Response to George: Visual Communication in the Teaching of Writing
When I read George’s paper, I was trying to find some notions/ researches during the past 60 years in regard of the benefits students get from the emphasis on the visual rhetoric in classroom. But only few researches mentioned “what did student get through the practice of visual rhetoric.”
Here are some quotations which may be taken as the advantage of visual rhetoric: The visual assignment is especially good “for students who are visually but necessarily verbally sensitive”(21). But George’s conclusion is accurate:” Certainly,there is the message in much of this work that images may be useful, even proper stimuli for writing, but they are no substitute for the complexity of language”(22).
I am quite agree with the standpoint of George: we are fascinated by the concept of visual rhetoric. My question is: are we lost in the myth of a pragmatic function of visual rhetoric? I think we need to discuss this question from the perspective of the function of the composition class. Since My philosophy on teaching is pragmatism, I would admit that I prefer to teach the skills and method most useful for the student. General students other than the students majors in art or design have rare demand in visual rhetoric.The furthest boundary I could image students will face in their future job associates with visual rhetoric are making presentation with powerpoint, using the visual gram or picture to express their notions, even designing their personal website. On the contrary, writing a proposal, a research paper, a report even a letter still requires a lot of text work. I don’t imply that the visual rhetoric is out of significance, but I think writing an essay still takes the most portion of people’s daily work and life.
I think some quotations are inspiring:
“Compositionists pay attention to ‘visual thinking’ as one way of understanding the written word”(24).
Wysocki writes, “When we ask people in our classes to write for the Web we enlarge what we mean by composition”(27)