Friday, August 11, 2006
hot and cool, implicit or explicit
Thinking about how to teach genre, implicitly (though reading) or explicitly (through identifying of conventions, labels, etc. The former cool, the later hot. More generally thinking about approaches to composition--and learning. The hot approach prevails even in writing: work on skills, skills, skills--a narrow range of skills that students have difficulty mastering because that level of skill achievement is not possible or desirable. Even thought I am explicit in my genre instruction, I prefer the overall cool approach of teaching a wide range of skills, exposing students to the whole game of writing, and then encouraging them to keep playing, to develop their mastery as they go along. I think it is easier for them to understand the narrow set of skills that they are learning once they see the full range of skills that can go into writing. Students might be convinced that the specific set of narrow skills they focus on really are the right skills (not just the idiosyncratic preferences of their teacher), and then engage more fully in those skills. This model of education is not so different from what McLuhan proposed when he looked at the Hutchinson/Adler vs Dewey debates: stay broad through U-grad, get specialized when you are ready to specialize.