What Can Be Done
When faced with such large issues, what can one writing teacher do? As a disclaimer, I must note that my own campus uses Turnitin. I am far from alone in this situation. Even Rebecca Moore Howard could not stop Syracuse from adopting Turnitin. Metaphors are powerful, powerful things, which is why good poetry can, as Emily Dickinson asserted, blow the top off one's head. In this case, the ingrained policing/ inoculation metaphors are stronger than any single person. Luckily, as writing teachers, we do have the strength of numbers; we only need to try out our collective voice a bit more.
First, we can support each other in trying to get the WPA, CCCC-IP, and NCTE positions into the mainstream of education where decisions are made. As individuals we must also remind ourselves that we are not powerless. Within our own writing classrooms we can
- Teach best practices
- Teach new media
- Facilitate (student-centered, not teacher-centered pedagogy)
- Share our best practices with colleagues outside of Composition Studies
Earlier in this webtext I mentioned the fight or flight response to fear, noting that plagiarism detection services are an example of choosing to fight the fear, but one based on metaphors not connected to best practices for teaching writing. There is another way to fight the fear: embrace writing in all spaces--paper, air, or web--and take the time to teach writing in the multifaceted way it deserves. We all deserve no less. Next: References
A Final Note: The five scenes woven into the art on the splash page were inspired by two things: the interstitial scenes given in Ede and Lundsford's Audience Addressed/ Audience Invoked and the longtime software coding practice of "Easter Eggs," small gifts hidden within code and within pages that are there for the finding for alert readers. I hope these "gifts" help readers jump into an admittedly complex subject and see it in a more personal way.