High-School Composition Pedagogy

I've been following a couple of posts on high-school composition pedagogy with interest: Mister B.S. expresses dismay at essay-writing rules that strike him as arbitrary, and over at Erin's, they're talking about reading assignments and writing. Right now participants in both discussions seem to be trying to find a balance between an old model, characterized as "hard-nosed" and formulaic, and a new model, characterized as "touchy-feely" and ineffectual with regard to really learning how to write essays (see the Onion story that spurred Erin's post). I've nothing to add at this time, but will continue to lurk in the discussions.