by Dr. Edward Comstock, Professor, Department of Literature, American University (and OWEd Board Member)
As a professor in the College Writing Program in American University’s Department of Literature, I work with struggling students all the time. While their problems fall under different categories, at the largest level, it’s a lack of familiarity with the conventions of thesis-driven argumentation that one hears the most about. This is hardly surprising; after all, instruction in persuasive college-level writing is usually confined to advanced English courses where it competes with other course content and test preparation. As a result, students frequently feel unprepared and frustrated in their struggle to meet college-level writing expectations, and professors find themselves laboring to coax original ideas and arguments out of students about content that often remains obscure to them.
That’s why I’m excited by the One World Education curriculum. By beginning at the level of the student—meeting them at the level of their own lives, abilities, and interests—One World Education brackets the usual problems caused by privileging content acquisition over writing skills by empowering students to write and read about topics that matter to them. Beginning from this place of shared interest and strength, the One World Education curriculum works to demystify the formal dimensions of academic writing and, relatedly, to inculcate an ability to think critically and persuasively.
Not only is this approach backed up by the current vanguard of composition research, it’s also essentially what we’re doing with our own college students. To the rousing and growing chorus of high school teachers and students celebrating the accessibility, ease, and successes of One World Education, I can add a confident refrain that this program represents sound pedagogy and an exciting turn in writing instruction aimed at college preparation.