The first-year college composition classroom is a complex arena where a dynamic and simultaneous interplay of concepts such as knowledge, teaching, learning, power and authority, and identity occurs. However, such concepts as learning, teaching, and knowledge are not concretely defined, and, in fact, any particular definition of one concept affects the definition of the others, and each of these concepts are organic, meaning that their definitions are constantly in flux. A change in demographics has led to the need for redefining, or at least examining, what counts as knowledge in a college classroom. The concept of “arrival” insinuates a journey of sorts and a destination, whether the destination was intended or not. An examination of the birth of college composition at Harvard University revealed that the course was born of a desire to “remediate” unprepared entering students. With the concurrent move in the American university to focus on the scientific method of knowledge acquisition, the teaching of composition became a formulaic and purely objective endeavor—the current-traditional method. This method belies what we now know as the many complex and diverse ways that individuals attain their world views. The current teaching of composition calls for a stronger theoretical understanding of our practices that acknowledge this fact and the very different, albeit valid, ways we come to “know.”
August 2, 2016
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