References Discussing Intelligent Errors
Bartholomae, David. “The Study of Error.” College Composition and Communication 31.3 (October 1980): 253-69.
Bartholomae first points out that basic writing is a variety of writing. Basic writers can get into trouble by writing over their heads, shooting for syntax that is, at times, above even the situation. However, they are using writing as an occasion to learn. Unconventional features can be seen as evidence of systematic choices, individual strategies, and characterizing thought processes. All writing activity is linguistic and rhetorical activity; it cannot be random. These writers lack the power to make decisions about their writings’ idiosyncrasies, but the errors that emerge are capable of being studied as a system. The emerging system, while errors, can be seen as stages on the path to mastery. Error analysis can see the choice inherent in the style of language. We must identify errors in context—the activity of composing in an effort make meaning. This method does have limits since the application is more akin to spoken error analyses.
Shaughnessy, Mina. Expectations and Errors: A Guide for the Teacher of Basic Writing. New York: Oxford UP, 1977.
The focus of Shaughnessy’s book is rather simple; she aims to draw attention to the numerous mistakes basic writers make when attempting to write in standard English in order to more precisely understand such difficulties rather then assuming all deficient basic writers are “handicapped” or “disadvantaged.” Shaughnessy hopes to illuminate the ways in which basic writers do not simply make mistakes but deliberately misuse the conventions of standard English in logical, consistent ways. This revelation should allow teachers to have a greater impact on the students’ abilities and growth. To do so, the book focuses on an intense analysis of the errors students make, the reasons for and possible logic behind the errors, and the ways I which teachers might approach the students’ errors. Her process take time and considerable effort. The errors need to be seen as important tools in understanding the problems basic writers have with conventional sentence structures, and such an understanding comes from an effort to understand the intentions of students. Once the teacher understands the students, the teaching can takes place.
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