I like Will's reminder. While many writing folks are mired in the
trenches struggling to get comp courses acknowledged as legit SERVICE
courses, I love to be reminded of rhet and comp departments existing in
THEIR OWN RIGHT/WRITE.
But to address Doug's question a bit more directly . .
One reason that WID/WAC seems to have carried the day is that we know
that generic comp courses routinely/poorly taught don't work very well,
but for WID/WAC, well, hope springs eternal.
Another reason WID is so
popular among academics is that we are making the same mistake we've made
on many other educational innovations. Take the "structure of the
discipline" movement which swept education in the early 1960s supported
by J. Bruner et al. The reasoning went that because professors and grad
students recognized that disciplines have particular structures then these
structures had to be taught in some way at every grade level. Thus A.
Kitzhaber et al busily prepared English textbooks of classical mythology
for Grade 6 kids. The salient error in reasoning is that what is true for
professors is not necessarily the best way to teach people far away from
being professors. So, yes, there are discourse communities, and they have
acrane and fascinating mysterious rules, but that does not necessarily
mean that first-year students should improve their writing via this
This does not mean I am anti-WID. I am promoting in at our university.
Because we are engaged in education, we should focus on the learner.
Astin et al supply us with an incredible amount of reliable and valid
data about American first-year students. If we accept its extrapolation
to Canada, we know that our students are interested primarily in good
jobs and secondarily in big money. It seems much easier to teach writing
through their interests than throught the generic course we tried two
Shall we start a Rhet and Comp department? Let's see: 6 professors, a
secretary, a new building, a new section in the library, a new computer
lab. Will Women's Studies, Business, and some other department all
forego the 2 new faculty positions etc etc etc? Knowing the answer, we
think that WID is more feasible, and may--just MAY--be doable.
Jim Bell Ph. (604) 960-6365
Learning Skills Centre Fax (604) 960-6330
University of Northern BC email [log in to unmask]
3333 University Way
Prince George, BC
Canada V2N 4Z9 =========-=-========-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=