By Laura Roselle | Published September 25, 2012
One might argue that the goals for the Writing Excellent Initiative are not sufficiently realistic or sophisticated in their detail and, consequently, can be read as platitudes.
The plan emphasizes repeatedly that the objectives are to reach dramatic levels of expertise for all students. Do we really mean ALL students will possess ALL of these skills across areas, audiences, and platforms?
The plan also sets up the logic that students will either achieve or not achieve the objectives. Do we really mean that students either have or do not have skills? This implied dichotomous thinking disregards what I have learned from those most involved in teaching writing at Elon. Writing is a process; we can develop and grow as writers throughout our lives; we are never finished honing our writing process and skills.
“Public discourse” is referenced throughout the report but never directly defined or addressed in a sophisticated way that can help guide action and assess achievement. This is a major issue for the document.
We need to have a serious discussion about whether training students to communicate in the public realm is an appropriate goal for all departments.
If we did agree to pursue this goal, the document assumes that faculty within every department understand how to effectively communicate in the public realm. For example, the document suggests that a department “might assess their seniors’ ability to write an article for a newspaper.” Unless you have training in communications and/or political communications theories, or have journalistic training, is this really possible?
Investment in faculty scholarship – WRITING – should be integrated into this document. Without faculty working on their own writing, it will be difficult to make this plan the best it can be.
About the Author
Laura Roselle is a Professor in Political Science.
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