A Framework for Composition Studies

“Writing Elbow-ism” is a profound paper with much to bring to the table in terms of Composition Studies.  Many students struggle with the English language, both in terms of reading and writing it, especially if these students are using English as an supplemental, non-native context.  But, this article points to the importance of using this language, in writing specifically, to help advance careers post-graduation.  Many employers desire graduates, who can write in good English form.

  Just how to perfect this skill is the basis of this report.  Using controversial ideas from Peter Elbow and his approach to writing was found to be the best approach, pedagogically. This was the well-founded conclusion made through extensive literature review and was preceded by a section on “Writing and Non-Elbowism”, which illustrated other methods that are employed by teachers that lacked the redeemable aspects of Peter Elbow’s innovative ideas.Elbow-ism revolves around the idea that students, as writers, should be free in their writing, without the restraints of worrying excessively about making grammatical errors.  Writers in this free way, helps to get ideas going and can cumulate great ideas.  If students worry excessively about making mistakes, then their already compromised writing skills will be worse and not better.

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  Elbow believes that when one goes to the next stage of editing, then one can take out words that are out of place or unnecessary.  Similarly, with the student instead of instructor, as critic and editor, the pressure that is relieved helps student improve their writing at their own pace.Arguments Against the Use of Elbow-ism:A Critical Stance on its EffectivenessTaking the teacher out of the training process of student writing, is a very liberal approach to effectively teaching grammar, sentence structure, syntax, and all the codes of writing in English that differ greatly from the writing styles of other languages.  If one critically engages in evaluating the importance of writing in English to find a suitable career, then there are other factors that need to be brought into the equation.  Technical, medical, journalistic, and academic writing (to name but a few) are all quite different areas that require different skill sets in writing.  The idea of Elbow-ism seems to be interesting and notable if a student were to engage in creative writing and had the time to spend learning how to express themselves first and then utilize their expressive writing in a concentrated area.

  Unfortunately, time is critical in teaching, as students must constantly be prepared to evolve to the next stage of learning and then career.  Elbow does not take these time constraints or career-oriented styles of writing needed to make a more useable approach.Taking the teacher completely out of the scenario is, therefore, not the best approach.  Though teachers need not be so critical or overarching in their own views of writing (such as political, religious, and other views presented), this is not the point.  If one is to exist in an environment that requires a certain style of writing for career or academic purposes, it is constitutional to adhere to these rules of writing.

  If one wished to use their skills at writing one their own time and with their own resources, it should be a writer’s choice.  But, teaching writing skills cannot be differentiated from teaching job skills and preparation.  By removing the common rules and methods of schools and universities, it sends a message of chaos that is unhealthy for a student to behold in later years.  Spending useful time on creative and self-critiqued material is not the best approach.It is true that not all students will be good writers, even with any type of instruction or self-taught method.

  But, for all intents and purposes, the student, who wishes to go on to a profession that requires a unique style of writing, including knowing the jargon and mode of compiling documents, should be focused on here.  Since Elbow believes that these students will not be able to handle the pressure of criticism, then they will be poor candidates for the job market, as well.  Criticism is a part of both education and work and learning how to deal with it is a skill that is useful in teaching writing and other subjects, as well.  As for the creative writers, their special style will be self-taught and Elbow’s ideas may be helpful for them.  But, these types of highly gifted individuals are a rarity and most students will, unfortunately not be engaging in highly creative works in available jobs.In closing, teachers need to properly instruct students in the proper method of writing and being criticized in their efforts.

  Teaching writing skills can be time-consuming, but to produce the best-skilled workers, each student must be ready to constantly evolve and advance under each teacher.  Taking away the integrity of a learning institution by disregarding the importance of qualified teachers is the approach that Elbow takes and it is unwise.  Classroom time should be utilized in a coherent and not a chaotic manner, after all workplaces are not run in such a way.