All posts by Cindy Rodrigues

Growing Pains

Howdy, I’m really excited about our anthology on the stages of life. When I was reading Dr. Zamora’s notes I saw that we are able to write a poem. I just finished writing my stages of life poem and boy was that triggering. I decided to write about certain ages and points of my life that I struggled mentally. Which is the majority of my life. But there was a single point where I have attempted to end it completely and in the poem I discuss how it came to that decision, and why I decided not to make that decision.  I named the poem “ Growing Pains”, as I have suffered from severe knee pains since I was around 5 and it continues till this day. It is also the name of my unfinished poetry book that I started in 2020. Growing pains ecompasses all of the pain I have gone through in my life physically and mentally and how I have become the woman I am today. 

I start off every stanza with…

“Her knees are always aching,

Perhaps from age,

But also the constant torment 

of her consciousness.

She grows in pain,

To one day be without this aching

In her mind, in her heart, and most importantly

Her knees”

 

to distinguish what stage of life it is. 

Anyways…….you’ll see when you read it.

Pedagogy,Voice,Trauma,Healing for Final Project

Although I was absent last class session, I read through our workshop notes thoroughly. I will try to answer some of the Workshop #1 question here as well as give an idea of what I was thinking for the final project! 

I would like to say that my favorite idea that we have discussed in class definitely has to do with trauma with writing. I am not sure who covered that, I think it was Erik. As well as Voice and Healing. Those themes to me felt very relatable and not many individuals acknowledge the pedagogical trauma endured as students. There is a sense of personal trauma and pedagogical trauma that thrives in our voice when writing, and I feel like it is really crucial to be studied. 

Now to answer the learning outcomes that matter to me the most. Honestly, until this graduate course I never really thought about Feedback, Voice, and Trauma, all having a connection to one another. It is as if I have suppressed any pedagogical wounds, and it all connected once we started reading works by Nancy Sommers, Paulo Freier, and etc. The outcome from this project would be to bring more awareness to the pivotal development of students who have endured years of trauma from educators as well as dealing with their own personal trauma. 

To jump off of bringing more awareness, I was really moved and impressed by Fran’s approach to the project. I think writing a poem on our classmates’ fiction writing (whether its trauma or not) is an amazing way to connect deeper. As writers, we literally use words that portray genuine emotion and feelings. It is truly a powerful experience and ability. I can relate to Fran’s approach heavily. Although, maybe we can connect all kinds of trauma, meaning personal as well as pedagogical. I feel that many people who view our project and see the connections of what we went through as young students during a time where all of our trust was based on a teacher, would be eye opening. Maybe people and even other educators who view this project will realize how crucial and sensitive you have to be when dealing with a growing mind that just wants to achieve good grades. By sensitive I mean to be self aware about the damage one may cause when correcting a student on their writing harshly. Fran’s idea is very strong and I like the idea of getting super deep with my emotion to help others. 

What do you guys think?

Trauma= My best work

Disclaimer, this blog post was written from my perspective only, these are my personal connections with the readings. Anyways, this is probably by far my favorite reading and blog post. I wouldn’t say for a good reason per say, but I did enjoy reading both very much. As soon as I started reading both works, I was like “Wow, super relatable, we love writing about trauma”. Because it’s true, my best work comes from my traumatic childhood experiences that I thought I suppressed, and seems to only come out when I am writing absolutely anything. As a creative writer, not a scholarly one, I am always tapping into my darkest memories to produce a piece of work. To me, I consider it a type of healing. Whomever my audience may be, I know that the work I have produced will either be relatable, a healing experience for them, or an opportunity for my mental health to be heard. 

As addressed in “Expressive Writing, Emotional Upheavals, and Health by James W. Pennebaker and Cindy K. Chung.   “ Researchers have relied on a variety of physical and mental health measures to evaluate the effect of writing.  Across multiple studies in laboratories around the world, writing or talking about emotional experiences relative to writing about superficial control topics has been found to be associated with significant drops in physician visits from before to after writing among relatively healthy sample” (pp 9). According to this reading, I am wasting my money on therapy and I should just continue to write poetry. Honestly, I’ll take that. It is already hard enough to have the courage in publishing something so raw and connected to one’s mental state. It would truly be an accomplished feeling having your thoughts put out there to share with someone who might be feeling a similar way. 

Another study within the reading that caught my attention was the forms of writing related to trauma. Pennebaker and Chung mentioned that many writers with trauma will choose to type out their work rather than physically writing by hand. This practice involves writing a lot slower and sort of forcing the individual to become very  deeply connected with their emotions and thoughts. I never honestly thought about differentiating that concept until now. I used to write poetry in my journal a lot before it became too accessible. Meaning, I would write out every single anxious thought I had in my head regardless of where I was. The more I wrote throughout the day, the more I was able to open my journal and feel anxious all over again. 

Next, Sonya Huber brings us back to my favorite theme, which is voice. She says this very interesting line “ No matter what genres you’re writing in, the notion of voices in your work may help you explore a full range of options for what you want to write about and how”. As  any student, writer, or just anyone, I will look over my work. I have noticed my voice is a very sarcastic regular old Joe tone. Throughout the voice of my poetry however, it is someone just coping with the past memories and trying to survive another day. I do go through phases when I combine my poet voice with my creative writer voice, because they are two different people. But that’s what the power of voice is, you can make yourself whoever you want, but people can still figure you out..if that makes sense.  

Antiracist Pedagogies

I still think that the position of voice in writing is quite crucial. I also believe language plays a huge role in voice. Many students who have English as a second language may have a different voice than people who wrote in English their entire life. I always knew that the English pedagogies have never considered “Black language” to be linguistically “appropriate”. It is no news to me that once again, Black people are treated as inferior, and it is truly heartbreaking. As a society, and as a group of intellects, it is our job to change these discriminatory approaches. 

Anyways, here we go on to We Been Knowin: Toward an Antiracist Language & Literacy Education by April Baker Bell. This reading brings up imperative points about the lack of respect Black language gets when involved in the realm of ELA. She literally says “As language and literacy researchers and educators, we cannot continue to push respectability language pedagogies that require Black students to project a white middle class identity”(8). As eductors, how can we force a group of students to let go of their voice, and latch on to someone else’s voice. What happened to Individuality? Equality? And Respect? On page 9, I found what April Baker Bell said to be very compelling in the sense that the first step in antiracist language is to tackle racism as a whole. Which makes loads of sense since, generational racism is a real thing. We’re being taught by algorithmic racism that has been passed down from years, thus developing racist pedagogies. 

Next runner up is African American language is not good English by Jennifer M. Cunningham. This one was a really good one that I would love to show my students. Cunningham solely focuses on African American Language and how it is literally derived from English vocabulary with African grammar. She stresses that African American language LITERALLY cannot be wrong as it is basically English. Considering we have educational and professional settings that do not accept African American language, deeming it to have many errors. Truthfully I forgot what page I am about to quote from so I apologize. “ These errors are not mistakes but, instead, occur when a communicator does not understand or is not aware of differences between one language and another or when, how, or why to switch from one language to another”. Cunningham discusses how it is not the writer’s fault that a teacher with a literal Masters degree cannot understand an individual voice (Sarcasm is real). 

Majority of the articles were very informative and an interesting read. I just feel like as said in April Baker Bell’s piece, the first step is to acknowledge racism within educational systems as a whole.

On the contrary……

Honestly, I was not expecting to read this week’s reading with a massive migraine, so this might not be the most intellectual blog I’ve written. As I was reading “Voice In Writing Again: Embracing Contraries” by Peter Elbow, I absolutely kept losing myself in the reading. But not in a good way. The way Elbow was writing, plus my migraine was most certainly not helping. Anyways, Elbow brings up Aristotle’s position on “Voice”, where he mentions “Either/Or” (5) thinking. Either/Or thinking is essentially whether you choose to use voice in your writing, or you don’t. As a writer, it is solely up to you to figure out what your writing piece is missing, and how you can make it better. Maybe it was Aristotle’s old way of thinking, which is why he opposed this “Either/or” thought. Personally, whether you’re writing a blog post, or a thesis paper, a voice will appear. Although some papers may want the writer to hold back from being opinionated, at the end of the day, the writer does have a voice. Similarly when Professors know a student has cheated on their essay, knowing it wasn’t written by them, because it does not sound like the student. Every person has their own way of writing, therefore having their own voice. Peter Elbow makes it clear that writing with a voice can be bad sometimes, but also good at the same time. For me, I believe that it is how you use your voice in writing. Right now youre reading this blog and wondering why is she being so passive aggressive? Well, because I am letting you understand that voice to me is very important in writing, and Aristotle may or may not have pissed me off with his old thought process. However, Elbow mentions a good point when he mentioned “ Women have traditionally used anonymous publication to prevent their words from being read as “female.” Even when anonymous or pseudonymous writing has a strong voice, the technique still avoids that single most vexed dimension of voice— the link between the words on the page and the person of the actual author” (12). Essentially being a woman in any industry is difficult. I can understand why some women would rather not be categorized with their work. Women are often subjected to being overly emotional or many people say “This sounds like a woman wrote it”, just because it makes deep connections. 

Next we dive right into Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers by Nancy Sommers. A quote Sommer’s had said stood out to me tremendously. “Most of the students I studied did not use the terms revision or rewriting. In fact they did not seem comfortable using the word revision”. She followed that with mentioning how the students associated the word “Revision” with something their teachers used to say. For me, revision alway felt like a chore or that I was about to feel judged somehow. I grew up hating revision time, and first drafts that would be filled with red pen marks from my teacher. I never usually add the revision step in my writing process because it comes naturally as I go. I will read over my work, but I won’t have 3 drafts of my paper with marks all over it. Sommers dwells on the fact many students don’t change their work completely, rather they make their “Voice” stronger. Student’s will try to avoid repetition, or being too overly cliché. If we’re trying to combine revision and voice, how would someone feel if they are writing a paper with “Voice” and are told to revise everything? Does their own voice need revision? It’s a weird phenomenon that just bubbled into my mind.

Writetrix

How would you feel if I told you that an AI was writing my blog #7? Just kidding, it is I, human Cindy. I don’t know about you guys, but artificial intelligence scares the living life out of me. The mere thought of machines having a thought process and making decisions for us, sends shivers up my spine. I am also a believer that robots will take over the world someday and all of mankind will be desolate. 

Anyways, today we will be talking about an article by Katy Ilonka Gero called, “AI Reveals the Most Human Parts of Writing” and a Forbes article called “The Risk Of Losing Unique Voices: What Is The Impact Of AI On Writing?” by Rodolfo Delgado. Both of these articles play hand in hand when it comes to discussing the pros and cons of AI used for writers. We have Katy Ilonka Gero’s article where she implements her understanding of AI within the world of writing. She says AI can help writers feel less judged when having their work revised, but also help come up with new ideas whenever they are having writer’s block. I picked up on an interesting quote by Katy,  “ Some writers think workshopping with a computer might be akin to talking to yourself, in that it’s private and feels internal, that it might not feel like someone else is in the room”. I feel as if I am being too judgemental in this post but I personally would not want to talk to a computer just so I don’t feel judged. As writers, we are bound to get critiqued and we will have to be bred to handle rejection. Writer’s everyday go through some sort of rejection, and yes it absolutely sucks but I don’t think resorting to AI is the best option.  

This brings me to my next point of authenticity. People feel connected to books and stuff they read because it is relatable and portrays a sense of emotion through words. How can a computer ever be able to understand what it feels like to understand grief, heartbreak, adventure, excitement, let alone write about it. The article “The Risk Of Losing Unique Voices: What Is The Impact Of AI On Writing?” by Rodolfo Delgado discusses the cons of having AI in the world of writing. He wrote “As a writer, I understand the value of growing and improving through feedback. AI tools, while excellent for quick edits and grammar checks, cannot provide the nuanced feedback that a human editor can. They don’t understand the subtleties of tone, the art of storytelling or the emotions that tie a piece together”. Sometimes when I am writing a blog for my other class that uses WordPress, I must follow a set of guidelines. For example my Readability should be at a green as well as my SEO. Most of the time my SEO will be at an Orange color meaning the blog post is alright. So you’re telling me just because I have too many words in one sentence, my post sucks? I would rather my peer or mentor revise my work for me and suggest that I shorten my sentences. At least I would be able to ask questions and get a better understanding that my idea should be broken up into two sentences.

I just feel like writers get a lot of backlash for never being authentic enough or that people have read similar pieces elsewhere. But, if our work is now made by computers, how do we know they are not producing the same exact thing for someone else? Will our writings of mental health and grief be coming from a place where someone has experienced it? Artificial intelligence is definitely an important topic to discuss, because this is our future. Who knows, maybe an AI actually wrote this blog post….. 

When the master becomes a student, and the student a master.

This week’s reading indulges in Bell Hook’s Teaching to Transgress, where she begins her essay discussing the oppression and political aspect of the education system during her time in school. She mentioned the Black teachers whom she encountered that supported and nurtured black students. These teachers taught their students to become scholars and broad thinkers, basically to withstand the oppression that will unfortunately occur in their educational career. Thus, creating the love of learning for Hook. Up until Hook entered a predominantly white school where politics came into play with her education and she no longer felt seen nor comfortable in a classroom. 

For me, learning and knowledge are crucial parts of my life. It is truly saddening to read about a time that certain students aka Black students, did not have the opportunity to receive the same education as everyone else. I absolutely love learning, and being heard. I’m shy, but I have a lot of personal experiences to talk about that can eventually lead to a new form of knowledge. Bell Hook had her own form of knowledge to give, but no one wanted to listen to her. From being oppressed her entire life in school, Hook came upon the work of Pualo Freire and a Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. She was moved by Freire’s approach to the freedom of pedagogy and Thich Nhat Hanh’s union of mind, body, and spirit. 

I would like to talk about the concept of Thich Nhat Hanh’s union of mind, body, and spirit for a brief moment. My understanding of this is that students are always learning new concepts. They develop their own approach because of the support of their mentors aka teachers. But there are some teachers who are only there to teach on what they have been taught. Meaning, some teachers do not expand the process of knowledge. They just go by the book. The union of mind, body, and a spirit for a brief moment allows students to achieve self expression through their work. Teacher’s will give their students a brief explanation of their knowledge and have the students develop their own ideas and perspectives, ultimately the student becoming master. 

As hook mentioned, she would often go to school in hope of forgetting the judgment and anxiety from home. School was a safe space where she could be her authentic self. Many students, including myself, feel the same way when it comes to education. Despite what is going on in my private life, I will always have my intellectual ability and no one can take that away from me. Students are looking for an outlet, where they can feel intellectually safe, and somewhere everyone is getting the same amount of knowledge. They might not be here for therapy, but finding your own people with mentors who support you, can be therapy itself. 

I really do admire these essays that support the concept of going far beyond the bounds of knowledge. I often find myself learning so much from my students, in which I one day will write a book about. You see, I work with students on the Autism Spectrum and they see the world so much differently than all of us. I have approached things differently, I have appreciated smaller things in life, I have broadened my adoration for knowledge since I have been educating them. They have taught me more than my many years of schooling.

Teacher’s vs. Robots?

Well, let’s do this thing. Hello my fellow peers, this week we embark on the journey of Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, chapter 2 to be exact. Before we get into the chapter, can we just discuss how Freire said “The banking concept of education, which serves the interests of oppression, is also necrophilic.” (77). I read that paragraph multiple times, trying to figure out if that word was supposed to be there? I’m sure it is, and I know what he was trying to say…it was just so random. 

Anyways, Freire explains the complex relationship between some teachers and students. Teachers are often just teaching their own knowledge and comprehension of certain topics, not realizing none of this might pertain to the needs of the students. Teacher’s are not taking into consideration their students’ own capability of knowledge, and just hoping they will memorize this new information. Hence bringing up a very interesting tactic that Freire mentioned called “Banking”. Banking is exactly how it sounds,  a teacher will deposit “Knowledge”, despite it not relating to the students needs, and then the teacher will just expect the student to keep that knowledge forever. Freire analyzes that students will somewhat understand that knowledge, but they will lose that creativity of trying to learn it themselves. Essentially from my understanding, making them as robots in a sense. The students have no say in what they learn, and are expected to fully comprehend everything their teacher wants them to learn. Freier brings up a good point that students will not be able to think critically, especially in the outside world. Their only source of knowledge is coming from their teachers, if that makes sense. The students will lack the ability to make creative and critical connections. 

Freier moves on to making a list of practices the oppressors use for the oppressed (students). The specific point stood out to me, and it was “ The teacher is the Subject of the learning process, while the pupils are mere objects” (73). Case and point. The pupils are just objects that are supposed to understand whatever is being taught during the learning process. Overall, reading those first few pages of Chapter 2 made me rethink my entire childhood years and my life as an educator. I started feeling mournful for my younger self and also my peers during that difficult time. I always wondered why I did not understand most things that were being taught to me, and why none of my teachers ever noticed me falling behind. I grew up as a first generation Bangladeshi, to two immigrant parents who did not grow up under the U.S. education system. So, when I went home, I had to figure out all of my homework and studies on my own. I was being taught things that would not benefit my comprehension skills, and I could barely ask anyone at home for help. 

From my understanding of all of this is that some teacher’s or even the administration at this point are being cruel. The education system is a sensitive place, with many kinds of learners. Basing a curriculum from one’s own knowledge rather than catering to your students’ critical needs is merely selfishness. Rather than using the banking model, teachers need to start caring more about their students and less about the so-called knowledge they think they’re giving. Student’s are far more than just a deposit. If we’re talking about the realm of banking, when you deposit money, you also eventually will take out that money for some sort of use right? So, if teacher’s are going to use the banking method, then they can also “take out” knowledge from their students. Am I right? Take out knowledge actually seems a little harsh, but you know what I mean.

Thanks for reading!

Shut up and just let me write!

I was debating on free-writing this entire blog entry, and writing down whatever pops into my head in regards to the readings. It would’ve totally fit the theme. The Elbow reading “ Writing Without Teachers” made me feel as if one of us graduate students were writing it. What I mean by that is, his voice just seemed so genuine when it came to defending writers. He says something along the lines of “ There is garbage in your head; if you don’t let it out onto paper, it really will infect everything else up there” (Elbow). Especially in my brain, it is always thinking, and over-thinking, and then coming up with scenarios that will absolutely never happen. I get idea after idea, and the majority of the time I end up losing the idea. I wrote my first graduate paper last week, and in the midst of writing, I would find myself browsing on google, or on a new document thinking of a new poem. Unless it’s just my ADHD kicking through haha. Elbow continues to bring attention to the fact that it’s okay to mess up and let your thoughts wander onto paper. Because at the end of this, it will help you be a better writer in the long run. For me, free-writing on the spot, for example when we have to write in class, makes me nervous. Even so, the sole purpose of free-writing is to be less anxious about your thoughts, grammar, and punctuation. It is literally not supposed to make sense. 

We next dive into Donald Murray’s “Teaching Writing as a Process not a Product”. Murray brings light to the process of writing. You cannot have a product aka a paper, without being involved in the whole process. I personally enjoy doing peer review of first drafts. It is immensely beneficial when our peers revise our papers, for example, we get ideas on how to make our paper better. Murray mentions “The student should have the opportunity to write all the drafts necessary for him to discover what he has to say on this particular subject. Each new draft, of course, is counted as equal to a new paper. You are not teaching a product, you are teaching a process”. Each individual has their own way of interpreting and coming up with ideas. Based on their personal experiences, work habits, and even personality, individuals can want to draft as much as they want. I enjoy having one first draft and having my peers give suggestions on adding more material to my work, or giving positive feedback. I also believe that writing processes can also be non scholarly work. By that I mean, sometimes when I am in a writing funk, or I have too much on my mind, I will often do something I love to do. I usually feel rejuvenated once I go for a long drive, jamming out to Sufjan Stevens, or lately I have been just going grocery shopping to clear my head. I am filling my head with things I have to do, and once its completed, I feel ready and capable of completing this paper. 

We end our discussion with “How Remix Culture Informs Student Writing and Creativity” by Antero Garcia. This journal entry discuss the importance of remixing and how its essentially artistic expression. Garcia had mentioned that “As part of the business-as-usual approach to marketing, it can reinforce traditional, problematic portrayals of women, people of color, and LGBTQI individuals”. They mentioned an example of Hermoine from Harry Potter, who was remixed into a black actress in the new movie. Many viewers had mentioned how it felt as if they were watching themselves on screen. That was truly a beautiful statement to read. Artists, writers, and musicians are using remixing to express themselves in so many aspects of creativity. So how does this come to play in free-writing? Well, when you come to think of it, free-writing is just another form of self expression. As writers, we are constantly doing papers, writing poems, editing, and all forms of creative work. With remixing, we can express ourselves in any way that we please.