One of the things that I found interesting regarding FYC and this particular article is that there is this notion and pressure put onto the English Department to teach students how to write. One of the things that came up during my time in 634 was what to teach, not how I was going to present it, but what I was going to teach. FYC, if we’re supposed to be the end all be all for every major should then be taught over several semesters.
It was brought up in class that there should be 130’s for every major. I think that’s a valid point and something that I think colleges need to consider. Yes, we’re English majors and it’s assumed that because of that we can write well and with finesse. But that doesn’t mean that we can actually teach what it means to write a Biology paper well or teach students who communications classes want things done. There’s only a small amount of things that are actually transferable in an English 130 class: how to use resources. At least that what I’m seeing. In no way are the skills my students learn from the actual writing of a narrative essay or an inquiry paper going to help them in something like business or psychology. The only skill that they can take forward with them is how to use the sources in front of them to have a backed up opinion and statement. That’s truly it.
I find it interesting that when I was grading for the Business Department, there were times in which I was told that I should be teaching grammar in my classroom. I was told that I should be doing more to get the students who come into this Business class to know and understand how a paper works and how grammar works. I cannot by any means actually teach grammar in my class, I don’t even know all the grammar rules! That’s an absurd thing to point out, BUT what I can do as an instructor is direct students who are struggling with grammar issues, sentence structure, etc. to places that can help (i.e. The Writing Center or the ESL Learning Center). I can as an instructor direct students to the Library’s website to help them find research. I can as an instructor tell me students that this isn’t how all writing goes and that if I were to teach all the genres of writing, it would be boring and utterly intensive. I would have to teach 2 different genres every week which wouldn’t allow for retention in any capacity.
I would honestly love to see more departments take on the responsibility of teaching a class in writing for their department. I’m not saying that we cut out 130 at all, I still believe that it’s a valuable class, but there are many students that I have every semester who have different majors. It’s a beneficial class as an intro class, but then each major should have a separate writing course that’s geared directly toward them. I do my best to give my students exposure to different genres, but there’s no time to teach everything that other departments want. If we had shared responsibility across the college as a whole, then I think that the issues other departments are having regarding 130 would subside. Students would also not feel overwhelmed and think that their 130 class was a joke or useless. There shouldn’t be that attitude toward it, but rather an appreciation. Students would feel as though they have skills that can be expanded upon, improved, and tailored to their major and careers if there were also 130-esq required classes in every major.