What to Teach in Comp?

I am teaching Developmental Writing, which I love. Despite my desire to teach the course, and my preparation for it, I still struggle with parts of the course. How do I make the course relevant to my students and make it sufficiently challenging?

One idea I found at the CHE fora seems to offer some significant possiblities:

I’ve been structuring my comp courses around a “welcome to college” theme for years, and it doesn’t get old nearly as fast as you’d think. Most of the students seem to have no problem with an entire course about university education. (I try to keep the assignments varied and cover a lot of territory — everything from analyzing representations of college life in the movies to researching a contemporary issue of the student’s choice, as long as it affects the college community in some way.)

A few readings that I use:

Jack Meiland, The Difference Between High School and College

William Cronon, Only Connect: The Goals of a Liberal Education

Caroline Bird, College is a Waste of Time and Money (for a contrarian view — I might try something a little more contemporary next time around, since an updated version of her argument seems to be in fashion now)

And there are a ton of short pieces from the Chronicle or Inside Higher Ed that work well with this sort of theme.

I like this idea. It reminds me of work I did many years ago with my students to try and get them to understand the culture of the college they were attending. I can certainly see where it would be useful for my students, who come from a low socio-economic stratum, to learn about the culture of college itself.

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