Anis Bawarshi and Stephanie Pelkowski, in their article “Postcolonialism and the Idea of a Writing Center,” emphasize the importance of students in general, and especially marginalized students, understanding where the academic writing standards to which they are adhering originate. This is similar to the concept of the grammar article which supported a liberal approach to the adherence to grammar rules so long as there is an understanding of what rule is being broken as well as why that rule exists in the first place. I agree with this mode of thinking. Being creative within and around academic guidelines is most effectively done when the writer is educated on what the guidelines are and why they are enforced. It is more effective to a student to see why the academic writing structure in place contributes to their understanding of the topic at hand and aids the development of their own ideas rather than want to learn the rules for the sake of getting a good grade.
What is good writing? What is the correct way to write? I believe that these questions should be unanswerable. There is no correct way to write; even in academia. Students know, however, that there is a supposed right way of completing writing assignments in order to get an A. I wouldn’t argue that writing guidelines, for the sake of academic discourse, aren’t necessary. They become detrimental when they are strictly enforced. Writing guidelines are just that: guidelines. They function to guide discourse, but not confine it. For a “Basic Writer,” guidelines will most likely be followed more closely until they are better understood. The standards of academic writing, if nothing else, help to organize the unfolding of ideas and arguments. It is easier to take liberties with content and be exploratory with discourse when the standards are understood. Why the academic standards that exist today are upheld, I am still unsure. The purpose they serve is only loosely helpful in the developing of academic discourse and in many ways detrimental to students who are new to academic writing standards.