47 Limited Groups of People Can Teach Writing

熙临 Xilin 张 Zhang

During my college junior year, I wrote a proposal to the Academic Vice President of Wenzhou-Kean University (WKU), Dr. Eric Yang, advocating for establishing a high-level, international educational writing center with resources and facilities WKU. The primary reasons are that the functions of the existing English Language Center cannot be met by seniors, professors, and staff., along with the contradiction between the limited level of tutors and increasing difficulty and diversified writings. The issues of who can tutor and teach writing arose.

The article, Anyone Can Teach Writing, written by Seth Kahn, published in the book Bad Ideas About Writing in 2017, mainly discussed college adjunct faculties’ current situation and treatment, especially whether this group has the qualifications to teach writing in college. Contrarily, the evidence and conclusion he provided in the content is the opposite of the title: limited groups of people can teach writing.

College is the place for higher education to learn professional knowledge. No matter which major and course, it needs a standardized syllabus, required textbooks,  material, semester teaching goals, and plans, etc. Along with these facilities, supporting instructors like professors, lecturers, counselors are standing by, ready to coach students. Writing, as one of the essential subjects, is no exception.

However, in the United States, English Composition became a practical course at the end of the 19th century, it has not received its deserved attention for many years. The author also cited historian Donna Strickland’s saying that ‘for decades, most writing teachers were English professors trained primarily to teach literature, graduate students in literature and faculty spouses or retirees who had at least taught high school English. ‘ There have never thought of providing exceptional training for those who teach writing in education. Therefore, writing classes lack a strict education system, and writing teachers also lack standardized professional education. He also pointed out that ‘Anybody can teach writing’ is often translated to ‘It doesn’t matter who teaches writing.’ No one needs to pay attention to the writing teachers, including the management of the University. College writing teachers are often part-time and adjunct. They are poorly trained and not reaching the level. There are abundant course hours, but the salary is meager, and they also lack the necessary job security and welfare benefits. Therefore, the general situation of college writing faculty is nonprofessional and adjunct.

Under these circumstances, the writing level of the United States’ college students, even the writing level of the country, is profound. An article published in 2019, Who Me? Ideas for Faculty Who Never Expected to Be Teaching Public Health Students to Write, written by Thomas A. Lan, stressed that organizations lose an estimated $400 billion per year problems related to poor writing and another $3.1 billion annually in remedial writing instruction-based on a survey in 2006. Also, 25% of the employers said that the college-graduate applicants were “deficient” in writing abilities.

The Nation’s Report Card provided data in 2007 about this issue. Only 1% of Grades 12 students in the United States can write well-structured and analytical articles. And 70-75% of children in Grades 4-12 fail to write.

From the above data and examples, we can conclude: not everyone can teach college writing, only a limited group of people. The issue of writing level in the United States has vital relevance with the teachers’ level in writing classes. This situation proves that the United States has ignored the writing class for many years and the teachers of the writing class. If this continues, the level of writing will continue to be fall. Therefore, writing classes in universities need to be paid attention to, and writing teachers in universities need professional training and due status.

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Good Ideas About Writing by 熙临 Xilin 张 Zhang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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