Links to Readings

I have compiled here a number of readings that I have found beneficial when constructing my own approach to teaching.

Pedagogy of Charity – Kevin J. Porter

“Because none of us can know with certainty which of the beliefs we hold are true, we must be willing to be persuaded by each other. Just as I examine what my students say and write, I must allow my own spoken and written words to be scrutinized. I must demonstrate why I believe what I believe even as I ask them to reconsider their own positions. And I must engage them in the kind of rational dialogue that I ask them to engage in with others. I (try to) treat my students’ ideas with respect but also with the acknowledgment that they may be constructively critiqued, just as my own ideas are (ideally) treated in journals, conferences, and graduate seminars—and in my classroom. The “try to” and “ideally” are important qualifications, for a pedagogy of charity requires continual work; it is easier to be severe than to be charitable. And it is a praxis always at risk of failure, not a static achievement” (599).


Rebecca Moore Howard – Plagiarism Pentimento

“Teaching the rules of plagiarism or source-attribution fails because it does not address the motivation for patchwriting. It does not respond to students’ need for a set of latch-keys that might unlock new discourse communities. The rules of plagiarism help mark and bound the academy, identifying its insiders and outsiders, disciplining its participants. But although the applicant does need to know what the boundaries are, that identification does not carry with it the knowledge of how to enter the hermetic circle. Summary-writing, in contrast, represents one of the latch-keys by means of which an outsider might traverse the boundaries and become a participant” (240).

David Gold – Will the Circle be Broken

“Instead of longing for a nonexistent past, perhaps we should simply admit that eighteen-year-olds frequently write poorly, and consider it our job to take it from there” (85-86)
“Whatever our reasons, by dismissing student writing we abdicate responsibility for our own failures as teachers, in particular our responsibility to teach all students, to take on anyone who wants to “take a whirl.” Michael Ryan, writing in the Houston Chronicle, laments that students “don’t know how to apply grammar and punctuation rules; to write strong summary sentences; to use direct quotations and dialogue; to organize essays effectively; to be creative; or to recognize the difference between good and bad research.” If this is indeed the case, then why not show them how? Grumpily insisting that educated people should write everything well, “even a grocery list,” or returning “without a response” student e-mails “that contain errors” will not cause students to spontaneously understand comma splices. Nor will insulting them. “The poor souls,” Ryan quips, “couldn’t write literate essays even if they knew failure meant they’d be shipped off to write reviews of Thomas Hardy novels.” Given his attitude, his students might be forgiven for not wanting to learn how to write or for believing that writing is nothing more than a checklist of arbitrary and obscure rules designed to expose their ignorance” (89).

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