Individualizing the writing process through a genre-based, social-process pedagogy
Wilke, William Walter
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Many contemporary composition scholars are moving beyond process theory, contending that the act of writing effectively is one of complex social interaction, an intricate ballet of intellectual feigns, parries and thrusts, that cannot be reduced to the simple process of prewriting, writing and rewriting to be taught in the same, or even similar, manner to every person. In fact, they argue, there can be no effective classroom composition pedagogy that reveals the social nature of the act of writing to the student in any meaningful way. And yet a wealth of personal observations have shown that a great many working world adults-a substantially greater proportion of the population than that found in the first-year writing class-have mastered the skill of effective writing to a significant extent, leading to the conclusion that experience and maturation can and does teach the social nature of the many genres of everyday writing. What follows is an attempt to create a curriculum that recognizes the social nature of writing and incorporates it into the classroom setting through collaborative writing exercises, genre-awareness and assignments designed to reveal to the individual writer his or her own way of producing desired effects on readers. The curriculum also aims to hasten some of the experience and maturation that reveals the social nature of writing to so many writers as they wend their way through the working world. What is initially proposed is then taken into two first-year writing classes in succeeding semesters and evaluated on the basis of student responses and instructor observations. Those methods of evaluation are admittedly lacking in a high degree of reliability. However, this essay concludes with some suggested refinements and a proposal for a more thorough testing of the curriculum's effectiveness.