#6 Any attention is good attention?
Also since March, Dennis Baron published “The College Board's New Essay Reverses Decades of Progress Toward Literacy” in the Chronicle of Higher Education. And, perhaps most pointedly, the NCTE Executive Committee adopted a report on“The Impact of the SAT and ACT Timed Writing Tests” .
My main concern all along has been how the SAT writing will shape pedagogy. Teachers will be inclined to teach to the test, some because they lack imagination for alternatives, most because other pressures--administrative, parental, and political—seduce/coerce them. I’m confident that the College Board didn’t mean to squash the high school writing curriculum, but I fret that’s the effect.
I suppose we might be happy that issues about writing have found their way into the press. Still, I just wish attention aimed at elements beyond exams: the kinds of writing that people actually need to learn, in forms and genres well beyond the academic essay; learning conditions; writing understood not only as a vocational skill but also a civic enterprise and as relationship building. Because these issues don’t bleed, they don’t lead. The debate about the SAT has opened a corner of the larger issue: what does it mean to write well and how does one learn? The question is whether we can find ways to interest broad publics in those broader issues.