We’re delighted to share three new podcasts from our research and professional series, featuring Neal Lerner, who is the director of training in communication instruction for the program in writing and humanistic studies at MIT. Neal is a long-time writing center director and tutor, a former co-editor of The Writing Center Journal, an award-winning scholar and researcher, and the author of The Idea of a Writing Laboratory (Southern Illinois University Press, 2009). These interviews were recorded during the March 2010 Conference on College Composition and Communication in Louisville, KY.
If you’re interested in writing center history, in the history of science education, in the history of educational reform, or in archival research, you’ll really enjoy hearing Neal Lerner talk about his research.
1. Lerner’s Writing Center Origins.
In this nine-minute podcast, Neal Lerner discusses some of his history as a writing instructor–in writing centers, in composition classrooms, in the WAC program at MIT (where his students are multi-talented: one of his current students combines studying mechanical engineering with playing the cello and performing as a circus aerialist), and as a consultant with the Masdar institute of Science and Technology in the United Arab Emirates.
2. “If You Want to Understand Educational Reforms, You Have to Go to the Origins”: Neal Lerner on His Book, The Idea of a Writing Laboratory
In this 31-minute podcast, Neal Lerner talks in depth about his new book, The Idea of a Writing Laboratory. Based on extensive archival research, this book tells the history of writing instruction and science instruction in American higher education from the 1890s through the present, and how writing and science instruction come together over the idea of laboratory methods of instruction. Among the many topics covered in this podcast: Lerner’s search for the first formal, organized writing laboratory; what writing educators can learn from constructivist theories in science education and scientific rhetoric; case studies Neal did of writing within science education at Mt. Holyoke, MIT, Yale, and the University of Kansas; the histories of the Writing Laboratory in the General College at the University of Minnesota and the Writing Clinic at Dartmouth College; “Project English” in the 1960s, a federally funded effort to reform English teaching and whose curricular materials were rolled out at the Dartmouth Conference in 1966; and why this history is important for contemporary writing center, composition, and WAC scholars and practitioners.
3. Poking Around in Dusty Archives
In this 19-minute podcast, Neal Lerner explains his passion for archival research and for pursuing the origins of educational reforms; explains the process involved in writing and publishing his new book, The Idea of a Writing Laboratory; previews his next book project, which interweaves the story of Preston W. Search, an educational reformer in Holyoke, Massachusetts, who advocated laboratory approaches to schooling, with the story of an innovative contemporary high-school English teacher in Holyoke, and with the story of Neal’s own journey learning to be a teacher in writing centers and classrooms; offers his perspective on current writing center scholarship; and argues for writing center scholars to reach broader audiences.
It’s easy to listen to these podcasts! Just head to our Writing Center’s home page, click on New Media @ the Center,” and then click on “podcasts.” These new podcasts are in the theory and research category.
Thanks so much for your interest! More later,
director, writing center
director, writing across the curriculum