In Teaching Composition, 'Formulaic' Is Not a 4-Letter Word

One of the least-examined assumptions among academics today is that being "formulaic" — using established formulas to structure thought — is always a bad thing. In the field of rhetoric and composition, to say that a mode of writing instruction is formulaic is to charge it with having a "cookie cutter" quality: The student writer presumably inserts raw material into a mold, and the product automatically comes out, no thought required.

That is the charge commonly