To begin a discussion about teaching college writing in a digital era we must first understand what this era represents. It is an age when many people choose to "watch" books instead of read them, in the form of television programs or motion pictures. It is a time when product advertisements, "news" reports and controlled communications attempt to do the world's thinking for them and when computers-if given enough information on a subject-can compose a written report suitable for any university course. With the availability of these alternatives to reading, thinking and writing, it is a wonder that there is still a college writing requirement at all. Nevertheless, almost every college and university in America has a compulsory writing course, and during the digital ere, almost every instructor has a different approach. As the number of students with diverse cultures, experiences and backgrounds increases, so does the belief of some that these approaches must be examined to ensure a culturally inclusive environment will inevitably lead to warfare.
Maxine Hairston, Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Texas at Austin, believes that because of the increased diversity in the classrooms, faculty should encourage students by developing assignments directed toward the students exploration of opinions and viewpoints based on their own experience. These students bring with them a kaleidoscope of experiences, values...we want to respond positively and productively, using every resource we can to help them adapt to the classroom setting, Hairston thinks that students will be able to share their thoughts with one another, thus increasing the opportunities for multicultural awareness...
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...ntimidation of the language barrier allowed me to concentrate on the coursework while understanding it enough to talk about it with others, gain insight into several perspectives and form my own opinions. Although Bray would undoubtedly equate them with those in fear of sounding prejudice, I agree with the positive approaches Hairston and Marback take in regards to multiculturalism. Their basic beliefs, that maintaining contact with and desiring to understand people of different cultures, are a good thing and not as Bray suggests: "a bad idea"(Bray). When we consider what college writing courses expose our students to-the ability to collaborate with minds of I different experiences while enabling them to form and maintain their own outlooks; less I force-feeding of ideas and opinions from mass media-it's no longer a wonder that the I courses exist, it's a blessing.
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