Essay about Defining Higher Education in Commodity-based Terms

Essay about Defining Higher Education in Commodity-based Terms

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Defining Higher Education in Commodity-based Terms

Literacy in the context of a computer mediated writing classroom is the basis of many a discussion in English departments across the academic universe. All along the spectrum of opinions, theories, practices and perspectives, there is the general consensus that technology, from the most advanced microchip to a well-sharpened pencil, is useful. From this point, though, begins a departure. As the goals of higher education are debated amongst administrators, department heads, faculty, adjuncts, students, and (increasingly more) those outside the academe, some sort of disjunction becomes evident. But what is this disjunction, and how does teaching writing fit in?

The composition classroom is often a site where technology—namely, computers in a traditional classroom—complicates teachers’ and students’ expectations of what gets done, and, more importantly, how that work gets done. Current scholarship, in large part, has focused on the liberating nature of the computer-mediated writing classroom. What much of this scholarship suggests is that computers allow teachers and students to engage in more individualized instruction, in the construction of knowledge, and in a more student-centered classroom atmosphere.

What I aim to argue here is that many of these positive attributes are consistent with foundational goals of composition instruction, instruction that doesn’t necessarily require computers. There appear to be many causes of this misidentification, the most evident of which is the definition of higher education in increasingly commodity-based terms. Who determines the usefulness of computers in the composition classroom? Are comp...

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Francis, D. (March 2001). A learning revolution [Electronic version]. Maclean’s, 114, 10.

Hairston, M. (February 1982). The winds of change: Thomas Kuhn and the revolution in

the teaching of writing. In Graves, R. L. (1999). Writing, Teaching, Learning: A Sourcebook. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers.

McLeod, S. (2001). The pedagogy of writing across the curriculum. In Tate, G.,

Rupiper, A., & Schick, K. (2001). A Guide to Composition Pedagogies. New York: Oxford University Press.

Slaughter, S., Kittay, J., & Duguid, P. (Spring 2001). Technology, markets, and the new political economy of higher education [Electronic version]. Liberal Education, 87, 2.

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