What Should Colleges Teach Part 3

What Should Colleges Teach Part 3

In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education, the question of what colleges should teach has been a subject of ongoing debate. Stanley Fish, a distinguished scholar, delves into this discourse in his thought-provoking work, “What Should Colleges Teach Part 3.” Central to Fish’s argument is the assertion that students often enter college without the necessary writing skills, a deficiency that college teachers bear the responsibility of addressing. In this article, we will explore Fish’s perspectives on this critical issue and the profound implications of his insights for the education sector

What Should Colleges Teach Part 3

In his compelling work, “What Should Colleges Teach Part 3,” Stanley Fish passionately advocates for the pivotal role of college teachers in shaping students’ writing skills. He underscores a critical issue, asserting that many students often enter college without the necessary writing proficiency. Fish firmly believes that it is the solemn responsibility of educators within higher education to bridge this gap and equip students with the tools they need to succeed.

He asserts that teaching extends beyond mere grammar correction; instead, it should encompass the art of composition itself. Fish contends that it is through mastering the proper ways of composition that students can truly flourish. This involves the intricate task of combining and structuring sentences to express ideas with clarity and effectiveness, thereby empowering students with the essential skills they need to thrive in their academic and professional journeys.

As society evolves, so too must our educational institutions. We’ll examine how the nature of college education has adapted to address contemporary societal needs, including workforce demands, technological advancements, and cultural shifts. This dynamic relationship between colleges and society is a key theme in understanding their role.

1. The Crisis of Writing Proficiency in Higher Education

The Lamentable Shortfall:

A pressing issue plagues higher education – students often arrive at college lacking the necessary writing skills. This section investigates the root causes of this crisis, which include disparities in K-12 education, the influence of digital communication, and insufficient emphasis on writing in curricula.

Fish’s Call to Action:

Stanley Fish passionately advocates for the role of college educators in addressing this crisis. He contends that it is the responsibility of college teachers to equip students with the writing skills they need for academic and professional success.

2. The Art of Composition as the Key to Flourishing

Beyond Grammar:

Stanley Fish’s insights take us deeper into the art of composition. While grammar correction is essential, mastering composition empowers students to articulate their thoughts with precision, clarity, and impact.

Empowering Through Clarity:

Effective composition allows students to liberate their thoughts, enabling them to express complex ideas with conciseness and eloquence. Fish’s perspective underscores how composition is a vehicle for precision and persuasion.

Teaching Beyond Grammar:

Fish’s philosophy extends beyond correcting grammar to encompass the broader realm of composition. College educators are tasked with nurturing not just proficient writers but articulate and persuasive communicators.

3. Structuring Sentences to Express Ideas

The Nuanced Aspects of Composition:

Composition is an intricate craft that involves not only grammar but also sentence structure and organization. This section explores how these nuanced aspects influence the quality of writing.

Facilitating Compelling Communication:

Colleges can play a pivotal role in helping students master sentence structure to communicate ideas more effectively. Effective instruction in this realm enhances clarity and coherence, making written communication more persuasive and engaging.

Critical Thinking Connection:

The ability to structure sentences effectively is not just about aesthetics; it fosters critical thinking skills. By organizing thoughts coherently, students are better equipped to analyze, synthesize, and express complex ideas, bolstering their overall cognitive abilities.

4. The Role of College Educators in Shaping Writing Skills

Nurturing the Literary Garden:

College educators hold a profound responsibility in cultivating students’ writing proficiency. This section explores the multifaceted roles they play in guiding students towards becoming proficient writers.

Transformative Potential:

Stanley Fish believes in the transformative power of educators. They are not just conveyors of knowledge but also inspirers who can shape students into confident and articulate writers.

Strategies for Effective Instruction:

Practicality is key. College instructors can employ a range of strategies to teach composition effectively. This section provides concrete examples and innovative methods that educators can incorporate into their teaching.

5. The Broader Implications for Higher Education

A Paradigm Shift in Higher Education:

Stanley Fish’s vision challenges the traditional priorities of higher education. This section reflects on the broader implications of his insights for a sector that must now prioritize skills alongside content knowledge.

Curricular Adaptation and Innovation:

To address the writing proficiency gap, colleges must adapt their curricula and teaching methods. This section explores how institutions can integrate writing skills seamlessly into academic programs through innovative approaches.

Enduring Benefits for Students:

Equipping students with strong writing skills offers enduring benefits. This section discusses the advantages, from improved academic performance to heightened professional readiness, underscoring the transformative potential of writing proficiency.


The crisis of writing proficiency in higher education demands attention and action. Stanley Fish’s insights illuminate the path towards a brighter future, where college educators play a pivotal role in shaping proficient writers. From mastering the art of composition to structuring sentences with precision, educators hold the keys to preparing students for success in an increasingly complex and competitive world. The broader implications extend to a reimagined higher education landscape, where skills and knowledge work hand in hand to empower students for a lifetime of learning and achievement.


 What are the key skills that colleges should teach students for the future?

Colleges should focus on teaching practical skills relevant to students’ chosen careers, critical thinking, cultural competency, ethics, and soft skills like communication and adaptability.

2: How can colleges promote cultural competency among students?

Colleges can promote cultural competency through multicultural education, inclusivity initiatives, and global awareness programs that expose students to diverse perspectives and experiences.

3: Why is ethical education important in college curricula?

Ethical education is vital to instill values, integrity, and ethical decision-making, preparing students to make responsible choices in both personal and professional life.


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