Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bizzell and Min-Zhan Lu

I believe Bizzell takes an approach that conflict is to be minimized in the transition into the academic. In the case of basic writers this transition can be filled with "estrangement from home" (20), "bewilderment" and "a clash of ways of thinking" (17). She acknowledges these issues without trying to minimize their effects on students, but she ultimately believes that the struggle is worth it. I too think that there are many benefits of acquiring the academic world view. First of all, in order to succeed in any community one must be able to communicate in ways that other members of the community can understand and interpret in the way the communication was intended. I personally believe this entirely. Not only will a student need to learn this academic dialect just to make it through school, he/she will ultimately learn that this is a discourse that holds a very privileged position in society (20). So, while students with conflicting home views and dialects have farther to go to master this new academic world view, Bizzell's "hypothesis is that they will also find it's acquisition well worth the risks" (20).

Min-Zhan Lu seems to take a different approach to conflict. (Let me clarify first that most of the conflict she speaks of is cultural). In her essay Conflict and Struggle:The Enemies or Preconditions of Basic Writing? she expresses her view that many teachers are "hesitant to consider the possible uses of conflict and struggle" (52). She discusses the ideas of repositioning, accomodation and acculturation as methods previsouly used to deal with struggle, methods most associated with Bruffee, Farrell and Shaughnessey. She contends on pg 32 that these experts view "conflict and struggle as something to be dissolved". Lu, though, seems to want to live in Anzaldua's "borderlands" and suggest that "teachers can and should draw upon students' perception of conflict as a constructive resource" (32). Ultimately, by alienating students from their home culture in the academic field, educators are encouraging feelings of incompetence, frustration and failure. According to Lu, conflict and struggle are the "preconditions of all discursive acts". (33).

If this is true, and I see this as a big "if", how far can I have possibly come in the academic discourse? I never had to overcome these cultural differences in a basic writing class. I liken more to Perry's students that never really had too far to go to be assimilated into academia. What, then, are the means in which students like myself coming into this academic world view achieve "all discursive acts"? According to Lu I haven't. Maybe that's why I liked Bizzell's essay more! ;)

Works Cited:

Bizzell, Patricia. "What Happens When Basic Writers Come to College?" Landmark Essays on Basic Writing. Halasek, Kay and Highberg, Nels P. Ed. Mahwah: Hermagoras Press, 2001.

Lu, Min-Zhan. "Conflict and Struggle. The Enemies or Preconditions of Basic Writing?" Representing the Other. United States: NCTE, 1999

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