Critical Realism and Composition Theory
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The field of composition theory has emerged as part of the intellectual turmoil and set of pedagogical debates which have beset higher education for the last four decades and is now revolutionizing the theory and praxis of higher education.
This volume examines three of the dominant pedagogical theories within composition theory: expressivist, cognitivist, and social-constructivist and builds its critique on the fact that much of modern composition theory has focused on epistemological concerns while neglecting the ontological foundations of that which is being discussed.
Critical Realism and Composition Theory offers an alternative approach to teaching composition. This problem-oriented alternative is designed to lead students beyond the abstract, contemplative description of a problem to an expanded understanding that shows that concerns for justice cannot be addressed intellectually without at the same time confronting the practical constraints that limiting powers of social institutions play in both defining a problem and its social solution.
dimension be unnecessary, but so would experiments. But nature is capable of surprising us. Scientific experiments do not always produce the expected results, as any chemistry or biology student can tell us. So not only is science a social endeavor; science is labor. Moreover, if we were able to apprehend the workings of nature immediately, generating a conception of those workings, then our knowledge of nature should be like a mirror of nature itself. Bhaskar explains the matter thus: Knowledge
conjunction with a description of their initial conditions. As a result, all that should be necessary for prediction is an understanding of the universal laws pertaining to the object and an adequate knowledge of the initial conditions under which the object moves. When prediction fails, the reason given for failure is usually that an adequate knowledge of the initial conditions was not obtained. Had the observer adequately known the initial conditions, prediction would have been possible
conditions that must pre-exist any action. Bhaskar offers a fourth model (see Figure 4). In this model, individuals experience society as pre-existing them and as external to them, coercing and shaping them, yet at the same time society enables human activity. Moreover, individuals have an impact on society, but not in the way they do in Weber’s or Berger’s model. Rather than humans creating society, they typically reproduce society and occasionally transform society through their activity. But
students to understand themselves by understanding the world and their place in the world. When students are allowed for an entire academic term to focus on a particular issue, and the social activities associated with it as they are embedded in social structures, and to write several papers converging on that issue, they have a greater chance of understanding their topic better and, thus, writing better papers. Good writing is not guaranteed by good understanding, but poor understanding almost
reconstructed from epistemological claims. So both ontological and epistemological claims are used to flesh out the theory side of theory/practice inconsistencies. And finally, pedagogical goals are important because they reveal the practice side of theory/practice inconsistencies. They tell us what theorists think is possible in practical terms. 14 Theory/practice inconsistencies Once I have completed my critiques of the expressivist, cognitivist, and social-constructivist rhetorics, I will