"Theory, Research, Practice, Work" by Christopher Ferry & "Composing Composition" Studies by Peter Vandenberg

The strongest sense of frustration is evident in both of these chapters, written by two very different authors who recognize their publications place them in an elite group despite the subject matter at hand. In Ferry’s “Theory, Research, Practice, Work” as well as Vandenberg’s piece, the rule of thumb is as follows; compositionists are and have been, the upper echelon of college English Department hierarchies while teachers of writing—something I aspire to be—remain groveling in the trenches. Oh my! This is not very good at all. BUT, who has the right to pass judgment on whom?
These are questions many have presumably contemplated or even worried over. Maybe, because I have worked an inglorious job (in the trenches) for so very many years, I am not too offended personally by this dichotomy but do see the unfairness of the situation. Perhaps the compositionists should work actively in the field, collect data as they research first-hand what is going on in the classroom. This type of strategy might generate positive results and the compositionists’ objectivity might lead to worthwhile discoveries for all (even those who struggle for writing opportunities as compositionists perfect their style and assume higher standing). This ongoing process of separation will only increase with budget-cutting across campuses. Because the split seems destined to widen, students that would benefit from simple solutions and/ or learning options, will instead be left out in the cold. Even the most experienced student-writers will suffer discouragement as they discover they are at the bottom rung in this untouchable hierarchy. Teaching is an honorable, exciting, one-on-one experience of living the stories, the writing process, and growing in knowledge together. Why should it be treated as a valueless position, when it has been carried on since the early days of mankind? Ferry tells us that teachers are the guides who promote the “praxis” or dialogue, and are rewarded with a rebirth of knowledge trough their students. That is an amazing accomplishment and my thought was that those who teach surely canresearch, but perhaps have less time to doas they focus on this more valuable communion with their students. 

“Composing Composition Studies” by Peter Vandenberg offered hope; Rhetoric and Composition as a specific field of study, is making a comeback! Aristotle must be pleased…The “growing gulf between research faculty and teaching faculty” seems to be an ongoing (losing) battle for the underdogs—the teachers. Ironically, the more I read about this hierarchal arrangement, my goal to change such thinking—at least for my personal ventures—is strengthened. First-year College English should be fun, exciting, and challenging BUT certainly not looked down on by the research community. Maybe, they should “research” better learning approaches by getting off their arses and into a classroom—but I do digress…This ongoing battle which screams of the snobbery of pseudo-intellectuals placing themselves above “regular” people (such as students) doesn’t intimidate me as much as I thought. It does, instead, encourage me to find a way to sponsor change that may (hopefully) prompt others to do the same. This battle is not new by any means, and its history clarifies the progression to this current state (coupled with those university budget cuts). The result for this optimistic, future-teacher, is my decision to channel frustration into something positive after reading all of these arguments. Even if my enthusiasm to create something different for freshman English is a bit premature, working with students towards expressing their unique creativity is something I have always embraced and excelled at because we are then collaborating on something new and exciting together. With my children this concept, and the amazing educators they were blessed with, were equally important parts of their learning process. My work on student shows involved this type of energy and rapport with positive results. All these factors have prompted my plans to create a learning environment that might prove beneficial to a variety of students while offering simple fun, and supportive encouragement for everyone involved. Perhaps, if I can pull the ideas together with some level of success, those important researchers can wander into my class one day and do a study on my strategies. Or maybe, I’ll just write about it myself…



"Theory, Research, Practice, Work" by Christopher Ferry & "Composing Composition" Studies by Peter Vandenberg

The strongest sense of frustration is evident in both of these chapters, written by two very different authors who recognize their publications place them in an elite group despite the subject matter at hand. In Ferry’s “Theory, Research, Practice, Work” as well as Vandenberg’s piece, the rule of thumb is as follows; compositionists are and have been, the upper echelon of college English Department hierarchies while teachers of writing—something I aspire to be—remain groveling in the trenches. Oh my! This is not very good at all. BUT, who has the right to pass judgment on whom?
These are questions many have presumably contemplated or even worried over. Maybe, because I have worked an inglorious job (in the trenches) for so very many years, I am not too offended personally by this dichotomy but do see the unfairness of the situation. Perhaps the compositionists should work actively in the field, collect data as they research first-hand what is going on in the classroom. This type of strategy might generate positive results and the compositionists’ objectivity might lead to worthwhile discoveries for all (even those who struggle for writing opportunities as compositionists perfect their style and assume higher standing). This ongoing process of separation will only increase with budget-cutting across campuses. Because the split seems destined to widen, students that would benefit from simple solutions and/ or learning options, will instead be left out in the cold. Even the most experienced student-writers will suffer discouragement as they discover they are at the bottom rung in this untouchable hierarchy. Teaching is an honorable, exciting, one-on-one experience of living the stories, the writing process, and growing in knowledge together. Why should it be treated as a valueless position, when it has been carried on since the early days of mankind? Ferry tells us that teachers are the guides who promote the “praxis” or dialogue, and are rewarded with a rebirth of knowledge trough their students. That is an amazing accomplishment and my thought was that those who teach surely canresearch, but perhaps have less time to doas they focus on this more valuable communion with their students. 

“Composing Composition Studies” by Peter Vandenberg offered hope; Rhetoric and Composition as a specific field of study, is making a comeback! Aristotle must be pleased…The “growing gulf between research faculty and teaching faculty” seems to be an ongoing (losing) battle for the underdogs—the teachers. Ironically, the more I read about this hierarchal arrangement, my goal to change such thinking—at least for my personal ventures—is strengthened. First-year College English should be fun, exciting, and challenging BUT certainly not looked down on by the research community. Maybe, they should “research” better learning approaches by getting off their arses and into a classroom—but I do digress…This ongoing battle which screams of the snobbery of pseudo-intellectuals placing themselves above “regular” people (such as students) doesn’t intimidate me as much as I thought. It does, instead, encourage me to find a way to sponsor change that may (hopefully) prompt others to do the same. This battle is not new by any means, and its history clarifies the progression to this current state (coupled with those university budget cuts). The result for this optimistic, future-teacher, is my decision to channel frustration into something positive after reading all of these arguments. Even if my enthusiasm to create something different for freshman English is a bit premature, working with students towards expressing their unique creativity is something I have always embraced and excelled at because we are then collaborating on something new and exciting together. With my children this concept, and the amazing educators they were blessed with, were equally important parts of their learning process. My work on student shows involved this type of energy and rapport with positive results. All these factors have prompted my plans to create a learning environment that might prove beneficial to a variety of students while offering simple fun, and supportive encouragement for everyone involved. Perhaps, if I can pull the ideas together with some level of success, those important researchers can wander into my class one day and do a study on my strategies. Or maybe, I’ll just write about it myself…