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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Vincent Oliveri
ENGL 281
Seattle Campus

Intermediate Expository Writing

Writing papers communicating information and opinion to develop accurate, competent, and effective expression.

Class description

English 281F: Intermediate Expository Writing “Practical Reasoning: K-12 Public Education Policy in the Seattle Public Schools”

From the syllabus:

First and foremost, this is a composition class. Our primary focus will be developing a process of writing in which rhetorical reasoning and argument, text analysis, awareness of and response to your rhetorical situation, and revision are emphasized. My hope is that you will see the importance and usefulness of revision and that you will develop a process and a method of re/reading and re/writing that you can adapt and apply to future rhetorical situations (including the writing you will do in future classes).

Specifically, this course deals with what I am referring to as “practical reasoning.” The Greek term for this was phronesis. Those matters about which the absolute truth could never be known were matters for practical reasoning; thus, phronesis referred to the kind of reasoning involved anytime people had to figure out the best way to proceed, without being able to know for sure what was right or best. Aristotle referred to it as reasoning based on the probable, and developed his version of rhetoric around this concept. Having an opinion about any political issue should be the outcome of such a process of reasoning, though this is not always the case. While we grant that some people have thought about their opinions, we know that for others, an opinion is a reaction to another person’s ideas or even the ideological or party affiliation that person has chosen. Our approach, however, will be to regard an opinion as the outcome of a process of reading, writing, reflection, and revision.

The focus for our course—the subject that you will be writing about—is public education policy for years K-12 specifically with the Seattle Public Schools district (SPS). Unlike other courses you may have taken, I will not be teaching you about the course content. I have assigned some readings to familiarize everyone with some of the issues and perspectives, but I am not an expert on this subject. After the first paper, you will be expected to read and research on your own and report back to the class on what you are discovering. In that sense, think of yourself as a member of a community of investigators. I also encourage you to think of your writing as having an audience that goes beyond me and that serves a purpose beyond earning a grade. I encourage you to regard your work as preparing you to speak knowledgeably on this subject to policy makers in Seattle, who are in a position to affect change.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Vincent Oliveri
Date: 09/12/2010