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  • From: The Relevance of College English TodayVol. 32, No. 8, May 1970
  • Darwin T. Turner

A Twenty-Question Checklist of Relevance

The Teacher as Individual

  1. 1. Do we know to whom we wish to be relevant? Or phrased in different words, "To whom are we teaching English and why?"

  2. 2. Do I want to teach?

  3. 3. Can I talk with young people about the world of 1970?

  4. 4. Do I respect English language and literature as a discipline sufficiently that I can distinguish between what can be taught in classroom and what should be discussed outside?

  5. 5. Do I respect myself sufficiently as a trained professional that I understand that I must be a guide and leader within the classroom and cannot be merely a fellow student in a general discussion?

Composition Courses

  1. 1. Does the composition course provide adequately for the needs of students who will not teach college?

  2. 2. Can we do anything to insure sense in grading composition on the freshman level and in advanced courses?

  3. 3. Do we destroy potential writers by our pre-determined preference for particular styles?

  4. 4. At the other extreme, is it relevant to excuse obvious errors in grammar and mechanics with rationalization?

  5. 5. Can we make composition courses more relevant by offering one semester during the freshman year and a second semester during the junior year, when the student, preparing papers for his major, begins to realize his need for assistance in effective expression?

  6. 6. Can we ever persuade students that composition courses are relevant while we continue to protect our senior professors from being contaminated by the courses? [End Page 176]

Introductory Literature Courses

  1. 1. Do we distinguish between the needs of English majors and non-English majors?

  2. 2. Do we provide students with a means of evaluating literature for themselves?

  3. 3. Closely related to the previous question, do we expose students to diverse kinds of literary materials, or do we imply that the only literature worth studying is that which reeks with mold of age or that which is Anglo-European in origin?

  4. 4. Do we actually seek ways to make the literary material relevant to students?

Major Courses and Curriculum

  1. 1. Do we evaluate the writers whose works we select, and do we clarify our reasons for teaching particular works of those writers?

  2. 2. Can we correlate literature with culture by restructuring some of our period courses and developing interdisciplinary courses?

  3. 3. Can we reintroduce drama into the curriculum for majors?

  4. 4. Do we conscientiously structure a planned curriculum for majors?

  5. 5. Finally, can we agree whether Matthew Arnold was correct in contending that literature, substituted for religion, must be the new salvation of modern man? [End Page 177]



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