Standards as Oppression

Minding the Campus has an article on CCCC. It’s called “Writing Teachers: Still Crazy After All These Years.”

I don’t think it will reach the people who need to understand it, but it will chime like a giant gong with those who already agree.

The group’s agenda, clear to me after sampling as many of the meeting’s 500 panels as I could, is devoted to disparaging grammar, logic, reason, evidence and fairness as instruments of white oppression. They believe rules of grammar discriminate against “marginalized” groups and restrict self-expression.

Even noted composition scholar Peter Elbow, in his address, claimed that the grammar that we internalize at the age of four is “good enough.” The Internet, thankfully, has freed us from our previous duties as “grammar police,” and Elbow heralded the day when the white spoken English that has now become the acceptable standard, will be joined by other forms, like those of non-native and ghetto speakers.

Some of the discussion is interesting.

Since most scholarship in the field concerns the invention of increasingly convoluted conspiracies of “white privilege,” discovered through increasingly primitive forms of communication (with scholars now even focusing on animal communication) there is not much to learn. People at the meeting already know what they are going to hear: all of them are oppressed. At the newcomers session we were told not to be too concerned about attending panels, but to take breaks, go to a party sponsored by the textbook publisher Bedford, and spend time networking.

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