Politics, Basic Writing, and the Future
Is there a qualitative or quantitative difference between FY composition and basic writing? Or, in what ways is the basic writing classroom a "pedagogical laboratory" for FYC and other writing instruction?
"To perform its democratic function, basic writing sits not at the point of exit from high school, but at the entry point to higher education" Goen-Salter, qtd. in Otte & Mlynarczyk, p. 180). What does this mean? What does it mean for a 2-year vs. 4-year institution?
For education to work democratically, we have to offer open admissions because we are trying to broaden the educated population. Our society is becoming more and more culturally robust, and, as public educators, we have to be willing to meet the demands of this diversity. However, as shit rolls downhill and the buck gets passed up, it will become "The Deferred Education Policy." Secondary teachers will defer the education of 'remedial' students to the two year universities who, in turn, defer the students' education back and forth with the four year universities.
For two year universities (the minor league), their credibility gets rocked because they then become the 'cleaners' or the 'gatekeepers' of higher education.
For four year universities (The Show), they become pristine and void of students in need of basic remediation.
How can we work to reframe the narrative of basic writing to focus on the long-term successes of students and the effects on their families, even a generation later?
"We have chosen to end our study with a review of syllabi in order to remind ourselves that basic writing, no matter how theorized or how studied, is fundamentally a classroom-based enterprise" (Adler-Kassner and Harrington, p. 97). In what ways does your syllabus/teaching portfolio perpetuate an autonomous model of literacy? Street defines autonomous literacy as, "conceptualize literacy as a separate, reified set of 'neutral' competencies, autonomous of social context" (qtd. in A-K & H, p. 6). Autonomous literacy is contrasted with "critical literacy," which examines the ideological contexts in which literacy skills are used. (Shor argues how language perpetuates social relations & power structures & value systems).
'Real world' context can be applied to everything if the teacher situates the lesson. For example, grammar, which can be taught in isolation, is more successful when taught in context. However, for standardized testing, which all students face at one point or another, grammar is extremely important because good grammar perpetuates the 'idea' of a good education. (You speak good. You must be smart or somethin'.)