Is Teaching Still Possible?

The larger context
"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. Prob solving doesn't bring in self-reflexive thinking made possible by language into the mix. We interpret, then can interpret our interpretations. 309

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. A pedagogy of knowing.

and to do that, Berthoff would opt for a philosophy of composition and language. We have an inadequate view of language as a communication medium. A delivery system. We need a concept of language as a means for making meaning. 311.

If we have that, we can tell whats happening with language in our classroooms.

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. Empiricists do acknowledge that their work is interpretive. 311. They don't theorize it, however, nor tend to see it as a weakness.

Her stronger argument is that if findings don't account for meaning, then they aren't relevant to pedagogy. 312

a slightly more refined perspective: Look 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.

# 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.

Bartholomae, Inventing the University

Learning as Assimilating

my note: defining better, characterizing the good writer
We have an extended definition of "better" in B's article: the better essay, in this partular case, p 541. And the better essay in general is one that enables the writer to make head ways into appropriating the language and processes of the university.

That is, it's not just aesthetics. And the value of better is considered w/in the social and epistemic values and practices of the university. It's considered a "distinguishing gesture" rather than a prose feature. 541 In fiction, it would follow those conventions. But this is FYC.


Turn back to the texts to look at the drama of the students struggle with assimilation that we call learning.

If we accept Bs frame, esp focused on first few paras, then what does a fye course like? What do we do? What do we assign? Etc.

What does B see as the problem? What solution?
Students need to write their way into a new community, where the commonplaces are all what we work against.

Appropriate or be appropriated by. Not as a threat or ultimatum but as a process. Demonstrate you can do crit thinking like we do.

Essay is an excellent argument for teacher as audience, for writing assignments that address scholarly rhet sits with scholarly prose, rather than non-existent general audiences.

Cognitivits are insensitive to writing as addressing and taking place in conventions.

To better understand, Look at points of discord that arise when students write their way into the u

Rest of article looks at characteristic problems as seen as attempts to write into the u. Looks at acts of attempted appropriation in writing to a placement exam.

Looks at stylistic features we assign as indices of clear and orderly mind

Task requires a story, and then a remove from that experience who interprets it. Also requires recognizing the commonplace definition of the concept and the need for elaboration. Needs to see the story as an opportunity for close reading. Needs to go beyond the statement of the commonplace. Success comes by virtue of having completed the essay. Completion is success.

Student must enter a discourse and stylistically

Metaphors of locate a self, enter, appropriate, etc.
Successful essays: the writer set themselves against a more naive way of talking about the subject. 541. So, reader is looking at the representation of a self in the writing, or, better, in the choices made. They win status as members of he more privileged group.

Crit thinking

We identify a mode of thought with literacy and education. 544. We call it critical thinking currently. And we can see it in writing. Our challenge is to describe it in such a way that the writer can achieve it and a trained reader can see it.

The movement is towards a specialized discourse in a difficult context, p 544. Where common wisdom is what we work against. 544. That makes it very unlike HS and CC environs.


Progression by steps, marked by episodes of material creation, by courses. What that progression looks like is Part 4 544ff.

Takes a curricular view of BW. Not sentence level error as a measure but how to enter the discourse. Advanced writers are more facile but still incomplete control / possession of the existing academic discourse she is entering. 548.

The difficulty Of the skilled and unskilled writer is one of degree, not a difference in kind. 548. That's shaughnessy and B.

2015 update

A current turn towards grounded cognition: Gibson, ecological approach to visual perception

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