Basic Writing Pedagogy

???????????????????????5-paragraph-essay-1024x722Who is a “basic writer” and how do we know? How can writing be assessed accurately? Who gets to decide when a student is allowed entry into a university? An English 101 course? What should be the goal of a basic writing composition course? To teach students proper punctuation? Use of sources? A five paragraph essay? Reading comprehension?

In A Guide to Composition Pedagogies, Mutnick and Lamos define basic writing (BW) pedagogy as a “democratizing force” and continuously evolving based on social, political, and economic contexts of the country and universities. Born out of a demand for educational access from evolving demographics of higher learning institutions, BW serves to liberate while simultaneously is criticized as an “academic apartheid” and another tool of oppression (27). Mutnick and Lamos categorize four approaches to BW, their values, and their criticisms: error-centered, academic initiation, critical, and spatial. BW is constantly evolving and adapting along with BW students that vary drastically based on race, gender, language, dialect, preparation, etc. Because of this, Mutnick and Lamos propose for BW courses to concern themselves with the need for assessment, growing diversity and translanguaging, and technology in order to effectively instruct BW in a democratizing and humanistic way. As scholars debate over the politics and importance of BW, as well as its inherent conflicts surrounding mainstreaming, gate-keeping, and oppressing, Mutnick and Lamos urge them to be keenly aware of always providing liberating, informative, and humanistic practices in the BW classroom in order to prepare students as academics and citizens.