The classroom experiment that is talked of in The Discovery of Competence was very intriguing to me. I personally would have never thought to venture into really teaching linguistics to basic writing students. I very much like the idea of the instructor as "collaborating researcher with the students (Kutz 92)." I think that has a lot of potential in many classrooms. I would think taking on that role may give students more of a feeling of ease when they see that teacher also is learning beside them.
At first I thought subjects such as ethnography may be too complicated to teach in a class that is about writing and not really meant to be about those topics. However I saw that ethnography and linguistics do not have to be taught by dense textbooks and complicated terms. After seeing the project these teachers used it made sense to teach composition in this way. When it really comes down to it these ethnography and linguistics are all around us and we observe them constantly without necessarily giving them much thought.
Some of the tasks in the projects the teachers assigned seemed a bit labor intensive like transcribing dialogue (Kutz 99). Yet the personal touch of the projects being about family stories and other daily interactions from the students' lives probably encouraged them in these pursuits (127). Though the point brought up in class about the focus on literature techniques and these other areas is a very valid one. Yet at the same time I think these projects do probably help students with their composition skills. It certainly has the them writing a great deal and analyzing the various forms and versions of oral and written communication may help them with their own grammar and style.
Kutz, Eleanor, Suzy Q. Groden, and Vivian Zamel. The Discovery of Competence: Teaching and Learning with Diverse Student Writers. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 1993.