Infographic | Writing (and Students) Throughout History

Brian Hotson, Co-Editor CWCR/RCCR
Vol. 2 No. 3 (Fall 2020)

Click to access the infographic.

GIF featuring historical complaints about writing technologies.Robert Zaretsky’s piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Our students can’t write. We have ourselves to blame, still rubs me the wrong way, and it was published in 2019. Not only does he belittle his students who are learning to write, but he also quotes from one of their papers, outing the student and their work as “a tad less coherent than others.” It may be safe to assume he’s quoting the student without consent and breaking confidentiality rules (as they are in most HE institutions in Canada). It’s also in the literature and the media that making fun of students leads to humiliation, shame, poor grades, and dropouts (see here, here, and here).

It’s not a surprise then that Zaretsky admits in the piece, “When I was a graduate student in European history, I was not trained to teach this subject [composition]. (In fact, I was not trained to teach at all, but that is another story.)” He doubts the “effectiveness” WID programs, and then a couple paragraphs later suggests a program that “reward[s] tenured professors who retooled as composition teachers and reassure tenure-line professors that teaching writing is as important as writing monographs.” Sounds like a grand-parented WID program. He does know that he’s teaching writing…

Complaints about students are not new–they are as old writing itself–to at least as far back as 1700 BCE Sumeria: “Go to school, stand before your ‘school-father,’ recite your assignment, open your schoolbag, write your tablet…do not wander about in the street. Come now, do you know what I said?”  Jump ahead to 2016: “The tragic truth is that America’s millennials are a bunch of phone-addicted, selfie-obsessed, hashtagging, snapchatting, kale-munching, twerking, lazy, whining, ill-informed, politically correct, cossetted narcissists who find absolutely everything mortally offensive…” And, everything in between.

I decided to put together a list of these in a timeline, and I added a column on all the things that are ruining kids these days, from 925 BCE (books), to 370 BCE (writing), to 1450 (printing press), to 1883 (school and books), to 1889 (electricity), to 1936 (radio), and 2020 (smartwatches).

Here’s what George Orwell has to say about the whole thing: “Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” That’s from a person who could tell the future.

You can find the timeline infographic here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 19, 2020

CWCR/RCCR editorial team
Liv Marken, Stephanie Bell, & Brian Hotson

Over the previous two posts, our colleagues spoke to the adaptation and changes they’ve made due to COVID-19. In this third instalment, writing centres from northern Manitoba, Québec, Ontario, and Alberta speak to their experiences.

If you have a story you want to tell about your experience responding to COIVD-19, please send 2-3 paragraphs to cwcr.rccr@gmail.com. Enter “COVID-19 response” in the subject line. Thanks.
Continue reading “Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 19, 2020”

Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 18, 2020

CWCR/RCCR editorial team
Liv Marken, Stephanie Bell, & Brian Hotson

Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 2020)

From the previous post, there are common themes and processes centres are following. What is apparent is the ability to adapt and pull together programming quickly. With so much uncertainty, we’re all planning for the best while looking at all the unknowns.

We asked twenty writing centres from coast to coast to coast to provide a short description of their centre’s response to COVID-19. We will publish these responses in parts by the day they were received, from March 17th to March 19th.

Below is a snapshot of our colleagues’ writing centres from March 18, 2020. Continue reading “Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 18, 2020”

Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 17, 2020

CWCR/RCCR editorial team
Liv Marken, Stephanie Bell, & Brian Hotson

Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 2020)

As Heraclitus continually reminds us, everything changes, constantly, but the tempo and severity of change from COVID-19 has overwhelmed and challenged us all in our writing centres. We wondered how other institutions around the country are coping with the fallout from COVID-19.

We asked twenty writing centres from coast to coast to coast to provide a short description of their centre’s response to COVID-19. We will publish these responses in parts by the day they were received, from March 17th to March 19th.

Below is a snapshot of our colleagues’ writing centres from March 17, 2020. Continue reading “Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 17, 2020”

A deeper understanding of writing: A reflection on advocacy

GIF of Stephanie Bell saying cheers with her coffee mug.

By Stephanie Bell
Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 2020)

With guest editor,
Holly Salmon, CWCA/ACCR board member, Coordinator and Instructor, Learning Centre Instructor, English Department, Douglas College


How do you describe the role of writing centres in higher education? I find that my efforts to articulate a narrative that moves beyond descriptions of programming and pedagogy are centred on advocacy and education about the nature of writing. What is good writing? This question has high stakes for higher education, and writing specialists located in writing centres have the expertise required to shape the answer. Continue reading “A deeper understanding of writing: A reflection on advocacy”

How Ryerson is leading Canadian universities in multimodal writing support

Animated GIF that reads "creators welcome"

By Stephanie Bell & Brian Hotson
Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 2020)

An interview with John Hannah and Tesni Ellis from Ryerson University’s Student Affairs Special Projects & Storytelling team


Despite a dramatic rise of plug-and-play applications for producing and publishing multimodal web content, their migration into higher education classrooms has been slow. Likewise, support from Canada’s writing centres has remained fixed on traditional genres of writing, such as the research paper, lab report, and literature review. While researching for our forthcoming book on the future of multimodal digital writing support for students by Canadian writing centres/programs, we’ve been unable to find many programs of tutoring multimodal writing and production in university writing centre contexts. A noteworthy outlier is the Multiliteracy Support Appointments program listed on Ryerson’s Writing Support website.

We contacted John Hannah and Tesni Ellis at Ryerson to chat about their multimedia supports. John is Director, Special Projects in Student Affairs and former director of the Writing Centre, English Language support, and Graduate Student Support. Tesni is Coordinator, Student Affairs Storytelling within Student Affairs, and a former Writing Consultant at Ryerson’s Writing Centre herself.


Stephanie: Hi John and Tesni – thanks for agreeing to talk with us. Given that there seems to be slow uptake on this front, we’re interested in how your program got started. Can you tell us that story?  Continue reading “How Ryerson is leading Canadian universities in multimodal writing support”

Resource || A Presenter Prepares: Preliminary Research, Editing, and Practice

By Dr. Joel Benabu
Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 2020)


Dr. Joel Benabu’s research interests include English Renaissance drama (Shakespeare’s writing practices for the stage, specifically), theory of drama and performance, and Ancient and early modern rhetorical theory. At the Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre (University of Toronto Mississauga), he has helped hundreds of students to hone their critical thinking and writing skills: “My writing pedagogy is less about imparting information and more about giving students the tools they need to excel in their academic writing. This can be achieved most effectively by building a diverse and robust skill set and confidence over time.”


Introduction
This in-class exercise asks students to identify and then categorize a range of actions a presenter might take at different stages in the development of an oral presentation (OP). I believe that the exercise facilitates good learning because it translates a complex, and, for many students, an opaque task into a set of practical, goal-oriented activities. Furthermore, the exercise helps to instill the notion in students that composition of any kind is a process (a distillation of sorts), over which greater control can be exercised through careful research, revision, and practice. Continue reading “Resource || A Presenter Prepares: Preliminary Research, Editing, and Practice”