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ENGL 501: Teaching Writing

Fall 2014, Thursday 6
Dr. Nathaniel A. Rivers

A more accurate course description would perhaps have
added a question mark to title, Teaching Writing. As
much intellectual energy has been spent debating
whether we can teach writing as has been spent on
actually teaching it. Is 16 weeks enough time? Who are
we teaching them to write for? Should we teach writing
at all? Far from being a problem or a symptom of some
underlying disease, however, such tensions reflect how
the teaching of writing has always been a highly
reflective practice. We are always thinking about what
we’re doing, what we’ve done, and what we might yet do
in the classroom. We’re also adapting to shifting
standards, emerging media, and ever-changing student
populations. Even if there was a right way to do things,
it surely won’t stand the test of time.

And this reflective work necessarily entails occasional
anxiety. As a course generally populated by first time
teachers, we will work through and harness our collective
anxiety in order to build the reflective practices that are
the typical hallmarks of successful teachers. Working
from The Oxford Guide to Composition Pedagogy, we will
construct syllabi, create assignments, and evaluate
student writing: and we will do all of this together.
ENGL 501 will create a community of teachers who
respond, encourage, and share with one another.
Teaching Writing
ENGL 501
Thursday 6:00-8:30
Nathaniel Rivers