Salon, what have you done?/New issue of The Writer
These days, you don’t have to look terribly hard to find a young writer-teacher complaining about something. I was reminded of this a week ago when stumbling on that column “Is it time to kill the liberal arts degree?” on Salon.com, where an Iowa grad muses about killing off the humanities in part because it didn’t help her choose a career or land her a great job. Wait, you might ask, isn’t she writing for Salon.com on a regular basis? Why, no, that’s not a gaping hole in her argument at all…
The second column happens to come from the same author, bewailing some of the basic tenants of writing pedagogy like collaboration and peer review in favor of grammar instruction. (Has she read Stanley Fish’s latest?). Entitled “Death to high school English,” the column wanders aimlessly through her frustration teaching composition and “puzzl[ing] over these high-school graduates and their shocking deficits.” This is the wail of the novice teacher, and it should go away as, hopefully, he or she learns that there’s nearly four decades of scholarship to address and mediate these woes. The problem is that our culture, including publications like Salon.com, continue to perpetuate these negative and reductive views of writing and teaching. I’m sad that this writer chose to spend her hours writing something like this, rather than asking her colleagues for books or articles in rhet-comp that would address her concerns.
Probably, I should stop here and talk about something less overtly political, like the new issue of The Writer, which has an article by yours truly. You’ll also find articles about Lan Samantha Chang, Alan Ball, Dorothy Allison, and others.