The Origins of this Approach
In a broader vein, while at Teachers College in the 1970's, Kurland worked with Dr. Robert Allen in the later stages of Dr. Allen's development of Sector Analysis. [The section on grammar here draws on that work.] While teaching ESL in a high school in Turkey, Allen had reached the conclusion that traditional prescriptive grammar failed to provide either an effective theoretical model or pedagogically useful analysis of the language. His search for a more accurate and efficacious understanding led to his development of Sector Analysis.
When hired as an Assistant Professor of English at the newly-opened Cooperative College Center, Kurland sought to apply a similar reevaluation to the teaching of freshman composition. In an effort to understand how students read, he analyzed the various ways students typically respond to the charge: Analyze the text. His initial insights appeared in "The Student's View of the Text: Implications for Reading and Writing,"College Composition and Communication, December 1975.
The notion of choices of content, language, and structure resulted from an effort to describe the elements of texts ("what one looks at and how one thinks about what one finds") rather than speculating on the psychology of the reading/writing process or traditional rhetorical categories.
His ideas evolved over the years through work with a wide variety of students, from freshman developmental students to upper-class pre-med students and returning adult students. His work was further informed by study of a variety of linguistic disciplines (such as pragmatics and speech acts) and various approaches to reading and writing (from new criticism through reader response theory).
The material on this site is drawn from a draft manuscript on critical reading and writing. That manuscript reflects the general perspective ofI Know What It Says….What Does It Mean?It differs insofar as the discussion is extended to writing as well as reading.