Basic Writing Journal 11
O&M have taught me a lot! Their last chapter in Basic Writing, called “The Future of Basic Writing” just packed it up neatly. Printed in 2010, they acknowledge that the future of basic writing and basic writing programs is hard to foresee given the current economic downturn. I will never understand why the government believes the solution to their debt is less education. Talk about counter-intuitive. Anyway, they close with Mina Shaughnessy- which is terribly appropriate since they began with her too. Shaughnessy seemed to realize even then that basic writing programs will always be the first ones attacked in such financial difficulties because the one's enrolled in basic writing (benefitting directly from the course) are often from the working class and often minoritie's as well and maybe politicians do know this and try to keep them down. I'm not sure. The “political portent” of this meant that “remediation had become a vast industry” (165). Education should not be thought of in industrial terms, which is the first mistake. It is not a manufacturing line rolling out perfect little learners, it is a diverse and ever changing system that we educate and teach in. Invariably, as higher educational institutes say it is not their fault, just their problem- the politicians began blaming high schools for not preparing the countrie's children adequately for college. This still reflected badly on universities since it seemed to carry with it a trickle-up affect that still affected colleges. The great standardized test became a harbinger of bad news and lost-cause students. I like Goen-Salter's argument provided on pg. 180 of the O&M book. Colleges sit at the point of entry to higher education, not the point of exit for high school. This means in my opinion that it is the colleges' job to educate these students or choose to not accept them. Those are the options and I do not think the latter option is truly optimal though it may be preferred by some (politicians). I firmly believe that everyone should be given the chance to improve themselves through higher education if they are able too. Obama's administration has worked to put everyone in college but he did not ignore or do away with the standardized testing procedure. This standardized testing procedure is one thing that really got us into the muddle we are in today. Standardized tests, no matter how many studies have been performed still dominate our educational system pigeonholing some and providing to much confidence in others. Those that score well are not guaranteed to be great writers, it just means that they knew how to check the correct box and those that score badly may either be suffering from test anxiety or not understand the test questions. There are a plethora of reasons for the “remedial” placement and the only way to make these “remedial” students fit in with the rest of the bunch (so to speak) is to stigmatize them and push them away from the rest of the group. Being placed in a remedial program would make any learner hesitant about their knowledge and accompanying skill set. I am not sure how we may break this “cycle of disadvantages” that O&M discuss. When I was just getting accepted into college, I had not be in any type of formal education for over 2 years. I scored well on the placement test though and made it into regular composition classes here. I think that I may have benefitted more from placement into remedial english just because it had been sooooo long since I had written anything tangible. I had written random poems on post-it notes but that was the extent of my writing for the two years prior to my entry.