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Wendell Berry on Teaching Writing with Standards

From Home Economics: The Loss of the University:

If standards are to be upheld, they cannot be specialized, professionalized, or departmented. Only common standards can be upheld–standards that are held and upheld in common by the whole community. When, in a university, for instance, English composition is made the responsibility exclusively of the English department, or of the subdepartment of freshman English, then the quality of the work in composition courses declines and the standards decline. This happens necessarily and for an obvious reason: if students writing is graded according to form and quality in composition class but according only to “content” in, say, history class and if in other classes students are not required to write at all, then the message to the students is clear; namely, that the form and quality of their writing matters only in composition class, which is to say that it matters very little indeed. High standards of composition can be upheld only if they are upheld everywhere in the university.

I’m hoping I don’t need to draw the comparison to K-12 education.

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