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Rhetoric, Process, and Materials – Part 3

We had two sessions on Rhetoric and Process, and then two more full sessions on Materials. I’ve blended the content of both sessions, to maximize logical progression

Our speakers were Betsy Warland, founder of The Writer’s Studio program, and Renée Sarojini Saklikar, a TWS alumna who will be taking over teaching the RPM’s course from Betsy next year.

I expected a discussion of Materials to be about pens, paper, printers, notebooks, computers, software, that kind of thing. And, because I know nothing, that’s exactly what it was not about, except in the most abstract way.

The first thing Betsy did was to start colouring outside the lines, metaphorically speaking.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalImages.comWhen do children concentrate most? When they are at play. And that’s also when they learn best, and make quantum leaps forward in understanding.

With that understood, she asked, what is materials? The answer: materials is everything. (As in, everything, everyone, everywhere, all the time. Including your physical presence and body.) And then we did some exercises with and about materials.

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Rhetoric, Process, and Materials – Part 2

Last time I wrote about Rhetoric, as it relates to writing instruction. This is post about Process, as laid out in the model arising from the Dartmouth Conference of 1956, shown here. This got quite long, because we covered so much.

If you watch Mad Men, you may remember a scene where Roger goes in to Don’s office, to find him lying on his sofa, smoking and staring at the ceiling. (There’s probably a glass of scotch nearby, too.) Roger stares at Don a moment, then says something like, “I have to remind myself that this is what it looks like when you’re working.”


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