I like Doug's house analogy:
> Let me put it another way. Most students, being intelligent human
> beings, don't take process-for-process-sake very seriously unless they
> can see what it is they're working towards, however dimly. There's a
> real difference between learning to build a house by working with
> lumberand nails in the abstract, and learning by building a house, even
> if it turns out to be a shack that the first stroing wind will blow
> down. The "real" learning is both cases is in getting the feel of the
> wood, making mistakes and getting out of them, learning the relationship
> between an idea in the head and what some wood really looks like when cut
> and nailed together. But the sense of a house at the end of it is the
> force that drives the process along, gives you something to get up in the
> morning for.
I agree that writers need to feel that their work is going
somewhere, that it has a purpose, and that it will have an end. The
product necessarily drives the process and gives it focus.
I think I'd want to put the end of the process a little further
along than completing the house (or text), though. I'd want people to
have the experience of living in the house they built -- of discovering
that if you get the flashing on the roof wrong, say, that the roof is
going to leak. I want my students to live with the reactions their
words have on readers -- to discover that if they're not careful about
the way they word things, they're going to make people angry or be taken
for a crackpot. I want housebuilders to say, "_Next_ time I build a
house I'm going to do _that_ differently"; I want my students to say,
"_Next_ time I write a paper I'm going to . . ." And I want both of
them to mean it.
So this means I point students toward the end product _they_ can
see, while all the while knowing about and planning for that other,
further step in the process. That reader reaction, I've found, teaches
them more than I ever could.
University of Michigan-Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Rd.
Dearborn, MI 48128
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