Volume 96, Issue 73
Friday, February 7, 2003

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Me fail English? Unpossible

To the Editor:

I recently read an article by columnist Donald M. Murray titled "Teach Writing as a Process Not Product." In light of the opinions of some regarding the relevance of writing courses in higher education, I feel it is important to bring to light just how necessary these teachers are to the survival of many students in university.

Teachers in disciplines other than writing, for the most, part don't bother to teach about writing as a process, but assume that their students already possess this knowledge by the time they reach university. The sad fact is that most students come to university with inadequate writing skills. I don't just mean they can't spell, or that they "ain't got good grammar;" I mean they haven't been taught about the process of effective writing (which says a lot about today's education system).

Consider how important this makes university writing programs. If teachers from other disciplines are going to assume that the process of writing is already instilled in the minds and habits of their students, and if we're aware that students aren't receiving this knowledge prior to entering post-secondary institutions, then writing courses and writing programs become indispensable to a student's success in this environment.

Too often professors in other disciplines use their skills not to "teach" about the process of writing, but, as Murray says, "use their skills, with which [they] can dissect and sometimes destroy Shakespeare [] to prove" that a student's "writing" can only barely be defined as such. The perspective of the writing teacher as one "who will respect and respond to his students, not for what they have done, but for what they may do" (Murray, again) is invaluable to a level of education which demands and expects academic "literature" from its, thus far, untrained students.

Teal Hranka
English/Sociology IV

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