FW: "not technical enough"

Subject: FW: "not technical enough"
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: techwr-l digest recipients <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 29 Jul 2000 16:25:04 -0700

"MacDonald, Stephen" <Stephen -dot- MacDonald -at- Aspect -dot- com> wrote:

>I suspect the weak tech writing programs are taught by academics
>who have never worked on a high-tech development project and are teaching
>from a tech writing text focusing exclusively on writing per se.


A couple of months ago, I was tempted to return part-time to the
halls of academe in a tech-writing program. My mild interest
disappeared in the third interview when I was asked, "what is
your pedagoguery?" Although I successfully resisted the urge to
make a pun to the effect that my feet had now healed very well,
thank-you, I had a harder time not replying that formal
philosophies of teaching didn't matter - what mattered was
preparing students for the work they would be doing.

I knew what was wanted - I needed to swear total and utter
submission to genre theory. However, I can only support that
school of rhetoric halfway, because it tends to total relativism
and I maintain that writing can always be judged in terms of how
well it achieves its goals, if nothing else. Besides, I get
impatient with any theory too far divorced from practice. When I
was in grad school, and post-colonialism was the latest academic
buzzword, my thesis supervisor and I referred to ourselves as the
"token humanists" in the English department.

But, when tech-writing programs aren't staffed by academics
ill-equipped for the practical world of tech-writing, they're
often staffed by tech-writings ill-equipped for the realities -
let alone the ethos - of teaching. Finding anyone who can move in
both worlds is very rare, especially since there is not much
incentive for a tech-writer to take a pay cut and move back to

Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com | Tel: 604.421.7189

"I never had the chance to prove them wrong,
My time was short, the story long,
No, I never had the chance to prove them wrong,
It's always them who write the song."
- Oyster Band, "Oxford Girl"

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