Having to choose one, I found the Flower and Hayes’ essay most useful of the three. I’m guilty of harboring the notion that “writing often seems a serendipitous experience, as act of discovery”, so I was interested in seeing how they tried to develop a theory of the actual process (Flower/Hayes 266). Although I am still having a hard time accepting such a scientific approach to literature, I can understand the benefits that a clearer understanding would bring to writing instruction. I think that by moving away from the “linear stage model” that emphasizes a “Pre-write, Write, Re-Write” method might allow for more freedom during the writing process – less pressure perhaps on the young writer. However, I appreciated the fact they acknowledged their theory would simply “lay the groundwork for [a] more detailed study of thinking processes in writing” (254), mainly because I can’t get past the odd feeling I get when I think of a completely systematized writing process. I guess when I think of writing I think of it more as a dance - yes, we have to learn some moves, but it’s more fun when we can go at it in our own way.
What I enjoyed the most in the Britton essay was his account of Clare’s development in reading and writing, particularly how it emphasized his point that our position as spectators initiates out intention to write. His pointing out that “make believe play…storytelling, listening to stories, pictorial representation and the talk that compliments it…are all activities in the role of spectator” was a real forehead slapper for me! It seems to me that this early age is the best time to start encouraging an intension to write – not only by telling stories, but by allowing time just to day dream and imagine. If we establish this intension early, the non-linear writing model could offer direction perhaps when the child grows up.
I thought of choosing Aristotle as the most helpful, but he wasn’t so much helpful towards composition itself as he was in getting the mind geared into thinking about the various elements that go into a rhetorically persuasive speech. He clearly understands the many minds of the audience as he went through pages of examples, but what I found most interesting was how he described how one can utilize rhetoric no matter which side of an issue they were on. This seemed to me to be an illustration of how different his theories were next to Plato’s. Aristotle continually addressed the more human or “earthly” elements that one should consider – age, education, temperament – whereas Plato seemed to emphasize the idea of virtue, truth, and justice in his approach to rhetoric. Overall Aristotle’s Rhetoric seemed a very practical and detailed description of ways that one should think about rhetorical speech, and as Chris explained, how persuasion actually works. I found it very useful; no less than the other essays, but it just seems that the other two were more directly aimed at the composition process itself.