Reading the four assigned articles, to me, was equivalent to the "Reading" section of the ACT. Both seem to drag on for what seems like hours and require much re-reading to comprehend the complete message trying to be conveyed. My point is not that these articles are not worth reading. They contain valuable information about a very tough objective in academia today: writing. More directly, their focus seems to be the different methods available to help improve the writing of the up-and-coming writers of today.
The only question I pose is whether all of the points presented in these articles pertain to the every day academy. The common point of the articles is clear: they house the authors' theories for bettering the work of young writers. The authors of these articles use very persuasive points throughout their individual articles to install their belief in these "key" elements. Especially evident in the article, "Inventing the University", by David Bartholomae, was an arrogant tone toward the "basic writers" of today's society. He repeatedly refers to the fact that these "basic writers" are shut out or do not comprehend the "privileged language" of the elite group (139). This leads me to believe that the "basic writers" are unfairly judged simply based on their lack of experience.
Being one of these so-called "basic writers," I do not especially like my writing being degraded simply because I have a smaller interest in every minuscule detail of academic writing. In "Building a Mystery: Alternative Research Writing and the Academic Act of Seeking," by Robert Davis and Mark Shadle, the authors do something similar. They bring up the point that most emphasis is put on the research paper while little is put on other projects such as a cultural research project. Such a project would cause the student "to explore topics of interest and fascination and use a variety of sources to inform projects that combine multiple genres and, in some cases, different media, disciplines, and cultures." (Davis 431). Also, they assume that nearly all inexperienced writers rely on a type of "recipe" for research papers and other projects. One could say that this assumption is true since most college students write papers that are cut-and-dry research papers, following exact guidelines set by their instructors.
Yet little credit is given to the creativity of these writers, even though it may (and most likely does) exist. Nevertheless, isn't following these guidelines exactly the type of behavior expected in the academic setting of today? With much pressure to get high grades, students are (with good reason) most likely to strive for what their instructors want to see or hear instead of what they may want to express. Another bias I sensed in some of these articles was against the secondary school systems. Nancy Sommers brings this question to my mind: How well is the art of revision taught in today's education system? In my experience, there was not enough emphasis on revision. The basics were taught but the importance of it was never driven home.
I can now see that in the world of writing, revision is a key ingredient to better expressing oneself correctly through words. When he speaks of the student who wrote the essay for the entrance exam for college freshman, Bartholomae also indirectly attacks the secondary education system. It seems as though everything this writer has learned before high school is irrelevant since it is "wrong" according to college standards. He mocks the system with his arrogant tone, making the reader begin to believe that nothing regarding writing is learned unless introduced by his field of study, that of academic writing. This would lead one to believe that there is no reason to attempt to improve language skills until introduced to them by someone of his caliber. If the students of today were to follow this way of thinking, would we become a society of better writers since we would not be tainted by "untrained teachers" of the art of writing? Some of the points and assumptions presented in these articles I do not agree with, but some prove to be either similar to my beliefs and opinions or make good enough points that I cannot immediately write them off as false.
One such point can be found in the article by Jensen and DiTiberio. In their article, they discuss the effect of personality on the type of writing an individual excels. I do not necessarily believe that there is a direct correlation between these two, but a good assumption can be made that one's personality at least effects what topics interest a particular writer. Because of this correlation I cannot write this assumption off as false without further testing it myself. The other belief presented that I could relate with is found in Nancy Sommer's article on revision. Throughout her article, she points out that there is a difference between the revision strategies of student and experienced writers.
I do agree with this statement as experienced writers have much more experience in revision. I also liked the point in her essay when she addressed how each of these groups of writers referred to revision. She points out that, "most of the students I studied did not use the terms revision or rewriting (Sommers 380)." Instead of these, they used terms such as these: "Scratch Out and Do Over Again", "Marking Out", and "Slashing and Throwing Out." The fact that she uses terms I have heard used and have used myself when revising makes this article much more appealing to a student wanting to better his or her revision skills. In the other three articles, complex terms are thrown around like a rag doll, only leading to confusion for the inexperienced academic reader.
One of the things I found most interesting about these articles was their ability to cause me to consider what was being said. I am in no way interested in the effect of personality on or the alternative research writing strategies of academic writing. However, after reading these articles I can say that my eyes have been opened to new arguments for why academic writing is important. The point that presented itself numerous times in each of these articles was that writing is more than just writing words on a paper. For writing to be "good", it must be thought out and considered in many different aspects.
However, the most important point I would address after reading these articles is the emphasis on revision in today's high schools. This tool is not only useful in the field of academic writing but also in most every major, career, and lifestyle. Each of these articles is no doubt a cornerstone in the field of academic writing. In some research on the Internet, I found that these articles are used in academic writing courses across the nation.
This wide use leads me to believe that what is said in these articles must have some substance, even though I may not completely understand every point being made. Still, while reading these articles I found some notable points I could stand behind, but also those that I could never consider completely true. Works CitedBartholomae, David. "Inventing the University." When A Writer Can't Write. Ed.
Mike Rose. New York: Guilford, 1985. 134-65. Davis, Robert, and Mark Shadle. "'Building a Mystery': Alternative Research Writing and the Academic Act of Seeking." College Composition and Communication 51: 3 (2000): 417-446. Jensen, George H.
, and John K DiTiberio. "Personality and Individual Writing Processes." College Composition and Communication 35. 3 (1984): 285-300. Sommers, Nancy. "Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers." College Composition and Communication 31.
4 (1980): 378-88.