Friday, April 27, 2007

Reflections on the Chat with Amie Wolf (1)

Chatting with Amie was really inspiring for me, which threw me out to rethinking over some important issues closely associated with basic writing, basic writers as well as basic writing teachers when we are approaching to the end of this semester.

To our first question, Amie answered that there has been a negative perception toward basic writing, that is, the BW students always regard their BW class as “dumb” class. So I continued the trend that if it is the case, then the students may probably regard themselves as “dumb people”, “less intelligent’, and “incapable of writing well”, not to mention what others (their teachers, friends, parents, etc) would think of them, as a result, what’s going to happen? The BW class is much more likely to fail from the very beginning! Because what? Because that the students and all the people around them have no confidence in them at all! While confidence by itself has the magic power of overthrowing everything! No doubt it’s DOOMED to reach failure!

Here raised the task for us either teachers or tutors or teachers-to-be: What should and could we do to cope with this situation? Otherwise hardly could we construct anything on this basis. Not only mustn’t we comment on the students being “dumb” (as a tutor did mentioned in Amie’s talk)—that’s our minimal PROFESSIONAL ETHIC as teachers, but also shouldn’t we think at the bottom of our heart that way—the reasons why teachers being teachers lie in that there are certain people in need of instructions and improvements, and THAT IS what teachers holding this title should work on and contribute to, so for this sake, we should forbid ourselves certain thoughts, certain words and certain actions as well, to be qualified as teachers. Building upon this solid rock, we then have to do something further. We need to show our respect to students no matter to how much degree they failed to reach our set-up goals and fulfill our expectations, we need to find out and recognize the merits, the advantages, the talents and the intelligences from whatever fields they participate in in each of them, and most importantly to SHOW our RECOGNITION OUT to them! In addition, try to encourage them to keep practicing writing and ease their worries about making mistakes during this learning process. I believe in this manner students would surely regain their confidence of writing well and making a progress then eventually make a difference in their writing! Worthy to mention a little bit, teachers’ attitudes toward students can play a vital role in achieving our final goals! Kind and pleasant countenance should be recommended and could work better when we point out or correct the mistakes or shortcomings in their writing, since anyone would be inclined to accept a mild and friendly way especially when exposing to their own mistakes. Thus, to build up a harmonious and mutually trustworthy relationship between teachers and students is also of great importance and should draw our enough attention.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Are We Misleading Them?

Shaughnessy points out in her Errors and Expectations the notion that basic writers, “have not been trained to recognize their own intellectual vibrations, those inner-promptings that generally reveal to writers where their best energies lie” (82). Instead, they have always been trained to develop in the opposite direction—“to try to understand or catch the sense of what someone else wanted them to do, as if the theme they were to write existed elsewhere in perfect form and their task was to approximate it” (82). This point of view exactly reflects what I was thinking about in which way we should guide and train basic writers to achieve something, should we always educate them what they are supposed to do, what they are not supposed to do and how? By doing these, are we always interfering with their own thinking and action about writing?
We should admit that appropriate direction and suggestion for them is always good and should be advocated, however, if it is becoming too much to be helpful for them and even would end up with great interference, then should we meditate on what we are always tending and have already been used to do? I think SO. In my view, we have been trying too hard on reshaping them by restricting and even destroying their own features and by filling them with our teachers’s stuff, instead of focusing on and mining what have been stored deeply in themselves. My advice is to divert our focal attention to their INNER WORLD and cultivate them elaborately, rather than pay too much attention to the OUTTER INPUT to them. We’ll see something coming out different and much more pleasant!!