Monday, January 22, 2007

What is Basic Writing?

Basic Writing sounds fairly self-explanatory if you just look at the term: writing done at a basic or intro level, rather than an advanced level. When I signed up for the course I assumed that we would be discussing writing pedagogy aimed at high school students, community college students, ESL students, and/or learning-disabled students. And granted, that is probably what we will be talking about most of the time. However, as I discovered tonight, apparently it is much more complicated than that. Janell asserted that her 621 class spent much of the semester trying to determine a specific definition for a basic writer. This suprised me to some extent, because, as I said, it sounds fairly obvious. But I can only imagine that the point of the course is to look at basic writing and what constitutes basic writers from several different perspectives. For example, a graduate English student may consider any less accomplished writer from another academic field to be a basic writer. An undergraduate may consider a high school student to be a basic writer. A high school student may consider an ESL student to be basic writer. Much of what constitutes a "basic writer" most likely depends on who is considering the situation. As for my own opinion, I am going to say that a basic writer is someone who is able to form complex thoughts and ideas, but is unable to completely articulate those ideas and transfer them onto paper. Most likely, a basic writer is also someone who has difficulty organizing their ideas and struggles with some aspects of grammar, i.e. what constitutes a complete sentence. In other words, a basic writer is someone who has potential to achieve their personal writing goals, but simply needs some extra individual attention.

4 comments:

S00nerfan1 said...

I agree that a "basic writer" is someone who probably struggles with organization and grammar. As I posted in my blog, one of the things Ian pointed out in class was that he concentrates his grading aspects more on content and organization rather than the rules of grammar. I think this is a good way to approach teaching a lower level course in composition.

TW said...

I like your definition, but what I thought was really interesting was what you pointed out about perspective and context playing an important role in determining a definition.

Reader1 said...

You're right. I also have discovered how "complicated" approaching basic writing can be. I, too, thought it seemed obvious in the beginning. I guess that's why we have this class, eh?

catdance said...

I totally agree with you on initially thinking that the definition of basic writing seemed obvious. I struggled with trying to define an "idea" that I take for granted with the assumption that I knew how to define bw, but as you said, and in all actualality, bw skill varies from person to person depending on the context of their setting.