Reading & Writing Philosophy

This philosophy of reading and writing connects and unifies our many courses–English as a Second Language, Developmental Reading and Writing, freshman composition, and sophomore writing and literature courses.

Reading and writing, along with speaking and listening, are inherently valuable and useful activities through which students gain an understanding of themselves and the world. The interaction of these activities promotes both individual growth and a sense of community through the use of language.

In our program students write for multiple purposes and audiences. For themselves they write to express, to learn, to discover and record their thoughts and feelings. For others they write to express, to inform and to persuade. Students read for multiple purposes: to enjoy, to learn, to explore ideas and to recognize writers’ purposes and intended audiences. By reading and writing reflectively, students can develop the critical thinking skills essential to personal, social, and intellectual growth as well as economic and academic success.

Underlying our teaching is the assumption that reading and writing are not linear series of discrete skills, but complex, interactive, meaning-making processes developed through repeated experience with a variety of tasks. Our pedagogy and valuative measures reflect this view of the writing process. In writing courses, students use invention, drafting and revision recursively. We constructively respond to student writing at various stages and establish grading criteria that reinforce for students the importance of the processes as well as the outcomes of writing. Recognizing that adherence to the conventions of American Edited English is an important standard by which writing is judged–both in the academic world and beyond–we also help students learn strategies to copy edit their writing. As they read, students learn to predict, process and react to their own and others’ texts, and incorporate information from others into their own work. Our goal throughout the Reading/Writing Program is to help students learn to reflect on their aims and strategies whenever they read and write in order to become more confident and effective readers, writers and thinkers.

We believe that to progress as readers and writers students require a safe and supportive learning community in the classroom, one which ensures respect for student and instructor alike. This begins with valuing and building on the knowledge and the cultural and linguistic experiences each student brings to the class, as students and instructors together enter in a collaborative, reciprocal learning process. Further, we hope this atmosphere includes the voices of students, full and part-time writing instructors, and administrators.

Finally, we believe that a viable reading and writing program is not static but dynamic, evolving through ongoing dialogue and experimentation.