Journal of Secondary Alternate Education

Journal of Secondary Alternate Education: Homepage Reviews of and Comments About the Journal Volume 9, Number 1, Winter 2012 Volume 9, Number 2, April 2012 Volume 9, Number 3, May 2012 Volume 9, Number 4, June 2012 Volume 9, Number 5, July 2012 Volume 9, Number 6, August 2012 Volume 9, Number 7, September 2012 Volume 9, Number 8, October 2012 Volume 9, Number 9, November 2012 Volume 9, Number 10, December 2012 Volume 10, Number 1, January 2013 Volume 10, Number 2, February 2013 Volume 10, Number 3, March 2013 Volume 10, Number 4, April 2013 Volume 10, Number 5, May 2013 Volume 10, Number 6, June 2013 Volume 10, Number 7, July 2013 Volume 10, Number 8, August 2013 Volume 10, Number 9.0, September 2013 Volume 10, Number 9.1, September 2013 Volume 10, Number 10, October 2013 Volume 10, Number 11, November 2013 Volume 10, Number 12, December 2013 Volume 11, Number 1, January 2014 Volume 11, Number 2, February 2014 Volume 12, Number 1, December 2015 Volume 13, Number 1, January 2016 Volume 13, Number 2, February 2016 Volume 13, Number 3, March 2016 Volume 13, Number 4, April 2016 Volume 13, Number 5, May 2016 Volume 13, Number 6, June 2016 Volume 13, Number 7, July 2016 Volume 13, Number 8, August 2016 Volume 13, Number 9, September 2016 Volume 13, Number 10, October 2016 Volume 13, Number 11, November 2016 Volume 13, Number 12, December 2016 Volume 14, Number 1, January 2017 Volume 14, Number 2, February 2017 Volume 14, Number 3, March 2017 Volume 14, Number 4, April 2017 Volume 14, Number 5, May 2017 Volume 14, Number 6, June 2017 Volume 14, Number 7, July 2017 Volume 14, Number 8, August 2017 Volume 14, Number 9, September 2017 Volume 14, Number 10, October 2017 Volume 14, Number 11, November 2017 Volume 14, Number 12, December 2017 Volume 15, Number 1, January 2018 Volume 15, Number 2, February 2018 Volume 15, Number 3, March 2018 Volume 15, Number 4, April 2018 Volume 15, Number 5, May 2018 Volume 15, Number 6, June 2018 Volume 15, Number 7, July 2018

Column: Lukiv's "Place" for Educators to Think About Teaching 

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"THOSE GYZE IN THE ENGLISH DEPARTMENT" (published previously by Students on the Net [Singapore, 2000])

Dan Lukiv

Professor Harlow, long-time head of the creative writing department at the University of British Columbia, and author of the critically-acclaimed novel Scann (McClelland & Stewart, 1972),1 made a comment to me in 1977 that helps me categorise Gagne, Briggs, and Wagner's Principles of Instructional Designand Wassermann's "How I Taught Myself to Teach." Harlow said, "Dan, those gyze in the English department understand language. They can dissect a sentence and explain all the grammar. I can't do that very well. But I know how to write."

He didn't refer to his standing as a foremost Canadian novelist who had mastered the art of writing fiction. He was too humble for that, and obviously he knew lots about grammar (or, at least, enough). For me his comment places English grammar alongside the principles of instructional design--namely, with its (bear with me for this paragraph) immediate and long-range planning, systems approach, learning conditions, contiguity, repetition, reinforcement, previously learned capabilities, sensory registers, short-term memory, selective perception, feature perception, working memory, response generator, executive control, expectancies, cognitive strategies, events of instruction, memory contents, multiple aims, target objectives, enabling objectives, sequences of instruction, characteristics of learners, internal conditions, criterion-referenced measurement, objective referenced assessment, instructional delivery system, and its maaaany other terms (Gagne, Briggs, & Wagner, 1992).

In addition, for me, Harlow's comment about "those gyze in the English department...[etc.]" places the art of writing alongside the art of teaching as related by Wassermann: "[The] Teacher as Artist....[helps the] learner increase[ ] his autonomy, his self-initiative, his confidence in himself and consequently his ability to take risks[, which reminds me about The Writer as Artist]. He therefore grows in his ability to teach himself" (p. 177).

If I wanted to learn more about the "grammar" of teaching, I'd have lots of aesthetically-defunct terms to chew my cud on in the book Principles of Instructional Design: "The executive control structure governs the use of cognitive strategies, which may determine how information is encoded when it enters long-term memory, or how the process of retrieval is carried out, among other things" (p. 10). Good readin'--aye? But if I wanted to learn about the art of teaching, I'd have lots of stimulating information to consider in Wassermann's article: "[The] Teacher as Artist....communicates a genuine prizing and valuing of the student....[He] enables the learner to move to higher positions on the continuum of personal autonomy....He is considerate of the feelings of students and communicates genuine warmth and regard for them....The student comes away from [class] inspired, knowing more, being more interested, and feeling good" (pp. 177-181).

Yes! I would like to focus on the art of teaching as Professor Harlow focused on the art of writing fiction. That means I'll likely leave the principles of instructional design to education professors as he left grammar to English ones--although obviously I need to know something about such principles as he knew something about grammar.


Gagne, R. M., Briggs, L. J., & Wagner, W. W. (1992). Introduction. Principles of instructional design (pp. 3-19). Toronto, ON: Harcourt Brace Jovanich College.

Harlow, R. (1972). Scann. Queen Charlotte Islands: Sono Nis Press.

Ross, M. L. (1998). The northern boundary. In G. Haslam, J. G. Taylor, T. J. Lyon, W. T. Pilkington, J. Maquire, & G. F. Day (Eds.), A literary history of the American west: Part two: Settled in: Many lands. Fort Worth, TX: Texas Christian University Press. Retrieved April 17, 2003 from the World Wide Web:

Wassermann, S. (1987). How I taught myself how to teach. In C. R. Christensen (Ed.), Teaching and the case method (pp. 175-183). Boston, Massachusetts, USA: Harvard Business School.


1. "Robert Harlow's Scann (1972) is an eccentric but ambitious effort by its title character to chronicle his intermountain town on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary" (Ross, 1998, paragraph 13).

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