In response to Yancey’s text, I say the students are taking responsibility for their own literacy, because they are practicing the context with which they utilize in the terms they choose. The content that Yancey refers to is content that the student creates and develops as they learn. Infusing our own academic rhetoric into our teaching can be tricky, simply because it’s ours. When I attribute meaning to my language, my own academic repertoire and I teach according to this language, I am then assuming my students can participate in that discourse. I am also assuming that my students want to participate in that discourse, and I am assuming that they are aware of what a rhetorical literacy is. This is putting the horse before the cart, because we are expecting our students to be a part of the discourse that we have developed rhetorical strategies for. We must allow students to develop their own rhetorical strategies to be an active member of their discovered discourse, because the responsibility of communication then falls upon them. In The Longman Guide to Peer Tutoring, Paula Gillespie and Neal Lerner state,

Expectations for the rules of interaction are just one influence on the outcome of your sessions. You and the writers will also bring goals for your sessions, and one of the many tricky parts of tutoring is not only uncovering your own goals (which aren’t always as visible as you think), but negotiating with the writer on a mutually agreeable goal (49).

Here, we can apply this issue between tutor and student to the relationship between instructor and student, quite easily. As instructors, we have to be very careful of not making our goals the goals that our students maintain. We must allow students to develop their own goals regarding their literacy, and not force the literacy that we have developed and maintained for ourselves, upon them. What we are obligated to do is illustrate the way to fulfill these goals, not dictate how they find them.

Thus, instruction should point out the significance of developing the necessary language needed to participate and enhance students‘ experience within discourse, and be vigilant to let them design their strategies for this. We must not allow ourselves to privilege our discourse by forcing it upon students as we instruct. This style if instruction doesn’t teach, it just proves to ourselves that the way we think takes precedent over the way our students think. We take one step forward and three steps back like this, because we want and ask our students to think, but we sometimes expect them to tell us what this is using a discourse not familiar to their repertoire.

What terms do you think are vital to success in high school/ first year college level writing?

Process; genre; conventions, revision; structure; multi-modal; research; reflection ….