Student-teacher conferencing : showing the pigeons in the magician's sleeves.

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Coleman, Roseanne
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Middle Tennessee State University
Many composition instructors are frustrated because there is such a lack in comprehensive improvement in the writings of their students. Knoblauch and Brannon state that teachers must first realize many classroom problems stem from a lack of a conscious philosophical base in the instructors' own teaching processes. Coleman gives a brief history of rhetoric, focusing especially on nineteenth-century tenets, showing how they still are being adhered to today, and encourages the adoption of a modern philosophical rhetorical view that places the student as the classroom's focus. She maintains that one method that focuses on the student is one-to-one conferencing between student and teacher, and cites numerous proponents of conferencing such as Donald Murray, Janet Emig, Roger Garrison, and Muriel Harris, who have spent their academic lives writing about this system and how they believe it allows the best environment for students to improve as writers. Coleman describes a conferencing experiment she tried with a freshman composition class and gives positive statistical results of that experiment. She gives the models and schedules used to set up the program. Coleman encourages all composition instructors to evaluate their pedagogical philosophic base to determine if the nineteenth-century's focus on form is their model, and if so, to construct a modern rhetorical view that focuses on the individual needs of the students, which she proposes are best served by the conferencing method.