I've come late to this discussion, so forgive me if this thread is now
stale, or I repeat what someone has said, but haven't had a chance to read.
This issue has been preoccupying me for awhile, though lately I've been
concerned with my ability to assess a hypothetical writing situation.
After all, just as a student is not familiar with a specific, imagined
workplace context,neither am I, so why should I be able to assess the
validity of audience analysis for a reader that I will never be?
Though I do see the pedagogical value of hypothetical writing situations, and I
confess I use them all the time and enjoy creating them, I feel much more
"authentic" myself when I have students create a document
specifically directed to me. For example, this term I had students in
sections of my Information Technology Management course write me a report
on a subject I really needed to know about in their field. I discovered
with this exercise that few students knew how to anticipate my needs. If
this had been a workplace situation I probably would have said something
like "This isn't at all what I wanted--rewrite it." If, however, this had
been a hypothetical situation, with me imagining how the reader might
react, I probably would have been less aware--dare I say, less
emotional--about how far short the assignments were of the mark.
My defensiveness about my role as chief imaginer is perhaps why I see
some of the issues raised in *World's Apart* from this angle.
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