My writing courses stress the development of the skills of critical inquiry by asking students to hone their skills of reading and writing through Wayne Booth’s Craft of Research. This writing approach is not only a method for producing high-quality argumentative writing that uses evidence, but also reinforces critical reading as a highly relational task.
Instilling a foundation with the Booth structure stimulates in-class discussions and helps students uncover complex and compelling perspectives within course texts. I have found that students are willing to take conceptual risks with the material as they grow more comfortable with Booth’s structural elements. For instance, learning to identify the status quo allows them to advance a destabilizing condition and begin a critical reading. In this way, Booth’s structure becomes a method for forging general conversations about social/historical contexts, while simultaneously prioritizing close-readings.
Using the Booth structure in my classroom has proven to impact students in positive ways both personally and intellectually. This type of instruction invites students to actively pursue new ideas and take pride in forging unexpected critical paths. As students grow confident as critical readers and writers, they become more and more proficient in communicating ideas that matter to them. This results in their ability to generate critical conversations in academic settings, but also translates directly to their ability to become advocates for themselves and their communities in non-academic discourse.