Academic Discourse Essay Research Paper In Peter

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Academic Discourse Essay, Research Paper In Peter Elbow’s, Writing for Teachers, he states, “Teachers are one of the trickiest audiences of all, yet they also illustrate the paradox that audiences sometimes help you and sometimes get in your way.” A teacher’s experience can give a student author valuable insight to the development of his writing, while at the same time offer criticism that may prove beneficial. Unfortunately, the relationship between a student and his teacher is a very difficult one that often poses more problems than can be resolved. In order to become a more proficient writer, a student must be able to write in numerous voices, or at least develop one to use as a platform. In order to find and utilize his voice, an author must be able to

specifically identify his audience and then determine the type of discourse that would prove most effective. This can become an impossible task when a student views a teacher as his audience, while the teacher is determined not to be the audience. A teacher’s decision to be nothing more than a proofreader is based on sound reasoning. With a teacher as the intended audience, a student will attempt to change his style in order to receive a higher grade. Not only is it uncomfortable for the author to write in a voice not his own, but when a teacher returns his essay, he is certain to be disappointed by his mark. A teacher would find his paper awkward as a result of his unsure voice. This is only more frustrating for the student, who believed that his paper was what the teacher

wanted. Furthermore, the student is questioning his own ability to produce an essay that expresses his own beliefs rather than those of his teacher. The opposite type of student can pose an equally destructive problem. A student who has already developed a strong voice and style of his own may feel forced to impress his teacher. This type of student will often receive a high grade, but when he is required to write a paper for a “real” audience, he will discover his method no longer works. As Elbow puts it, “Teachers are not the real audience. You don’t write to teachers, you write for them.” To avoid being named as the audience, a teacher often reads papers as an omniscient character. He may provide his own input at times, but prefers to observe and thus determine the

reaction a “general reader” would have when reading the essay. This “general reader” is best described as, “… a creature blessed by intelligence, a certain amount of education (“general”), and an open mind.” (Elbow) Because the “general reader” and the teacher are so closely connected, there is always confusion (even on the teacher’s behalf) concerning the opinions of such an ill-defined and vague personality. Elbow considers this problem and writes, “It’s hard to argue well or learn about argument when you are unsure who your audience is and what its position on the topic is likely to be.” Also in Writing for Teachers, Elbow states, “Students discover they get knocked down more when they try their hardest. All but the born fighters learn to hold

back—to do less than their best—when they spar with teachers.” This behavior produces many disadvantages. Not only does it eliminate any sense of motivation the student may previously have entertained, but it teaches each author that it is okay, and even acceptable, to turn in work that is less than their best. This learned behavior is also responsible for the production of “bull” as described by William G. Perry, Jr. in Examsmanship and the Liberal Arts, “To bull- To present evidence of an understanding of form in the hope that the reader may be deceived into supposing a familiarity with content.” When a student uses such a technique in his writing, it is hard to believe that he put much effort into his piece and yet, he will most likely be rewarded with a decent