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Public Works

Student Writing as Public Text

By Edited by Emily Isaacs, Edited by Phoebe Jackson

While many scholars argue quite forcefully for public writing, few discuss the values behind these calls, the ethics involved with asking students to engage in this kind of writing, or the pedagogical approaches and strategies that are employed when students attempt to do so. Is it even ethical of us to assume students will necessarily benefit from such a practice? What kind of problems can we expect to face? What are the effects on students and their writing?

The authors in this collection think through the implications, examining and reflecting on what has become a tacit assumption in many...

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While many scholars argue quite forcefully for public writing, few discuss the values behind these calls, the ethics involved with asking students to engage in this kind of writing, or the pedagogical approaches and strategies that are employed when students attempt to do so. Is it even ethical of us to assume students will necessarily benefit from such a practice? What kind of problems can we expect to face? What are the effects on students and their writing?

The authors in this collection think through the implications, examining and reflecting on what has become a tacit assumption in many writing classrooms: that students and their writing benefit from having a readership beyond that of the teacher, in short, of going public. First they explore the range of what constitutes public writing: in-class oral presentations, in-class publications (print or electronic), and printed materials resulting from service-learning projects. Then they theorize and reflect on the issues that such practices raise. Uniquely, the authors are all able both to support the publication of this kind of student writing and to take a critical look at the embedded pedagogical and ethical issues.

For instructors who are considering or already engaging in service-learning writing or writing with technology, Public Works will offer a cautionary tale of both the ethical conflicts and pedagogical challenges. For instructors who are already asking their students to go public, but have observed resistance or change in their students' writing, Public Works will explain why and offer strategies for reconsidering and redesigning pedagogy.

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