I found the Kent book fit in nicely with classroom conversation and my last discussion question (I asked if there was an overall “Theory of Writing”). On the very first page of the introduction, Kent writes “Post-process theorists hold – for all sorts of different reasons—that writing is a practice that cannot be captured by a generalized process or a Big Theory” (1). Further, at the beginning of Dobrin’s essay, she quotes Kent’s claim that “[n]o course can teach the acts of either reading or writing” (132). It seems that my question about an ‘overall writing theory’ has been, according to prost-process scholars, answered. Dobrin’s essay in particular did a nice job of articulating the invisible problems that “process pedagogy” (139) necessitates; I also found the assertion that the practical pedagogical “translations” of post-process research are not “possible yet” (147) helpful (I was having a hard time finding anything ‘practical’ in regard to teaching writing and felt like I was missing something, but, apparently, I wasn’t). Again, this is not a critique – the answer to my question about a big theory seems to be that more work needs to be done, that maybe all there ever is is work to be done, and that’s perfectly okay with me.
However—I hate to use this terminology because it annoys me—but what are the ‘practical’ implications of this book we’ve just read? Many of the articles (Dobrin and Foster stand out, here) talk about practical stuff in overarching, theoretical terms, but I can’t quite figure out their research means in regard to teaching composition. Statements like “moving beyond examining structures that affect users of discourse to a critique of how individual moments of communicative interaction create the illusion of those structures” (Dobrin 146), or facilitating “a classroom structured around conflict as a mode of being, rather than one developed to use conflict as a dialectical strategy (Foster 162) sound nice, but I don’t know what to do with them. I get that both of these authors make it a point to not put forth any pedagogical strategies, but, still, how should/could this affect my classroom? To put it very dramatically, how do I continue to teach writing and reading when the pedagogical scholarship in my field tells me that such things are unteachable, and that it isn’t interested in or capable of providing ‘practical’ advice or “translations” (Dobrin 147) for the composition classroom?