Revolution Lullabye

October 23, 2006

More on Myers

Filed under: Uncategorized — by revolutionlullabye @ 3:25 am

I really got a lot out of this article. Refer to my previous post for bibliographic info. I’m going to do a short summary and some important quotes here so you can get a grip on what Myers is talking about.

 Myers, through a reading of Leonard, Bruffee, and Elbow, is challenging two teaching strategies used in composition: collaborative learning and having students write “real world” (as opposed to contained within the classroom) assignments. He warns that collaboration pedagogy can lead to a whitewashed consensus that ignores diversity. Myers critiques both Bruffee and Leonard, who support the use of collaboration in the classroom, for presenting an external reality that is untouchable instead of an external reality that is formed by our own ideologies. He also argues that teaching “real world” assignments is upholding the beliefs of those in power in the “real world” (business, administration) instead of teaching students how to challenge those beliefs.

Good Quotes:

On the problem of a teacher-directed class using collaboration – One of my favorite quotes in all academic texts because he flat-out says he is annoyed: “I am annoyed with Leonard’s rhetoric as a reformer because he assumes authority over other teachers and over students while denying he has it. He assumes authority as trained expert, university professor, empirical researcher, voice of the downtrodden students, bringing enlightenmnet to normal-school-trained teachers. But he denies his personal authority by saying the students are controlling the classroom, and his curriculum just follows the real world, and his reforms are based on the latest research. If we see that schools can be both places of liberation and places of oppression, then we have to ask how we are using what limited power over people’s lives we do have” (448).

On the skeptical attitude teachers should have to the effectiveness and importance of teaching “real world” writing: “One teaches job letters to the business communications students who need to get jobs downtown, without teaching that a job downtown is the answer to their problems. I have no specific new ideas for what we should do Monday morning, but I follow with interest those of other radical teachers. In this article, I am asking, not for a new kind of assignment, but for more skepticism about what assignments do to reproduce the structures of our society” (456).

On how personal ideologies construct external realities: “One cannot escape from one’s economic interests and ethnic background, but one can try to understand how they shape one’s thinking and social actions” (452).

On using professional writing as models in the composition classroom: “We should note how we just assume, lacking an agreed standard for writing quality, that good writing is writing that can be sold for money” (447).

The problem with the “real world”: “By treating the ‘real world’ as the bedrock of our teaching, we perpetuate the idea that reality is something outside us and beyond our efforts to change it” (445). And more: “To accept the reality we see now is to accept the structure of illusion our system gives us. Worse, it is to see reality as something natural, outside our control, rather than to see it as something we make in our actions in society” (440).


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