Teaching Philosophy and the Three Major Assignments

Teaching Philosophy 

Introduction

I believe the fundamental goal of teaching is to foster learning; only motivated teachers and qualified instructors can scaffold their online students from the fear zone into the un-pressured safe zone, which might ultimately achieve the objective of the course. Learning might take place in many different circumstances and contexts by using many updated recourses and offering reliable, multi means of assessments. My job, as an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher, is to create an atmosphere that fosters learning and appreciate the diverse needs of my virtual students. Students have multiple learning styles: some learn best by discussion, some are motivated in lectures “traditional way”, and other would rather prefer and absorb best when they read and then reflect on what they have just read. These differences would encourage teachers, especially online writing teachers, to have a self awareness as well as awareness of student’s different attitudes towards learning of what kind of teaching methods, goals, objectives, modes, channels, techniques and assessment they would utilize in the learning/ teaching process .

Learning Styles

Accommodating different learning styles creates an atmosphere that is conducive to learning and that would happen by using a practical teaching method that best suit the needs of my students and the available resources I have as a teacher. There is no question about using the “Communicative Approach” since it is one of the approaches as far as I know that best conveys the knowledge. Many teachers have perceived this method as only applicable in traditional classrooms settings; nevertheless, with the advent of technology today, online instructors can utilize such approach to create a meaningful learning environment. For instance, teacher can allow students to work in virtual group to practice problem-solving, critical thinking skills; this allows them to have a voice through peer group scaffolding. Furthermore, I can use other materials such as real objects (i.e., pictures, videos, etc) and stories so that they promote independent thinking and thus create learning environments that help them move into an upper level of learning.

Teaching online writing is not as teaching face- to- face setting; teaching online is like driving in a different country where you know the rules of how to drive a car but you are a bit confused about the traffic rules. In fact, it requires the instructors to prepare the materials needed for the course ahead of time. Complicated technologies, new social orders, and media-rich resources might easily mislead students, and thus they are left to figure it out themselves. Instead teachers should leave explicit instruction about the overall goal of the course, what expected performance in this course, and etc.

Commitment

One most important premise that I would train myself to be rigid at is the online management strategies that includes the following steps:  monitoring assignment submissions, communicating with students constantly ( weekly if it’s possible), reminding students of missed and/or upcoming deadlines, and adjusting some assignments or making them more appropriate to their needs where needed ( Warnock,  2009).

I will try my best to develop a comfort zone in online community by telling my students that I will be available on specific days answering their questions, discussing some concerns about the course—just like the office hours for traditional classes. Setting this routine can be an invaluable tool for students to get to know the instructor more and tie the bond with him or her.

I also believe that it is important to build a community where everyone knows each other so that they can work comfortably with each other. In order to do this, I think it is important to set forth a platform with a personal introduction posting where students and their instructor get to know each other more. Another helpful platform is that I would set a general open student forum for students to post and request help and assistance from each other through the various student-to-student tools, such as discussions, interest areas, etc. (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010)

Online Environment

Another important aspect of teaching online composition is that I would develop a culture of weekly online discussion to help students share, negotiate and co-construct the meaning of any given concept assigned for the course readings. This collective work scaffold students to map out the concept and help them understand it from different lens.  Posting videos on a certain topic, for instance, would excite the students more, especially if it is posted by the instructor. This will give, in some cultures, students more confident digesting the meaning of the topic being discussed. I think, after all of this, students will be able to write and use the appropriate medium (e.g., moving pictures, interactive presentation, videos, etc) for the assigned assignment. This also should be accompanied with a timely response by the instructors to avoid any potential frustrations the students may encounter. Excessive delays, for example, longer than 48 hours, may inhibit student progress in the course and will most definitely lead to student dissatisfaction and disillusionment with their learning system.

Syllabus Considerations

Online teachers should keep in mind the alignment between the online course objectives /goals and the assignments given to the students; that is, instructors should design an assignment that meets the course objectives and shouldn’t be related to something else, this can be done through establishing a protocol for grading students paper—or even design a rubric for each assignment. This helps the students to check on their progress, identify their weakness and strength in the course, and help teachers to consider future issues that the students have.

Online classroom setting can encourage or inhibit learning depending on the dominant learning style of each student that lead teachers to set a reliable goal and objectives for the class lessons. Setting a goal and adjective for a lesson isn’t that easy job to do in EFL/ ESL context since many things I have to consider such as the setting, type of materials available, students needs and their level of language proficiency. Having these things in mind would better help me out in setting my goal and then I can go along and set out certain and definite objectives to my students.

Concluding Thoughts

Finally, learning is a process that never ends. For me, the way I teach would go through many stages that might include improving myself professionally and expand my understanding of the students needs so that my teaching would be worthy. In addition, one important aspect is that the teacher should be a facilitator of student learning, which he or she attempts to provide circumstances that will enable students to engage with the learning opportunities and construct for themselves their understandings and skills. This role will interact with teachers as learners, colleague and community partner.

References

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. M. (2010). The Online Teaching Survival Guide:               Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips (1ed.). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Warnock, S. (2009). Teaching writing online: How and why. Urbana, Ill.:                        National Council of Teachers of English.

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Assignment One

ESL 200: Advanced Writing

Topic: Meta-Awareness of your Linguistic Journey

CELAC (Center for English Language and American Culture)  

Peer review Due: Aug 1st

First Draft Due: Aug 5th

Second Draft Due: Aug 15th

Type of Genre: Narrative that explains a story of how your learning experience developed over time.

Rhetorical Situation:   

Learning a second language can be very challenging sometimes; an individual might go through many arduous steps to master a target language he or she is learning. This might includes the mastery of the social, cultural and linguistic aspects of the target language.

Having this in mind, create a multimodal piece (or you may choose to do this time as a text based) that reflects your English learning experiences; what are the motivational tools that shaped your current English proficiency? Describe the recourses you used that helped you the most to develop a second self?     

Instruction for this assignment:

For this assignment you are asked to create one of the following choices:

  1. Since this is the first assignment, I think, developing a multimodal composition might be a bit challenging; thus, you are given the choice for this time to write a narrative essay that highlights the millstones of your second language developments. (* no less than three pages long)
  1. Create a video that showcase your learning experience chronologically; in this video you may want to use background music, suitable pictures, and texts. For this choice think about WeVideo or Windows Movie Maker, they both are easy to use and edit.

The link below might geode through the steps of making Wevide clip:

https://www.wevideo.com/academy

Helpful hints:

–  Introduce your topic and explains the steps chronologically that you went through learning a second language.

–  Explain how certain medium of your choice reflect the dynamics of learning a second language.

– If you plan to integrate your voice as an audio file either in the text or the video, try to use at least one reference.

– Highlight the most helpful resources that helped and motivated you learn English well.

– Summarize your experience and suggest further strategies that help ESL students learn and master the second language effectively.

Reflection:

  1. a) (In case if you chose to do the video) you are required to write a short reflection (one to two paragraphs) explaining your choices of the modes, artifacts and how certain features of your multimodal can help readers better understand the topic.
  1. b) You also need to upload your reflection and multimodal assignment on the class Dropbox folder.

Grading Rubric

Category 5 – Exceeds Expectations 3 – Meets Expectations 2 – Needs Improvement
Understanding of Audience Demonstrates a keen understanding of the target audience, and uses appropriate medium. Demonstrates a general understanding of audience and uses mostly appropriate medium. Demonstrates a limited understanding of audience, and generally uses appropriate medium.
Usage of Multimodalities

(if you choose to do the video)

The choice of the multimodal and the choice of medium fit well in the context. . The choice of the multimodal and the medium fit some part of the context, but not all of it. . The choice of the multimodal and the medium don’t fit the context.
Narrative Focus

(if you choose to do the text-based)

The narrative

is clearly focused

and maintained throughout:

• Effectively establishes a setting, narrator and/or characters.

The narrative

is somewhat

maintained and may have a

minor drift in focus:

• Inconsistently

establishes a setting, narrator, and/or characters.

The narrative may be maintained but may provide little or no

focus:

• May be very brief

• May have a major drift

• Focus may be confusing

Language and Vocabulary

(if you choose to do the text-based)

The narrative clearly and effectively expresses experiences or events:

• Effective use of

sensory, concrete, and figurative language

clearly advance the

purpose.

The narrative adequately expresses experiences or

events:

• Adequate use of

sensory, concrete, and

figurative language

generally advance the

purpose.

The narrative is vague, lacks

clarity or is confusing:

• Uses limited language

• May have little sense of purpose.

Reflection 

(if you choose to do the video)

The author articulates clearly his/her choices and highlights the learning outcomes precisely. The author articulates clearly his/her choices but didn’t highlight the learning outcomes precisely. Reflection is weak and at times confusing in terms of author’s position with little reference to main idea, thesis, or the justification of the choices.

 

Overall grade=    /15

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Assignment Two

ESL 200: Advanced Writing

Topic: Friendship across Cultures

CELAC (Center for English Language and American Culture)  

Peer review Due: Sep 1st

First Draft Due: Sep 5th

Second Draft Due: Sep 15th  

Rhetorical Situation:

Friendship is a seminal feature of the human community, as an international student who comes across plenty of people every day at school, you probably often reflects upon different practices and proposals of friendship.

What are the values of friendship in your culture? And how do you compare them to what you know so far about the American culture?

You may want to think about how people in both cultures might gesture intimacy and distance.

Instructions:

Create a multimodal piece in which you can relate to your cultural understanding of friendship and compare it to American culture.

You may want to read about the meaning of friendship in American culture and compare it with your culture; then you can pick some aspect of both to use it in your multimodal assignments.

The link below might help you broaden your understating of the American culture, especially the meaning of friendship:

https://syayidss.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/american-ways-a-guide-for-foreigners-in-the-united-states-327.pdf (Chapter 10)

Perhaps, you may want to collect some public artifacts that reflects the meaning of friendship in both cultures, such as visual, audio, gestural(facial expressions, gestures, body language), spatial, or linguistic means of friendship.

By using the above mentioned artifacts, try to create a unique multimodal composition to your classmates by creating one of the following options: interactive presentation/ poster, photograph sideshow, audio file, blog post, or video.

LengthFor this assignment, you are required to create a five minutes multimodal composition of your choice.

REMEMBER: For this multimodal assignment, you don’t want to submit a traditional word-processed paper. Try to include more than two modals/ medium at least in your work.

Helpful elements for this assignment:

–  Introduce your topic and the importance of it in understanding cross cultural communication.

–  Explain how certain artifacts of your choice reflect the meaning of friendship in both cultures.

– If you plan to integrate your voice as an audio file, try to use at least one reference.

– Highlight if there is any similarities between the two groups by using any modal.

– Summarize your argument and suggest further area of exploratory in this area.

Reflection:

After you finish this multimodal assignment, you are required to write a short reflection (one to two paragraphs) explaining your choices of the artifacts and how this assignment can be an eye opener in understating cross cultural communication.

You also need to upload your reflection and multimodal assignment on the class Dropbox folder.

Grading Rubric: 

Category 5 – Exceeds Expectations 3- Meets Expectations 2 – Needs Improvement
Understanding of Audience Demonstrates a keen understanding of the target audience, and uses appropriate medium. Demonstrates a general understanding of audience and uses mostly appropriate medium. Demonstrates a limited understanding of audience, and generally uses appropriate medium.
Usage of Multimodalities The choice of the multimodal and the choice of medium fit well in the context. . The choice of the multimodal and the medium fit some part of the context, but not all of it. . The choice of the multimodal and the medium don’t fit the context.
Reflection  The author articulates clearly his/her choices and highlights the learning outcomes precisely. The author articulates clearly his/her choices but didn’t highlight the learning outcomes precisely. Reflection is weak and at times confusing in terms of author’s position with little reference to main idea, thesis, or the justification of the choices.

Total Grade=    /15

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Assignment Three

ESL 200: Advanced Writing

Topic:  Interaction inside the Classroom

CELAC (Center for English Language and American Culture)

Peer review Due: Oct 1st

First Draft Due: Oct 5th

Second Draft Due: Oct 15th  

Rhetorical Situation:

People in a particular educational system maybe unaware of the fundamental assumptions they are making and thus they are unable to articulate them for people from another educational system.

Many ESL international students experience frustration and difficulties when they arrive in the U.S to study.  ESL students need to adopt the American expected way of communication in the classroom.

Throughout your experience and observation, write about how American students interact with their classmates (i.e., the expected norm of communication inside the classroom) and describe the student-professor relationship in the classroom.

Instructions:

**Create a multimodal piece in which you can relate to your educational experience of students-student and teacher- students relationship in an American educational system.

**Beside our online discussion, you may want to refer to some references that explain to you in details regarding this topic. Remember the main goal of referring to this chapter is just to help you out understand some of the main themes that might take a place in the classroom. What matters the most to me is you’re first hand, unique experience that reflects both your experience and observation.

**The link below might help you broaden your understating of the American culture, especially the interaction in the classroom:

https://syayidss.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/american-ways-a-guide-for-foreigners-in-the-united-states-327.pdf (Chapter 19, Studying)

**Perhaps, you may want to collect some educational artifacts that reflects the expected norm of communication, such as teacher’s feedback, types of questions asked (their formality and informality level), students’ spatial distance, your reaction to group project, student’s authorial voice, etc.

**By using the above mentioned artifacts, try to create a unique multimodal composition to your classmates by creating one of the following options:

Option: (1) Create a professional blog where you can add images (both still and moving); if you choose to do this option, you are also required to narrative your story by recording your voice and explaining in more depth about your experience and observation. WordPress might be a good choice to think about to do this project.

For more helpful information, you may want to refer to this link below:

https://codex.wordpress.org/First_Steps_With_WordPress

Length of this choice:  You have for about 5 to 6 pictures or artefacts of your choice to reflect about your experience along with explanatory statements for each. Also, for your details narration, you are asked to record your voice for about 4 to 5 minutes long.

Option: (2) Design an interactive PowerPoint presentation where the viewers action leads to a reaction. For example if you click on one hyperlink or a picture, you will be able to get more details about that picture or that hyperlinked text (i.e., triggers for each pictures or text).

For this choice make sure:

A. Not all analyses and annotations are equally enlightening or convincing so choose your image and interpretation carefully.

B. The annotations should focus on how the visual communicates a message and what it communicates.

This link can help you easily create an interactive PowerPoint presentation:

http://www.brightcarbon.com/blog/how-to-make-interactive-powerpoint-slides-for-elearning/

Video tutorial for creating interactive presentation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgcH4LqMJus

REMEMBER: For this multimodal assignment, you don’t want to submit a traditional word-processed paper. Try to include more than two modals/ medium at least in your work.

Helpful elements for this assignment:

–  Introduce your topic and the importance of it in understanding cross cultural communication, especially in academic context.

–  Explain how certain artifacts of your choice reflect the dynamics of classroom interaction in the U.S schools

– If you plan to integrate your voice as an audio file, try to use at least one reference.

– Highlight if there is any similarities/ differences between your home country’s classroom dynamic and the U.S collage classroom interaction.

– Summarize your observation and suggest further strategies that help ESL students better understand the excepted norm of communication in the U.S colleges.

Reflection:

After you finish this multimodal assignment, you are required to write a short reflection (one to two paragraphs) explaining your choices of the artifacts and how this assignment can be an eye opener in understating cross cultural communication.

You also need to upload your reflection and multimodal assignment on the class Dropbox folder.

Category 5 – Exceeds Expectations 3 – Meets Expectations 2 – Needs Improvement
Understanding of Audience Demonstrates a keen understanding of the target audience, and uses appropriate medium. Demonstrates a general understanding of audience and uses mostly appropriate medium. Demonstrates a limited understanding of audience, and generally uses appropriate medium.
Usage of Multimodalities The choice of the multimodal and the choice of medium fit well in the context. . The choice of the multimodal and the medium fit some part of the context, but not all of it. . The choice of the multimodal and the medium don’t fit the context.
Reflection  The author articulates clearly his/her choices and highlights the learning outcomes precisely. The author articulates clearly his/her choices but didn’t highlight the learning outcomes precisely. Reflection is weak and at times confusing in terms of author’s position with little reference to main idea, thesis, or the justification of the choices.

Grading Rubric

 

Overall Grade=    /15

 

 

 

 

Review of the Article: Writing and the Mind

In the article, “Writing and the Mind,” the writer includes a pithy, find-grained description of relationship between the linguistic writing system and the mind. Olson brings forth very detailed topics that pertain to the subject ” Writing and the Mind”: the relationship between writing and speech, the history of writing, the history of alphabet, learning to read, and the cognitive implication of  reading.

At the beginning of this paper, it is mentioned that culture plays a vital role in shaping mind perception, thought, and action. Language learning is also a primary means of acquiring the folkways of culture. As for writing, Olson emphasizes that its cognitive processes and structures are transformed conspicuously by the acquisition of our natural language or our best-recognized culture.

In the English Language, the author argues, what the writing system represents is what is said; it’s an explicit representation of the oral language. Moreover, Bloomfield identifies the relationship between speech and language, and he sees writing as” a way of recoding language.” Simply put, the author implies that writing is the main transportation of our mnemonic and communicative conveniences. Furthermore, the relationship between writing and speech is that writing provides ciphers of speech and a model of it. On the contrary, such view needs to be revised, as the author suggests, through the history of writing and the process of learning to read. Harris (1986) argues that writing systems were created not to represent speech but to convey information. This is to say, speech falls into a secondary level not a primary one.

Writing and speech aren’t separable: to invent a writing system is to unveil another dimension of language. In short, writing “script” is the optimal manifestation of language whereas one’s speech isn’t.

Another facet of the writing system is the writer’s emphasis on its alphabet; the signs of any given language represent values corresponding to syllables and letters of the alphabet.

Interestingly, the author emphasizes that being able to read emblems such as Coke’s and MacDonalds’ doesn’t amount to the ability of understating nor reading a text. The invention of a writing system provides graphic means of communication. Thus, cultures can affect weather the utterances are acceptable or not.

To reiterate, a writing system indeed represents speech but it rather provides a conceptual model of that speech. What is acquired in the process of learning and thinking projects the model of language in our script. Olson repeatedly wants to make a distinction here between readers scrutinizing the text ‘the text itself’ and scrutinizing the text once it’s become a thought-object; he postulates that “reading was not so much a matter of studying a text as ingesting or internalizing it.” Once ingested, it could become the object of meditation and reflection.

ESL perspective: 

For many second language learners, the process of writing isn’t an easy task to achieve. Cultural background does play a vital role in shaping thoughts and perceptions of one’s productive skills such as writing. Sometimes even if learners (adult learners) scrutinize the text and digest it, the tone, the register, and the overall style of their first tongue writing can overweight the learned ones. To better link the above article with ESL practice, educators and ESL teachers should apply the writing- to-learn activity. Writing-to-learn may be even more important than formal writing since writing-to-learn serves as a means through which students build their understanding of the subject matter. During the writing-to-learn process, the main focus is to make sense of the material and not to only communicate its surface value.

Olson, David R.. “Writing and the mind”, Sociocultural Studies of Mind. Ed. James V. Wertsch, Pablo del Rio, and Amelia Alvarez. 1st ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. pp. 95-123. Cambridge Books Online. Web. 12 November 2015.

A Glimpse at “Some Implications for Cognitive-Developmental Psychology for Research in Composing” by Barritt & Kroll

In this chapter, the authors said that rhetoric should be based on the psychological analysis of the composer’s mind; the new paradigm that should take a place in analyzing the composing process of learners’ writing is highly influenced by the European philosophy, especially the Swiss psychologist Piaget. This scope is enormously influential in studying composition. The authors also discussed general implications in composition research and suggested a new research arena for future researchers.

Piaget’s theory of human psychology suggests that human activity constructs knowledge through interaction with the world. In other words, cognitive developmentalists are concerned with the ontogenesis of any process a child goes through. From this psychological perspective, research on composition should shift from the (what) of composing to the (how) of composing—from the product to the process. That is, researchers interested in studying the composing process should ask how writers can accomplish cognitive goal of the composing process.

Cognitive developmental psychology can offer composition studies four beneficial areas to expand the field:

Speaking-writing differences:

While it is hard to define the specific nature of these two modes, both are ruled by certain syntax and semantics. Nevertheless, speaking develops faster and tends to be more informal; in spoken language one, can manage his speech by simply observing the hearer’s reaction.

On the other hand, writing is more formal; it is usually learned through systematic formal instructions. The writer is not only engaged in putting words together; rather, he or she is trying to squeeze together ideas as well as structures in an acceptable form. Vygotsky asserted that translating the inner speech into an act of written discourse is even more intense than the processes of speech and, thus, imposes more cognitive stress on an individual’s mind.

The concept of error:

Making error is a stage of learning—according to cognitive psychologists. Interestingly, error can be looked at as a “gateway” into understanding learners’ mental process of language use.

In the ESL filed, “error analysis” is a stage which can open many avenues to ESL researchers to understand not only the mistakes of ESL learners but also the reason they made such mistakes. Errors are in fact significant in the teaching process of ESL learners, especially since there is a hidden competition between the mother tongue and the target language.

Egocentrism and Audience Awareness:

This concept can take place in writing when the writer fails to perceive other perceptions and has a lack of audience awareness.  Writers must adapt their texts to the particular needs and characteristics of their audiences to communicate effectively. Contemporary communication theorists continue to argue that writers must consider their audiences to communicate smoothly. In fact, the ability to consider one’s audience when forming an utterance or a written text marks a milestone in cognitive and linguistic development.

Writing and social-emotional developments:

Just as cognitive development can affect the writer’s voice, social emotional factors can be influential elements in composition.  Erikson believes that “emotional health and social adjustment result when there is a positive resolution to an ordered development” (p. 50).

The ability to understand and express the social and emotional aspects of one’s life are crucial points to understand the development of writer’s voice. Teachers as well as researchers might consider the writer’s or learners’ social emotional level that directly or indirectly might influence their composing process.

In sum, the writers of this chapter tried to call to a new scope to study composition process and argued that the cognitive developmental psychology can offer more to composition in terms of methods, paradigms and hypotheses. They also invited researchers to investigate the field from a psycho-composition perceptive and rhetorical development view.

Reference

Barritt, T. & Kroll, B.M. (1978). Some implications for cognitive-developmental psychology for research in composing. In Cooper, Charles R.; Lee Odell (Eds.), Research on composing: Points of departure; Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English. (p. 49-57.)

A Glimpse at “Internal Revision: A process of Discovery” by Don Murray

This article reveals some insight on writers’ journey as they start to think about their writing. Murray suggested a handful of procedures that a writer might consider when he/she is in the process of writing.

Rewriting is the focal art of writing. Murray encourages readers of this article as well as writers to consider  that the process of writing cannot be achieved in one draft; it’s a dialectical move that makes the writer produce a nice written text.  Murray quoted Neil Simon’s analogy of rewriting process: “rewriting is when playing writing really gets to be fun … in baseball you only get three swings and you are out. In rewriting, you get almost as many swings as you want and you know, sooner or later, you will hit the ball.”

There’s perhaps no natural appetite for acts of revision in writing. Professionals have years of training informing their practices. Even at the college level, students may resist revising, dislike it, or do it in perfunctory or desultory ways. Murray highlights the importance of the rewriting process since it is not given much attention in composition research. In the academic context, for instance, rewriting can be seen as a punishment, not as an opportunity for self-discovery or at least as an important part of the writing process.

Beautifully articulated, Murray’s definition of the process of writing as “the process of using language to discover meaning” (p. 124) is truly insightful.  He also proposed a unique format of writing: prevision, vision, and revision—an ongoing process that a writer goes through to produce a meaningful piece of writing. These three distinctive stages of the writing process can be explained as follows:

  1. Prevision: this stage can include previous experiences, observations, and remembering. This underestimated stage can lead the writer to choose the appropriate topic and identify the main elements of the subject.
  1. Vision: this stage is the “fulcrum of the writing process.”
  1. Revision: in this stage, the writer looks at the text in order to confirm, develop, alter, or omit where necessary. The purpose of this stage is to give more coherent, solid meaning to the readers.

The importance of Discovery

Writing isn’t only how a writer conveys meaning to readers but also more than that; the writers can in fact find themselves via writing—a journey of discovery. Murray called teachers of writing to understand that this process, the journey of discovery, should occupy a part of the learning goals. Instead of looking at students’ product or mistakes, teachers should teach students how to discover themselves through the creative art of writing. Elie Wiesel says, “I write in order to understand as much as I want to be understood” (P.90).  The poet Toney Conoor articulates that one should “invent a jungle and then explore it” (p.88).  These two statements should be writing teacher’s logo and translated into a practical philosophy in the classroom.

Two forms of revision were suggested by Murray: the internal and the external. The former includes everything that a writer does in order to find him/herself. Writers read to find out their voices and positions; they also use language and forms to find out how they are supposed to state their position. In this case, “the audience is one person: the writer.”

On the other hand, the latter urges the writers to find out what they do to communicate effectively with their audience. This can include editing, proofreading and much more. They read their texts as outsiders so that they can make their text look better.

The Process of Internal Revision

In this scenario, the writer acts like a scientist (rather than a critic), to whom each point of writing is a piece of experiment—a way of seeing what is applicable. Unconcerned with the level of connection, the writer pays much attention to the subject, adequate information, structure, language, etc. thus moving from the smallest pieces to the greatest body of the subject.

Discovery and Internal Revision:

The first important aspect of the internal revision is content. Writers should have an abundance of information during the process through research and brainstorming.  Form and structure are important elements too—starting with a beginning statement, detailing elements and providing conclusion that reflects the ultimate point of the writer.

Additionally, working with language is a key element during the process of writing; that is, a writer can reject words, select certain words, and bring words together to discover what they are writing about.

An extremely significant element of language is that form and content are the writers’ voice. When the writers gear their point of view toward the subject and their authority, writers can discover their written voice– identity.

In sum, for Murray, the revising writer is paying attention both to the outside demands of correctness, forms, and appropriateness and to internal voices suggesting discoveries of structure, focus, voice, and language.

Reference

Murray, Donald M.(1978) Internal revision: A process of discovery. In Cooper, Charles R.; Lee Odell (Eds.), Research on composing: Points of departure; Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English. 85-104.

A Glimpse at Composition Isn’t Rhetoric by Sharon Cowle

Although composition has been practiced in almost every school for about 100 years, it in fact cannot be used interchangeably with the term rhetoric. These two terms have been always made a fixed lexical pair for two different justifications: historical and political. This association lasted in English studies for a long time—the writer of this article asserted that this tie was the fruit of the works of influential rhetors, such as Millton, Swift, and Pope; they invented words that affected the civic discourse by using topics, genres, and figures taught by rhetorician. Nonetheless, due to the new meanings and praxis that emerged in the 19th century in composition studies, the interests of composition researchers have diverged from this association.

On the other hand, composition teachers have been trying to yoke rhetoric in their field in order to secure the future as writing teachers. A number of rhetoricians tried to employ rhetoric into current composition studies and address the need of combining the two arts together. This connection didn’t last for long as the number of articles on rhetoric published in CCCC began to decrease in the 1970s. Since then, the field of composition, specifically first year composition, became more important than ever. Beside that, graduate schools, such as the ones in Wisconsin and Illinois, started to offer an advanced degree in the field (e.g., PhDs and MAs).

The author urges composition teachers not to teach rhetoric in composition classes. Instead, she encourages researchers in the field of rhetoric to come up with a scuplative definition of rhetoric at the first place.

The process of going through a systematic discovery is a trait of rhetoric: it in fact should revolve around our network, social practices and civic discourse. To put it more clearly, the author quoted Kevin DeLuca, a speech rhetorician, to define the art of rhetoric as “the mobilization of signs for the articulation of identities, ideologies, consciousnesses, communities, publics, and cultures” (p. 2).

To sum the above-mentioned argument, the writer concluded with a suggestion that rhetoric isn’t composition and, thus, they shouldn’t be taught together. More specifically, rhetoric requires teachers to be well versed in political and social critique. Doing so will require underpaid teachers to confront the injustices in education, which are “dangerous for contingently-employed teachers, particularly in times like the present, when the prevailing regime of truth carefully monitors teachers to insure their intellectual conformity” (3).

My take on this article is that the author herself should’ve eased readers into her argument by starting with clear definitions that highlight the distinctions between rhetoric and composition. It could’ve also been better to shore up her abstract argument with more concrete examples.

Reference

Crowley, Sharon. “Composition Is Not Rhetoric.” Enculturation 5.1 (Fall 2003): http://enculturation.gmu.edu/5_1/crowley.html

Reflection on “Where I’m from” and “So You Want to Be a Writer” by Charles Bukowsk

Writing is a timeless, powerful tool of thinking. To me, it is also a journey of discovery. When I hold a pen and a piece of paper, I feel curious about the surprises or even heartbreaks that will be coming next. With every thought that I come across while wandering in the excitingly mysterious labyrinth of my mind, I feel I am finding another missing piece of my identity as a human and my voice as a writer. That is, what intrigues me about writing is usually not the anticipation for the final product (unfortunately, except when I write for school). Instead, what I savor the most is the bittersweet sighs, groans, pauses, influxes of conflated emotions and “ahas” that the process can spew. Therefore, I would define writing as the whole process of conception, growth, pains of labor and then birth of ideas, which happen to be called “the daughters of the mind” in Arabic!

However, although I agree with some of the writing tips in Charles Bukowski’s “So You Want to Be a Writer” (For example, I also think that the Muse won’t probably support you if you “fake” a writer’s persona just for the sake of attaining fame or money), I still find that many of the other proposed ideas privilege the  final product of writing over the process. In other words, in this poem, the speaker seems to be yelling, “Don’t bother with process; you either naturally have the perfect final product or you don’t.”  Thorough thinking, revising, and collective construction of knowledge are all presented as markers of failure. Honestly, I agree that works that come to the world effortlessly out of the writer’s strong and instinctive passion about the topic often have a special artistic appeal and can add to humanity. Yet, that is not a legitimate reason to underestimate the value of the writing process itself because, with both its ups and downs, it provides a unique approach to self-exploration and a sense of appreciation towards the diverse forms of human creativity, production and even effort. While Julia Cameron in the Artist’s Way promotes blocking both internal and external attackers, the speaker in this poem might be included in such block-worthy external attackers and might even be considered one of the “crazymakers,” most of whom are “famous artists.” (Sorry, Mr. Bukowski, in case you meant the speaker of the poem to represent you).

On the other hand, George Ella Lyon’s “Where I am from,” beautifully acknowledges all the aspects of the human experience, even the smallest, most random and seemingly least insignificant ones. This acknowledgement goes along the lines of “self-acceptance” that Julie Cameron promotes. To me, being “from the perk ups and pipe down,” can be interpreted as a recognition of both the times when a writer just succeeds and is received with admiration  as well as the times when he/she trips, falls or needs a holy human revision. We are all just an amalgamation of the life experiences we have been through; whether social or cultural criteria judge those experiences as successful or not, they are still “us”; they still all matter.

I think that, unequivocally, writers should not be discouraged by their failures or slow progress, yet some guided anger and self-challenge—instead of blind self-acceptance—can help them be mor

Reference

Charles Bukowski. (1994). So You Want to Be A Writer. Retrieved on 04 October 2015 from  http://enothingblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/poem-of-day-so-you-want-to-be-writer-by.html

Critical Theory and Cultural Studies

The revolution of cultural studies and critical theory has increasingly shaped topics tackled by writers and the way analysts interpreted texts. In this post, I will try to summarize the major concepts and theories in critical theory and cultural studies. I, hopefully, intend to use some of them in m future research.

  How Freud, Lacan, and Kristeva influenced critical theory?

  • Freud’s works include significant analytical ideas, such developmental stages of childhood, transference, Oedipus complex, etc, but most remarkable of all is that Freudian thought inspired today’s critical theory with a highly attentive approach to text (which meant patients in Freud’s case) as well as interpretive terms, such as “meta-psychology,” which breaks the human mind into surface structure (the conscious mind) and deep structure (the unconscious mind). Since the unconscious mind is the root for human behaviors, unconscious desires and fears of writers, characters or reader can be elicited from texts through careful examination and analysis of symbols.
  • Lacan thinks that language introduces humans into selfhood and separates them from the real world. Having revised some of Freud’s ideas, Lacan turned Freudian id, ego and superego into orders of the Imaginary (associated with mothers/ entered at childhood when seeing oneself in a mirror for the first time), Symbolic (associated with father/ entered through language that constructs relationships between things/  no actual reality), and Real (inaccessible/ beyond language). Lacan’s adjustments of Freudian ideas also include that self is defined by what it lacks, the unconscious is structured and analyzable as a language, and literal male and female body parts are metaphorical symbols of power.
  • Kristeva refused the male-dominant sexuality theories proposed by Freud and Lacan. Instead, she divided language into the “semiotic,” which is associated with the mother and includes rhythm and tone, and the “symbolic,” which is associated with the father and includes grammar and syntax. she challenged the male-dominant discourse of the Symbolic Order by redefining Lacan’s Imaginary space as the place of the “chora,” characterized fluidity and rhythm.

 “Three waves” of feminism and queer theory:

  • The first-wave feminist theory started in the mid-19th century through factors like Margaret Fuller’s writings and Susan B. Anthony’s role in establishing the American Women’s Suffrage Association, and it continued into the Progressive Era and the early 1960s. Major focuses of this wave included male sexism, patriarchy, and marginalization of women in the public culture. While gay/ lesbian theory resulted from separatist movements in 1970s and 1980s, Queer theory, was triggered in the 1980s by the work of political activist groups, was more sexually inclusive and was even concerned with hegemonically disapproved, sadomasochistic as well as prosex practices (e.g. porongraphy), which the first and the second waves of feminism criticized.
  • The second wave (started in the 1960, continued through women’s liberation movements of the 1970s and until today) is a product of the collaborative efforts of American feminists (e.g. Elaine Showalter’s “gynocriticism,” which examines the portrayal of women in texts, their literary forms and techniques, and canon formation), French feminists (aligned with psychoanalysis, e.g. Helene Cixous’s l’ecriture feminine as women’s writing in their own voice and exclusive language according to their bodies and biological rhythms), and British feminists (with a focus on Marxist approaches, capitalism’s influence on women’s identities and roles, materialist feminism, a conjuncture of neo-Marxist and feminist politics, and women’s place in linguistic, historical, psychological, and literary culture).
  • The third wave of feminist theory (starting in the 1990s) focused less on women’s legal rights and more on women’s polymorphous pleasure, sexual power, individualism and  conscious manipulation of social and sexual roles and taboos in capitalist economies. Along with work of sex activists and postculturalism cultural critics, postfeminist focuses include topics like broader definitions of women’s desires, lived activities and identities (worked on by figures like Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Jee Yeun Lee) beside some other new topics, such as global feminism and ecofeminism.

 How the African American theory /feminist theory “spawned the multiculturalist movement in the United States”?

The concept of “double consciousness,” which W. E. B Du Bois used at first to point out African American’s double identity that resulted from their African and American heritages, came to describe the different cultural statuses of women and minority groups. Also, both feminist theory and African American theory inspired multiculturalists with that texts should be investigated not only as aesthetic works but, most significantly, as ideological imports. Moreover, African American theory was a predecessor in the struggles to recover the richness and diversity of past and present aesthetic productions of peoples with an African heritage, revise spurious history of African Americans, reconstruct lost history,  and start a canon of African American cultural artifacts. Similarly, although expanded to include an assortment of cultures, multiculturalism takes after African American theory in such struggles and also shares a focus on identity politics with feminism.

  Postcolonial theory, including the theorist Franz Fanon

Postcolonial theory, which is defined as the study of power relations between Western nations and the nations they colonize, explores the social implications of imperialism and colonization through analyzing the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized and the role of independence movements. This theory is also concerned with Euro-centrism and both the pre-colonial and colonial state of colonized cultures since such cultures usually try not to lose their pre-colonial values, yet maintain a hybrid, heterogeneous identity that transcends the past. Having stemmed from  resistance against colonizing powers in Asian, African, and Latin American countries, postcolonial theory was enriched by the ideas of scholars like Edward Said, Spivak, and Bhabha, and many other critics have examined the literatures of different postcolonial nations, the history of post-colonialism, or even (more recently) postcolonial identity as an opposition to global capitalism. Furthermore, t is important to note that postcolonial theory can often be integrated with national histories, colonial politics or other critical theories (e.g. The Wretched of the Earth, which is a significant psychoanalytical work in postcolonial theory the Martinique-born Franz Fanon).

Reference

Elias, A. (2006). Critical Theory and Cultural Studies. In English Studies An Introduction to the Discipline(s) (pp. 106-152). Kenny Road, Urbana, Illinois: National Council of Teachers of English.

Rhetoric and Ideology in the Writing Class

In this great article, Berlin, tried to remind the readers that there is no such thing as non-guiltily of ideological rhetoric in the teaching of writing—in another words, he insisted that how each rhetoric can be co-opted by a dominant ideology or political power structure. He also call for the social-epistemic rhetoric – one of the three he analyzed — as the rhetoric that can change the paradigm for researchers and teachers to resist and even to fight domination from political power structures.

At the very beginning of the article, Berlin begins by identifying three rhetorics: cognitive psychology, expressionism, and social epistemic. He distinguishes them as such:

  • “From the perspective offered here, the rhetoric of cognitive psychology refuses the ideological question altogether, claiming for itself the transcendent neutrality of science.”
  • Expressionistic rhetoric, on the other hand, has always openly admitted its ideological predilections, opposing itself in no uncertain terms to the scientism of current-traditional rhetoric and the ideology it encourages.”
  • Social-epistemic rhetoric is an alternative that is self-consciously aware of its ideological stand, making the very question of ideology the center of classroom activities, and in so doing providing itself a defense against preemption and a strategy for self-criticism and self-correction” (668).

Influenced by the ideological definitions of Marxist sociologist, Therborn, Berlin argues that “Choices in the economic, social, political, and cultural are thus always based on discursive practices that are interpretations, not mere transcriptions of some external, verifiable certainty” (668). The writer also uses Therborn’s ideas that power is something that can and should be identified and resisted, and that ideology is impossibly linked in language practices (668).

Instead of focusing on the three types of rhetorics, Berlin wants to spot on the advantages of social-epistemic rhetoric. This is because he thinks that the other types of rhetoric don’t appropriately discuss the relationship between ideology and rhetoric. For instance, cognitive psychology and in its approach to not accept ideology, is appropriated to “a stance consistent with the modern college’s commitment to preparing students for the world of corporate capitalism” (672). Expressionist rhetoric, on the other hand, denounces ideological pressures to conform to “corporate-sponsored thought, feeling, and behaviour” (676), yet simultaneously reinforces capitalistic notions of the individual.

Berlin defines social-epistemic rhetoric as a “political act involving a dialectical interaction engaging the material, the social, and the individual writer, with language as the agency of mediation” (678). Hence, engaging in rhetoric that reinforces the agency of mediation through language can be simply the basic definition of social-epistemic rhetoric. This type of rhetoric, as Berlin stated, is usually a political and a dialectical act that social, individual and material writer involves in. In another words, these three acts can collaboratively be part of the reciprocal relationship with ideology—a product of an ideology. Thus, the social-epistemic lens can lends itself to laboratory pedagogy in the classroom, which both teacher and students work to create the form and content of the classroom. Hence, this style allows students to “become agents of social change rather than victims”

Berlin sums up his thought-provoking analysis of classroom practices in terms of rhetoric stating that: a) teaching isn’t un-guilty of any type of ideology; b) social-epistemic rhetoric can offer an analytical lens for teachers and researchers to study the relationship between rhetoric and ideology. In another words, Berlin puts it very clearly that social-epistemic approach “offers both a detailed analysis of dehumanizing social experience and a self-critical and overtly historicized alternative based on democratic practices in the economic, social, political, and cultural spheres” (682).

References

Berlin, James. “Rhetoric and Ideology in the Writing Class.” The Norton Book of Composition Studies. Ed. Susan Miller. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2009. 667-684.