Crossing Guard on a Dead-end Street: Why and How I Teach Writing By Don Rothman Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Writing and Director Emeritus, Central California Writing Project University of California Santa Cruz [email protected] An experience I had in sixth grade illuminates my decision over thirty years ago to teach composition. I was a crossing guard on a dead-end street in Brooklyn. If you can, put aside your negative associations with dead-ends. I recall this humbling service job when faculty who do not teach writing suggest that devoting a career to first year students is admirable but odd, even incomprehensible. In 1973, just days before I first began teaching at College Seven (now Oakes College) at the University of California Santa Cruz, an art historian asked me whether I could possibly ‘be serious about Shakespeare’ having chosen to teach basic level writing courses. Someone I met on the bus a few years ago was thrilled that I taught something as useful as riding and asked how many horses UCSC owned. There are plenty of reminders that devoting myself to beginning writers is suspect. But for three decades I have dreamed that through an empowering literacy our students will learn to work in their own ways for social