My first blog post ever (I feel so growed up)

OK, I’m hoping that this turns out to be a valid question that inspires lively debate, instead of the caffeine-fueled rambling that I suspect it to be…

In the “Academic Literacy” chapter of Handbook of College Reading That Cost Me $100 ‘Cause the Bookstore Didn’t Have a Used Copy, the author invokes at the top of page 27 that buzz-phrase meant to strike fear and disgust in our egalitarian hearts- “gate-keeping”.  Now, like every other God-Fearing, Freire-Reading, Occupy-Wall-Street-Embracing Comp major, I have a visceral response to the very idea that our beloved discipline could serve so odious a purpose as the denial of students the right to higher education.

However, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if this actually may not be a valuable aspect of the job.  As the three case studies from “Strengthening Practice with Theory” highlight, there are many types of students who require very different things from their education.  Should we, as reading/writing teachers be working to broaden our curriculum and pedagogy to embrace all those different agendas- or should we embrace our  position as gate-keepers to the University so that, when we encounter students who’s needs might best be served by internships or trade schools, etc, we can better steer them towards those avenues instead of working to keep them in a system that will not best serve their needs while putting them $40K in debt?  Maybe the solution is to tighten the parameters of University programs while working to promote and (in some cases de-stigmatize) those different means of education.

Also, at what point should our flexibility end and the students responsibility to adapt take over? Lord knows the real world is not very forgiving of people who cannot adjust to the way things are done.

Or am I simply establishing a straw-man argument here? I can never tell…

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2 responses to “My first blog post ever (I feel so growed up)

  1. I do think it is a valuable question. However, the problem with the “gate-keeping” is that it seems to often be used by people who want to tell these “problem” students what their needs are, instead of listening to what they really want. I absolutely agree that college is not for everyone, and there are people who might be happier, and more successful, in places other than a traditional four-year university. But what about the people who do want to go to college, and so desperately need more education, but simply haven’t been given the opportunities to be prepared when they first enter the classroom? Should these students be stopped by the “gate-keepers” who feel they shouldn’t be there? I don’t think there is one easy answer, and I can definitely see both sides to the debate. I just like the idea of higher education being accessible to everyone, rather than being hoarded for the people that are allowed through the doors.

  2. No, absolutely no one should be “stopped” from pursuing a college degree- I simply am suggesting that educators throughout the system do a better job of helping students to self-assess the best methods for them to figure out their goals and help them to achieve.

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