From: Roberta W. Lee
Sent: Wednesday, May 22, 2002 3:59 PM
Subject: "real" writing
This very discussion should tell us what "real" or "authentic" writing is. Why did I think about it this morning all the way down the road to an appointment? And why am I taking the time to write now, when it is a beautiful day and I want to go outside and work in my garden? Why have so many of us busy people been unable to keep out of it? And why did inkshedding after presentations at Inkshed 19 involve the same feeling of urgency?
Clearly, because "authentic" writing or "real" writing is dialogic.
Classroom writing that involves one audience, the professor or teacher, and one purpose, a grade and evaluation from the teacher, does not contain the urgency or involvement of, say, this present discussion. By the same token, writing in the workplace aimed at one single audience for the purpose of justifying one's existance or getting praise--"bad" workplace writing so aptly described by Natasha--is not "authentic" either.
I do not agree with the notion that our purpose as teachers of writing is to prepare students for writing in future situations, workplace or otherwise. I agree with Patrick that dialogue should be taking place at all levels.
Could it be that when we give writing assignments with ourselves as audience, to be evaluated and graded by us, we are actually teaching students that writing is an individual act for the purpose of self-aggrandizement? We may teach them all kinds of great stuff about technical writing , business writing, academic writing, etc. but nothing about community,dialogue, collaboration, and the excitement of stretching our minds and hearts by responding to the thoughts of others. Are we then preparing them to respond effectively in writing to the complex situations they are encountering in the present and will encounter in the future, whether in the workplace or elsewhere?
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