[A rather longish post]
I've been following the responses to your question and I've noticed
that this discussion comes almost ten years to the month after the
Inkshed Newsletter published an issue (Inkshed, volume 8, number 2,
March 1989) that asked the same question. The editors invited people
to speculate on current issues in the teaching of reading and
writing. What were the responses like then?
In 1989, Nancy Carlman called for a greater communication
between different academic disciplines interested in language, and
between language teachers across all levels of education (elementary
Rick Coe highlighted a variety of battles between psychological and
social conceptions of writing, and between liberal and radical
conceptions of writing as a social process, and he called for a
synthesized view. Even as he noted that "these disputes matter," he
suggested that we were entering a time of consolidation. In the face
of a paradigm shift, he called for a working through of what that
shift might mean on every level and for every facet of writing
and writing instruction.
Heather and Roger Graves talked about the need to rid ourselves of a
skills-based conception of writing and to define writing
rhetorically. Anthony Pare called for a re-conception of the
relationship between people and texts. Russ Hunt outlined the great
debate between process advocates and genre advocates in Australia and
he urged North Americans to pay attention.
And, in typical form, Jim Reither argued forcefully that it was "time
for the revolution" for compositionists and rhetoricians in Canada.
So what has happened? What of Jim's revolution? Is it a time of
consolidation, as Rick suggested? What are our grand disputes?
Are they all between ourselves and our administrators? Someone
suggested to me not so long ago that the field is moribund. I keep
thinking, however, of Thomas Kuhn and the possibility that we have
normalized the social paradigm developed through the 1980s and we
are busy working out the details, finding out what's possible.
Still, are there any closet revolutionaries still lurking about?
What of the issues raised by those Inkshedders a decade ago?
425 Education Bldg.
University of Manitoba