The Dr. Oz Approach to Teaching

Is teaching writing just correcting grammar?

After my sister passed away, I went to stay with my mother and take care of her. We watched Dr. Oz every afternoon. At that point the only thing I knew about him was that he was a medical doctor who Oprah helped get his own show. At first, I enjoyed the information and the format of the program. He seemed to give simple straight-forward advice that should improve your lifestyle. However, as I watched day to day, I noticed that his guests contradicted the one from the day before. If one said vegetables were good, the next one would say only in moderation, and then the next one would say only certain ones.

What I learned from this was that while everyone has an opinion, not every opinion is right for every one. Each person needs to be responsible for their own health; talk to doctors about what is happening in your body, and together the two of you can come up with the right combination of nutritional and activity based plan that is best for you.

As I have been reading these chapters in First Year Composition, I feel the same way about becoming a first year composition instructor. Especially with this cohort, there is such a diversity in the Teaching Assistants: sexual identities, cultural identities, and age identities. Just as Dr. Oz cannot have one guest who can speak to every viewer, these textbooks cannot speak to every instructor-in-training. I have noticed two things in these readings, however. The first is that these instructor/authors must teach the same students for the entire year instead of two different semesters. And, two, that each one talks about the five concepts we learned in 6300 with the textbook Writing What You Know.

In the chapters we read for this week, there is one common theme; we are no longer trying to teach students how to write, but rather how to be successful at different types of writing. In order to do this, we are expected in 1101 to have four major papers, scaffolded upon each other with differing degrees of difficulty. I agree with this concept. These should begin to prepare the students for the bigger major research paper they will write in 1102.

Theresa Redd tackles Lloyd Bitzer’s “rhetorical situations” in her classes.She does this by using five goals when writing her syllabus. She attempts to reach these goals by utilizing textbooks and films, a virtual library and the web as tools for each students research in writing their papers. She does all this while focusing on African American English integrated into American Standard English.

Kathleen Blake Yancey, on the other hand, uses a

nd framework when writing her syllabus. She envision eight “outcomes” to assist her students successes. Included in these are: curiosity, openness, engagement, creativity, persistence, responsibility, flexibility, and of course, metacognition. In this, she uses World War II as her subject to get the students to explore a significant piece of American History that these students may not be so aware of.

Elizabeth Wardle and Doug Downs talk to the issue that no two instructors are the same, their students are not the same, therefore how they teach writing cannot be the same. Even with professors who are married and teach the same subject, their teaching styles are completely different.

After all, we are all in this together!!!

I think that is the main lesson we as a cohort need to learn and understand. While we are all teaching the same subjects, giving out the same assignments (personal narrative, compare and contrast, etc), and using basically the same textbook (there will be two), we are each individuals, we will be teaching to individuals, and our classes will not be the same. That does not mean that we cannot help each other, give each other advice and ask questions of each other. Quite the contrary, if any of us want to be successful, we will need to be able to lean on each other.