In lieu of a more complete, short essay (coming soon), I offer today a few thoughts on the 2013 Conference on College Composition and Communication.
Twitter is my CCCC News Wire
I get all my news on the conference from the 4C13 hashtag on Twitter. I also have been browsingthe resources uploaded onto the NCTE site for the convention. I’m indebted to the fellow scholars tweeting about it, especially @webbsusa, who tweeted a fascinating talk by Dr. Victor Villanueva entitled: “Toward a Political Economy of Basic Writing Programs.”
Collaboration between Rhet Comp and Education
Villanueva discussed the need for Basic Writing (and Rhet Comp) to engage in more collaboration with other disciplines. While it seems Villanueva may have seen this need as a way to legitimize the course and empower its students, I contend that this collaboration needs to happen because related disciplines have a lot to offer Rhet Comp and vice versa. Education and Linguistics are the first places where more collaboration needs to happen. Rhet Comp is charged with teaching FYC, but their theories of pedagogy are developed in their own context, often without the benefits of research from Education. What might happen if Rhet Comp programs required Ed Psych or a seminar on Literacy or Curriculum taught by Ed faculty? The collaboration might help Rhet Comp students and future professors build theories and praxis aligned to best practices within Education, so that when Grade 12 English teachers pass the baton to FYC instructors, the adjustment is not quite as rough. Certainly Rhet Comp can bring the table ideas Ed might use–digital pedagogy and critical pedagogy are strengths of the Rhet Comp discipline that might be added to our understanding of best practice in Ed. Overall, the dialectic would be fruitful.
Collaboration between Rhet Comp and Linguistics
Rhet Comp also stands to benefit from more collaboration with Linguistics, although James Gee, Dennis Baron, and John Swales, among others, have already greatly contributed to the field in significant ways. As Swales has demonstrated, the study of genres as linguistic phenomenon can be fruitful for informing FYC curriculum and teaching. In this vein, Rhet Comp might benefit from considering Halliday’s functional grammar as a systematic way to study and explore the relationship between specific linguistic phenomena–from the phoneme to the clause to the text to the discourse–and the social situations they construct. Genre pedagogy is a productive field in Hallidayan/Sydney school linguistics and may be a beneficial partner in the conversation.
I find myself at the nexus of all of these: I study English Ed from an SFL perspective and I teach FYC at a community college using a combination of Writing about Writing and the SFL Teaching/Learning Cycle. I know this dialectic is important because I’ve seen it in my own research. I hope Villenueva’s talk sparks new collaborations that lead to further development of the Rhet Comp discipline. And who knows? Maybe they’ll start on Twitter.