Is Teaching Still Possible?

The larger context
A few weeks ago, Ivory suggested that "we're teaching student to think, and so we should base what we're teaching on evidence of the mind - ". We have now read a set of cases for that idea - we're teaching cognition and so need to know how to see that and shape that - vs we're not teaching cognition but rhetoric and so should be concerned with that. Which is also to say something like, "teach rhetoric and the cognition will work itself out."

Here is where comp theory parts from education theory: Comp theory argues that learning and teaching is contextual and pinned to subject. A general theory of pedagogy is, ultimately, trivial, uninforming, and perhaps wrong. Which is further to say that, "cognitive approaches are not the way to competencies" - which will piss of the BOT no end.

Berthoff, Is Teaching Still Possible?

Lambasts positivist/empiricist position - mainly that of the cog psych pedagogues, in basing a pedagogy on developmental principles.

In a nutshell,
Composing written language involves cognition, but it is not the same as cognition. Necessary but not adequate. Composing written language is a social act, a culture-bound skill, that involves the making of meaning. Cognitive approaches do not - have not - address that, and seemingly cannot explain how that goes on. Instead, we've been focused on what we can count - lexical ties rather than coherence, the former being text-bound the latter social.

set aside a pedagogy of exhortation: do this! don't do that! for a pedagogy of concept formation and meaning-making.

and to do that, Berthoff would opt for a philosophy of composition and language.

She does set up a straw argument against a couple of positions - make them pretty easy tp refute. Cognitivists would argue their work is clearly feeding the right way, but not all of them. Many would back away from that kind of simple positioning.

a slightly more refined perspective: Loo at text and protocols but a) start with complexity of interpretation, and b) use that work to develop a pedagogy based on meaning-making.

Critique: Lexical ties tell us a lot about how writers create cohesive texts - how we make meaning in composing and by writing. We can feed our knowledge of ties into Berthoff's social-epistemic position. As teacher-researchers, that's our job. This is one of the points she argues: research relies on interpretation. The straw man is in the fact that this was true when Berthoff was writing

Rose, Narrowing the Page

Have a look at endnote 5.

Rose's work is schematic of how to critique existing and dominant positions. Also teaches you something about what else you need to know as a teacher of comp. firm grounding.

Rose moves the conversation into literacy - as something we're schooled in, and beyond just composing. What does it mean to be literate? Being the prime question.

intent is to present the difficulties in applying findings in cog studies areas to composing - and specifically, remedial writers.

as a final, these theories
end up leveling rather than elaborating
encourage a movement away from close look at student writing
avert or narrow our gaze from immediate social and linguistic conditions. still need to look at purpose, genre, register, textual conventions, institutional expectations
inadvertently reflect (embody) cultural stereotypes

he takes us very close to the grounds of bigotry.

Following along the same path as Berthoff, warning of cognitive reductionism, and critiquing the half-developed way of thinking about remediation.
this article applies to what we teach unless you want to see remediation as a special case -

Rose, like Berthoff, will final argue that students who don't write well in a particular domain haven't had much experience in writing well in that domain. It's a rhetorical problem, not a cognitive one.

The main problem is that we want to apply their findings, uncritically, to areas beyond their applicability. from lit study to diagnostic framework

second problem is to reduce the cognitive complexity and rely on a reduced model of cognition
third, uses are intended to be value-free but actually encode cultural hierarchies.

- Get some responses from Ivory and Sara - the idea that neuro-cogntiion can address writing - an act that occurs in a social envron, that is, a social act.

- responses from everyone concerning learning styles research - the idea being that if a visual learner learns by those means, she will learn to write better.

- and ditto critical thinking as a way of training the brain rather than learning conventions we tend to apply in academic setting - and tend to mis-apply as readily. that is, crit thinking is really an ethical appeal: I used the sanctioned process, therefore the answer must be valid.

- we're seeing a lot of similar ideas trotted out to defend competency-based education. that fulfilling certain competencies means something is learned. That seems to work, but we can't be sure that what is learned is the thing we taught or are trying to measure. - especially in BOT stuff, which demands a leap of faith from "understanding" to "knows the importance of and will act with that knowledge when teaching."

Rose critiques each position
cognitive style
bi-cameral hemisphericity
piagetian development

Oral - lit position: visits the current discussions about reading and writing the web. We're not reading for depth and so losing the ability (!) to do so, to dig into a subject - that explains why students have such difficulty today ...

Literacy makes available certain sophisticated figures and tropes and strategies for making meaning and utilities for composing, and those have to be learned, and learning them might well change the way we work with problems. But that doesn't means writing transforms cognition. Difference in the nature of communicative acts are not cog change. Ego hoc. Might be social change driving changes in electronic literacy. Literacy doesn't automagically transform socio-cultural positions.

Too, makes literacy a prime mover - not too likely.

nor does it require literacy to explain many of the differences in language use, p 373

in the present, the bipolar of ora-literate dichotomizes and area where some complex interweaving of oral-literate goes on.

we have OUR way with words -

we can see some of this still going on locally when we suggest that writers who have a grasp of certain literacy practices locally valued are also better people, more valuable to the community.

in each, Rose address methodological and conceptual issues in applying the studies to the teaching of writing. In the end, it comes down to this:
base pedagogy on principles of contemporary rhetoric.

Bizzell, Cognition, Convention, and Certainty

Bizzell lays out the situation of the BW pretty well as it developed in the 70s and 80s and into the 90s - and is still active. she sketches two fundamental perspective and then ties those perspectives to teaching practices. Argues that solid answers emerge in the interplay between both.

in one way, Bizzell fills out Berthoff's instance on making meaning, in seeing language acts interpretive acts.

403: the F&H model removes writing as problem solving from the context of a discourse community - and it does so because it's trying to frame one, universal model - a model that operates outside of context.

sums up the problem with F&H and other cognitivists: the assumption that the rules we formulate to describe behavior are the same rules that produce the behavior is wrong. She does so by placing the behavior - text production - in a pretty well-formed social context of a DC. We produce writing using conventions of DC, which is not the same as rules that appear to generate text within that DC.

the writing problem has and is phrased in terms of a thinking problem: teach them critical thinking and they will write better - and this displacement goes back to the role we have given to writing for 150 years: we teach style - we assume thinking is going on elsewhere, in other classes, at home, in inspiration, etc,

As the position of teaching writing changes, so this deficit opens up. We are unprepared and so feel we need to look at the relation between thought and language for a way to address the problem.

breaks this into inner-directed and outer-directed ways of conceptualizing the problem
thought structures
social processes

critical thinking crowd
ENGL 1151
Flower and Hayes

discourse communities and discourse conventions - that is, interpretive communities
professional writing
ENGL 2152
focus on discourse analysis

- Bizzell places composing by the F&H model - inner-directed in a discourse community outer directed - to see what she can - to spot the limits and constraints - and the openings

critiques F&H - the model presents descriptions of the how of the process as though it were an answer to the whys of the process. and we need to place the enactment of this how in a discursive community. too, translating makes language a substrate on which thinking is placed. writing doesn't contribute to thinking but makes it an occasion for thinking or problem-solving. language does not have a generative force, just a way of recording. Missing is the dialectical relationship between thought and language. that goes back to Vygotsky et al

looks at how language using are conditioned and shaped by, and to, social context. certain genres and conventions imply social relations between people, and to understand the conventions we need to know more than the linguistic conventions but how those conventions are interpreted in that context.

pp 399 - 400: Bizzell re-reads the process protocol in terms of writing for a DC.

goal setting, for instance, has to be done in terms of the DCs interpretive conventions - which we see happening in protocols, by the way. by same token, we can see difficulties with goal-setting as stemming from being unfamiliar with the DC - and that there are DCs. in the end, those conventions are heuristic - and that's part of their interpretive function. p 401.

so: students fall back on goals that worked in the past, or try to derive goals from the assignment. describe, analyze, discuss are not self-evident - as are abstract and critique as genre conventions different than essay.

F&H model might provide the form of the process but not the content - which is knowledge of conventions of the DC.

p 402, Bizzell turns towards solutions
She places expertise in meeting the expectations of a DC using the conventions of the DC rather than developing cognitive strategies -

- You are good as essays because of your knowledge of that DC: creative NF. When I shifted the DC to academic reading and writing abstracts and critiques, you had to address the problem in a new way. That is, you needed to develop rhetorical strategies to actually address the task. I can't say if you changed or developed new cognitive strats - I doubt you can.

B critiques a few other cognitivists who were attempting to develop rules that could be followed to generate text - computer-assist. Problem: these rules turn out to be situation bound.

problem: the assumption that the rules we formulate to describe behavior are the same rules that produce the behavior. these rules lack explanatory power.

but not rule governed doesn't mean not regular - and to describe the regularity, we move towards describing the DC.

BIG claim that no scientific (? why that?) research possesses the kind of certainty that inner-directed theorists are seeking. It's a lost cause. Look outward instead.

The appeal of the scientific: lets us create a pedagogy that seems ethically and socially neutral - attempts to hide the power behind the imperative, "Cut away deadwood" and other imperatives.

- This is typically done in other ways in teaching: by basing an imperative on one's personal success or failure.

We are better off with a disciplinary theory that encourages examination of consequences. 407. For Bizzell, this is discourse analysis. From other perspectives, rhetoric.

"Comp studies should focus on practice within interpretive communities ..." 409.
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