Bartholomae, Elbow, and the Debate about Writing Creative Essay by Hepkitty

Bartholomae, Elbow, and the Debate about Writing
Examines the conflicting ideas between David Bartholomae and Peter Elbow on writing.
# 49240 | 6,559 words | 4 sources | MLA | 2004 | US

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Arguments and debates stem from differences between people, creating various conflicts in different fields. One of the most famous composition disagreements exists through the works of David Bartholomae and Peter Elbow. The paper shows that Bartholomae believes in what he calls "writing with teachers," i.e., acknowledging the teacher's power and the need for what he calls "academic writing." Elbow, on the other hand, believes in "writing without teachers," or giving students power over their own work, which, to him, often requires using reflexive writing. The paper shows that the different beliefs of Bartholomae and Elbow serve to classify them as different types of theorists. Bartholomae is a social constructionalist because he believes in discourse communities and the notion that the historical moment one lives in affects one's language. Elbow's beliefs in reflexive writing and providing more freedom for the student, on the other hand, help to label Elbow as an "expressivist." The paper shows that when examining the argument between Elbow and Bartholomae, most people tend to ask: "Which opinion is better and why?" While it is important to consider the pros and cons of both Elbow's and Bartholomae's arguments, it is a mistake to assume that one argument is "better" than the other because both approaches can be effective ways of teaching composition.

From the Paper:

"While Elbow admits that the first two conflicts may not be "true" conflicts because they are resolvable, the third conflict he proposes he feels is not as easily resolved: "But even if there is no conflict about what to read and how to read, I do see a problem when it comes to the question of how much to read" (Villanueva 491). While Elbow admits that academics are readers, his focus in a first year writing class is writing, not reading. Thus, Elbow dodges proposing a solution to this "how much to read" conflict, and instead focuses his attention explaining why he spends more time on writing. Elbow explains that putting the emphasis on writing "helps [him] coach students in various concrete practices" (Villanueva 491). Should the focus of a freshman writing class be writing or reading? In Elbow's view, because teachers are teaching students about how to write, the focus should be on developing the student's own writing skills."

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