without the other (you know, like Oreos and milk).

I must say. Elbow’s analysis of the two “contrary”, as he defines them, forms of thinking that lead to successful and engaging writing was eye-opening (especially in the sense of putting definitions to actions that I perform but have never thought too deeply about). The distinctions made between careful vs. careless thinking, control vs. freedom and of course first vs. second order ways of thinking helped me define my current, evolving, writing process. SURPRISINGLY, although I thought I leaned more toward a first order process (through uncontrolled free writing and intuition) I have realized that rather than thinking in one extreme, I actually tend to marry both first order thinking and second order thinking (which is why I think Elbow should change his premise of “contrary” to “complimentary”.

Elbow explains first order thinking as, “exploratory zigzagging” that leads “to a click”. Or in other terms, brainstorming! He then describes second order thinking as the critique and revision of your first order thinking. Juxtaposing these definitions of the higher-levels of thinking, it is clear to see why they would compliment one another, especially in regards to one’s writing process. Specifically, Elbow’s statement “In particular we must not trust the fruits of intuitive and experiential first order thinking unless we have carefully assessed them with second order thinking”(57), was not only confirmed by my own writing process experiences, but it also highlighted something; that if anything, my process may comprises of a majority of second-order thinking, rather than the first-order thinking I thought I was more prone to.

The latter got me thinking. Why is it that I had thought I leaned more towards the “chaos”, the first order, intuitive, creative, uncontrolled writing when, after reading Elbow’s piece, I seem to fall into his category of a second-order thinker more readily. First off, I think the reality is that most people gravitate towards second order thinking because of the difficulty first-order thinking holds in its essence. Everyone would like to think that they have the confidence and self-trust to relinquish control and allow their natural thoughts to take hold, however after reading this piece, one thing I have noticed about my writing process is that even when I am technically “free-writing”, the unyielding urge to control my thoughts does work itself into my free-writing process. The “stream of conscious” approach is hard mostly because when doing so, we tend to be aware of the fact that we are attempting to reach an end, and we view the process as a means to an end. Perhaps if, I for one, stop regarding free writing as a means to an end, I would relinquish that underlying control more readily. Additionally, I think I thought I leaned more towards the first-order thinking because I yearn for what I have been unable to unyieldingly give myself in regards to my writing; the right to be wrong and the confidence in being right. Elbow touches on this a bit, but I would like to expand upon the idea of having to always be right. I believe there are three reasons why I (and others) share this fear of being wrong: fear of judgment, fear of the invalidation of our genius (brains/perspectives/original ideas), and the fear of loosing an earned legitimacy within our communities (whatever our communities they may be).

I think, as a writer and simply as a human being, I want to give myself an authentic sense of freedom, and I have found bits of that when I free-write and use my first order thinking patterns. However, especially in an higher-level learning institution such as Pomona College or the 5cs, I am very quick to check my writing (and my speaking) at all moments of the process. Let me get this straight, in all honesty, checking and critiquing my writing, even from the very first free-write, has seemed to work out for me. First of all, lets not get ineffectively liberal, checking yourself is good. Making sure your argument is cohesive and your sources are relevant, and that you are critically thinking throughout the process is not a sin. But, if writing is a conversation/a discourse, why is it unacceptable to be wrong? Is it even possible to be wrong when writing (I mean if you have wrong sources, if you don’t analyze your texts effectively, and you do not frame your argument effectively I guess so- but you guys know what I’m getting at). My question is, if you use second order thinking effectively throughout your writing process, what then makes you wrong in your argument?

What I appreciate most about Elbow’s argument is that he implicitly acknowledges that he there does not need to be an either or, or a “right way” to write. Everyone’s process should be individualized (this is how we achieve individual voice and original thought and analysis), and everyone’s process, once semi-developed, probably has some semblance of both chaos/intuition/creativity as well as some essence of critique/consciousness/controlled thinking. He makes clear that the process, is indeed a process, and is not necessarily reached through immediate absorption of techniques and templates, but rather through trial and error.



My take on Sullivan’s Piece(I met him a little more than halfway!)

So, this piece was interesting. There were some things I agreed with Sullivan on, but other things that completely rubbed me the wrong way. But, ALAS WORRY NOT, I met it halfway.

In Sullivan’s essay, “An Essential Question: What Is College Level Writing?” the question of what defines college writing is analyzed and discussed through a number of different lenses. Sullivan addresses the question of “college-level” writing through political, social, linguistic, and teaching frameworks, ultimately revealing his own definition of what college writing is and presents questions that will further develop the discussion on the topic. Although Sullivan touches on quite a bit of discussion points, there are a few that stand out to me; a few which got me thinking, specifically the topics of standardization, “non-traditional students and their engagement with college-level writing, and the politics behind college-level writing.

One of the first ideas Sullivan mentions is that of the essence and reality of standardization of writing. After our discussion on Tuesday about the nature of standards, standards vs. chaos, and whether standards stunt a writer’s personal voice, style, and critique, I was pretty convinced that writers, especially those who do not have the standards or systems of effective writing ingrained in them just yet, need a balance of both structure (aka standards) and chaos (aka original ideas and analysis, and creativity). However, to further the discussion (and my own internal processing of the topic of standards), Sullivan states “ Any discussion of shared standards may require us to ignore or discount the very powerful political and social realities that help shape students’ lives on the individual campuses and in particular learning communities”(2-3). I agree with Sullivan in this vein. I view writing as a very personal process that yields very personal experiences and a very personal result. To me, writing has been a medium through which understanding and comprehension is reached. It is an art form that can extract the “very powerful” and very REAL realities of its apprentices. Shared standards have the potential to not only limit the depth at which a student is able to gain a particular understanding of a subject, but, additionally, standards of writing have the potential to be extremely exclusive. These “shared standards” that may be put into effect may not be accessible to all students and writing apprentices (based on educational background and opportunity, socio-economic background, race, gender, location ect.). Although, I understand (and to some degree agree with) the argument for standards of writing, if these standards are to be enforced and standardized there needs to be careful consideration of the ENTIRE population who will be sharing these standards (which I think is possible, yet potentially difficult). There needs to be a discussion on accessibility and the potential of variance (of skills and education quality) in the learning(specifically the writing) community.

Next, I have to say I take issue with Sullivan’s claim of “non-traditional students” who “…bring all sorts of challenges to us (teachers? The American education system?-this is an iffy thing to say) who are enrolling at our nation’s community colleges in increasing numbers”(7). Sullivan, evidencing Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson’s “fault line” where traditions meet, says that one such fault line is that “non-traditional students”, who bring a wide range of different skills with them. While I read further into this section, it is as if Sullivan, and the scholars he references, assume that the students who have trouble in English classes are all “non-traditional”(aka students who work and go to school, students who speak english as a second language, and students who attend community colleges(all of which seem to suggest minority students)). Coming from experience, this is simply not the case. I went to a private, all girls-school, in Pasadena California, and I for one can tell you that the struggles with writing were not reserved for students of color or students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. In my opinion, Sullivan failed to dig deep enough into this issue and to me it sounded a bit like an excuse. Perhaps the country should focus on a better public schooling system instead of, essentially, suggesting that student’s backgrounds and home environments cause ALL the problems when it comes to writing.

Finally, another topic that grabbed my attention was the analysis of college-level writing through a political framework. I did not like the logic that was happening here! Sullivan mentions that some believe that “funding remedial programs…is rewarding incompetence” (13). He goes on to explain that nationwide this sentiment has permeated political legislature and has manifested in the removal of remedial programs and courses in colleges by certain states. Is it just me, or is this backwards thinking? If the widespread discourse is revolving around the development of standards for college writing, and we have acknowledged that there are already differing levels of writing amongst students, why in the world would you eradicate programs that would allow students to eventually meet these standards? It seems clear that the political side of this discourse may be in the most need of a definition of what college writing is, especially so that they don’t take away educational opportunities from those who may need it the most! “When we look across different types of institutions, what is simi­lar and what is different about the way college-level writing is defined?

This was an interesting piece…and I guess I met him a little more than halfway! Can’t wait to hear any of you guy’s interpretations, ideas, and comments!