On the blog for Week 1, Kate raises a question that I imagine to be pressing for many of you as you get into your third week of teaching (even as your weeks are necessarily interrupted by the holidays)– so I hope we can address this question on the blog this week, along with any other observations and ideas you might have on your mind.
Kate begins with a quotation from Horner and company to concur with them that, “writers’ proficiency in a language will thus be measured not by their ability to produce an abstracted set of conventional forms. Rather, it will be shown by the range of practices they can draw on; their ability to use these creatively; and their ability to produce meaning out of a wide range of practices in their reading” (308). Kate uses that quotation to name the goals she sees for her students, and, consequently, for her as her their teacher. And that prompts her to observe that she is “craving specificity, methodology. What are examples of the things that make up this wide range of practices? Will I be able to discern them, do I need to, and if so what can I be doing, concretely, to get better at it?”
Our reading for this week is more practical than theoretical, although there is (as always) some theory implicit there. What specifics can you glean from this week to help you foster for your students a “range of practices they can draw on; their ability to use these creatively; and their ability to produce meaning out of a wide range of practices in their reading”? This is a sweeping question, I know.
As I think about it, I’m thinking also about a theme that has been running through our conversations so far. When we’ve had disagreement among us, it seems to cohere around the kinds and degrees of authority we think a teacher should exert in the class– which makes sense, because there is some paradox or tension here.
On one hand, we want all of our students to engage in processes of inquiry that are uniquely theirs; we want them to appreciate and use all of the knowledge and intelligence they bring to the classroom, including the kinds that have historically been neglected by the university. On the other hand, we want to bring our experience inside the university and this world, such as it is, to show our students how to make their voices heard, even by people who may not share our desire or ability to listen. That is, we want to make the university come to our students, but we also want to help them to come to the university.
So. How can you balance these competing impulses with the high/low-stakes assignments you assign, and with the comments you write on them? Of the readings we’ve done so far– by Bean, Berzsenyi, Haswell, or anyone else– where do you find insights (practical or theoretical) that help?
And, if you want to, you might also use your blog post for this week to share a specific pedagogical dilemma that has arisen for you since we met last. Where are you focusing your efforts to become the best teacher you can be, and where do you find support/guidance/insight in the readings we’ve done so far?