From mystery to mastery

The identity that universities assign to their students is a mystifying one; it moves continually from novice to expert, from out-group to in-group and back, sometimes by shifts so subtle that students have trouble recognizing them, sometimes by sickening lurches from which they have difficulty recovering. For example, students are expected to write as experts, but are marked as novices. They are expected to “invent the university” (Bartholemae 1985) when they could be oriented to its culture. They are asked for creativity but penalized for departing from convention. This paper looks at the various ways in which university teaching positions the learner, and the alienating effects of inconsistency in this regard. It goes on to suggest ways in which LAS advisers might help to clarify the students’ role as novice members of a discipline, and introduce some discussion of this into mainstream teaching practices.

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Chanock, Kate
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Changing Identities: Refereed proceedings from the 2001 Language and Academic Skills conference, University of Wollongong
Trivett, Neil
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