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Educational Theory Of Teaching Writing Essay

1808 words - 7 pages

When I first encountered Paulo Freire’s work, I was struck with the hypocrisy of my own teaching. I had deluded myself into thinking, to a certain extent, that I was creating a democratic and equal space that was free from the influence of. It was a stark reminder last year when I encountered Richard Shaull’s introduction to Peter Freire’s The Pedagogy of the Oppressed. He writes, “There is no such things as a neutral educational process. Education either functions as an instrument that is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes the ‘practice of freedom,’ the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world” (Freire 16). Then, over the summer, as I delved into Lisa Delpit and Sonia Nieto’s work, I came face to face with the socio-economic reality of our education system, and how in some ways, I was not nearly as enlightened as I thought myself to be. According to Delpit, “Many liberal educators hold that the primary goal for education is for children to become autonomous, to develop fully who they are in the classroom setting without having arbitrary, outside standards forced upon them. This is a very reasonable goal for people whose children are already participants in the culture of power and who have already internalized its codes” (Delpit 28). I think that I fall into the category that Delpit discusses here. So many of my original assumptions about what I attempt to do in the classroom have been blown out of the proverbial water, and I am left with the question of what exactly am I doing in the classroom? I am specifically concerned with this in regards to the teaching of writing, and all that this endeavor entails.

When I first started teaching eight years ago, I was fresh out of grad school and eager to have my own classroom of writers. At that point in time, I leaned more towards Peter Elbow’s theories of teaching writing. I wanted to actualize the budding writers in my classes, and the philosophy seemed to fit many of the reasons why I entered into the world of teaching. When I first started working in writing lab at a large suburban school, Elbow’s work seemed to work perfectly with the students with whom I was teaching. However, after this large public school experience, I found myself in a small private competitive prep school where there was an emphasis on expository prose. I think that at that phase I was still able to work in some of Elbow’s ideal in conjunction with what the school asked me to do. Then, I came to my current position, and somehow, over the past six years, I have changed as a teacher.

Somewhere along the way, I think I started to lose my own philosophy of grading writing. The pressure to grade competitively at my independent school is palpable, and somehow, I let my guard down and become enmeshed in the opposite of...

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