All posts by InnovativeStudentBlog2023

Messy Feelings and thoughts

So my draft for this next workshop is messy. Very messy actually. As in “I started out writing about my feelings and then went on a tangent” type of messy. I honestly have a lot of feelings. Since my presentation topic was about writing as a form of emotional upheavals and processing stress, trauma, and pain, I just started writing some of the things that have been weighing on my heart for a long time now.

Notable, one of the things I wrote about has to do with Covid-19. Another thing I wrote about has to do with Palestine and Israel, specifically the massacre Israel has been committing against Palestinians in Gaza and the propaganda they, the United States and other imperialist nations have been using to justify the genocide in Gaza. I also bring up Congo and how slavery is being perpetuated in Congo.

Honestly, my draft is a very unhappy rant. I’d write lol if this was on social media, but it’s very very angry. But that’s not a bad thing. I’m not yelling at anyone or cursing in my draft. Anger is a valid emotion. Being angry but itself isn’t an evil or threatening thing. I am angry. I am sad and heartbroken. I am frustrated and disillusioned and distress and terrified for what might come next. So my draft is messy and unprofessional. And I’m honestly ready to start letting all of my anger, fear, sadness, and anxiety out. Because, just like what I showed in my presentation, writing down your feelings and thoughts helps soothe your mind and helps to process everything.

For the title: Messy Psyche. I wrote a non-fiction, personal venting type of draft, so the title is only fitting. I’ll also do prose. I’m in the stage of Anger, Anxiety, and Fear. The stage of being stuck, disillusioned with life, and being angry with myself and also other people for their selfishness, inaction, and prejudices.

I’d be able to do table of contents and set up the layout of any documents or powerpoint presentations if needed.

Linguistics

English is a peculiar language because there are so many contrasting ways to use words. “I couldn’t care less” used to confuse me when I was younger because the statement sounded like the person did care a little bit. “I could care less” sounded like the care could in fact stop caring at any point. Obviously the former means that they don’t care at all and the latter means the opposite, but the way the words are set up it confused me.

English is not the only language that people speak in this country. Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Dakota, Cherokee, and other languages are spoken by other people. And yet English is treated like the ultimate end goal for everyone that lives in the United States. And it’s always the standard, “professional” English that is always expected of us. The white man’s “perfect” English is the only dialect that is acceptable in the system’s eyes. African American Vernacular English, AAVE, is seen as rude and ghetto, at least until it’s time for white people and non-black people of color to take words from AAVE for clicks and views.

There is no one way to speak English. Vershawn Ashanti Young’s ‘Should Writer’s Use They Own English?‘ hits the nail right on the head. With the way standard English is held as the ultimate goal of English language classes, there’s no room for tolerance of linguistic or racial differences. It is not incorrect for a black person speaking African American Vernacular English to form sentences with said language. English-based Creole languages such as Jamaican Patois and Gullah are valid languages too. They aren’t spoken the same way as “standard” English is, but that’s the thing about differences. Not every language and dialect is the same. Communities develop with their own sense of language. Just because two people share the same mother tongue doesn’t mean that their dialects will be the same.

It’s not right to claim support of people’s differences while touting standard American English as the only language that is valid for everyday speech. Black students will not trust their teachers nor will they readily participate their classes if their own language and dialect is invalidated by the system and those who work for it. Black people are already dehumanized daily, as we’re constantly made out to be thugs, brash, wild, predatory, and criminals. Black Americans’ languages are commonly used against them by racist white people, as memes and jokes about them mock their accents. Black women are the frequent targets of misogynoir, as even black men will dress up in wigs and feminine clothing solely to make jokes about brazen black women acting ghetto and messy.

Modern day minstrelsy is popular. Online Content Creators such as Shane Dawson, Jeffrey Star, Tana Mongeau, and many others have built their large platforms off of anti-black stereotypes and racist behaviors. Slurs, Blackface, screaming, racist skits, they’ve done it all. And it doesn’t help that many others online also adopt AAVE when they want to be trendy and funny, as seen on Twitter and TikTok. The amount of times I have seen someone use AAVE when they clearly do not speak it at all is astounding. Black Vernacular is not a trend to be adopted when someone wants to sound cool or be funny. It’s a real diverse linguistic family of languages and dialects.

Transformative Education & Language Justice

Teachers need to transform the education field for the sake of their present and future students. English is not the only language that majority of the student population speak, as within the United States and the rest of North America, we live on land in which the Indigenous peoples’ mother tongues or cultural languages are not English. The U.S. specifically is a melting pot of diverse ethnicities, religions, cultures, races, and communities. Therefore, having English be the primary language for every conversation in schools puts students who have English as a second language in danger of failing in their classes.

bell hooks’ Teaching to transgress covers the importance of transforming the classroom and motivating students to change their ways of understanding and interacting with the world. Multiculturalism shows us how the classroom has been set up with boundaries that perpetuate biases. It makes us complicit in doing so, even with the best intentions. Students are shown to complain when they figure out that they will be talking about race, feminism, or class in an English class. This shows that students are not used to talking about these topics unless it’s in a specific rare situation. We don’t talk about these topics enough with young people.

Muriel Harris and Tony Silva cover the idea of approaching students with different needs in Tutoring ESL Students: Issues and Options when it comes to teaching ESL students. The proficiency of students whose first language is not English differs between students. Like students who are learning about race, feminism, and class for the first time, students learning to speak, read, and write in a new language will show discomfort with the unfamiliar fields. Contexts are different, with the influence from other languages and cultures causing a disconnect with the new material.

To reach language justice and transformative education, teachers need to come together with their students to break down the language and cultural barriers set up by the homogenization of American and western English-speaking classrooms. Teaching should involve allowing students to speak up in the ways they are able to, communicating with students as equals instead of talking down at them, and opening up dialogue for unfamiliar territory and new ideas. ESL students need to have educators that will approach them based on the specific needs they have. Multilingualism is important for educational programs to have, as everyone comes from different backgrounds and it is a disservice to ESL students to only prioritize english and only sometimes highlight another language that isn’t spanish.

Writer’s Voice and Reader’s Perspectives

Writing in my voice is important. It seems like everyone is always trying to get me to write in their voice, make me write the way they think is good writing. Writing the dialogue in a story confuses people, so they tell me to write something else, to “show, don’t tell”. But what does that even mean? How do I show without telling within dialogue? Within a story, you have to explain the narrative in order for the audience to know what is going on.

Reading about voice is its own strange thing because, what’s the difference with voice in writing? I procrastinate often, so my pre-existing notions about voice in writing comes from my perspectives on other writers. Those perspectives show me that voice in writing changes constantly.

Reading is a activity that switches between easy and difficult because the text and the context of the text switches up in its style. Reading for school is harder than reading for leisure because the word choices and speech patterns are academic, meaning that they are tailored to scholars who read in a specific expert way. They can read and understand scientific words and write well using said scientific words. Readers who read for leisure or read educational works on their own time seek out things they can understand easier, things that won’t use words that are mainly used in academic settings. Words that everyday people understand are the ones that will catch readers’ attention.

The voice in these works switch between academic and informal when the context changes. For me, the voice I read in a book will reflect in my head depending on the context. When I read an educational text for school I get frustrated because the voice is trying to make its point in a way that doesn’t make sense to me. When I read an educational text for myself on my own time, the voice makes sense to me because the works I seek out are straightforward and detailed in their explanations. Also, schoolwork makes me procrastinate because I don’t like my major, so my motivations dictate the voice I read.

Artificial Literature

Artificial Intelligence writing stories for people is something I am familiar with. I tested out an AI story writer a few years back during the quarantine mandate. It was a story about time travel and fighting an enemy throughout the timelines. I know, geeky, but I am a fan of sci-fi and fantasy, along with adventure, action, and other thrilling types of stories.

Although, I knew that I would never use AI to write my own stories for me. I don’t plagiarize and I write my own words. I’m never going to let someone else write for me, especially when that “someone” is a literal writing software with no sentience. As such, I am fully against the idea of using AI to write stories in lieu of human authors writing them themselves.

‘AI Reveals the Most Human Parts of Writing’ by Katy Ilonka Gero brings up an interesting point about writers’ control over their own works. I have had many experiences where I tried to write something, or started to write, only for writer’s block to stop me in my tracks, leaving the white page clear and dry. I understand why someone would consider going to an AI writing engine to whip up some good ideas, brainstorm word choices, fix grammar and sentence structure, and even just for fun. It’s a good thing to talk about the concerns that writers have with losing control over the trajectory of their own works. I feel like one of the biggest issues with AI writing is that it could make it harder for writers like me to come up with original ideas. The AI produces content from what it can find online and as a result none of the recommendations are unique or non-plagiarized. And as an aspiring fiction author and storywriter overall, I want to create my own content with the constructive feedback of human writers, not a computer.

Passionate Learning

Passion in learning is a necessary element for the survival of one’s education. So, confession, I already read chapter one of bell hooks’ teaching to transgress last semester. I never read the introduction chapter, but reading it now has given me an amplified perspective on the latter chapter. bell hooks’ story is interesting. It’s something to see her transition from not wanting to become a teacher, but instead just wanting to write, to becoming a teacher focused on transforming the classroom into an engaging environment where students not only learn information, but also become self-actualized. She focuses on making education the practice of freedom.

Details in this text to focus on involve her inspiration from Paulo Freire’s readings. Through his texts, bell hooks’ was introduced to the idea of challenging the “banking system of education” and to motivate her students to find fun and excitement in learning and growing in a classroom. Education in real life is always a process of learning information and proving that you memorize it. Students should be developing newer ways of observing and picking ideas apart and learning new ideas on living. It feels like most teachers don’t really want to teach new ways of using ideas, instead they teach on memorization, test-taking, and grade obtaining. There’s no self-actualization in them, so they don’t push their students to find their own voices and self-actualization.

We Oppressed Peoples vs. the Hierarchies

Chapter One of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed educates readers like me on the importance of affirming and strengthening the humanity of oppressed people. Reading this chapter at the same time that news about Israel’s increased fatal violence on Palestinians in Gaza has shaped my current perspective on oppression. For clarification, I am writing this with anger, sadness, and a desire to learn and educate myself in my heart. So this blog won’t be the best polished.

One of the points that Paulo Freire makes in this chapter is that sometimes the oppressed people with try to find humanity in enacting further oppression on other oppressed peoples. He states on page 46 that:

Pro-Palestine activists have been saying for a while that Israel has no right subjugating Palestinians to violence, ethnic cleansing, and genocide while claiming that they are fighting against terrorism. This past weekend I watched a tiktok by a jewish creator where they stated that jews suffering through oppression themselves does not give them any right to ignore or perpetuate the oppression of other people. I fully agree with these sentiments, as I have been aware long enough of the settler colonialist violence Palestinian people have been forced to survive through for decades.

Every time activists, Palestinians, and Supporters of Palestinian Liberation call out and protest against Israel’s occupation of Palestine, Israel apologists come out of the woodwork to claim that they are being antisemitic or supporting terrorists groups such as Hamas, the latter of which reminds me too much of the post-9/11 treatment of Muslims where people consistently lump in all Muslims with terrorists or consistently bring up terrorists when they are simply talking about Muslims. This is a huge part of the process of oppressed people enacting oppression onto other people and claiming that they are in the right. It’s a huge part of why white supremacy, colonialism, and imperialism and able to thrive in today’s age. We claim to be better in the present but that couldn’t be further from the truth. From Elon Musk allowing fascism on twitter and changing the name to X along with changing the platform’s interface for more money, to Israel declaring war on Gaza and enacting violence and murder against Palestinians as a disproportionate response to Hamas’ attacks, oppression stays the ultimate endgoal of most self-proclaimed “progressives”. They just won’t say the quiet part out loud unless it’s completely by accident.

Remixes & Transformations

Remixing is an interesting concept when applied to more than just music. Remixing an infamous literary piece is not unheard of. Antero Garcia’s How Remix Culture Informs Student Writing & Creativity demonstrates examples of remixing in the form of music, fan-fiction, videos, books, and overall entertainment. For me, some examples of non-music remixes would be the multiple DC and Marvel Comics movie adaptations and tv show adaptations. The Flash, a DC superhero comic series/franchise has had its own rightfully controversial film adaptation released this year, as well as the CW’s tv show The Flash having ended earlier this year since airing back in 2014. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a whole collection of remixes on its own. The revivals and reboots of previously ended tv shows such as iCarly, Gossip Girl, Veronica Mars, She-Ra and the princess of Power (The Netflix revival is titled as ‘She-Ra and the Princesses of Power), and even Boy Meets World (The Disney Channel Spin-off is titled ‘Girl Meets World’). There are even constant talks about a revival of Malcolm in the Middle.

Degrassi is a gigantic example of remixing, as the franchise had started back in 1979 with ‘The Kids of Degrassi Street’, and then came back as Degrassi Junior High, then Degrassi High, and then Degrassi: The Next Generation, to Degrassi: Next Class. There was going to be another Degrassi series set to premier this year but it unfortunately got shelved by HBO.

As a writer, I most definitely will do my own remixes on pre-existing material. The tropes and cliches and storytelling devices that we use in our writing are from other texts that we read in classes. I have read so many fanfiction stories that aim to rewrite tv shows and movies to the authors’ own liking. I freewriting often to start a story, only to then discard or ignore the draft completely because I dislike the result. It’s why I have yet to complete my first novel.

Freewriting is definitely important to the evolution of a writer. Instead of writing to meet a teacher’s quota, writers should write as much as possible and go back and correct their mistakes afterwards. Putting in the time to do so helps a lot with learning what works for a writer and what doesn’t work for a writer. For my stories, I write whatever I want even when it doesn’t make sense to me because I know that if I overthink my ideas then they won’t get written down. Besides, there are many horrible books and tv shows and movies with horrible scripts that get published and produced, and they end up being wildly successful. If Stephanie Meyer can get her Twilight books published despite the offensive writing of Indigenous people and the racist tropes and Cassandra Clare can get famous off of a book that took many elements from her Harry Potter fanfiction trilogy, then who’s to say you can’t make it too?

When Writing Feedback needs improvements

In reading ‘Responding to Student Writing’ by Nancy Sommers and , I have gained a better perspective on educational writing lessons. I have always wondered how my past teachers graded my writing, how they came to the conclusions they came to. Writing is a task that requires continuous re-evaluations of one’s own text. Teachers evaluate and re-evaluate their students’ works and give them feedback. Reading Nancy Sommers’ passage shows how this constantly falls flat in the classroom. Teachers tend to focus on the grammatical issues and wording choices along with specific paraphrasing. Way to often have I had an issue with a teacher that was more focused on how I wrote in past and present tense simultaneously than they were on the perspectives that I was writing about or the topic that I was trying to prove.

Communication is also a common problem in these scenarios. Teachers’ comments need to be thorough with what they want their students to improve upon, as abstract comments like, “You need to be more concise with this sentence.” “This is too wordy.” “Show don’t tell.” don’t give students an efficient understanding of what they need to revise and what they can keep.

‘Writing Comments on Students’ Papers’ goes further into the problems in feedback amongst teachers and students. Teachers should be more considerate of how they give feedback to their students as they can easily forget that the person behind the words they are evaluating need genuine help, they won’t succeed with a harsh critical voice giving them confusing and unclear feedback. Teachers tend to be more considerate and respectful when giving their colleagues constructive comments, so there is no reason why they shouldn’t be doing the same for their students.

Feedback in writing classes involves proper communication and straightforward advice. But it also involves feedback that is appropriate for the specific context, as some advice such as “show, don’t tell” or “don’t use too many words.” doesn’t work in situations where the writing requires exposition and concise descriptions of things. What I think is needed is for teachers to allow their students more freedom to be as messy as possible on their first drafts. When writers get out their ideas and weave a first or second or third draft, they have a starting point to work on. They have a detailed outline for the final version of their text. This way, when teachers give their feedback they will have more of an understanding on what specific feedback each student needs. The evaluation of students’ works should cater to what the student is ultimately trying to accomplish, and as such the feedback should fit the topic of the paper, not simply what word choices and grammar choices they made.

Rhetoric and Composition Notes

Rhetoric and Composition is a must read for those who seek an introduction into the field. Janice M. Lauer breaks down the dichotomy of the various forms of writing. What I found interesting was the many different ways to write and how to study writing. The conception of writing is portrayed as mediating complex dynamics, which makes sense when we see how there are different studies for writing alone.

By that I mean that writing in itself is not one field of study, but rather it is divided and implemented into various distinct fields of study. English Writing studies is one writing program, but Literature is another, as well as rhetoric & composition, communication and literacy, media literacy, journalism, and professional writing.

An interesting part of the text was the list of shared features within the writing field by Louise Wetherbee Phelps. I think this part of the text puts the important parts of Rhetoric and Composition into perspective. It helps to give readers a better understanding of the emerging discipline that is Rhetoric and Composition.