Week 9

Every week, I think: I wish we had time to read and discuss more of the many good articles and books that exist on this subject, because we’re skating lightly over the surface of debates that are as interesting as they are pressing– ethically, politically, and practically. But this week, I’m really thinking that.

There are whole rafts of research on disability studies and higher education, and you might look into it when you write your seminar paper.* In fact, it seems truly insufficient to me that we’re reading only one source for this week, and I originally had another article on the syllabus, too. But as I looked at the schedule for this week and realized that we need to talk practically about grading, too, I pared that down, deciding that the other article would be less necessary and useful for you than these chapters from Mad at School.

I know from our discussions that you already perceive our shared obligation to connect students who come with disabilities to resources that can help them succeed in school. I know that you’re sensitive, too, to the fact that those connections can be especially hard to make when our students face other structural obstacles as well– e.g., they suffer disproportionately under local and global systems that are racist, sexist, and economically exploitative.

So let’s take those things as givens and go on to the next question: HOW? The answer, as always, is not simple.

Mad at School might provide some vocabulary for this, as it narrates the experience of seeking resources from the perspective of a person who needs them. And I want to locate this conversation specifically in the resources we have at our disposal here, so I also linked to the site that describes the resources we have at Queens College. We have talked about those resources a bit, and I’m glad we have the chance to talk about it more.

What seems helpful to you here, and what do you still want to know? What should we make sure to discuss in class? THERE IS SO MUCH.


*The seminar paper: It might be smaller in scale than the papers you write for other graduate classes, because you’re also doing the syllabus revision as part of your independent work for the practicum, and you might use your classroom experience as evidence– but, otherwise, it’s a scholarly paper in the same genre.

You might take up a pedagogical question that you began to explore in one (or more) of your blog posts and do independent research and analysis to answer it more fully. You could also take up some issue we haven’t discussed (or have discussed only very briefly) that sparks a scholarly debate that captures your interests in writing/composition/rhetoric pedagogy or the institutional contours of higher education.

Since we have been treating so many subjects so swiftly, you should find it easy to identify something that you want to know more about– to develop your pedagogy, or to answer questions that linger for you about how/why to teach writing and literature at Queens College (and elsewhere). The seminar paper gives you an opportunity to learn more.

If you want to talk about your paper topic or anything else– as aways–just lmk.


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10 Responses to Week 9

  1. Jacqueline says:

    The general overview of a historicization of rhetoric that Price uses to begin the first chapter of Mad at School was compelling and relates to some thoughts I’ve had throughout the semester about who benefits from a focus on “critical thinking,” echoing what we discussed last week in our conversation about Delpit’s essay. The idea that some students, particularly those with certain mental disabilities, are disadvantaged from the start, or “rhetorically disabled” (26) felt particularly resonant. I was pressed to consider and be more explicit about my expectations as an instructor after reading her analysis of the kariotic spaces of the classroom, and was definitely challenged to reassess my perceptions of “resistance” by students. Price’s attention to that disparity made me eager to hear her ways of addressing the imbalanced power dynamics inevitably present in the university classroom. One such approach that I would like to experiment with in future semesters is her adjustments to the disability statement in her syllabus. This seems like an incredibly productive conversation to have early on in the semester, as an opportunity to make space for different approaches to learning and experiences and engage in dialogue that involves the students as part of a larger conversation. Also, showing a sensitivity to the diversity of learning styles represented in the classroom and offering students the chance to speak about their own experience could potentially help students feel more comfortable speaking up in class in general, both with regards to their needs and to their thoughts and opinions in class discussions. Price writes that “students’ perception of faculty concern for and commitment to their learning has a great impact on their academic success” (89). Not that I wasn’t already holding on to that hope, but it was heartening to read. I’ve spoken to more than a few of you about how our enthusiasm feels like all we’ve got to hold on to some days….

    Ultimately, what I most want to take away from Price is the application of Universal Design as a model where accessibility is “built into” the class not “added on” (102). This felt like a helpful framework not only in considering how to make the classroom more accessible to students with disabilities, both mental and physical, but also how to accommodate different learning styles and levels or variants of English. As Prices admits, this is no easy task, since it will never be possible to meet the needs of every student, especially not all at the same time.

    A question that came up, which has been hovering for me this semester, is how to follow up or not with the accommodations students have explicitly requested. One of my students requested a note taker. One of her classmates volunteered, but it hasn’t been clear to me if he is sharing notes with this student every week. It hasn’t seemed like an issue especially because there is very little note taking going on, since I usually provide handouts or links on our blog when there is specific information I want them to be able to return to. Overall, I’m curious what my role is in making sure those accommodations are being met. If I’m going to address either or both of them, what’s the best way to go about that? I would love to hear how the rest of you are navigating accommodations in your classes.

  2. The question of how can we help our students to connect with resources that will aid them succeed is fraught with even more questions. As Margaret Price points out in “Mad At School: Rhetorics of Mental Disability and Academic Life,” the difficulty of evaluating how a student might even have a disability. In those students that show outward signs of agitation, our non-clinically trained “diagnosis” could be easily made however, not all students with outbursts have a disability. The other question that should come into play here is what is a mental disability? How can we define mental disability. I’m not even sure I like that word. As to students who have a blank face, this is where the challenge lies. Price writes of a student who was always quiet, closed her eyes a lot and stared out the window (91). I have a student that almost fits Price’s description but can I really state that she is mentally disabled? No, of course not. Price’s insights are great yet her article makes me believe that we have two very different types of students. My student who often stares out the window wrote a perfectly good paper. If she prefers to stay quiet and look out the window, she at least is not checking her phone for text messages or posting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and what not. Her silence just might be her lack of interest coming from her conviction that she will never need to write an academic paper when she goes out in the “real” world three and a half years from now. And I would understand her perfectly. When I was an undergraduate in film school, I had no interest in academic papers and I failed two science requirements, Astronomy and Geology (I thought these would be easier than the “hard” sciences…) And I certainly had a blank face in both those courses. Perhaps I had a mental disability (boredom, mood swings, enjoying solitude…who hasn’t felt this way?) What I am saying here is that I am not trained to define and/or recognize true signs of mental “disability” especially when they could simply be shyness or boredom or worrying about relationships. Perhaps it all has to do with degrees. A small degree of shyness is “normal” but a higher degree becomes a problem if it impedes learning and social activity. I am far from criticizing Price’s article, in fact, her chapters interest me to write my class paper about this subject, I am merely stating that I am not qualified to decide what is a “mental” disability unless the behavior is outwardly expressed.
    I do want to share one experience about our Queens College resources. When I went to Frese Hall to find out how what to do when none of my students wanted to be a “notetaker” for my physically challenged student (NB: you are not supposed to mention the student in class or even why you are asking for a notetaker), I noticed a great many number of students waiting and filling out forms, presumably to be seen by a counselor. There was also one student vociferously upset at some poor office worker. Not sure what that was about but it was quite disconcerting to witness. And this was before the midterm exam period. It seemed obvious to me that the levels of stress that our students are going through are at a much higher degree than we can actually see or that they are willing to show in our classes. If they are, however, willing to seek help, then that is their second positive step. The first would be to accept that they have a problem. But if they don’t, how are we going to even broach that subject to them?
    PS. Has anyone noticed a drop in attendance during midterms? I had 4-5 students that didn’t show up for one session and the ones who did come looked either sleep-deprived or depressed — another difficult evaluation. How would I know if these students were having difficulty concentrating or falling asleep “due to anxiety-or depression induced insomnia” (Price 66) or just lack of sleep? When they all came back I took an informal poll and asked what they find most stressful about the midterms and they all answered: writing papers. I then asked what did they prefer: an in class exam or writing a paper and, to my surprise, they pretty much all answered in class exam. This takes them less time and energy and they prefer a one time big effort as opposed to the ongoing writing and rewriting process of academic papers.

  3. Zeli says:

    When Margaret Price begins to crack open Rhetoricity in the beginning of Mad At School, their are several brilliant- yet troubling- questions and assertions that speak to ableism, disability, language, and rhetoric in the classroom. Most striking to me perhaps was Price’s suggestion that “even liberal humanism breaks down” when confronted with realities of belonging, or not belonging, having– or not having– the capacity for rhetoricity, as a cognitively disabled person/subject. Or, within the world of this essay, that is to say the rhetorically disabled…

    I am struck by the way Price sort of paints the grim picture of those who aren’t received as “valid” communicators: “In other words, if one can communicate and be received as a valid communicator, one can be included in various humanist projects, including disability rights. However, if one lacks that particular ability, one is generally overlooked– or rather obliterated, as a speaking subject, placed into Prendergat’s “black hole””(Price, 27). This seems to speak to so much, particularly in the world of writing… It almost feels obvious to reflect on the fact that those in academia who can perform language or articulate themselves in a ‘clearer’ way– be it verbally or written– are generally trusted more and given a larger domain to vocalize, generate written work, and speak on behalf of themselves or others. It’s particularly interesting and troubling to glean Price’s articulation of a disability rights as an example of a “humanist project” — be in one that many who might be cognitively disabled are ironically, and heartbreakingly, excluded from.

    This all feels like it moves toward a critical problem in academia (also, idk, the world?) that I, for one, certainly don’t have the answers to. I appreciate Jacqui’s attention to Prices model for intending that accessibility be “built into” the classroom. To include a classroom anecdote of my own, I’d like to quickly speak on one of my students… She is one of three students in my english 210 class who are deeply struggling with absences. However she is NOT the student I spoke about last class who is simply not turning in written work. She has diligently been in touch with me and even met with me once during office hours where she briefly expressed that she is struggling with some anxiety and depression, among other things. I thanked her for sharing with me and we created a plan, together, that has thus far proved beneficial in terms of this students turning in of a written work. However, she still is struggling to attend class regularly. I’d say she’s missed about half the classes so far… & Ironically she is– once again– one of the strongest creative writers.

    I’m thinking about this student in the world of Price’s argument. How is this student perhaps struggling to move off the periphery of this class and the work we are engaging with. She has some of the most thoughtful, intelligent, and intimate, written responses to the work we are reading– some of which seems to have a personal connection to her– and yet the disconnect of her absences is striking. It’s just making me generally question the extent to which the classroom model is, perhaps, failing to act as a site of belonging and inclusive rhetoricity for her, despite my most heartfelt intentions— subjectively speaking…

  4. Weiheng Sun says:

    Price’s work is instructive to me as an instructor to address the issue of disabilities. I particularly like the last seven sections of suggestions, especially in the section of “Map the Class Explicitly” (90). As Alain talked about in his post about the girl who “had a disability that made it very hard for her to stay awake for any extended period of time” (91). I find it moving that the atmosphere created by the instructor give the students such kind of courage to communicate her true situations while “she had not approached her other instructors that semester until a couple of weeks later, when she had her forms from the Office of Disability Services in hand” (91). This dynamic, inclusive and healthful environment of class is key to a successful teaching, which allows instructors to better understand students’ need and concerns. I have a student whose sentences are written in an unclear way that impacts readers to understand her thoughts. And she’s absent or late from time to time. I don’t know how to talk to her personally. Does she feel any difficulties or struggles? I tried once after class; she felt okay with the class and the materials, yet her performance was not good enough to let her get a pass of her first paper, and she’s risky of getting an F of the course.
    In response to Alain’s “paper-versus-exam” informal poll, I’m not sure how the poll was conducted and if it was conducted orally. Since introvert students may not respond explicitly to the instructor in such condition (I assume), the result may be biased due to the way we conduct the poll. One reason that students feel stressful may be that they have limited time to write. In such circumstances, we may give an extension to their deadlines and allow them more time to write. I postponed the deadline of the final draft for a week to give students some time to “breathe.” And I learn from students’ feedback and they are relieved and even excited about the extension, especially during the mid-term.

  5. Woo Ree Heor says:

    I feel that Price’s comments on being “rhetorically disabled” leading to the loss of personhood and the right to be heard really speaks to me, since language and literacy has been one of the many things that keeps troubling and fascinating me throughout this semester. Whether the “fluency” (to borrow the term from Delpit’s piece earlier) has to do with academic English or English language itself, our students have varying degrees of understanding when it comes to writing a “fluent” academic papers. As others have noted, Price offers some useful theoretical frameworks to address different learning styles and needs, which I’m trying to remember for my future syllabi as well; it would be nice to be able to do more that saying some variation of “sometimes your syntax/word choices/other technical errors make your argument less clear than it should be” to a student draft (it is a valid feedback, but still).

    I am personally intrigued by Alain’s questions about how and to what extent to deem a student “challenged,” mentally or otherwise, mainly because I had similar experience with one of my students. This student was not the “staring out the window for much of the class” type that Price describes, but showed little to no reaction to anything happening during class, whether in terms of isolated expressions of interest or group works. My initial assumption was that she was not really interested or invested in the class; but further interactions and her drafts proved that she is, in fact, a very attentive and motivated writer. She is also the one who makes use of the office hour the most in my class, which suggests to me that perhaps this student is willing to work with the instructor one-on-one, but not comfortable with the idea of working with her classmates. Price comments on how difficult it is to assess a student’s potential disability, but I think the difficulty of offering exact and appropriate supports extends to quiet, shy, or seemingly unresponsive students as well. Price’s suggestions for putting students on the spot without making it seem that way are reasonable enough – I might incorporate some activities into my class. I’m curious to see how others are responding to similar situation in their classes?

  6. Margaret Price’s Mad at School raised almost as many questions for me as it answered. I’m with Alain that I am not sure that I like the words “mental disability” and was encouraged by Price’s note on how we use language to talk about physical disabilities (wheelchair-bound versus wheelchair-assisted) and how we can be cognizant of our language around mental “disabilities.” As Price notes, “What I take from Yergeau’s analysis is that we must resist facile conclusions about our students based upon their diagnosed, self-identified, or suspected neuroatypicalities, and focus instead on ways that their writing and ways of knowing might change and inform our practices” (56). We all have different ways of communicating, so why should we expect our students to be any different, regardless of their “disabilities”?

    Price’s section on her tutoring experiences resonated with me. I’ve worked with numerous disabled students in my writing center tutoring job and have learned that each student—with or without a disability—requires not just a different way of being tutored, but a different way of being heard, which means that I have to tune into a different way of listening. One of my students has depression and anxiety issues. Working on planning her schoolwork can be overwhelming for her, so I try to work on a task list with her in every session, in addition to whatever essay we work on together. She also has ADHD, so reading a long text is a nightmarish task. Just do a little at a time, I tell her. Another student speaks at a pace that’s so quick that I often have trouble keeping up with him, but we manage—together. It’s as if each student almost requires a different me. As teachers, it’s not our place to diagnose, which I also think means that it’s not our place to cure (56), but instead to help students work with who they are.

    However, working with students in a one-to-one situation is very different than managing a classroom of twenty students. Price’s recommendations for redesigning the kairotic space of the classroom with a universal design that “sets as its ideal a learning environment that is accessible to all learning styles, abilities, and personalities, but acknowledges that such efforts must always be partial and engaged in a process of continual revision” seems promising (87). I am especially interested in how we can implement multimodal forms of communication to accommodate different communication styles, while still maintaining a “safe” space for our students (and ourselves). Organizing an argument using Dunn’s Talking Sketching Moving “rhetorical proof cards” sounds like an engaging way to teach organizing an effective argument (97-98). I also wholeheartedly agree with Jacqui about incorporating Price’s adjustments to the disability statement in my syllabus. Finally, Price’s requests for student feedback and conclusion that “Accommodations are not charitable offerings; they are spaces we open to the best of our abilities, and revise, and revise again” (102) is indicative of the flexibility we need to have and the agency that it can provide our students.

  7. Elaine Housseas says:

    As I sit staring at my inverse contrast magnified computer screen, I ask myself what I have learned in the last nine hours in which I spent listening to Price’s Mad at School via screenreader? To be honest, I found Price’s strategy/methodology discomforting. Like many other scholars in disability studies, her argument was very much an argument based around the social model of disability, where the biomedical model of impairment/illness/disease etc. was bashed on multiple occasions. I mention the state that I am currently in, because I believe my current experience of embodiment is crucial to my role as a student, instructor, and specifically DS scholar. My eyes are fatigued, blurring the words that lie just a few inches in front of me. Due to the array of medications I take for chronic migraine and pain, my body like my eyes is fatigued and begging to be moved from the computer chair modified for back and neck comfort to my ever so inviting foam mattress. In addition to this, the pain that I experience every day in my head, neck, and shoulders is aggravated from the terrible posture i adopt when trying to take notes as my screenreader Frank echoes out yet another piece of scholarship.i say all this because I’m tired both literally and figuratively of DS scholars not considering the lived experience of impairments, illnesses, diseases, conditions, etc. in their arguments, finding that this will in some way weaken their claims regarding society’s role in constructing disability, which I in no way disagree with; however, arguments that praise the social argument while scorn the medical model are counterproductive (at least to me).
    Price brings up a great point and flaw within DS: the creation of a hierarchy of disabilities where mobility and sensory impairments/illnesses/disabilities are given more attention than cognitive and mental impairments/illness/disabilities: While the disability rights movement has made tremendous gains in legal and social areas Leiwecki-Wilson shows these benefits have accrued to those disabled who can meet the tests of liberal subjectivity—which generally does not include those with severe cognitive or psychiatric disabilities” (159). This is because these conditions serve—perceived by many—as more clear examples of the social model of disability. While I do commend and understand Price’s desire to discuss cognitive and mental disabilities and pedagogy the attention it very much needs, I do not like this approach of disregarding or minimizing the great deal of work that is still needed for other disabilities. She does this on multiple occasions by using the visually impaired and wheelchair users as an examples. Weirdly, she ends her second chapter with an anecdote of a friend’s experience, who has a sensory impairment, in higher education. I thought this was a pretty interesting choice, considering her approach in her first chapter where I felt she was almost trying to make her own hierarchy. She does this because she believes that the mentally and gognitively disabled are what DS defines as their “deviant subjects”, the “mad” (7). I’m curious why she continues to use the term mad and madness. I’m assuming this choice of language and terminology is explained in her introduction. I think I understand that she is playing on the varying definitions of the term mad and how the phrase “mad at school”can have multiple meanings; however, I always saw the term derogatory and not contemporary. She mentions her issue with the use of the term “crazy” but mad is deemed acceptable. Besides this, I would’ve liked her to give examples of individuals who suffer from more than one illness, condition, disability, etc. I think that would’ve been a nice way to avoid the hierarchal or isolating approach.
    As you all know, I’ve been having an experience with one of my students that has and continues to challenge me as a first time instructor, as a person who suffers from multiple medical conditions, and as an individual. I was moved when she discussed what her and other scholars view as society’s perception of the mentally and cognitively disabled: “We speak from positions that are assumed to be subhuman, even nonhuman, and therefore, when we speak our words go unheadeeded” (6) I can’t help but forget what my student said to me on one our first days of classes: “Elaine and I are both disabled, we know what it is like to be treated like monsters.” I don’t think I’ll ever forget this moment, and this was one of the many moments I’ve shared with my student that were in the forefront of my thoughts as read these two chapters. As I kept reading, I hoped Price would give me some advice on how to better understand and perhaps interact with my student. Price starts with an ableist definition of rhetorics she said she has shared with her students in the past: “Rhetorics are the way we communicate with each other, not only in writing or by speaking but also in visual ways like pictures or even in subtle ways like the expressions on our faces or the attitudes we bring to each other” (5). She later brings up this interesting idea of rhetoricity: “…the ability to be received as valid human subjects…to lack rhetoricity is to lack all freedom and rights, including the freedom to express ourselves and the right to be listened to” (6). I believe this is the state that my student and I share, this feeling that we are not being heard, not being understood, or express ourselves the way we might want to in a given moment. We experience this feeling from society and perhaps from one another. I empathize with the instructors who acknowledged their moments of inappropriate expressions of emotion. I have not yet done so, but a few weeks ago I almost succumbed to tears in the midst of my lecturing because my student had interrupted my train of thought. It was no different than other times than she has behaved in this way. It was just in that moment I was wondering: why can’t I get through to you? What am I do wrong? While Price identifies herself as a person who herself is a person with a disability, I wish she spent more time discussing in more detail experiences she’s had with students with disabilities. She mentions a couple; however, I iwsh she expanded on this. What happens when the instructor and student are disabled in the same and different ways? I hoped she would have a situation like mine that was mainly about keirotic spaces but a situation when a student submits no writing in a writing focused course. I guess I was looking to her for answers, looking to her as I’ve been looking to others for advice, feedback, critique, or anything I could learn from other than the experience itself. I’ve been the student with the disability and now the instructor with the disability. I’ve been on both sides of the desk in regards to participation, attendance, and accommodations. I loved the idea of universal design: “Universal design sets as its ideal a learning environment that is accessible to all learning styles, abilities, and personalities but acknowledges that such efforts must always be partial ane engaged in a process of continual revision” (89). I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve already tweaked my syllabus, deadlines, format criteria, etc. to accommodate my students and all their needs. This I think is the best approach to teaching. This is one of the reason’s I thought the contract syllabus would not work well; the learning and academic experience is too individualized and in need of a flexible base. I appreciate the many suggestions she gives in the last pages of the second chapter. The one that I feel was most beneficial was the statement regarding special services on the syllabus. This is something that I spent a lot of time thinking about when I created my syllabus, and I never came up with anything I thought was remotely acceptable. But I had to turn something in, so I adapted a statement from one of the syllabi provided to us that I was the most comfortable with. I liked her approach to this part of the syllabus, and her phrasing is something I will definitely keep in mind when we annotate our syllabus in the end of the course. As for modes of communication and participation, I told my students from the beginning that this could be done in a variety of ways due. Due to my visual impairment, I told them that they would not be able to raise their hands if they wanted to comment in class discussion. They’d have to speak freely, and listen and respect one another when any given student was speaking. I now have a hand-counter, who counts hands when we vote on certain things. I have multiple students who like writing on the board for me. They very honest in telling me at times my handwriting is unreadable. Some students read out loud, look up definitions, moe the desks to create the circle formation I asked for, and they always take the same seats from the first day of class as I requested so I could recognize them faster. I’m very open with my students about what I need form them, and many of my students are now very comfortable coming to me with their own needs. However, what if the student’s needs is out of your realm of knowledge or expertise? I know I mentioned this in class last week, and we discussed how we must consult other professionals within the college to handle certain circumstances; however, as much as I know I’m not a counseler to my students, I want them to know that I’m always a person that will listen. As instructors we’re not therapists (as Price discusses), but we are people who care about the individuals who walk into our classroom, who want to support and aid these people as best as we can in our course and perhaps a little outside the course along the way. I feel this unavoidable when building bonds with students.
    I know this is a really long post, and there is so much more I can still write about this article and this subject in general. It will probably be the topic I choose for my seminar paper. But I do have a pretty pressing question I would like to pose to the class: how do you teach visual analysis and grade a paper based on visual evidence when you yourself don’t necessarily think about or really notice many visual stimuli or how they are used?

  8. Caleb Fridell says:

    Elaine’s important point about how theories of the social construction of disability neglect “the lived experience of impairments, illnesses, diseases, conditions” reminded me of an article I read a little while ago in the LRB, by Lorna Finlayson. She describes a new policy imposed from above at the University of Essex, where she teaches:

    “As part of a ‘sector-wide shift towards seeing wellness as part of a much broader and more complex matter than simply mental health’, the university’s qualified counsellors will be replaced by a team of ‘well-being assessors’, who will be required only to have two A-levels and some relevant experience. Counselling will be provided through ‘partnership arrangements’ with an as-yet-unnamed outside body (mental health support for staff is already provided through an arrangement with Validium, a company which promises ‘solutions that quantifiably increase the value of people to the business’). There will also be a shift towards the use of online materials in place of face-to-face therapy. All of this against a background of deteriorating mental health, among students and staff alike, and soaring demand for support services.”

    It strikes me how the hideous language from the university trades on a distorted version of the same sort of ‘social construction’ argument (elsewhere on their site they write, “everyone has mental health – sometimes good, sometimes not so good” to show that they understand the social complexity of the issue) as part of the justification for actively stripping away what resources exist for people with real needs. I bring up this example first to make a more general point about how arguments that trade on Foucault’s “governmentality” can be careless of the ongoing erosion of existing state welfare provisions (what few still remain). Again, this leaves vulnerable people more vulnerable. And I also bring it up because it seems to me a specific example of a wider, insidious trend (CUNY too would like to replace ‘face-to-face’ counseling with ‘online interaction’). And, as I often do, I think it suggests the need think about these issues at the institutional level. Price’s article ends with the description of the “universal design” in the classroom, with several suggestions for instructors; all of these instructions involve the personal relation of instructor to student. These might be helpful, but they don’t seem to me to point toward transformative solutions about the institutional structures that limit accessibility in myriad ways. Lorna Finlayson ends her article like this:

    “Mental illness among students is often connected with or compounded by financial worries, family trauma, bereavement, sexual assault and other factors. The university cannot solve all of these problems, but it can do two things. It can provide well-qualified, well-resourced staff for students to talk to when they need to. And if it is really interested in creating a healthy environment, it can look at ways to reduce the financial pressure on students, instead of cutting bursaries to the bone while hiking rents. As mentally ill people are continually told, it is never too late to change direction.”

  9. saba says:

    On “Mad at school”:
    Reading the 1st chapter uncovered a great deal defining the “rhetorical black hole” (26), which in relating it to disability, author does a lexical surgery to reveal that communicating the disability itself in the first place, is a crucial factor remaining greatly undermined. While later in chapter two, there are several suggestions regarding “listening” to disability in redesigning the kairotic space. Although reading Elaine’s response, who speaks from inside the pain, makes me reluctant regarding the implementation of these theories in classroom.
    In chapter 1, Price lays out the history of academic discourse in United States –and the “[Influence] of Greek rhetorical theories” (31) with regards to theories of reason—followed by “critical thinking” and merging onto ethical subject, through which one could trace a history of the governing psychology of classroom which is negligent to rhetoric of emotion and thus the mad subject: “Our practice continues to circulate around the imperatives to diagnose, cure, contain, or expel the mad subject. “(33) What I personally found most fascinating in chapter 1, was the coupling of “medical rhetoric” with “Academic rhetoric” (33), whereby author argues “is a desire to protect academic discourse as a “rational” realm” (33): The dichotomy of good/ bad, sane/ insane paves the way for establishing the clean line, where the “human bodies can therefore be stored into “clinical” and “mental” institutions. (33). As a result, I also found the historical contextualization of DSM and the politics surrounding its revisions quite convincing of why we have to further look into the mad subject and its integration in classroom, while maneuvering around what is called a handbook of “obsessive text “ (DSM) which posits “Psychiatry as an agent of normalization, state control, and multicultural oppression.”(35)
    In further expanding on current “approaches to emotion in classroom” Price draws an unflinching picture of the three of our habits in situating of emotions in academia: “a presumed devide still exists between the “normal” emotions that most students experience and the “very different” emotions that attend anthologized mental situations such as trauma or being “crazy””(49). In Price’s definition of kairotic spaces, what most interests me is “the pairing of spontaneity with high levels of professional/ academic impact.”She also touches on this topic further in chapter 2 in redesigning the kairotic space and inclusion of disabled rhetor: “Understanding and acknowledging that the universal design must be responsive as well as prepared, flexible as well as accommodating” (88) This, in case of teaching 210 takes on a very strong and different life of itself: In teaching “creative writing”, instructor is constantly vis-a-vis the raw and shapeless material of creativity that might take an unexpected form at any given moment. So although I found the idea of “Safe houses” utile, but I am curious about the actuality of implementing a “safe[r] space”for creative classes where lines of rationality/ madness can and must be blurred.

  10. Farrah Goff says:

    Something that struck me in Price’s “Mad at School” was her discussion of the way psychiatric discourse affects the way we as individuals view disability and then how this affects our teaching methodologies. “Psychiatric discourse positions itself as natural, scientific, and objective, a system through which human minds may be reliably measured as “crazy” or “normal” and through which human bodies can therefore be sorted into the appropriate spaces; the educational institution or the mental institution” is presented to readers BEFORE Price dives into her further analysis of psychiatric discourse as a part of the over all rhetoric (33). I think I take issue with this for a variety of reasons, as an instructor and as a graduate student. For one, in some ways, hasn’t the academy always been the space through which those who may not fit in elsewhere go? Especially in the sciences but also in the exploration of the humanities through research, rhetoric, papers, etc, hasn’t academia as a whole been founded, built, and somewhat maintained by those who don’t or can’t fit into the boxes others so wildly crave? By this I mean, in the sense academia, university, and the academic setting are by some ways outside of what has been deemed normal, in the sense that it differs from the 9-5 strict office type environment often toted as “the American dream.” Why then is there the need to draw the distinction and difference? Further, I think my issue with such a harsh distinction comes from the idea that “crazy” and “normal” are abstract and societally defined ideas in the first places, what is the relevance (and danger) of these words in the classroom type setting and why must we think of them as this or that, why is there not a spectrum? Again, I seem to have a habit of getting a bit off topic with the moves of these essays, which is more reflective of my interest in the minutiae perhaps.

    Moving beyond this response to Price, is having read what my peers are saying, it seems to me that there is an overwhelming desire to do better (if not more) for our students, especially those who may be anything other than “normal” or “able”. Both Jaqui and Alain are noting their own personal experiences with students who may be on this spectrum as I have previously referred to it. Moving beyond this difficult question of how to do more, to do better, I think a positive take-away from all of this is the privilege of the small classroom environment in these early writing courses. Because of these small class sizes the instructor such as Alain is able to note that the same student who doesn’t often participate writes perfectly good papers or Jaqui is able to spend a bit more time noticing if the student who requested a note taker actually received one. These small classroom environments can be utilized to the advantage of our instructors, although Elaine has presented a problem of what may occur when the small classroom becomes too small.

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