200 instead of groups of 25--Kiss of Death situation.
The only compromise I can suggest is a one hour "lecture" for 200 and then
division into smaller groups. This plan will necessitate bringing in TA's
to help with the workshops. And of course lecturing about writing is like
lecturing about swimming. But for some reason that again escapes me the
powers-that-be believe in lecturing. It is as if a course is not real
unless it contains lectures.
The other problem here, of course, is the importation of TA's--both a
blessing and an incredible challenge.
One of the keys to a successful writing program is the training of TA's.
And yet it is exhausting work. At Waterloo, I have designed a first year
writing course that is almost entirely dependant on TA's. I do have to do
an hour a week lecture (the course isn't a "real" course unless I do), but
then the 2 hour workshops are run by TA's. I also have another 2 hour a
week workshop for the TA's themselves. The difficulty here is that it can
be a great learning experience for the TA's--but sometimes the course itself
suffers as I have to depend so heavily on the TA's for good interpersonal
skills, good evaluation skills etc. Of course, I work with them on all of
this--but some come into the course with no teaching experience and some
with an actual bias against the teaching of writing. It is the latter group
that is the most challenging. And, of course, the group changes every
However, despite this whine or rant, I still believe that it is through TA's
and their training that the most changes will occur in the teaching of
writing. And quite frankly I spend most of my time working with the TA's
and through them with the students.
On a more positive note--I have also designed a graduate level course in
Composition Theory and Pedagogy. Every time I teach it, it is packed.
Almost all the students in the program take it by choice. The next
generation does have a sense of where the wind might be blowing.
At 11:04 PM 3/9/99 -0500, Natasha Artemeva wrote:
>Robert Irish wrote:
>> Cathy's point that such teaching is easier is undoubtedly true,
>> and I know that that IS THE consideration in the course that English
>> foists on our Engineers at UT.
>But one can fight this attitude and even have small victories. We did at
>Carleton and, I think, did it quite successfully (don't know, though,
>how long what we have now as the Engineering Communication course is
>going to exist -- School of Engineering wants us to teach classes of 200
>students rather then small workshops of 25).
>School of Linguistics and
>Applied Language Studies
>1125 Colonel By Drive
>Tel. +1 (613) 520 - 2600 ext. 7452
>Fax +1 (613) 520 - 6641
>E-mail: [log in to unmask]
> [log in to unmask]
Catherine F. Schryer
Dept. of English
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
(519) 885-1211 (ext 3318)