Writing Is Not Just a Basic Skill

At many colleges, professors trained in the discipline of rhetoric and composition are finding that the specialized knowledge they bring to teaching writing is held in thrall to older notions of how we learn to write — what Linda Brodkey, an author and director of the Warren College Writing Program at the University of California at San Diego, calls "common-sense myths of literacy."

Such myths are pernicious. They poison colleges and universities, affecting the morale of