Christine Skolnik wrote:
> Unlike the advanced composition
> >you posit, I don't have to fabricate advertising, or grant proposals
> >because there is
> >a real discourse, the discourse of a discipline, just waiting to be
> Wait a second. How is the writing assigned in Engineering courses more real
> that that assigned in technical writing courses? Also I don't fabricate
> genres or assignments. My students write job applications, journal
> articles, instructions for real tasks, and assignments comissioned from
> private industry.
I think what Rob was getting at (if I may be so bold as to interpret his
meaning!) is that the assignments engineers are asked to write are "real" in the
sense that they are assignments required by their program as part of their
learning of engineering--they aren't the kind of additional assignments
sometimes asked of students in tech writing classes. However, I believe some
tech courses do allow students to work on writing projects that they are already
working on in other, more "subject-oriented" classes. The fact that in your
classes students are able to work on "real" assignments commissioned from
industry sounds wonderful to me. The purpose or motivation for writing in these
cases is therefore not only to fulfill the requirements of your writing course,
but to create texts acceptable to these industries. In the same way, I think
Rob (and I!) would say that writing within a discipline provides a more "real"
(i.e. more meaningful, less extrinsic) purpose/motivation for students to write
than a tech writing course that is not integrated into a specific discipline.
As well, a fully integrated approach to writing means that students can learn
their subject-matters and the appropriate ways of writing for those subjects at
the same time. To separate the "what" and the "how" of a subject matter doesn't
make sense if writing and knowing are interconnected, and if knowing includes
knowing how people within a discipline communicate as well as what they
> >I know that in an hour of writing conference, I can
> >teach a
> >student more than a comp course can. (I've had students say so).
> I teach technical writing to classes of 24 and have hours of personal
> contact with them. They *also* have access to writing centre specialists in
> technical writing.
> >not some
> >second-rate substitute to account for the weakness of the Canadian
> >system, it is a
> >superb pedagogical strategy supported consistently by research (mostly
> >done by
> >people who teach comp courses).
> Shouldn't we all be working together toward an ideal in which English
> departments teach writing, run writing centres, and are involved in writing
> accross the discipline programs?
By all, do you mean all "English" people, or all instructors across the
disciplines? I think writing/rhetoric specialists have a great deal to offer,
but so do others--e.g., the "experts" in other disciplines. I think we need to
work closely with THEM to develop writing programs and writing centres that will
be as meaningful as possible to all students. I don't think only "English"
people should be involved in the teaching of writing--it's too insular.