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CASLL-L  April 2008

CASLL-L April 2008

Subject:

Fwd message from Marc Christensen at UVic re Marche

From:

Susan Drain <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CASLL/Inkshed <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 2 Apr 2008 15:55:09 -0300

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (103 lines)

I particularly like the pithiness of Marc's last paragraph!

Susan Drain, PhD
Department of English
Mount Saint Vincent University
Halifax, NS Canada  B3M 2J6
902 457 6220
[log in to unmask]

>>> Marc Christensen <[log in to unmask]> 4/2/2008 3:42 PM >>>
Dear Susan (and the rest of the list if you'd care to forward this  
through to them) --

I'm the UVic person who responded to UA about Marche's piece so  
quickly, as well as a CASLL list lurker. I know how tight pub  
deadlines can be at mags like UA, and my quick response to them  
wasn't meant in any way to steal the CASLL's thunder. I felt that a  
fast response would have the advantage of keeping the topic alive,  
and I had a specific topic to address, as outlined below.

I would reply to you through the listserv, but my postings have  
historically been refused by the server, and after about three tries,  
I gave up. So feel free to forward this in to the group, as a note of  
solidarity.

The central thing I tried to do in my brief letter to UA, which  
differs from the direction your collective CASLL / CATTW response  
later took, is that I sought to upend the widely held belief that  
grammar instruction will produce better student writing.

(I might concede that some university grammar instruction is useful  
if one is to become a technical writer or professional editor, but  
this is beside the point.)

My narrow focus on this topic likely made Peggy B. of UA think that  
I'd "missed Marche's point" relative to WAC/WID curricula. Marche's  
own discussion of the implications of WAC/WID struck me as glancing,  
and I responded, by tackling grammar, in a way that I thought  
appropriate for the general UA readership, rather than those who  
might have particular WAC/WID concerns.

When I began to teach English in Canada -- with six years' classroom  
experience, an MA in literature and a few US grad courses in  
composition behind me -- I noticed with some horror that my new  
colleagues were either completely unacquainted with or immediately  
disagreeable to what I saw as the core principles of composition, as  
I had learned it and practised it in the states. It felt as if the  
groundbreaking 1974 CCC declaration "Student's Right to Their Own  
Language," and the thirty years of progress in writing instruction  
that followed from it, had simply never occurred in Canada.

That's why I responded to Marche's paper separately. I hope no one on  
the list will take offense, especially as I praised Inkshed as a ray  
of light in this regard, and complained that those with the most  
insight and investment into the mechanics of writing instruction --  
Inkshedders, etc -- had so often been given very limited  
institutional power to address the difficulty of the problem in its  
totality.

I don't think US composition is a perfect model, but I'd gladly  
import it, if I thought it would supplant the active animosity I've  
observed in some of my Canadian colleagues regarding the intelligence  
of their students or their ability to write, with their own speech,  
in their own words, idioms, and methods. I didn't mention this  
frustrating professional behaviour in my UA letter, but I've  
certainly witnessed it, and I don't doubt many of you have as well.

Professionally, I think teaching grammar as a blanket prescription  
for undergraduate writing perpetuates a cycle of demoralization and  
cynicism between student and teacher alike. That part, I did mention.

Cheers and regards to all the Inkshedders,
-marc



________________________
Marc Christensen   |   Publications Officer
UVic Communications Services
University of Victoria, PO Box 1700 STN CSC Victoria, BC, Canada  V8W  
2Y2
Phone 250-721-6022  |  Fax 250-721-8599
Web communications.uvic.ca/publications







This communication, including any attached documentation, is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed, and may contain confidential, personal, and/or privileged information. Any unauthorized disclosure, copying, or taking action on the contents is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please contact us immediately so we may correct our records. 
Please then delete or destroy the original transmission and any subsequent reply. 
Thank you.

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