College Writing In a Global Age
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 between the class and greater understanding of different perspectives. In my experience as a past and present college student, I believe that it is more effective in the digital age to practice Hairston's approach to teaching college writing. Before computers allowed users to communicate across the nation, students were not as willing to participate class discussions about cultural diversity or find interest in a writing assignment requiring them to explore both their own ideas and the ideas of others on the subject. Now that many of us are more likely to have friends with different backgrounds than our own and engage in conversations with people of different nationalities, we are more receptive to learning about them.
It is when students begin to understand the differences while not loosing site of their commonalities that we can use the various points of view to allow us to form more educated ideas of our own. In Writing Cultures In a Digital Age by Marback et al, the that although the forms of various mass media give us "greater access than ever reality of that culture. That is why it is important to have real contact with these people-to develop our thoughts based on the world as seen through multi-colored...