Tuesday, April 3, 2012

tate et al. and process pedagogy

Tate, Gary, Amy Rupiper, and Kurt Schick (Eds.) A Guide to Composition Pedagogies. Oxford University Press, 2000.

Lad Tobin – Progress Pedagogy
I’m starting to develop a map of disciplinary arguments, positions, and claims. What I’m rediscovering is that there are a lot of dichotomies that cloud the central issue, which is our understanding or writing. Lad Tobin details one such dichotomy in his progress narrative about process pedagogy.

To oversimplify Tobin’s narrative, process pedagogy (as defined by Elbow, Murray, and others) was, and perhaps still is, seen as a response to the “rules, conventions, standards, quality, and rigor” located within current-traditional approaches to writing instruction (4). And yet within this oversimplification I find myself in a cloud of self-assessment.

I tend to associate what I’ll call “traditional” Tech Comm pedagogies with Berlin’s objectivist rhetorics – those based on positivism and the resulting current-traditional approaches to writing instruction. I attribute this to my personal emphasis on the role of objectivity in effective technical communication. (I do tend to teach technical communication from a position of prescriptive rules and standards). But I also recognize aspects of my own teaching in Tobin’s narrative of his adoption of process pedagogies. For example, “… students are writers when they come to the classroom and the writing classroom should be a workshop in which they are encouraged through supportive response of teachers and peers to writing as a way to figure out what they think and fee…” (7). I like to believe that my technical communication class room provides this type of freedom and encouragement. What I do know for sure is that I’ve undervalued the active role of process in my approach to teaching writing.

The self-assessment aside, I want to continue to relationship mapping exercise. There is a clear association of process pedagogy (and the process movement) to Berlin’s transactional rhetorics – specifically those based on social constructionism (the creation of knowledge through social interaction). This places instructional activities, such as Breuch’s virtual peer review, within an overall instructional approach that values process, student-constructed knowledge, and practice-centered learning.

There is a linage here that I’m still teasing out. I’m finding that the dichotomies and binaries I create are complicating the relationships through and among the arguments. It’s never as clear and clean as you want it to be.

More on Tate, et al to come.

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