Thursday, December 10, 2015

Although I Agree, He is not Top Fish

What do you believe is important in college level writing? This has been a very interesting question that I have come across multiple times this semester. After completing my first semester of my college career, I have grown to believe that details are really important to college level writing. Some people would like to think otherwise though. For example Stanley Fish, the author of “What should colleges teach.” Believes that the organization and structure of a sentence is very important and should be focused on more in college than they are. Stanley gathers some other input on this topic also. Patrica A. Dunn and Kenneth Lindblom, English Journal, January 2003 say that, "If we teach standardized, handbook grammar as if it is the only "correct" form of grammar, we are teaching in cooperation with a discriminatory power system." Saying that correct grammar is in fact important, but there is not only one from of correct grammar. Which goes to show that a lot of things come into play in academic writing.

What else important?
In Stanley Fishes article "What should Colleges Teach,Part 3" he discusses what he believes is important to college level writing, of which he believes that writing sentences is a key factor in college level writing.What is a sentence? “A sentence is an organization of items in the world. A sentence is a structure of logical relationships" Fish says. Sentences in college need to be elaborated and developed more than what students were used to doing prior to college. Fish says how he aids students in bettering their sentence structuring skills. He gives different methods like starting off with a simple sentence for example "John hit the ball." He spends an entire week on sentences like these that are easily comprehended. Then Fish asks the students to generate them, getting them to see the structure of relationships that makes them all the same on a formal level. Trying to get them to see that the motor of meaning production is form, not content. 

For my English class we had to conduct some data gathering to help support our beliefs on what we think plays an important role in college level academic writing. In this data gathering I first created a survey that I proposed to college students with a series of questions. Of the questions the one that stood out to me the most was a question the asked the students to rank some features that went along with academic writing from least to greatest in importance. Many student ranked detail higher up in the scale than other features, such as crafting a thesis, coming up with a creative title, and so forth.

Another task that we had to do was observe a session of an English 1110.03 student and a peer writing consultant, also known as a PWC; In the Writers Studio at The Ohio State University Newark. During my observations I pulled out how the PWC used detail a lot. One PWC talked about how to make use of primary sources, and by doing this it makes your writing more credible. Which is establishing ethos. After completing my interview with Dr. Daniel Keller, an Associates Professor of English at The Ohio State University. He also pointed out how details are essential to academic writing and that they establish credibility. 
 Although I do agree with Stanley fishes statement that sentences are important to college level writing. I personally believe that effectively making use of detail is very important. Detail is an individual feature that describes things. Detail helps answer questions, helps writers show and not tell, and lastly establish credibility. There always has to be a happy medium. Try to refrain from using too many details in your writing. Too many starts to become unnecessary. Give enough so the reader has the opportunity to craft an image in their minds. Detail can come in many different forms from quotes, primary sources, pictures, and more. "When a writer includes detail, it shows that a writer has done some thinking about the subject" says Dr. Keller, which establishes ethos also known as credibility. “Showing and not telling” terms of which professors use when writers need to better explain something. Showing and not telling is being able to describe something to a reader so vividly that they have the ability to create an image in their heads. It is a way of explaining something to a reader. 

College level academic writing is like a very extensive puzzle that involves many pieces. There is no right answer to what truly is the most important feature to academic writing because each feature plays a different role. Who is to say that one persons belief is the top dog, rule all. So Fish believes that the organization of sentences is most important and colleges should focus on them more then they do. Me on the other hand even though I agree that sentences are important I think that details are also very important, but they are not the only pieces to this puzzle that we call college level writing.
There are more pieces to the puzzle of academic writing. So....

1 comment:

  1. I definitely agree that there's no set formula to college writing - outside of grammar conventions, there's quite a few ways to approach things.

    But I'm a little confused. Should I only use primary sources? I get that they're more credible than secondary sources, but are there good secondary sources out there? How do I know when I find them, if I find them?