Vaughn’s proposal for revising the CPN program strikes me as an excellent starting point for this conversation. I particularly like the idea of major-oriented CPN 101 (provided, of course, that we have instructors interested in teaching in these various areas). I see other thematically-oriented possibilities as well addressing various aspects of popular culture. As we mentioned in the meeting, the trick would be to get the students informed. Though if we were focusing this on 101, we could pass out information in 100. Besides, the idea of having semester-specific course descriptions for our courses is something we should strive to adapt across the English department.
I would articulate my goals/values for CPN in the following manner:
- to write on a regular basis for a community of readers who read their writing not to evaluate or correct but simply for the purposes of communication
- to understand the social and professional value of writing
- to encourage students to view themselves as writers: that is, as people who use writing to understand their world, communicate their understanding with others, and perhaps accomplish personal and social goals.
As such, I agree with the premise of moving away from an emphasis formal writing assignments. I don’t believe that we need to choose between pure self-expression and the academic argumentative essay. For example, what am I writing right now? Blogging provides an obvious utility for some of these goals. However there are a variety of other genres that might be employed, as Vaughn suggests.
I realize that our purported goal is to prepare students to write the academic essay. I’m not sure if that is a fantastic goal to have, as its fairly short-sighted. Furthermore, writing essays for courses seems so monolithic to students b/c they’ve never done any other kind of writing. By writing in multiple genres, perhaps they would come to see their essays as just another kind of writing.