Forgive me, folks, before I even get started . . . but I've spent the last
year with my head in programming languages of various sorts, and I think I
see another way to describe the notion of "real" or "authentic" here . . .
and this is a terrible oversimplification, I know.
Think first that you have a piece of writing. That piece of writing has
various attributes or properties (which are outside the writing itself)
associated with it:
** response expected (desired) by the author
** things to be learned from writing
There are dependencies associated with those properties: Certain kinds of
audiences invoke certain kinds of expectations of response, which in turn
afford certain kinds of learning. What I hear Russ saying is that the
typical "teacher as audience" invokes a certain expectation of response (a
grade), and that this situation makes it impossible for him to enable
students to learn the sorts of things he wants them to learn.
I don't think that any of that has to do with the notion of "authentic" or
"owned" writing, though -- "authenticity," I would argue, isn't a property
of the writing or the situation, but a property of the *writer*. So,
indeed, as Philippa and Rob both note, it's possible for people to be
authentically engaged in and to own the writing that they do for assessment
in classrooms -- I'd submit that Russ' objections to that kind of ownership
and engagement have to do with the kinds of learning that can take place,
rather than with the emotional or intellectual state of the writer. In
fact, the kind of learning that takes place when writing is assessed for a
grade might work against and make more difficult the learning that takes
place when writing is self-directed.
College of Pharmacy
University of Michigan
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