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.