· Wherein Some Administrative Rubber Meets the Pedagogical Road ·
Revision musings have just prompted from me a new thought. Why not make my stylistic revisions even more eye-appealing? For in my recent Mind's Ear post, I used the formal trick of paired columns to suggest my aim. I thought: "Why not go directly to the power of the screen to make it more colorful — maybe giving readers implied 'earfuls' of heard representations?"
So here's a draft of a memo I edited some time back, one marking the score in a classic game between school administrators and college teachers. It happily suggested itself to me just now. You'll see its point in the end, but note first my play among dark words (text originals), blue (strike outs), and red (scores), all playing themselves out fully, but still subtly, in my text. Naturally, styled instruction is my aim.
A Brief Curriculum Committee Report, 2001
Summary: Throughout April, May, and June, five members of the English faculty participated in a series of meetings devoted to discussion of teaching and learning in English 101. Topics covered included student preparation, pedagogical and technological
changes, evaluation standards, desired outcomes, the ideal vs. the real, and the expected role of writing skills in our students' lives. The consistent focus throughout all sessions, regardless of topic,Regardless of topics, throughout our meetings the consistent focus was the relationship between college Englishour own courses and those in K-12 English, or between the desired
student learning outcomes in composition and the desired proficiencies
articulated in the Washington State Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs). Unfortunately, although time constraints prohibited us from realizing the fullest intents of our original projectour implementing all goals fully — which involved collaborationincluding collaborating with the English teachers in the local K-12 schoolsour K-12 colleagues — we were still
able to accomplish the primary goal of refiningthe project's primary goal: refiningtheour common English syllabus in terms of required essential outcomes and assessments. Further Indeed, all participants came away in possession ofwith new strategies and fresh perspectives that willshould be useful to us in the future.
Evaluation: Ultimately, the English faculty who participated in this project are satisfied that — although our
teaching styles are distinctdiffer and our approaches varied,vary — student learning experiences in ourvarious sections of English classrooms are similar in manymeaningfulimportant ways. We surely agree upon the importance of several outcomes essential to students' success in 101, including the following:
thoughtful use of
appropriate information in essays
of the connection between claims and support
unity within the essay and
coherence and sequential
development of ideas
clarity of expression
usageuse of theStandard English language
stylistic precision, economy, and freshness
anduseregular employment of reflective revision strategies
finding as a result of this project is Unfortunately, we are today forced to conclude that the criteria listed for the tenth-grade
writing EALRs are unrealistic in both
ambition and specificity — mainly by being too pedagogicallyidealistic. Indeed,all participantswe all agree that we would be much surprised to find high-school students or recent high-schooleven graduates who met or surpassed these criteria. In fact, we now agree that — in our more than 75 years of collective teaching experience — we had neverhave rarely encountered a student who, upon graduating with an AA degree, could consistently score passing marks based on the criteria set for all tenth-graders.
Recommendation: Together, we will continue to help students improve their skills and knowledge in composition , modifying
and enhancing our methods along the wayby modifying syllabi and improving methods. Along the way, we will continue to consult each otherone anotherin order to maintainin keeping a degree of needed professional uniformity in our class offerings. In fact, we will continue to be mindful that some of our students will go on to become K-12 English teachers, and we will approach our classes accordingly. But we will not put too much stock in the particulars of the Washington State Writing EALRs.
Just imagine what I can still hear in these dialectical alternatives to what our committee in fact discussed. Unfortunately, that old dialogue — as you might now guess — is almost wholly unprintable.