The Future is Not Written? The Role of WAC in Future-Proofing Higher Learning
In this paper, I’m going to consider the influences on education policy and tactics that shape our teaching praxis towards specialism or generalism in teaching writing. I particularly interested in looking at the issues of interdisciplinary focus, and how they stack up with the strengths of Writing Across the Curriculum programmes, drawing on a range of current research findings to present a case of “pragmatic optimism” for future needs. Being “pragmatically optimistic” suggests a willingness to evaluate and be prepared to adapt to potential changes in educational needs and uses that that education might be put to. It is noted that there appears solid rationale for trends in Higher Education geared towards greater specialisation, including the implementation of Writing in the Disciplines programmes, where funding and suitable pedagogical support exists. It stands to reason that those subjects with dedicated writing training (and critical reading and research training, also), will tend to perform well within their discipline. However, there are also, perhaps, some flaws in rationale behind political and economic pressure (and some significant student interest) for aligning particular education pathways with outcome professions. Recent governmental signalling for this future emphasis is consistent with a pattern of development in funding and policy since the turn to Neo Liberialism in the 1980s, turning students into clients, products and future employees - but are these approaches limiting the education on offer? I argue that a broader, more interconnected approach in education. In my mind, the principles of Writing Across the Curriculum can provide a necessary counter to these trends, helping to foster greater multidiscplinarity or interdisciplinarity, self-awareness and critical thinking in the student body, with the potential for greater student-centred and continued learning in preparation for what is sure to be a changed and changing future context.