February 22, 2005

week six: bizzel and langer

in 'cognition, convention and certainty,' patricia bizzel raises questions concerning composition pedagogy and its relationship to how and where student knowledge is produced. bizzel explicitly states at the onset of the essay that one of the purposes of teaching is to alter the student's wolrdview (365). in reading the remainder of her work, one understands this to mean that the instructor has an ethical charge to make the student aware of how their knowledge is informed by their community and--more importantly--that new writing and thought can occur inside or outside of said community. according to bizzel one of the chief plaudits of w.a.c. programs is the demystification of 'hidden curricula' like those found in the work of flowers and hayes. bizzel invokes their study on cognitive writing process in order to justify the need for composition pedagogy that takes into account that student's own communities may differ from the invariant rules that (over) determine their writing and thus success in the academic community. for example, bizzel critiques flowers and hayes for their prescription of a single 'process theory' for writing since it does not provide the flexibility that diverse classrooms require. this and other examples are ultimately used to prove bizzels thesis; that the revelation of humanitstic ideals in the classroom are enabled by considering the student as an emergent subject--not a vessel for the libations of invariant conventions that obfuscate the existence of a knowledge producing community.

bizzels ideas are critically substantiated and well developed. it would seem that out of all the essays from this semester this is the one i found the least tension with in content and form. indeed, that bizzel takes well supported pains to locate content and form in distinct pedagogical spheres only increaes my respect for the article. however i do wonder whether or not conventions or heurisms are more useful for some students when beginning the process of academic composition--and though bizzel raises the question of what constitutes reality (a student's grade or professional scholarship) she does not attempt a detailed recomendation for alleviating this problem.

judith a. langer's 'speaking and knowing' signifies an academic gesture towards understanding the relationship between writing well and intellectual development by summarizing a survey of various instructors and their experience with teaching composition. langer's conclusion is that content and form are distinguished from one another in those composition courses that stimulate students with critical engagement and an awareness of their own discourse community. after describing several 'perceptions of knowing' within the disciplines, langer attempts to prove that instructors must take into account that though their content may be objective and quantifiable, ways of communicating said content is shaped by the discipline itself and may thus offer the possibility of different modes of problem solving. understanding and communicating the tools of discourse thus better preapres students to 'think about planning, organizing, and presenting their ideas in discipline-specific ways.'

like bizzel, langer's project seems to be motivated by ethical concerns regarding the role of the instructor in teaching not only the what but how of academic discourse. the difficulty in assessing both this essay and bizzels work is describing these two modes of the discipline--content and form--in a way which ackoweldges their distinction but also articulates their relationship in the discipline itself; that undertsanding of one requires an undertsanding of the other. more importantly, the previous statement raises the question of whether this distinction is only an academic issue and thus whether or not articulating the need for prescribed forms adequatley prepares the student to engage with their largest classroom--reality.

Posted by hudd0016 at February 22, 2005 2:02 PM