The first half of this chapter was boring. Not because it lacked substance but because that substance seemed commonplace. Yes, a teacher should carefully consider who they are pairing up in groups; yes, a teacher should firmly set the line about what is an acceptable amount of diversion and what is not an acceptable off-topic conversation; and so on. Thankfully, however, the chapter picked up steam once the conventional techniques have had their obligatory honorary mention.
The later parts of the chapter that I found most intriguing were the “Publication” technique and the “Zero Tolerance Grading” schemata.
First, publication: I was not surprised when Gilmore wrote of the intense adult interest in his effort or how he had “never seen such intent revision take place in just a few short days” (110). The leap from ‘mandatory assignment’ to ‘people will see my work’ helps negate some of the reification inherent in institutionalized curricula. Community involvement with literary-oriented projects helps to reactivate the immense cultural signification that writing has embedded within it.
Even in our day, where anyone can publish anything, the allure of publication through an institution—one that has quality standards, a focus, and an audience beyond ‘strangers on the internet’—is a powerful push to ensure quality.
Secondly, Zero Tolerance Grading. I like this idea. For smaller classrooms, perhaps it lacks some finesse, where the teacher-pupil dynamic would necessary be different. But, in situations where a teacher has far too many students, a ‘full stop’ grading method that encourages student participation and studying should be a component of the overworked instructor’s toolkit.
(Note: “Zero Tolerance Grading” is not something I necessarily support anymore.)