Friday, February 16, 2007

Conflicting Styles

I thought in the essay "Conflict and Struggle: The Enemies or Preconditions of Basic Writing?" Min-zhan Lu's idea about conflict being vital to teaching basic writing to be an intriguing idea (Lu 136). It made me question my comments of an earlier blog. I had stated earlier that I would want to put my students at ease at the beginning of the class. Now I am thinking they should not get too comfortable, because some friction can be very conducive to writing. So the key thing may be to have the students feel comfortable about the class and writing, but use possible conflict in their writing so as to develop ideas, like for argumentative papers.
When I think back about writing I have done, especially ones I enjoyed doing, they were often started by a conflict I felt passionate about and upon which I wanted to express my views. So if an instructor could get a student to look at writing as a way to air grievances or as a way to express his or her views on a subject it could really help them get started writing. The first draft or two may be very rough rants, but the student could be shown how modifying the writing would strengthen the content and therefore the power of his or her words.
I was glad to be introduced to Lu's idea of conflict in her essay. It gave me something new and important to consider about basic writing. I also liked how she sectioned the kinds of teaching styles and the different instructors who promote them (Lu 136-52). In that way the article gave a good introduction to many kinds of philosophies in the field through the decades. However, I found that with so many examples it was hard to find Lu's own points on the subject of basic writing.

Lu, Min-zhan. "Conflict and Struggle: The Enemies of Preconditions of Basic Writing?" Landmark Essays on Basic Writing. Landmark Essays. 18. Ed. Kay Halasek and Nels P. Highberg. Mahwah, NJ: Hermagoras P, 2001. 135-57.


imcriswell said...

Yeah, Lu acts as a counter-point to the teachers who were the "gatekeepers" of open colleges. Conflict can be a major driving force in writing. It's a lot easier to write a paper of disagreement to an issue than one of agreement. conflict has the potential to produce some great writing. But, like you said, it also has the potential to produce rants.

Reader1 said...

It really was hard sometimes to discern Lu's points of view from other's. I agree. I hope that you (and I too) will be able to find that balance in classrooms between conflict and confidence, that we will find a way to have one compliment the other.