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20050602

Developing A Sound Framework for the Teaching of Composition and Literature

“Thought is metaphoric, and proceeds by comparison, and the
metaphors of language derive therefrom” Richards, Philosophy of Rhetoric (Galaxy Books)1936, p. 94).

In developing a sound framework for the teaching of composition and literature, I should begin by being perceptive to my students’ needs and interests, and to their psychological development in order to facilitate their growth as learners. I should recognize that students should be allowed choices not only with what they learn, but also with how they learn by encouraging students to pursue and make choices “in words, phrases, syntactic structures, ordering of material, modes of discourse, and the like, (Burke, 1966). Thus, my “map” and the strategies I would use to help my students become involved with their reading and writing would be based on the following decision continuums:

· that the teaching of composition and literature is
a facilitative process
· that learning how to read and write is, primarily,
a process that is autodidactic, and as such, requires
active participation
· that discovery and learning is seen as a collaborative
effort between the teacher and students
· that reading and writing is taught on the basis of
helping students understand themselves in a larger context
· that the reading of literature is taught as a process of asking
questions, of understanding the relationship between thought
and word. It is a dialectical process by which we pursue a
method of inquiry (heuristics) for the purpose of
understanding the inter-connectedness of a work, of how a work
is put together and ultimately, helping the students articulate what
a work means to them (Vygotsky, Thought and Language - Rev'd Edition1962, p. 153).
· that lecture or discussion of composition and literature is understood
as the basis for discourse and as a means of guiding students toward
self-discovery and competence.

It is by asking questions in search for answers that we learn how to generate our ideas to higher principles. As a teacher of Composition and Literature, I must continually ask myself what I want to accomplish by the writing I assign to my students, and by the literature I present to them. Writing and reading are the means by which we explore how language is used. Language,
essentially is our only symbol system by which we communicate to others our ideas and emotions. By studying how other writers use words and syntactical structures, students can learn how to make applications that eventually help strengthen their own thinking and writing capabilities.

S. L. Cunningham