RE: Academic focus

Subject: RE: Academic focus
From: "Victoria Sharpe" <vmsharpe -at- prodigy -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000 16:27:17 -0600

Maybe this ends up being a plug for my own academic program(s), but we WERE
EXPECTED to challenge our instructors as it is often understood that
Technical communication is a very broad field in which I may have expertise
that my teacher doesn't. In a truly social constructivist approach to
education, the student contributes to the teacher's knowledge and vice
versa, which is what drives the field forward. Maybe this type of
environment has helped me to be such a critical thinker.

I also believe that "writing well" is not just a function of learning basic
rules but it arises from practice and the awareness of theory that drives
our decisions. I can tell you rhetorically my decisions before I create a
document depending on MANY circumstances, rather than "Well most people use
X & Y font sizes for headings and since that seems to be the standard, so
I'll do it as well." While I believe that our documentation is better today
than in previous years, it is still being highly complained about because
most of it is identically problematic in its layout, attention to audience,
use of visual aids, etc. Without the theoretical training to step outside of
that prescriptive and rule based mode of writing, new ideas and ways of
thinking are less likely to emerge. This is definitely detrimental to our
field and to our customers.

Why do you think dummy texts are so popular? People still aren't pleased
with documentation.
I don't think that in most cases the apprenticeship model of learning is
best for the field or the product and I certainly wouldn't work for a
company in which I was encouraged to do what everyone else does.

Just my humble opinion
Victoria Sharpe

Quoting Bill Swallow:

Exactly. But regardless of WHERE, professors (and no
offense to any who may be reading this) have their own
biased opinions as to what it takes to do X well. And
they'll push that on the student, whether consciously
or not, because it's what they know, and they are
there to teach what they know. It is up to the student
to critically evaluate each and every scenario and
determine for himself/herself what the best plan of
action should be for the task at hand. THAT is the
value of an education. "What" is good, but "why" is

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