Introduction: Democratic Inroads

This paper examines the reflections of three writing teachers coming from the United States to South Africa between 1981 and 1992.1 All wrote books about their experiences that were admired in the US; one even reached the New York Times list of top ten nonfiction books.2 Within South Africa, in contrast, none of the books was particularly well received and they have been rarely mentioned since publication. However, all three describe common conflicts that arose from the pedagogy that they sought to implement, and all illuminate the otherwise invisible micropolitics3 of the South African classroom at both the secondary and tertiary level. Their stories can help us understand obstacles to the democratization of teaching, because all hit the same walls of undemocratic normal practice, thereby revealing concealed hegemonic norms. Although the locus of this paper is a textual analysis set in the last decade of apartheid, its relevance to the current protests against authoritarian patterns in higher education is dramatically clear (Habib 2016).

My personal interest in these books arises from founding the Wits Writing Centre.4 When I first came to the English Department at the University of the Witwatersand (Wits) in 1995, after completing a PhD in Comparative Literature at New York University (NYU) funded mainly through teaching writing, I saw the need to develop student writing in a peer-led writing center. Students were failing because of language mistakes. I thought that a writing center, modeled on the one at NYU, would allow them to practice and to improve. I joined with other colleagues to raise the necessary funding. However, there were objections that I did not understand. Using the word "American" would be bad for fund-raising I was told, even though the theory and pedagogy of writing centers originated in America. To talk about the process of writing was similarly controversial, framed as a reactionary and unwanted approach.5 The work of the writers discussed below explains these responses. It also demonstrates that the writing center itself, if true to its American origin, was, and is, a challenging space for the mainstream classroom.

In the US, writing centers have often been associated with troubling the status quo. Judith Summerfield (1995) analyzed the origins of writing centers and the writing workshops in the 1970s, during a time of what she called "yea saying." The writing center insight, wrote Summerfield, was that the development of language is "ineluctably social" (1995, 65): both an individual process and the result of that individual in their context, or a "mind in society" to use Vygotsky's formulation.6 Both the writing center and the writing workshop root themselves in the people involved and their conversation with their local environment, and so develop an open-ended curriculum and community. From this perspective, writing centers are generative democratic cells.7

However, the ideology of a teaching and learning space is enacted. What we espouse might not be what we actually do, and all classrooms inherit and create power relations. In order to describe enacted ideology in the teaching space, the following three questions devised by Goran Therborn (1980) to describe ideology are useful: What is real? What is good? What is possible? Indebted to Therborn, and then to James Berlin (1988) for applying Therborn's analysis of ideology to the writing class, I apply these questions to the traveling teachers' descriptions. What is real, I understand as what is seen to exist, the starting points for teaching and learning. What is good, is that which is desired by the pedagogy. What is possible, will encompass perceived ceilings and ideal horizons. My analysis cannot be innocent, which is why I make clear my starting point in the pedagogy of writing centers and the writing workshop. From this pedagogical perspective, what is real is the personal starting point, a subsequent intellectual trajectory that can grow through a risk-taking egalitarian engagement with others, and a critical open-ended relation to information and knowledge; what is good is engaged, informed development of the individual and the group, in order to think and to write further and more effectively; what is possible is writing that can contribute to a developing public conversation.

What happens to this democratic ideology, and the predisposition towards engagement and empowerment, when it steps into an apartheid-era classroom in the Cape Flats?8


American Cowboy?

In 1981, Finnegan (1986), a young traveler and surfer with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana, arrived in in Cape Town needing a job. The country was in the firm grip of apartheid, whose dominant teaching philosophy was Fundamental Pedagogics (Enslin 1990).

Finnegan's first impression of Grassy Park High School on the Cape Flats was of a top-down hierarchy that extended to a curriculum packed with "busywork," memorization, racist text books, and testing (1986, 26). Immediately he implemented what was to be perceived as an "American" class. He told his students that exams were not important, that they must write each week, do outside free reading, and take notes that were not dictation. The students were incredulous: "But writing and listening simultaneously? Asking questions when they didn't understand? And disagreeing? Asking questions themselves? " (1986, 27) Finnegan found himself strangely exhausted after his proposals to his class, perhaps because he was instinctively aware of the huge shift in classroom ideology that he had just presented to the students.

The greater resistance, however, came from fellow teachers, who were fearful of losing control if everyone was not learning the same thing at the same time. In their view, sameness was the highest priority: "What if the inspector comes and finds each teacher doing some different thing? " (1986, 50). Finnegan was learning what existed and was hitting walls of institutional control when it came to what was valued. He was also learning that language was opaque, that South African political language reflected an ideological translation of the real, good, and possible.

Self-determination was apartheid speak for white domination. Total strategy = white domination; the legislation that had closed previously open universities was called the Extension of University Education Act. And the pass laws were contained in the Abolition of Passes Act. (110)

Language was being used as doublespeak in order to undermine students' ambitions, liberty, and even movement. Finnegan was beginning to understand that what he was trying to present as real and good and possible to his students—independent free thinking, crafting one's own future, considering university entrance and career choice—might be setting them up for failure and conflict with apartheid structures.

With the development of the countrywide school boycott, Finnegan was momentarily encouraged by the energies of refusal. At the request of the students, he taught history as a chart of possibilities; together, they analyzed newspapers and wrote pamphlets. Writing was not a separate subject, but rather a shared means to action.

However, his teaching optimism was short-lived. "I don't think you understand how much these Boers hate these children" (Finnegan 1986, 193), a colleague told him. He began to understand that by encouraging his students to better themselves he was providing candidates for the government's buffer class and that his colleagues were not just teachers but activist teachers9:

[Y]ou are a cowboy at heart, a true American individualist, Nelson told me one day. You think renegades should be allowed to go their own way. You think of them as non-conformists. But we have group objectives we must accomplish. And we understand reactionaries to be the enemy. (Finnegan 1986, 275)

The need to liberate the country took priority over democratizing the classroom. However, the necessary steps to create classroom liberation were momentarily practiced by able students, and flowed into the student-led education during the crises of the 1980s.


Situational and Positional Practice: Letters from and to America

Edward Katz left the US to teach writing at University of the Western Cape (UWC), conceived by its then-leadership as the "intellectual home of the Left."10 The account of his experiences there between 1988 and 1991 was published as Unexpected Voices: Theory, Practice and Identity in the Writing Classroom, written jointly with John Rouse (Rouse and Katz 2003). The book is in the form of letters back and forth from UWC to New York, as Katz writes to Rouse (a writing theorist and teacher), his former mentor at NYU, who is prompted to respond and think about the teaching of writing. In South Africa, responses to the book were positive (Dyers 2004; Volbrecht 2003). However, it was not credited as a serious critique because its epistolary nature allowed for differences of opinion, and, therefore, ambiguity of the final conclusions (Volbrecht 2003).

Where Finnegan made a story of his experience at a particular moment, this account comprises two voices, in a negotiated and changing relationship, discussing how best to teach writing. We have moved from a school to a university to a pioneering academic development program; however, the habits and micropolitics of Fundamental Pedagogics are not easily transcended. As Enslin notes, even "when the regime and its apparatus are gone, those who have been constituted as teachers by the dominant discourse are likely to remain in their classrooms exercising what Foucault calls capillary power and constituting students as before" (1990, 89).

Francis Nyamnjoh's warning about the deceitful power of travelers to describe is relevant: "Those who move or are moved tend to position themselves or be positioned in relation to those they meet. Who gets to move, why and how, determines whose version of what encounters is visible in local and global marketplaces of ideas" (2012, 130). Indeed, Katz, the informant on the ground, mistranslates isiZulu sign-offs, and while presenting himself as the expert informer, reveals his lack of knowledge of basic isiZulu and his assumption that his readers will not know better. Rouse is also initially an unconvincing armchair traveler, for example, by assuming a clear-cut division between tradition and modernity in the amaXhosa11 students who come from rural areas and those coming from the city.12

While Katz appears an unreliable traveler in terms of languages, his recognition of the landscape of writing theory echoes that of Finnegan—his first observation of what was real in the classroom is a hostile learning environment. Katz sees a metaphorical wall in the UWC administrator's assumption about students' acceptance of thought control: "many of them need to be told, they want to conform" (Rouse and Katz 2003, 26), an argument that constrains transformation possibilities and is similar to the desire for interchangeable parts in the educational machine that was presented to Finnegan. Katz is also instinctively against a "genre" approach towards teaching writing (contrasted with the "process" approach) because, as it was articulated, he hears a desire for domination:

It means engaging students in the role of apprentice with the teacher in the role of expert on language system and function. . . . It means teaching grammar again. So that's what I'm being hammered with. (Rouse and Katz 2003, 32)

His armchair companion, however, counsels skepticism: to observe what is real rather than be told. Rouse quoted from Mark Twain's futuristic travels to Africa from Tom Sawyer Abroad, and counsels Katz, through Twain, to see through theory, particularly that

Theories don't prove nothing, they only give you a place to rest on, a spell, when you are tuckered out, butting around and around trying to find out something that ain't no way to find out. And there's always a hole somewhere, sure, if you look closely enough. (Rouse and Katz 2003, 35)

This sort of seeing mistrusts all absolute abstract explanations, and rather aims to see what the theory might or might not explain in its new context. When Katz reports the conceptual translation of the work of James Gee (1990, 1991) to South Africa, the hole in the theory that becomes apparent to Katz is its negation of the students' past experiences, and so the difficulty of encouraging their full engagement. He quotes: "There are however no good reasons that I can see for teaching languages or writing outside of any Discourse, since nothing but meaningless or general purpose behaviors (like banging) exist outside Discourses" (44).

Such cauterizing of the personal past, from the perspective of any first-generation university student, is treacherous. Rouse, in response, quotes the difficulties that Norman Podhoretz experienced at Columbia University, when gaining an education ensured that he would no longer be comfortable in the world that he had come from. Katz again observed this tendency to disallow past knowledge in the classroom in the application of Fairclough's critical language awareness theory (see Fairclough 1992):

One of the strange thoughts behind this program for critical literacy is that students make cognitive leaps and do better work if they are given tasks to do that do not access their past knowledge or experience because their past knowledge or experience is shaped by archaic absolutist forms of thought best gotten away from. (Rouse and Katz 2003, 157)

These observations provoke a key statement from Rouse about the type of power dynamic that he would prefer in the classroom. While not debating the arguments of Gee and Fairclough, or rather their translation to the South African context, he articulates his belief about the aim and value of a class in writing as opposed to sociolinguistics.

Rouse contrasts situational and positional practice. Situational practice suggests horizontal power, the telling of multiple stories, which can coexist even when they contradict each other, and a teacher as coach, moving alongside the students, as all think and write together. Positional practice is about hierarchical control, in which the higher leads the lower in a preconceived sequence of learning (Rouse and Katz 2003, 48). Rouse suggests a balance between the two practices so as to achieve a many-sided educational experience, but the implications for the micropolitics of the classroom are clear. An exclusively positional practice will not produce creative, critical writing. It is almost impossible to write well from the position of "lower," which reduces the student to submission and obedience. A situational practice, in contrast, allows for the unexpected and for the hope of mutuality and community. It promotes listening, interest, and new thinking through genuine dialogue. In the situational classroom there is the hope of a "reorientation of self" through the provocations of conversational exchange. In the situational classroom we can glimpse the aim of the writing class: "As teachers of writing we are working to develop the acting subject, who takes very little on faith and is suspicious even of himself or herself as the case might be" (122). Barry Sanders would add group political consequence to this method: "By swapping stories, a person learns that he doesn't have to accept things as they are. He can conjure his own world and manipulate it to his own liking" ((2005, 162).

Situational practice paves the way for a democratic classroom. Rouse understands that he is proposing this particular system of the micropolitics: "Becoming democratic means learning certain habitual ways of regarding others and dealing with them" (Rouse and Katz 2003, 97). He understands that it will pose a fundamental challenge to South African university and classroom practice because it will mean that different ideas will be heard: "As democracy develops in South Africa or elsewhere, the ideas of the lower strata in society and their ways of thought confront the accepted wisdom of the elite and they hate it!" (99) Elements of this democratic situational practice include peer conferencing, a space that allows social sympathy, a fluid understanding of the wider social environment, listening to the students, and allowing an autobiographical presence in writing. Narrative, Rouse also believes, draws on multiple language resources and forces students to choose and to reason, and therefore develop elaborated language. It also constructs historically contingent meaning, because narrative defines an event. Drawing on the work of the philosopher of history Louis Mink,13 Rouse observes that narrative writes an ensemble of relationships into a momentary whole and so posits historical contingent meaning (195). The teacher's role in such a classroom becomes similar to that of a parent, ready to prompt their child at their point of learning. Open-ended conversation is valued, as is the teacher's ability to improvise (103). However, teaching through improvisation is hard to learn and to trust, especially for those coming from a system in which student questions are perceived as threats to authority and in which it is assumed that it's possible to lecture people into better writing, critical language awareness, or even revolution (183).

Rouse cannily suggests a stealth strategy, writing that "confrontation is simply a contest of vanities" (Rouse and Katz 2003, 110), and advocating "rather than challenge authority, let us work indirectly like secret agents, talking the accepted line while going on with our own business and achieving our conversations by degrees. It's experience that teaches, not reasons or arguments" (110). We learn what we live.

The stakes are high, Rouse suggests, because the experience of social interaction in the classroom has deep influence on what students can think:

So if forms of thought have their origins in patterns of group activity that are subsequently internalized by the individual, . . . then surely we need to consider what kinds of social interaction or group processes we should develop in the writing classroom, rather than simply pass on the forms of discourse as preserved in text books or dictated by the teacher's outline. (Rouse and Katz 2003, 168)

So the class experience of power translates directly into democratic habits of interaction with others, "the social and political habits on which democratic self-government relies—habits of self-reliance, along with skills of cooperation and skills of leadership that make for a strong civil society" (Rouse and Katz 2003, 196), as well as to the full realization of the individual. "[A]utonomy is the work of a lifetime: a striving to be free within the actuality to which we belong. . . . Individuality is accidental, you might say, but autonomy is an achievement" (222). Democracy, so understood, is a community of individuals (222), the writing class a site of education for the citizen scholar.

These insights are the armchair traveler's narrative, prompted by Katz's tales. This does not diminish the value of the ideas, but rather underlines, in Rouse's terms, that they are one story, provoked by the traveler's tales, a situated story that does not claim to offer the only way to teach or to be the only truth. I disagree, for example, that a discipline-specific writing course would necessarily discourage independent thinking, as both Rouse and Katz assume (2003, 197), because a discipline-specific writing class can be democratic, with active learners seeking solutions for their discipline-specific problems (Brenner and Nichols 2013). Rouse's powerful theoretical description of the contrast between situational and positional practice nonetheless provides us with an important way of gauging the balance of democratic relations in the classroom, and how they directly influence the quality of writing produced.

Clash, Separation, Trial, and Shut Down

Frank Smith, who was invited in 1992 to Wits14 as the first chair of the newly established Applied English Language Studies Department, is the most controversial of the three teachers discussed here. Smith is well-known in the field of reading and writing, and his verdict on South African writing teaching, as he experienced it at Wits, was clear-cut and devastating. An American reviewer urged that Whose Language? What Power? should be read because it was Smith's most personal and most political writing (Messec 1994) but reviewers connected to the South African academy were outraged, calling it disreputable and disingenuous (Herbert 1995), disturbing and disjointed (Milon 1995). "Basically, it is an account of an academic hired gun (Smith) riding into town (Wits) to establish peace and justice. Not surprisingly the arrival of the gunslinger produces little peace" (1995, 400), wrote John Milon, a self-styled expert on Southern Africa after three years at the University of Botswana. Tim Reagan, briefly dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Social Science and Education at Wits, helped smooth ruffled feathers through quoting Douglas Young's 1994 review, and so endorsing, Young's ad hominem attacks on the validity of the book: "Whose Language? What Power? says more for Dr. Smith's own language-power struggle and psyche than it does about South Africa, Wits University, the department of Applied English Language Studies or South African Language Education generally" (Reagan 2000).

Smith's views on the teaching of writing were widely discussed internationally and share many of Rouse's assumptions. In Writing and the Writer, Smith also understands writing teaching as coaching: "The ideal learning situation with the adult helping the child to write, providing on the spot demonstrations that have the maximum relevance to the child because the child in effect determines what demonstrations should be given" (1982, 198). Smith also advocates peer learning, which he calls useful contagion, and the establishment of a nourishing and encouraging learning environment. He sees writing not as a subject in itself, but as a tool employed to do other desired things, such as to tell stories or to produce artifacts: "All the busywork, the meaningless drills and exercises, the rote memorization, the irrelevant tests and the distracting grades should go" (1982, 211). With such a philosophy, negotiating the South African academy was likely to be extremely difficult.

As with the other two visitors from the US, he begins in travelogue mode. As a professor of linguistics, he has a finely tuned sensitivity to language and its teaching. The reality postulated by language use and language teaching at Wits immediately disturbs him. He notes that "black students" are "rarely discussed in any context without the affectively loaded words 'succeed' or 'fail' " (1982, 14) and that the choice of English as a medium of instruction is a taboo subject. He is at odds with a teaching of the hidden messages in magazines as the cause of prejudice and intolerance rather than only their reflection (1982, 18). He sees what is understood as teaching as a "heavy regime of undiluted transmission teaching and passive learning" (1982, 20). When he suggests that massive correction only shows students what they cannot do, and that independent reading plays an important role in learning language, the Wits faculty inform him "that black students were accustomed to rigidly structured 'transmission' styles of teaching and indeed preferred them as they did not have the habit of thinking for themselves" (1982, 18). This argument repeats the rationalizations for inertia offered to Finnegan and Katz and presents black students in terms of a deficit model.

Smith is asked to teach an honors course for experienced, practicing teachers, and to provide his course outline. He refuses, on the grounds that he does not know what the course will be until he meets the students. He wants to construct this course with his students. So the process approach, a situational practice, and a very different idea of what is real, good, and possible begins his war with the department. Trained in linguistics, his revenge is to take notes, and so presents his ethnography of the ensuing conflict.

Much of the conflict is recorded as dialogue. Smith initially declares to the class, challenging his colleagues, "Learning is not slabs of knowledge: It is the development of understanding. We want to demonstrate that to you, and engage you in it" (1982, 26). One colleague asks him where they can read about this approach, looking for official validation for such apparently unusual behavior. He notes exchanges such as, "Must they all learn the same things? How could we mark them if they didn't?" (1982, 37), recording almost verbatim the objections made to Finnegan's free-reading program in Grassy Park High School ten years earlier. Smith notes, with growing wariness, the intimidation of the environment, both in the staff, "The domination of students by staff members has been a growing concern for me, and I have seen it intimidate students at Wits" (1982, 67), and in the literal writing on the wall, "The notices seeped hopelessness and discouragement. Students frequently defaced the tables and obliterated their own names to try and wipe out the stain" (1982, 79). He observes that a particular ideology of education dominates and that the students' potential to learn and think for themselves has been suffocated (1982, 83). What is deemed "real education," he sees as repression; what he deems real is called "airy fairy nonsense" (1982, 94).

In his account, a different sense of what could be seen as good is articulated by the students, who start seeing the South African classroom through his eyes and question it: "Why do some people talk too much and others too little? " (1982, 101). They see themselves as constructed by specific micropolitics: "Myself as a drenched South African student—used to the top-bottom kind of authority in almost all spheres of existence" (1982, 102). And they recognize the challenge of Smith's approach: "Some people might say that it's not very kosher to talk about a process model in SA at this time" (1982, 117).

Smith deliberately excises his authority by leaving the classroom and asking his students/teachers to devise their own course, and in the process to think about how learning happens and how they would teach writing. He observes their efforts and takes notes, including the beginnings of a manifesto for a renewed South African writing teaching, formulated by a student who had been a teacher in a rural school:

First we should teach students to think within language, teaching language as a tool to work within society in a practical way. Second, I try to teach how language as a whole is put together [ . . . ] I want confidence training in language use. Students must be able to use language assertively. My third proposal concerns [. . . ] strategies for overcrowded classrooms [. . . ] My next proposal concerns language and ideology [. . . ] and there's a lot of ideological language involved in the changing South Africa. We should study these matters. Finally, I want to pick up on a point of Mavis's. We all seem to have implicit theories of language teaching [. . . ] These need to be unraveled. We must literally "see'" how they inform our practice. (1982, 134)

As with Rouse and Katz, theory is identified dialogically, but if we believe Smith's notes, he does not voice it. The student group creates its own temporary home within the institution (1982, 145),15 from which ideas for change, renewal, and greater relevance are authored individually and collectively and given practical and replicable shape.

Unfortunately, there is no happy convergence in the politics of the department. Development of the curriculum happens in two camps: students working independently to develop their own course and staff excluded from the students' preparation and increasingly resentful. Smith, the ethnographer of the conflict, is not a dispassionate observer. To his mind now, "Literacy was another vehicle by which authority was exercised; it was not a source of enlightenment or even entertainment but the locus of control" (1982, 130).16

On the day that the students are finally ready to present their new course, staff arrive late and instead of engaging with content, question who authored the presentation, students or Smith? A positional practice is employed to negate the value of situational practice. The students' presentation to staff, and Smith's later meeting alone with his colleagues, feel like courtrooms to Smith. To avoid professional compromise, Smith leaves South Africa much earlier than intended (1982, 170).

Smith's actions were arguably politically naive in alienating departmental colleagues by excluding them from student deliberations. Rouse would have advised a stealth strategy. Nevertheless, Smith's frustrated pedagogical project is strikingly similar to that attempted by Finnegan and Katz: a wish for a nonhierarchical classroom, in which students read widely, cocreate the curriculum, work from a risk-enabling space to create meaning for themselves and the group.

Conclusion: Towards a More Democratic Classroom

If Rouse's observation that forms of thought are developed from patterns of group interaction is correct, power dynamics in the classroom deeply influence thinking and language. A term for this patterning of power and thinking, which is articulated through language, is ideology. Ideology is historically contingent and normative, and when hegemonic, is unnoticed. These visitors all contested what their South African colleagues deemed to be real, good, and possible. In so doing they made visible the ideology of the classroom that they disputed and that which they preferred.

How do we address the ideology of our classrooms? From the experiences of these visitors from the United States to South Africa, we should consider:

the student's framing of self;
the relation of self with others;
the relation of students to information and knowledge;
the framing of the teacher's role.

Finnegan, Rouse and Katz, and Smith make clear how democratic habits and dispositions can be infused into a writing class. They understand the development of the creative and critical writing self as real, good, and possible, complete with autobiographical presence; a dynamic mutual relationship with others in the group, which develops the group identity and agency; an understanding of information and knowledge as something to independently source, construct, and analyze; and a conception of the teacher not as gatekeeper, but as co-learner alongside the students. Contemporary American civic activists would recognize these activities as part of a public narrative understood as the development of the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now (Boyte 2015). This writing classroom ideology and practice, in other words, offers an effective way to promote both the growth of a reflective and critical democratic practice and of students with the potential to become engaged citizen scholars.

To construct such classrooms in both schools and universities requires a radical shift. Teachers "drenched" in hierarchical learning themselves, and without experience of alternative classrooms, are unlikely to make the shift, hence, in part, the failure of Outcomes-based Education (Bloch 2009, 114). It is not that these ideas of a democratic classroom are new to South African education. They were articulated in the Yellow Book in 1994 and had been practiced in the ANC Liberation school, SOMAFCO, in 1987 in Tanzania (Prew 2011). But sustained implementation has not happened, partly because such micropolitics have to be lived in order to be re-created. The legacy of Fundamental Pedagogics was of the expert "scientific teacher" leading the fallen children to the truth (Enslin 1990, 87). In South Africa today, we continue to confront in schools and universities the lingering authoritarian classroom that is resistant to questioning and change.

We need to become historically aware and self-reflective in order to avoid repeating the patterns of the past and to recognize, in the words of Peter Vale, "that the social world of the new South Africa continues to be made by the language, words and names of the old" (2014, 17) We also need to be more directive.17 Teachers coming from writing centers, tutors working as writing fellows on writing intensive courses, and lecturers leading writing intensive courses will have experienced peer-driven development of critical thinking. Working together and open to working with others, they can move us closer to creating the necessary habitual patterns to foster democratic writing and more democratic teaching. Reflection on such work, informed by experience and knowledge of practices elsewhere, and the South African experience seen through the lens of American progressive teachers, might give us material for a global project, working towards a global civic culture, "aimed at civic equality, liberty, toleration, and recognition. How are such publics born? By working together on shared problems" (Parker 2006).



1 These writings were products of the last decades of apartheid, from 1981–1992. The discussion of them here is part of a much more extended discussion of American writing practices in South Africa.

2 William Finnegan's Crossing the Line was in the New York Times top 10 nonfiction books of 1986.

3 Michel Foucault used this term to refer to the multiple, historically contingent regulations involved in shaping the desires and attitudes of individual subjects within organizations, such as schools.

4 For early reflections on the founding of the Wits Writing Centre see Nichols 2011 (first published 1998); for later reflection on practice, see Nichols 2014.

5 Simply put, process theory of writing emphasizes the process of writing; genre theory emphasizes the requirements of the finished product. In the 1980s, the approaches were commonly opposed: process theory was criticized for not recognizing how the disadvantaged are excluded if genre requirements are not made explicit, and genre theory was criticized for not beginning with the needs of the people in the room. For more on this false binary, see Maybin 1994.

6 See Lev Vygotsky, Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes (1978), a posthumous compilation of Vygotsky essays that became widely influential in the United States.

7 For more recent reflection on the writing center as a place of democracy, see Carter 2009. For an explicit focus on writing programs and the promotion of democratic citizens, see the teachers' program described in Rowe and Urban 2011.

8 The Cape Flats has been described as apartheid's dumping ground for "colored" people in the Western Cape.

9 Craig Soudien, in a review of Alan Wieder's Voices from Cape Town Classrooms, notes the recognition of certain teachers of this time from the Cape Flats as activist teachers (2003). The activist character "Mattie" appears to be modeled on the activist June Bam Hutchison, who has written her own fictionalized account of her own encounter with Finnegan in Peeping Through The Reeds: A Story About Living In Apartheid South Africa (London, 2010).

10 The University of the Western Cape (UWC) was established in 1960 in a suburb of Cape Town for "colored" people only. Under Jakes Gerwel's leadership (1987–1994), UWC developed academic development programs, in which Katz taught, which were celebrated for democratizing access. See Salim Baadat's obituary for Jakes Gerwel (2013).

11The Xhosa people are referred to as the amaXhosa and isiZulu refers to the Zulu language.

12 For tradition and modernity as organizing themes in post-war American social science, see Gilman 2003; Latham 2000.

13 For Mink's classic articles, see "The Autonomy of Historical Understanding" (1966) and "Narrative Form as Cognitive Truth" (1978).

14 The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) was founded in 1896 in Johannesburg. From the 1970s, much of its self-designation was as a progressive university.

15 Compare this account with Jonathan Jansen's insistence on the need in a post-conflict pedagogy for an environment and teaching-learning episodes that reduce the risk of speaking openly about direct and indirect knowledge, see Jansen 2008, 332.

16 Compare to Barry Sander's observation: "Literacy cultivates power. Literacy reduces book learning to a competitive struggle" (2005, 158).

17 If we are not directive, the past will repeat itself, as suggested by Moodley and Adam: "History teaching according to the personal preferences of teachers, and civic practice according to an authoritarian tradition, seem to be the dominant mode in the 'new' South Africa so far" (2004, 167).


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