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Monthly Archives: April 2016

Facing the Center

For my followers who have enjoyed this inclusion into my private life as a student in Writing Theory and Practice, this will be my final scheduled blog post for this class. It has been enjoyable learning some of the various ways to approach tutoring and writing centers, in general. One thing that I have learned is there is always much to learn, about self and others. Some of the readings, I have disagreed with, some were…eh, but some were challenging and pushed me to wade through them. Yes, they centered on writing centers, but many of the topics, like those I’ll discuss in this blog, have carry-over into all parts of life.

The final book we are reading in our class is Facing the Center by Harry C. Denny. This book is proving to push the borders for those working in and around writing centers. Though I am not crazy about Denny’s personal inclusion of himself into this book, to the degree at which he does, I am not sure he could have written it any other way. In many ways Facing the Center is a personal reflection and a public exploration into identity politics for one-on-one mentoring.

The chapters that interested me the most were chapters three (class) and four (sex and gender); the latter of which I am using for my research project on gender roles in our writing center. I have enjoyed Denny’s way of singling out a topic such as class from the other influences that run so closely beside it, like gender, race, and ethnicity.

When thinking about identity politics and how all this fits together for the pedagogy of writing centers, we must include the politics that mingle with it. So, a definition of identity politics is a must, and forgive me for the source I use, I liked it best for its simplicity.

Wikipedia defines identity politics as “political arguments that focus upon the interest and perspectives of groups with which people identify. Identity politics includes the ways in which people’s politics may be shaped by aspects of their identity through loosely correlated social organizations.” If thinking about class, this would mean if you are a middle-class male that your class structure influences your how you teach in a writing center. Today it would seem that you need almost deny such to be able to relate to those, not of you class. However, Denny encourages using whatever class we are as a tool to learn about ourselves and our understanding of the world. To use where we come from as a means to be compassionate for others and broaden our scope to appreciate all classes. Denny used an example of how he encouraged a student to seek a Master’s degree, but the student did not want to abandon where he came from. The student chose to become an NYC police officer near where he grew up. What is challenging in this, is that struggle within ourselves where we feel like we have to cut off our roots or abandon our history to pursue something that interests us.

Identity politics grow even more complex when you add in gender roles. Take a moment and think about this in how you perceive the world around you. We all have an identity and identify with a group(s), and this affects how we perceive the world around us. These groups can be our friends at school, work, or the gym, our family, clubs we belong to, even our religious beliefs draw us to a particular social organization that believes the same as we do. Add in your gender, race and ethnicity, and the dynamics heighten. People are complex and highly interesting. Which culminates to the heart of Facing the Center where Denny addresses power, agency, language, and meaning. He pushes the reader to consider how they may be feeding cultures that are not promoting writing centers that are more inclusive and forward thinking and how they might work to change.

Thank you for joining me this semester. I hope you have found the material as interesting as I have.

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Posted by on April 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Feedback on Really Rough Draft

Liz and I peer reviewed each others papers today. We met during our scheduled class time and took nearly the entire time to go over our papers. I must admit the pleasure I had having her review my work.

She had several good comments, many of which were structural, formatting, and style choice. The most helpful were her attention to my use of pronouns at the beginning and my volleying back and forth with verb tenses.

We found each others topics interesting and there was much talking about each. Each of us pointed out what we found interesting and where we had questions. This discussion was helpful as it caused us to think again about what we were saying and what was important to us to make clear in our papers.

Moving forward, I definitely need to address style choice and stop waffling between APA and MLA. Verb tenses must be addressed as does the confusion of pronoun usage. Better defining my audience will help accomplish this clarifying of pronouns.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Thoughts on the Everyday Writing Center

The Everyday Writing Center is designed to be informational and helpful for tutors and directors of writing centers. There are some really good points within the pages. There are also some things that fall flat (at least for me).

I’ll start off with the main attempt that fell flat for me so I can end my thoughts more positively. While chapter two, titled, “Trickster at Your Table” has some really good points such as crossing boundaries to reach and tutor students, the whole idea of a trickster seemed forced. This trickster idea keeps getting referred to throughout the book. So while I could see where the authors wanted to go with this idea, I felt like I was being dragged along rather than buying into it.This is not to say that the chapter did not have some great advice. On the contrary, there was an ingenious idea a tutor used to help a non-native English speaker with their vocabulary by playing Scrabble. Playing Scrabble is not exactly what you think would go on during a writing session, but the tutor took the time to get to know the students like, and Scrabble was on of them as was expanding their vocabulary.

Chapter three dealt with how time is viewed and used in the writing center. The authors broke time into two sections: mechanical and body. Ultimately, this chapter is about how “tutors live time differently…” and how “[t]hings take as long as they take.” This sounds oversimplified, and it is, so I encourage you to read the chapter for yourself. Personally, I think some of the advice and insight the authors give would be good for anyone, not just tutors and students.

While chapter five focuses on writers as tutors and tutors as writers, the biggest takeaway I got from this chapter was a short sentence, “Identity is not static.” This stood out to me because much of what we discuss in class is how to keep a student from losing part (or all) of their identity, particularly those from other cultures and backgrounds that are quite different from the American Standard English and collegiate form of writing. This idea of identity being more fluid caused me to try to think of ways to teach that both, exposed a student to a new way of writing yet did not annihilate what and whom they brought to the table. Which brought me back to a quote at the beginning of the chapter and the best way I could think to close this blog post:

“The writers who come to our centers and the tutors who work in them bring us everyday gifts of themselves and of their communities of practice, communities where they live outside of “normal” school time (and where they experience that “eternal ‘now,'” places where writing occurs in epochal time).”

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

 
 
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