Thursday, September 29, 2005

who am i... writer teacher thinker

definately critical cultural reading closely the texts surrounding bring yourself into the poem into the text become surrounded by the text and then see what it is saying understand where you are related within the text how you are related to the text. i stand back, i observe, i evaluate and analyze. i interact with the text and let it speak to me. break it down, interpret, discover, read word by word, think it through, pull out the parts, and then put it all together understand that there may never be a complete understanding. observe that there may not be particular answers. come to the conclusion that there may be many more questions to ask and keep reading...the printed text the visual media the sounds in every part of our environment surrounding.
does the train roaring by while i try to fall asleep at 11pm change who i am as a person? does delving into a deep and close reading of a shakespeare sonnet change my initial emotional response? (it had better or the new critics will be after me in a second...) what happend when i write myself through a series of LANGUAGE poems vs a series of short prose narratives?

how are we what we write, or are we?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Peer Review Instructions--By Jill and Kim

Here is our appropriation of the Sommers article as we have interpreted it for use in a peer-review assignment in a writing course. These are general, we might tailor them to specifically suit particular assignments/contexts/etc...

The idea is that students will exchange the drafts of their papers with others in the class. The instructions are as follows:

Writer: before handing your paper to a reader, tell her/him--or write on your paper--any concerns or issues that you would like the reader to address, help you with, or give you feedback on. Specifically tell the reader what you would like her/him to look for in order to help you make your paper stronger.

Exchange papers

-Focus on the text. Ask the writer what s/he wants to say, what the paper is trying to accomplish, and then read to see if the paper is doing what the writer intends for it to do.
-After reading through the text, be constructive in your comments and suggestions. Mark places that need development, ask specific questions and offer specific suggestions that will help to develop the paper effectively. Remember to offer thoughtful commentary of the type that you would like to receive on your draft.

Writers: When you get your paper back, read through the comments and ask the reader to clarify any comments that you don't understand or want to talk about further. Then, think about how best to revise your paper using the suggestions given, and your own ideas for 'discovering' the next draft of this paper. To revise is to RE-SEE the writing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

From Sharon-on critical pedagogy

I wanted to start copying some thoughtful insights here, to organize and keep them together and then to respond and keep thinking about some of these things. If you are on the listserve, than you've probably read these already. I'll create some new posts of my own later.

Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2005 02:06:23 -0400
From: Sharon Schnurr
Subject: pedagogy, critical and otherwise
No, no!' said the Queen. `Sentence first--verdict
`Stuff and nonsense!' said Alice loudly. `The idea of having
the sentence first!'
`Hold your tongue!' said the Queen, turning purple.
`I won't!' said Alice.
In response to what other people are saying about resisting
the temptation of framing their teaching in the form of one
of these “pedagogical boxes,” I can say that I tend to think
about critical pedagogy and all of the other pedagogical
approaches presented in A Guide to Composition Pedagogies as
practices that can inform teaching, not as prescriptive
approaches that provide the last word on how teaching gets
done in the classroom.   So I am more interested (for now)
in finding what is useful to me in an approach than in
finding fault with it.
        A useful goal of critical pedagogy is to provide
students with an opportunity to think about the effect of
institutional power on individual lives and human
relationships. Ann George writes that “critical pedagogy
engages students in analyses of unequal power relations that
produce and are produced by cultural practices and
institutions” (92).  The approach does more than provide
content for student essays; it makes available a time and
place for students to bring to a conscious level the
everyday social practices that they tend to accept as
normative and to question them.  George quotes from Kozol
who contends that one of the effects of mass education is
that it trains students to passively comply with authority
figures (94).  That is, students become so used to equating
being good students and good citizens with “following the
rules” that there is always the possibility that they may
adopt an unconscious habit of compliance, conforming with
the practices that are put forward by anyone or any group
that they perceive as an authority figure--even when such
practice is nonsensical or unjust.  It seems that when
people are in the practice of taking orders, when they
seldom have the opportunity to think in ways that may be
oppositional to the status quo or to make decisions for
themselves, they can become habituated to feeling that being
powerless is normal.  Falling into a habit of non-critical
engagement with the world in this way may make people feel
powerless, even if only on an unconscious level, or it may
lead them to believe that the only way to have power is to
comply with those who are already in power.  Critical
pedagogy can give students an opportunity to participate in
and practice a discourse of resistance (to unjust or
unethical social norms) that can be useful to them in their
everyday lives.  This is not to say that educational systems
are inherently bad or corrupt.  Giroux claims that it might
be more productive to think of schools as “arenas
characterized by struggle between competing ideologies,
discourses and behaviors” [. . .] “which include spaces of
resistance and agency,” so that “cultural institutions
produce varying degrees of accommodation and resistance”
(96). So we don’t all have to be “dupes of ideology” (Shor),
but we can be “people fighting for humanity” (96).

Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2005 14:29:11 -0400
From: Sharon Schnurr
Subject: Re: Critical Theory Meets Rhetoric

In fairness to Ben, he does point out that to pose the
question this way--transformative intellectuals or exegetes--
really sets up a false dichotomy.
He points out that every reading of a theorist retheorizes.
He says that this is a meager payoff,though, compared to
what could be learned and said.
But what is the goal? The transformation of the current
social conditions into a new order. Agger writes that "This
type of political education differs from earlier forms in
that it relates lifeworld struggle to the evident prospect
of a qualitatively different society.  Who has tried to put
this into action?  I can think of several intellectuals who
really tried to put these ideas into play in the world--
Jesus, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Tupac Shakur--
it's interesting that all of these people suffered a similar
One thing that is interesting about these individuals is
that all of them employed a rhetoric as a vehicle through
which they endeavored to produce social change. Terry
Eagleton's account of rhetoric seems applicable here:
Rhetoric saw speaking and writing not merely as textual
objects, to be aesthetically contemplated or endlessly
deconstructed, butu as forms of activity inseparable from
the wider social relations between writers and readers,
orators and audiences, and as largely unintelligible outside
the social purposes in which they were embedded.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

of a sunday

I'm thinking about pedagogy I'm thinking about writing, I'm thinking about reading about writing and teaching. It's a lot to process and swish around in a brain. To me, there are many different types of writing (obviously) and ways to go about doing the different writings. I don't usually write on-line, except for email. So this is a good brain activity, to think about writing in all its forms and write about it. But right now I am thinking about writing in a writing or composition classroom, which is very different from a poetry or a fiction writing classroom. Yes, there may be similarities, but for now I will assume the differences, which I'm not going to go into anyhow, maybe in the future...

Anyhow, in composition, or essay writing, I am reading about expressivist process pedagogy which is something I thought I had mostly stayed away from. I don't entirely understand all of the ins and outs of the theory, but the personal expression writing which seems to be at the heart of it makes me nervous. As a teacher of writing I am interested in getting students motivated to write and be invested in their writing. And in order to get them to do that, having them writing about their personal experiences seems like a great idea. But I don't want to spend all semester reading amateur personal narratives...not to put down amateur writers, but you have to be one heck of a teacher to get students to transcend the banal personal experience story and present something that then becomes more universal, that reaches out into the world and tells some larger story. In the world of Creative Non Fiction for example, personal essays begin with personal experience, but then they go somewhere, they diverge and become something grand or larger than the initial experience. This is not to say that all of these essays solve world problems but, even in the essays that focus on more mundane events and ideas, there is something more at state, there is some insight offered, there is something to hold onto as a reader learning and becoming invested...

So how then to bring more personal writing, student-centered writing into the classroom? I'll think about that more and keep reading.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

on writing

One of the things often forgotten in English is not just that we are always teaching writing, but that we, too, write. A weblog is one place to work with one's own writing - since it is immediate publication it is also a place for quick reception and ease in terms of revision. Overall, you must write to teach writing. This leads to a more meta-level question: what is your methodology for writing?
--J. Rice

methodology, system of methods, analysis of the methods used, how do I know what I know about writing and how do I do the writing that I do?

a weblog is a place to write but it is in between free writing and 'polished' or finished writing.

a weblog goes out to the public, in this case a real and particular public, in other cases potentially the same, or potentially it goes out to no one or to an audience that is totally unknown.

I write. I write myself my world my others. I do this daily sometimes, weekly sometimes. Lately I read too much to write. I keep a notebook on the table and sometimes I open it while eating cereal. Sometimes I push it around the table b/c there's not enough space for the books and the old mail and the dishes left uncarried to the sink.

I write on the computer. recently broke the habit of typing 500 words a day. but this is not that. that is unread by anyone else. some of that turns into poems, into essays, into nothing and more. 500 words a day of anything. that is a good habit, if it is not broken.

sometimes I write letters by hand.

once I wrote a story about a terrible crush. ok, more than once.

often i do not capitalize or use punctuation. for better or for worse.

by training i am an experimental poet. so i can write whatever and however i want. [sic]

but poetry is not academic essay writing is not magazine writing is not something for the sciences (but for the scientists maybe). these are different and sometimes the same. i have to sit down think about it put it down on the paper.

these are different because poetry is much more fun to write than a precis.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

uh...first-time blogger

this is my first blog ever...more later...find something to write for the internet world....