Myrna Fuentes’s Post on Shaughnessy’s “Errors & Expectations”

As I started to read the Introduction of the article, I asked myself when was Errors and expectations written?  I was taken by surprise when I saw 1979 and not a year closer to 2016. Upon reading the following, in some, the numbers were token: in others, where comprehensive policies of admissions were adopted, the number threatened to ‘tip’ freshman classes in favor of the less prepared students. Four such colleges, this venture into mass education usually began abruptly, amidst the misgivings of administrators, who had to guess in the dark about the sorts of programs they ought to plan for the students they had never met, I felt that although 37 years have passed since these words were written, they are so true today. Administrators are making decisions that from a pedagogical perspective do not make sense.  I would love to continue with examples, but there would be so many and we need to make short provocation points.

As I continued to read, it was totally amazing how I could relate to the problems that Mina was writing about in 1979 to problems in 2016 in the admitting process. Accept as many numbers possible and we will try to fix them later so that they can catch up philosophy. It reminded me of a comment I heard at a Departmental meeting once, basically, “just make it work.” I was taken back because I had not met my student’s yet, and was concerned as the type of student I would be having in my classroom and that I would have to make adjustments because I had to make the situation work without question.

Mina spoke about the importance the teacher’s for the success or failure of these young adults whom arrive to their Freshman year of college with many errors and it is teacher who is confronted by what appears to be a hopeless tangle of errors and inadequacies, must learn to see below the surface of these failures the intelligence and linguistic aptitudes of his students. And in doing so, he will himself become a critic of his profession and begin to search for wiser, more efficient ways of teaching young men and women to write.

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