Critical Summary: Berlin
James A. Berlin’s “Contemporary Composition: The Major Pedagogical Theories” explains how different approaches to teaching writing result from the way the key elements of the writing process such as writer, reality, audience, and language are viewed. Pedagogical approaches, thus, can be divided into four main groups: 1) Neo-Aristotelians or Classicists 2) Positivists or Current-Traditionalists 3) Neo-Platonists or Expressionists 4) New Rhetoricians. Berlin claims that choosing a pedagogical approach has more ramifications than what is generally conceived; it means “teaching a version of reality.” Berlin convincingly links teaching approaches to different epistemological
theories. The four approaches parallel the development of the Western episteme from the classical period, the Enlightenment, the Romantic period, to the poststructuralist era.
Most of the writing courses I took seem to be a combination of the Positivist and Neo-Platonist approaches. This would prove Berlin’s proposition that how we teach writing mostly results from the way we view the world. Before the advent of poststructuralism, the Positivist and Neo-Platonist views of the world prevailed; language was subservient to the other elements of the writing process. As the poststructuralist approach started to gain ground and the power of language in shaping reality started to be realized, it is interesting to see what kind of change we are going to see in writing textbooks and pedagogy.
Like Berlin, I quite sympathize with the last approach. However, I also question the practicality of the approach. As constructionist approach is complex in itself, how much can it be understood by students who have always been taught to believe in the old notions of truth and reality?
Posted by pitug001 at 9:18 AM
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