chapter  4
3 Pages

Writing as an Unnatural

To many practioners in the writing field, cognitivism is closely associated with the pedagogical aim of teaching students heuristics that can be enlisted in the cause of producing better compositions. As such, a cognitivist perspective would appear to be quite conventional in the sense that composition instruction has traditionally been geared toward teaching students to develop and exercise writing skills: those identifiable and broadly applicable rules, routines, and strategies that proficient writers seem to possess. Although cognitivism brings with it the language of heuristics, problem spaces and taskrepresentations one could argue that earlier compositionists had their own techniques and vocabulary that corresponded quite closely to these constructs; even current traditionalism was not without its rules of thumb and earnest recommendations to student writers that they should seek to understand the audiences and assignments to which their writing was a response. In this regard, then, to the extent that cognitivism is thought to offer something "new" it is generally not because it invites a significant reconceptualization of writing instruction, but because a cognitivist framework has permitted the social scientification of a somewhat motley practice that had heretofore inhabited a gray area between romanticism and teacherly lore.