If I were ever to give five stars to any book, it would be this one: Graff and Birkenstein’s, They Say, I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Conversation (India). I own, not just, the hard copy, but several copies of it, because I always need to be ready to leave a copy with a colleague or school, and so I’m never without a copy, I own the Kindle version, too.
As I said in the review of Lisa Delpit’s book, these first reviews will really shed light on my own pedagogical stance. Nothing does it better than this little jewel.
I told you in the Delpit review, that I first start exploring writing pedagogy because I felt that
About this time, I stumbled on the work of Gerald Graff. In an interview, he confirmed my suspicions:
This book is a simple, practical guide that, I feel may be, really, just a bit subversive.
Academic writing, research writing, has always been a gatekeeper skill. As Graff says in another of his books,
Graff maintains, “I have never accepted this cynical view of education, but I’m afraid we will go on giving it credibility until we change our practices.”
They Say, I Say begins (see the intro here) by clearly explaining how academic writing is approached as a conversation and then gives easy and effective tools for engaging in the conversation.
Graff’s little green book is a remarkable breakthrough for emerging academic writers. The book alone does not go so far that it helps students develop long forms of research writing. It was, probably, intended for classes of first-year native-speaking composition students, but I’ve used it and extended it, for use for second language writers, even at the PhD level.
Using Graff’s work as a catalyst, I’ve built my own tools that go beyond it to help students write full research papers and theses. More on those later.
I heartily recommend this for any teacher of writing or even for students working alone.