"The whole movement of life is learning" (Krishnamurti). "To be an act of knowing, then, the adult literacy process must engage the learners in the constant problematizing of their existential situations" (Freire). "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free" (Douglass). "I can learn anything I have the desire to learn" (White, S.G.).

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Teaching Composition

This week I met with someone to discuss the opportunity to teach Freshman Composition at a community college. With a M.A. in English, I'm qualified to teach this class. Many of graduate students did this while seeking their degree. In my interview, I was asked whether I would use a rubric and whether I felt that visual rhetoric should be used. This class has already been helpful in working with terminology and literacy. So now I'm learning a new language. I don't know if my schedule will allow me to add this class to my workload, but it's something I want to try. We had a mandatory class in the English department called "Teaching Composition". In it we looked at the theories for teaching composition. One question that came up was whether or not we would grade grammar and punctuation. I was the only one in the class who spoke up and said 'absolutely'. I think part of learning a language, to communicate, is being able to write the text so that it can be 'heard' while being read. Am I the only person who thinks that proper grammar and punctuation still has a place in literacy? I notice so many literacies, such as texting, have let a lot of that fall by the wayside. My son doesn't like the phone - he texts. But he still uses proper grammar and punctuation in his messages. In the business world, or the world of education, literacy in English should still include making your point, not just with your words, but with how you 'say' them.


  1. Ha! Joyce, you are a provocateur! Love how you "bait" us with the grammar question. Are you familiar with Writer's Workshop theory? It's often used in a mediocre way, but the essentials arr sound: When teaching composition, go for meaning first, then revisions for meaning, then revision for mechanics. (Yes, this is a utopian view in today's crammed curriculum.) There's a classic book by Ran & Laminack you may already be aware of. Also, I have an interesting article on multi-modal composition (may help with your visual rhetoric project). It is a critique of a program for "at risk" high school students. Let me know if you are interested, and good luck with the decision to teach freshmen composition! (I'll be Annie can also provide insights from the FI program.)

  2. I agree that meaning should come first, but revisions for mechanics should be a strong part. I wonder how many people 'read' to themselves what they write before they publish or turn in a paper. Proust never met a semicolon he didn't like. It made for long sentences (one I counted was eighteen lines), but when you really 'listened' to him, they made sense most of the time. I'm not familiar with Writer's Workshop theory (at least, not by that name), but I'm sure I'll be looking it up soon.


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this post. Diverse opinions are welcomed.