Clare Reeves response:
The fluctuating definition of a basic writer or basic writing struck a cord with me because in many ways it reminded me of the development of psychology. In psychology, there was a shift in defining a person by their psychological issue that shifted to the understanding that the person did not equal the disease. This seems to be occurring in the shift of defining a basic writer to the idea that there may be a basic writing style. The main thread I see that I still question is assessment. Assessment is important because it is a part of our society. We assess and classify. This may be an ambiguous thing, but in order to change the system or help student, it is important that we try to function in this system, which I think is one of the reasons Shaughnessy has such staying power. She helped students but still worked in her department, making changes as she went along. In the reading my Otto and M., the authors discuss the idea of a public relation campaign (74) that would help the public understand the ideas of the BW advocates. The authors make an excellent point of working within the social structure with their comment on the “argu[ement] that policy makers employ discourse that is hierarchical, linear, progressive, programmatic, and quantitative – in a sense everything academic discourse is not” (Otto 75). Otto and M then note that BW supporters fail to match this rhetoric (75). The importance of this for me is a basic structure of writing. As teachers and followers of our discipline, we comment on the need to understand the discourse community and tailor our writing to our audience. Yet, as scholars, we mismatch rhetoric and fail to use the current research methods to prove our expertise in our field, as a generalization. How can we expect to create programs that help students if we fail to use our own methods to adapt to the current discussion? In this, I think embracing Haswell’s idea of change would be the next logical step and would create a bridge to help create a new way to “assess” writing, as seen in the “Tale of Growth” noted by Calabro (53-5). If we put all three points into a working system, perhaps, we could accomplish the goals of a BW program. I do think that mainstreaming, from my current position of reading through the literature, is a step in this direction.
On a side note: I was thinking application and if freshman comp were deemed unneeded, what might take its place (for as Derrida notes there is always a “system of constriction” that replaces the old “center”). I came up with the idea of offering student/ discipline specific classes like a class on APA and scientific writing, MLA, critical reading….following directions? They would not be remedial because they could choose the two semester classes to take for credit towards this “comp” idea. Just some thoughts.