The introduction to Dorbin’s work was pretty interesting for me because–like many other essays and books we’ve read this semester–it made me assess my approach to both teaching and learning writing. The part of the introduction that was most intriguing concerns the content of graduate courses that are designed for future teachers. Dorbin includes quotes and explanations from authors and theorists on both sides of this divide. While I can obviously see the inherent benefit to focusing on teaching such a course and not including pedagogical approaches that may help future teachers, I think such an approach falls short. To me–again, outside looking in, because I’m not as well versed as most other people in the course–it seems that a course designed to teach teachers how to teach will need to do just that: include practical theory and directly applicable concepts for the classroom .
Dorbin’s practicum seems to serve as an encompassing approach to the purpose of graduate school and how graduate school aims to serve teachers in a variety of ways. He writes, “the practicum serves multiple ends…more broadly conceived in terms of overall professionalization of graduate students and introduction to composition studies” (Dorbin 19). So the practicum aims to educate graduate students not only within the discipline, but also aims to provide future teachers with enough theory–and practice–that it will effectively carry over into their own classrooms. It is interesting that Dorbin’s own classes within this framework cover so many different topics that all could, in many ways, constitute a semester’s worth (or more) of study (20). But it does seem appropriate for students to be well versed in a variety of different topics if they do hope to teach, regardless of the level.
As he moves through the chapter, his claim about the practicum class being the “most effective purveyor of cultural capital in composition studies” is quite interesting, as well (21). It does seem important to note that some graduate students in English may only participate in one course that approaches pedagogy, theory, and practice like this one, so it is likely that this course will shape their views on the subject(s) entirely (21). However, as he and other theorists note earlier in the introduction, students will come into such a course with assumptions about the discipline already ingrained, so maybe such a course won’t reach every student in the same way (18).