References Discussing the Benefits of Basic Writing Programs
Bizzell, Patricia. “What happens When Basic Writers Come to College?” College Composition and Communication 37.3 (October 1986): 294-301.
She advocates looking at the academic world as if it constitutes a language community, a community that sets its own world view, establishing its own epistemological assumptions. In effect, then, language is the vehicle by which a worldview is constituted. Basic writers are initially distanced from the worldview of academic writing, and resistance or trepidation can form as a result. Within the academy, the ubiquitous acceptance of the import of the academic worldview might make students feel they must leave behind their less prestigious worldview. Bizzell also points out that students do not have to abandon their worldview, but, instead, can become bicultural, meaning that by entering into the academic worldview, the student will understand how important a commitment to the other world truly becomes. Students always run the risk of abandoning the commitment to their previous worldview, but given the hegemony of the academic worldview, the rewards warrant the risk.
Gilyard, Keith. “Basic Writing, Cost Effectiveness, and Ideology.” Journal of Basic Writing 19.1 (Spring 2000): 36-42.
In this article, Gilyard considers, questions, and modifies the most important aspects of the mainstreaming debate. This article is also a response to the problems inherent in drawing lines between binaries, which he sets out to disrupt. One interesting debate basic writing programs must negotiate between is the challenging of and maintenance of the dominant ideologies or powers. Gilyard comes to the important point that many challenging cultures have both resisted and appropriated the dominant culture’s practices. This paradox is at the heart of the reasons for leaving basic writing programs as they are; new cultures have opportunities to emerge within the dominant practices, which, in turn, might open opportunities for new underrepresented groups. Gilyard also calls for program by program analysis of effectiveness, not wholesale changes across the board. Finally, he questions the social cost of eliminating basic writing programs in comparison to monetary costs.
Lu, Min-Zhan and Bruce Horner. “Expectations, Interpretations and Contributions of Basic Writing.” Journal of Basic Writing 19.1 (Spring 2000): 43-52.
This article focuses on the important contributions that basic writing programs offer to universities whose stated goals include diversity in education. While universities are contemplating the dissolution of basic writing programs, they are failing to realize the ways in which these programs give a voice, offer the opportunity, to those who are able to speak from the academic borderlands, which would, in turn, increase the university’s diversity. This article also points out the inherent double standard of borderland acceptability. Only those who are entrenched in the elite institutional spaces reserved for those fluent in academic discourse are allowed to write for these spaces, while those who naturally write from these spaces are considered socially, academically, and psychologically unprepared to take on such a task. These authors also look towards future research. They hope researchers will focus on the thought-patterns of basic writers and the ways in which they communicate intentions and how this affects instruction.
Tinberg, Howard. “Teaching in the Spaces Between: What Basic Writing Students Can Teach Us.” Journal of Basic Writing 17.2 (Fall 1998): 76-90.
Tinberg hopes to more deeply understand what it is that the students in basic writing courses are actually telling us (instructors). First, his goal for the class was to develop an understanding of what literacy is for his students. He quickly found that literacy was being taught to him. He found learning outside of school is valuable, and that to do so, many people deliberately turn away from school. Education is never that narrow. As a result, he had to pay more than just lip service to multiple literacies. His students also taught him that they needed respect because of the power they held in the many spaces open for interpretation in the classroom. Basic writing instructors need to carefully read the complex stories which are a part of their students lives.
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