Reconsiderations: Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries: Peter Elbow and Bi, Butch, and Bar Dyke: Pedagogical Performances of Class, Gender, and Sexuality: Michelle Gibson, Martha Marinara, and Deborah Meem
Ahh! Peter Elbow! I truly love his way of thinking. Each piece we read by him makes me think he is so right on! He starts this piece off by discussing how "voice" was once the "hot topic" amongst theorist. There was buzz about it and much disagreement. However, as of late, the topic has grown cold and quiet. Elbow believes it to be a worthy topic that should be revitalized. How does he do so, by writing this piece that not only addresses both sides of the argument, but brings up new ways of thinking about it. He argues for both sides! How clever!
As I was reading, I couldn't help thinking about how each side of his argument had validity. On one side of the argument he states how using voice in our writing creates and allows for a sense of self and identity. Who you are as a writer and individual comes through when there is voice. I know, for example, that when I read pieces by my own students who have achieved voice, I am able to tell which piece is theirs. I don't even have to look at the name. Their pieces have an identity and flare that is unique to them. Consequently, I also agree with Elbow's other side of the argument that there are certain writing forms that are more formal or informational, and perhaps by including voice, the information gets lost, and therefore the piece becomes unclear. This may be the case for scientific studies and such. Just as with last week's Peter Elbow piece Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking, there needs to be a balance. As good writers we need to decide what form we using to create our piece, whom the intended audience is, and the purpose for the piece. If I'm creating poetry, I better have voice as opposed to a lab report that probably will do well with the just the facts.
He ends the piece by stating,"I'm asking us to learn to be wiser in our scholarly thinking and writing... Such thinking can often release us from dead-end critical arguments that are framed by the unexamined assumption that if two positions seem incompatible, only one can be valid." Elbow proves that there are often multiple view points to analyzing a topic of interest. He urges theorists to reexamine the issue of voice, but to look at it the light that there may not be one true correct method. I feel that this piece was very successful in this task.
In the text, Bi, Butch, and Bar Dyke the three professors shared personal stories about how their identities effected their teaching lives. Each reflection was honest and unique. The narratives shed light on the challenges that this minority group faces within their professional worlds.
While reading, there were times when I felt anger or sadness for these women. The first time was when Marinara shared how she felt connected to her advanced composition course of all women, only to soon feel betrayed by their negative comments about Adrienne Rich, the well known lesbian poet and writer. She states, "I had forgotten how different I am from many women." My heart broke for her. It was in that moment that she realized that she had had become too comfortable with this class. In addition when papers came in that were more about personal opinions she reverted to grading the papers focusing on academic and theoretical arguments. She no longer shared anything about her life.
The other moment was when Gibson shared her very honest self-assessment with her administrative team and was told how it was basically unacceptable. Talk about using voice! The fact that she is an accomplished professor who came from a difficult past shows her drive in life. In addition, when she shared how she connects with her students and they told her she should be connecting with them not her students, I felt disgusted. Don't we or shouldn't we as teachers all have at least a few stories about how we connected with students, shouldn't those administrators have been able to identify with her through her stories, by thinking Ah, yes. I remember when this student... I do realize that perhaps she shared a bit much and not everyone in academia is ready for such brutal honesty,or perhaps she needed to think about her audience a bit more, but some of their comments were harsh (this reads like a rant). It felt as though there was a silencing happening.
The most important point about the entire article for me comes in the conclusion. It states, "We must think seriously about the identities we bring with us into the classroom, remain conscious of the way those identities interact with the identities our students bring, and insert ourselves fully into the shifting relationships between ourselves and our students at the same time resist the impulse to control those relationships." I think each woman learned this. There once again needs to be a balance. More diverse literature and topics needs to come into our classrooms. More open conversations need to happen. However, we need to maintain a balance between who we are in the classroom and who our students are. Meem's chart shows that there are many hats that encompass us. We are not one identity. We must remember that when we are designing lessons for students. The best thing we can do for our students is to teach them to think for themselves.
I never really write too much about the final project because I have been ok with all of the awesome ideas we have had. However, I am really happy with what we sorted out last week. It felt much more friendly to everyone in the class, which was a concern of mine. I also have quite a few ideas swarming around in my head. I need to sit and narrow down my thinking. I like the personal feel of the vignettes and I like that they can take any form.