Revolution Lullabye

November 17, 2014

Freedman, “Reading to Write” in East Asian Studies

Freedman, Leora. “‘Reading to Write’ in East Asian Studies.” Across the Disciplines 10:4 (11 December 2013). Web.

Freedman describes how teaching students specific reading strategies, many developed for English language learners, can help both ELL and native-English speaking students read disciplinary-specific texts better. She describes an partnership at her institution, the University of Toronto, between the East Asian Studies department and the English Language Learning Program that used TA-led discussion sessions to help students in introductory-level East Asian Studies courses develop stronger reading strategies and skills. The TAs taught students specific reading techniques, asked students to apply those techniques on other texts in the course, and asked students to write several low-stakes writing assignments, like reading responses and summaries, that gauged students’ reading comprehension levels. Freedman claims that given feedback from the students, TAs, and faculty involved in this partnership, that students seem to understand the course material more deeply and their writing seems to be improved. Freedman argues that reading pedagogy belongs at the college level for all students.

Quotable Quotes

“Linguistic development, like students’ intellectual development in general, is often uneven and non-linear. Students need to understand that successful performance in academic writing, which may be a more immediate goal, is linked to efforts in other areas which are often invisible to the people marking their papers. (e.g. a grader will comment on an overly general sentence, and it will be identified as a writing problem, but the same grader may not comment on or necessarily perceive the student’s vague grasp of the reading material; the grade is given officially for the quality of the writing).”

“Reading was seen as the most fundamental area to address, underlying the difficulties many of the students have with research, writing, vocabulary, and speaking.”

Notable Notes

need to change the institutional culture around reading – it is not remedial education, but something that is tied to students’ writing and critical thinking

TAs led weekly sessions in each 12-week term (fall, spring) to 25 students. The sessions complemented the lectures (200 students in the lecture.)

low-stakes writing assignments used to gauge reading comprehension included writing an account of previewing strategies, writing summaries, writing informal responses in preparation for a bigger, critical argumentative/analytical paper

TAs used a technique dubbed “question-based active reading discussion” where they came to the sessions with prepared questions, a mix of comprehension and more critical analysis to lead small group discussion

Faculty and TAs noticed less patch writing, less plagiarism in the students’ writing

Reading techniques taught in the TA-led sessions:

  • previewing
  • skimming and scanning
  • active reading
  • learning vocabulary from context clues
  • summarizing
  • distinguishing an author’s opinion from the opinion of a cited source
  • distinguishing between argument and information
  • how information is used in an argument
  • visual mapping of an article

May 25, 2011

Greenbaum, Talmudic Rhetoric

Greenbaum, Andrea  “Talmudic rhetoric: Explorations for writing, reading, and teaching.”  In Judaic perspectives in rhetoric and composition studies. Greenbaum, Andrea; Deborah Holdstein (Eds.), Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press (2009).  151-169.

Greenbaum explains some key features of Talmudic rhetoric (which has Greek influences) and points to ways Talmudic rhetoric can be used by teachers of writing as an alternative mode of rhetorical instruction in the writing classroom. Talmudic rhetoric points to deep philosophical and religious beliefs in the Judaic tradition – it is a cultural rhetoric.

Notes and Quotes

Rhetorical devices it uses: heteroglossia, metaphor, polysemy, dialogic discourse, discursive critique, imagistic narrative, juxtaposition, associative logic, nonlinearity, social consciousness

The Talmud has no page one – you begin in the middle (in media res) – which contrasts traditional linear Aristotiliean rhetoric. That has a rhetorical purpose – the discussion and studying of the Talmud has not beginning or ending, everyone who does it is part of the conversation.

Heteroglossia: Commentaries on the text are on the page, in the margins – multiple points of view on one page; multiple languages (Hebrew and Aramaic primarily, but influences with Greek, French, German) that gives the Talmud a complex cultural and linguistic identity

Highlights the contrast between faith and reason: it is rich in metaphor, stories, tales, advice, medical cures, philosophy and history. It has to be interpreted on a variety of levels.

“Judaic hermeneutics emphasizes what cannot be seen” as opposed to the highly visible ideas and rhetorics (and idea of God) in Christian or Greek rhetoric. (158)

The power of language – words do things (Let there be light), people change their names to reflect new identities, concept of “nomancy” – “the ability to create an alternative reality and identity through language” (161)

Talmudic rhetoric is not utilitarian – its purpose is to seek the truth (162) It has connections to Aristotle’s mythos

“Acts of kindness are inherently related to literacy” (167)

December 9, 2010

DeVoss et al, Distance Education

DeVoss, Danielle, et al. “Distance Education: Political and Professional Agency for Adjunct and Part-Time Faculty, and GTAs.” In Moving a Mountain. Eds. Schell and Stock. Urbana: NCTE, 2000.

Statistics show that nontenured and adjunct instructors are far more likely to staff complex, time-consuming distance-education courses than tenured faculty because they are more willing to take on a pedagogical risk (needing the pay) and often have more up-to-date technological skills. The authors argue that these distance education courses need to be move from the sidelines and there needs to be adequate training, support, and compensation for those teaching them. The challenges of distance education raise questions for teachers, programs, universities, and the discipline at large: what effects come from distance education? How do we respond to them? Who is repsonsible?

Notes and Quotes

rise in distance education course offerings reflects the changing demographics of the American college student.

her distance education course reached over 50 students at 23 sites; her classes were video and audio-taped

Jacobsohn, The Real Scandal in Higher Education

Jacobsohn, Walter. “The Real Scandal in Higher Education.” In Moving a Mountain. Eds. Schell and Stock. Urbana: NCTE, 2000. 159-184.

Jacobsohn uses his experience of working for the unionization of part-time faculty members at Long Island University-Brooklyn to argue for the importance of banding together adjuncts and their full-time colleagues in order to enact change at the university. He contends that part-timers often don’t move toward unionizing because they are used to being exploited and/or don’t consider that they could be the victims of exploitation: they assume that how they are treated is normal and OK. He describes four situations that will continue to prevent the needed addressing of the contingent labor problem in universities: 1. adjunct “passing” – adjuncts not acknowledging their status at the university; 2. inability for adjuncts to form a cohesive whole because of high turnover and temporary whole; 3. media and market forces working against unionization; and 4. refusal of full-time faculty to recognize the contingent labor problem and their role in it.

Notes and Quotes

“Writing this essay has been difficult for me because I write out of anger and frustration. I have read many intelligent and articulate essays about the pros and cons of employing contingent faculty in higher education, and I find it  difficult to identify with the dispassionate and distanced language these articles employ. I cannot repress entirely the irritation I feel when I hear glib analyses of the operations of power and privilege in texts and presentations. I believe that this language has failed us, has failed to reveal the problems that we have created and that we face in all their complexity, seriousness, and destructiveness” (161).

Part-time faculty members are a foundational part of the 21st cenutry university’s structure.

Full-time faculty members don’t like to regard themselves as workers – ties in with Horner’s Terms of Work for Composition.

“Full-time faculty often fail to see that they are responsible for adjunct faculty, and that ultimately, it is in their self-interest to take part in this process of changing not just the inequities associated with part-time faculty work, but with the very direction in higher education is moving” (179). There is a mutual interdependence between part-time faculty and full-time faculty.

Can’t wait for change to happen from above – must happen from below

November 15, 2010

Miller, Managing to Make a Difference

Miller, Thomas P. “Managing to Make a Difference.” In A Field of Dreams: Independent Writing Programs and the Future of Composition Studies. Ed. Peggy O’Neill, Angela Crow, and Larry W. Burton. Logan: Utah State UP, 2002. 253-267. Print.

Miller argues that the discipline and independent writing programs and departments in particular need to draw on rhetorical theories and concepts to answer some of the challenges that stand-alone writing programs and departments face. He asks and explores the question, “What is rhetoric and what good is it?”, in order to point out the rich theories and ideas available to the field, a comprehensive history of rhetoric as a humanistic, pragmatic discipline. He disagrees with the idea that creating stand-alone departments with tenured faculty will increase the standing of the discipline at the university, questioning why rhetoric and composition would want to buy into a tenure system that privileges insular, specialized conversation separate from the practical outside world which is the place where civic rhetoric occurs. He argues that investing the teaching of writing with the power and practicality of rhetoric could help reverse the unethical treatment of contingent faculty; that the current university structure, with its positioning of writing as a skills-based course, is supported by the continual turnover of teachers. He uses the metaphor of bifocals to argue that independent writing programs need to continue shifting back and forth between attending to the local needs of their students and faculty and the larger moves in the field and the university structure, finding a progressive place where they can do civic rhetorical work.

Notes and Quotes

“Such systems for making the teaching of writing manageable can make it invisible, in part by keeping writing teachers moving on from institution to institution, where they become but fleeting shadows in crowded hallways who can be ignored by ‘regular’ faculty. The invisible men and women of the profession haunt our dreams as we haunt theirs, much like Ellison’s Invisible Man, whose main character looked to a prestigious college to gain professional standing and left with nightmares that his letter of recommendation amounted to a single line: keep this boy running. One way that the higher educational system has kept itself running is by keeping teachers of writing on the move, looking to find a place for themselves in a profession that has depended upon their absence for its sense of itself” (266).

“If rhetoric is to become an aid in negotiating the conflicted goals of writing programs, we must expand our fields of vision to include the domains where it has practical import” (265). Social movements, political movements, state educational systems, institutional reform, labor organizing, organizational communication

“What is rhetoric and what good is it?” – “A rhetorical stance is oriented to purposeful action, not merely criticizing or theorizing, but applying critical understanding to the question of what and how one should act in this situation here and now.” (260).

Some of the concepts he uses – phronesis (practical wisdom as an alternative to scientific inquiry); collapsing the binary of teaching and research by shifting to a third alternative: service (seeing differences as the possibility for a new alternative); rhetoric’s focus on the arts of citizenship (bridging the service orientation of composition with the university’s desire to be seen as an active member of its community); understanding the rhetorical situation and contextual resources of each writing program (designing within rhetorical constraints).

“Writing is everyone’s concern and nobody’s responsibility because prevailing reward systems devalue teaching in general and the teaching of writing in particular. In fairly systematic ways, college faculty have failed to come to terms with the fact that they teach for a living, because they have been rewarded for thinking otherwise” (254).

“I believe that some of the disabling dualisms that constrain our efforts can effectively mediated by rhetoric, if we view it as a pragmatic philosophy of social praxis and not simply a set of techniques for writing. When understood as a civic philosophy of deliberative action, rhetoric can help us bridge the gaps between professional discourses and personal forms of writing, between belletristic and utilitarian value systems, and between research and service missions, if we can put on our bifocals and shift our gaze back and forth between its immediate practical applications and more long-range reflections on the situations, audiences, and purposes that confront us” (256).

“One of the basic challenges that confront independent writing programs is to harness the power of providing an essential service without becoming defined as essentially a service provider” (256).

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