Mistakes Make Masters

In the article “Sharing the Tacit Rhetorical Knowledge of the Literary Scholar,” Laura Wilder and Joanna Wolfe explain a study that they conducted on college undergraduates by providing them with the tools that professionals use in the field and observing the results of their teaching. But, before they get to the results, they discuss the various arguments for supporting this cause as well as arguments against this idea. While the positive arguments do make a great case for the allowance of this teaching method, the arguments against are just as strong, if not stronger. One is that it is believed that by teaching undergraduates the tools used by professionals, they will cut corners by just restating what is told to them and not immersing themselves directly in the information in order to learn for themselves and to make mistakes. It is always important for a person to learn on their own because everyone has different experiences in the workplace, at school, etc. Another reason against this teaching method is that it would almost sterilize the students’ minds, encouraging them to be disconnected from the readings that they do.

After reading the article and looking at the final results of the study, I believe that there are both positive and negative outcomes of this teaching method. I think that in order for this to be successful, the information would need to be carefully sifted through and given to students gradually, only after they have had a run-in with a situation that could have been helped by that piece of information so that they can have their own experiences and form their own opinions.


When I was assigned the task of reading this article in order to apply the ideas to my capstone paper, I had zero idea that it would actually have something that I could take away from it. I thought that there was no way this topic could be related to anything that I would need to know. But, in regards to writing, Wilder and Wolfe emphasized the importance of thinking like a professional when finally putting pen to paper (or in my case, hand to keyboard). Professionals have their own language and their own understandings of how things should work; this is because that they have already gone through what I am about to undertake as well as other situations that have gotten them to where they are now. While I might not know the right way or the easier way to accomplish my goal, I will be able to figure it out by trial and error, keeping the idea of how a professional would think in the back of my mind.


Until next time.


explore. muse. create.



Check out the article here!

Wilder, Laura, and Joanna Wolfe. “Sharing the Tacit Rhetorical Knowledge of the Literary Scholar: The Effects of Making Disciplinary Conventions Explicit in Undergraduate Writing about Literature Courses.” Research in the Teaching of English 44.2 (2009): 170-209. Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/27784356>


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