Ground Rules for readers and commenters

As I said in my first post, the purpose of this blog isn’t to collect ideas for better teaching (although it may ultimately make me a better teacher!). Rather, it’s to try to learn more about how people, especially those who aren’t professional writing teachers, think about learning to write. What do they hope to learn from a writing class, and how well do those expectations mesh with what I expect to teach them? For that matter, how well do those expectations mesh with what the field of composition as a whole tends to think it means to “learn to write” or to “teach writing”?

But before I start discussing these basic questions, let me explain how I hope readers will interact in this space (the unfortunately necessary business of laying some ground rules for civil discussion).

Ground rules for readers and contributors

My hopes for the ways people interact on this site echo those of many other blogs and social-networking spaces. Please:

  • No flames. I can understand that some readers may want very much to tell me about bad teachers they’ve had. But I’m interested in what made one teacher’s methods work for a particular person while another’s didn’t, not in how evil some teacher was. And no flames of other respondents, either. No slurs based on any of the categories we all know: race, gender, ethnicity, age, ideological stance, sexual orientation, or any others that we may encounter in our very diverse culture. And please avoid foul language that may make some readers reluctant to return.
  • If you do want to talk about a particular person, good or bad, please keep identities confidential. Even if you want to praise someone, get them to send along their permission before you discuss them in a public place like this. That may sometimes mean not identifying particular schools or geographical locations.
  • Please don’t advertise. This includes touting various teaching tools and methods if they are for profit and you have a stake in selling them. In contrast, I think this is an excellent place to share experiences with general approaches to teaching, and it doesn’t seem out of line to mention names of explicit programs as long as the goal is not to market them here. If people are interested in purchasing a particular tool, they can Google the product and buy it on their own. This ground rule may have to be applied case-by-case.

If you have any questions about these general principles, please don’t hesitate to email me, or for that matter, to post a query on the blog.


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