Though Quintilian introduced the term in loco parentis in his Institutio Oratoria by suggesting that teachers think of themselves as parents of a student's mind, composition scholars have let parenting as a metaphor for teaching fall by the wayside in recent discussions of classroom authority. Podis and Podis have recently revived the term, though, and investigated the ways writing teachers enact Lakoff's "Strict Father" and "Nurturing Mother" authority models. Unfortunately, their treatment of these two opposite authority styles reduces classroom authority styles to a mutually exclusive binary of two less than satisfactory options. I propose clinical and developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind's taxonomy of parenting styles as the ideal way to reform our thinking as a field about the authority model we should adopt in our writing classrooms. While Baumrind includes the inferior models Podis and Podis work from in her authoritarian and permissive parenting styles, she found that the authoritative style, which is both strict and nurturing, promises the best results for parenting children: autonomy and academic achievement. By applying her descriptions of authoritative parents and the outcomes for their children to the practices of composition instructors and their students, I reveal how useful Baumrind's taxonomy of parenting styles could be for a field that often uses nuanced terms for authority without either clearly defining them or backing claims with replicable, aggregable, data-driven (RAD) research. If our field chooses to adopt Baumrind's terminology and definitions, then, we will be able to communicate about classroom authority in terms anchored in a coherent paradigm and garner more respect for our field as we probe the outcomes of Baumrind's authoritative parenting style as a college composition teaching style through our own empirical research.



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Humanities; English



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authority, Diana Baumrind, parenting styles, teaching styles, composition, power, authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, RAD research