Journal 6 Basic Writing

I suppose it has gotten to be an easier read as I got into it more. Chapter 8 “Production Swift and Slow” informed us of the different methods in which students may develop as writers. The developmental approach is more useful in that it tracks the progress of the student and attempts to scaffold the learning process (similar to what we are doing in our composition courses currently). The fact students develop differently is the answer to the question posed by Haswell on pg. 207- “Why can't he do that? This means why can't the writer flow with a steady stream of words rather than what is typical of the writing process which has stops, starts, and erasures, and run-on or incomplete sentences. “Gadamer and Habermas show on the level of experience and social action, development finds a way out of the vicious constancy-change circle via transformative continuity” (213). This transformative continuity he describes is that transformation involving self-reflection and reflection when you turn your informational world upside down and then re-locate yourself in the new position of knowledge. I think the inclusion of the “hints for slow writers from expert writers” is a really helpful section.

Chapter 9, “The Sentence: Studio and Free” discusses the developmental trends of writers. “Given similar writing tasks, experts will construct sentences from 10 to 20 percent longer” (Haswell 230). He also asks three questions regarding this phenomenon: “What formal components contribute to it- changes in syntactic structures, in cohesive devices, in dictional choices? What developmental shifts in ideas or affect lie behind these formal changes? And what do these two changes together imply about a shift in the rhetorical sense of the sentence?” (230). He goes into great detail to answer these questions and much of the work is left on the instructor to work with/ help the students. To be able to the kind of writing required by these questions, professional writers, “advanced largely in a “progressive” or left-to-right way, rarely thinking backward to use an idea they had not used earlier” (242). This is impossible for new writers to accomplish, though we may teach this they may not listen. Freshman writers work for completion, not always context or relevancy.

Chapter 10, “Organization: Closed and Progressive” discusses how writers go about organizing their papers. The organization of the paper has been at least a number 2 concern for all of my students while just getting to the minimum page length was the first concern. Organization, according to the Freedman study in 1979, revealed that when teachers read student papers, “organization was a potent and cryptic influence on other writing measures, and only when the teacher-evaluators felt organization to be strong did differences in mechanics and sentence structure begin to affect their overall quality ratings” (249). I confess that I have not made it through the last 3 chapters or so yet. It is a complex reading for me.