Sunday, February 17, 2008

Maturing and Interpretive Tales of Maturing

Extending upon the last blog entry, I once again look into Haswell's Gaining Ground in College Writing, this time looking into the contents of Chapter 3 and 4.

The focus of chapter 3 is maturation in a general sense. When looking at a student and assessing the growth of their abilities there are two ideas that apply: pure maturing and pure learning. Maturing is rooted in biological developments where growth is "effected by inner, sequential, emergent forces." (66) Learning has its base in the manipulable standards that are set by human culture. Haswell blends both of these ideas into one to expose the relationship between the student/teacher relationship.

Having collected a sample of writing from undergraduates of various years as well as from "competent" professionals, Haswell dissects median examples and discovers that "better" writing of the professionals is the product of lessons gained outside of some traditional points of composition education. Furthermore, the advancement in writing skills seemed to have been based in ideas closer to pure maturing, which puts in question the role of the teacher. This thought more or less concludes the chapter and expose the authors argument that "(He) will look for a better theory of maturing, one that will bring the teacher back in." (90)

Chapter 4 looks into some common notions of English education and relates them to student maturation. Taking the idea of imitation, students looking at works of exceptional worth (eg. King, Welty), and questioning the value of this classic component of English classes creates some interesting problems when dealing with maturation issues. Do students gain from these experts as we have thought? Haswell breaks down the process of being "influenced" by these literary models and lists 8 steps that have to take place. After further investigation into the matter the chapter concludes with a paradox, "...students do not seem much to appreciate the teacher's writing models and the mature standards of the discipline reflected by them, yet in the end, the students' writing ends up moving toward both models and standards." (112) Once again the role of the teacher is in question and the "divorce" between the student and teacher is left once again for future chapters.

1 comment:

erindor said...

Nice prĂ©cis! I must admit that I appreciate and understand Haswell’s main points much better now that I have read your summaries of each of the sections. Very lucid!