All posts by rbabasha

Prose and Pragmatism

The stage of growth I focused on in my writing is the transition out of an unfulfilling stage of life into one that is fulfilling. I wrote a fictional story about a person seeking a new direction in life after leaving a job where she was stagnating. Although I identify the main character with a pronoun, I left her unnamed to suggest that this stage of life is universal. The story is still in a rough draft stage and a tad too long.

Aside from contributing a story, I don’t think that I am particularly well-suited to any of the jobs involved with this project. I am hoping that our discussions in tomorrow’s meeting will reveal some way that I can contribute without feeling out of my depth. As for an idea for the title, I’m finding it difficult to think of a title without knowing what the exact content of the anthology is. That being said, the title of Cindy’s piece, “Growing Pains,” did jump out at me as a possibility.

In addition to my concerns about how I can contribute to the administrative side of the project, I am very concerned about us taking on too much with this project. Most of us will have to revise our writing, read nine classmates’ submissions, offer thoughtful critiques, write our individual self-assessment for the class, write a response poem for the anthology, and contribute to the project by taking on a role. I think we need to remain mindful of how little time we have and how busy we all are at the end of a semester when making choices about the project. For this reason, I think that choosing a website or blog for the format of the anthology would make the most sense. The templates available in tools like WordPress provide an existing framework so that we can just drop things in rather than spending lots of time on layout. 

I hope everyone understands that I’m sharing my concerns about time and workloads in the interest of easing the burden on all of us and producing a project we can be proud of.  I look forward to a productive meeting tomorrow and reading everyone’s work.

Imagining What is Possible

I must start by saying that I really like Michael’s idea of creating a curriculum. It requires creativity and expertise; it would show our understanding of the readings and discussions from the class; it would be useful; it fills in a void and addresses a need. That being said, my idea goes in a different direction and may seem too out-of-the-box, but I like the idea and I’ve decided to put it out there anyway. Here goes…

I’ll begin at the end. Ideally, our collaboration would result in a short theatrical work. On a practical level, the tangible product that could be distributed would be a script. (In a dream world, the piece would be staged and performed.) The purpose of the work would be to show the power of writing and/or explore the connections between theory and practice. Each of us would contribute at least one piece of writing to be included. But just because I’m suggesting a script does not mean that we’d all be writing dialogue. The entire thing could end up being comprised entirely of poems, or someone could submit a piece that is meant to be silent or danced; I think that a variety of style and form would make the final product richer. The contributions could cover a wide range of topics from this course, like voice, revision, identity, multilingualism and multiculturalism, AI, healing through writing, and linguistic justice.

If we’re not bound by the limitations of actually having to put on the production, we could indicate whatever lighting, special effects, and/or music we desire. For example, the script could indicate that, at the start of the production, the following bell hooks quote could be projected on a screen: “The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is–it’s to imagine what is possible” (Source). We could indicate that other quotes may be projected during transitions between scenes, citing Freire, Elbow, and anyone that is relevant.

I understand that this may be an unusual suggestion, but I think the curriculum idea is really solid, and knowing that it is already out there makes me feel a little bit bolder about proposing an unconventional project idea. This whole thing is very vivid in my mind, but I understand that might not be true for everyone. Thank you for considering my idea, and thanks, Michael, for posting so early! I look forward to reading everyone’s proposal!

The Power of the Pen

As I write this post, my sons and their friend are attempting to write their first rock song in my basement. As they phase in and out of classic rock, punk, and pop, struggling to find their “voices” as musicians, I realize that I am experiencing a musical manifestation of Huber’s strategy of making a list of her writing voices. Huber has labeled her different voices–“Hayseed Punk-Rock Girl” and “Fierce German Peasant” (among others), and the fledgling musicians are exhibiting their different voices (Zeppelin-like, White Stripes-y, Nirvana-ish). Huber’s article made me aware that because voice is a “river that is the font of story and speech,” the boy band’s songs will be a product of the unique voices they discover, and the voice in which I choose to write will influence the story that I tell.

Huber addresses not only voice but also talks about how her physical state affects her writing. She eventually learned to deal with the pain of rheumatoid arthritis by recognizing that she “had different speeds and modes.” While I do not have to deal with chronic physical pain, my mental and emotional states significantly impact my ability to write. Even just in the context of doing homework for this class, I have had to concede that there are certain times when I don’t have the mental bandwidth to be an effective writer. On my lunch hour at work? Reading–yes, writing–no. Upon arriving home from work? Helping my sons write–yes, my own writing–no. After everyone has gone to bed? Bingo! It is also challenging to focus when I’m feeling down, anxious, or both, as these feelings can be the perfect cocktail for self-criticism and even writer’s block, so I try to take advantage of the moments when I’m feeling more “neutral.”

Huber talks about writing in spite of her pain, but the authors of the other article, Pennebaker and Chung, were having people write because of their pain. They were exploring the effects of expressive writing on the writer’s health. They found that, under certain circumstances, expressive writing can improve the health of writers who’d experienced traumas: “[A]n increasing number of studies indicate that having people write about traumas can result in healthy improvements in social, psychological, behavioral, and biological measures” (Pennebaker and Chung 4). The act of writing affects us on so many levels, yet it can be challenging to provide evidence showing why writing is important. Even so Pennebaker and Chung have done just that: “Writing or talking about emotional experiences…has been found to be associated with significant drops in physician visits from before to after writing” (7). They also discovered that “the more that the topic or writing assignment is constrained, the less successful it usually is” (12), which suggests that people benefit more from open-ended writing prompts than specific ones. I think these findings can be a powerful tool to wield when advocating for adding or maintaining writing programs in schools and places dedicated to wellness.

When taken together, the articles by Huber and Pennebaker and Chung show that people benefit from having a wide variety of voices in which to write and a lot of leeway on what to write. Since the need to be heard is universal and sharing emotions through writing is healthy, teachers and health professionals alike would do well to take note. For my part, I will hang in through band rehearsal in support of the healthy, albeit loud, emotional expression that’s happening, since I now know how beneficial writing lyrics may actually be!

The Shifting Landscape of Language Education

This week, we read three pieces of writing focused on how “African American English” (Cunningham) or “Black English” (Baker-Bell and Young) should be positioned in the classroom. (For the sake of simplicity, I’ll use “Black English” and “Standard English” going forward.) All three writers want teachers to teach students that Black English has value and is not wrong and encourage teachers to use students’ knowledge of Black English to their advantage in English classes. While this same idea runs through all three articles, the writers have areas of both agreement and disagreement.

None of the writers is in favor of teaching only Standard English. Cunningham wants teachers to  show the value of both languages by “speaking about language choices in terms of difference rather than deficiency” (Cunningham 91). Baker-Bell, points out that Standard English has been “language…used to oppress Black students,” which therefore cannot “empower them” (Baker-Bell ??). All three writers believe that Black English should play some role in the English classroom, but Cunningham and Young strongly disagree about how it should be used. Cunningham advocates treating Black English and Standard English as two distinct and separate languages and never blending them, believing that “[c]onflating the two into one linguistic variety is confusing at best and damaging at worst” (Cunningham 91). Instead, she suggests “code-switching” as a way of “teaching academic English without devaluing a writer’s identity” (Cunningham 85). Where Cunninham wants a separation, Young wants a blending, which he calls “code meshing” (Young 114), believing that it will “benefit everybody” because it can “add flavor and style” (Cunningham 114) and “help [students] be more rhetorically effective” (Young 116). Cunningham also takes issue with Cunningham’s definition of “code-switching,” because his own definition involves blending rather than switching (Young 113). Baker-Bell only mentions “code-switching” one time, putting more emphasis on her recommendations for how “Black Language” should be included in a classroom (Baker-Bell 9).

I found all three of the articles to be informative, and they all helped me to look at Black Language in a classroom setting differently. Even so, I can’t agree with Baker-Bell’s assertion that English teachers should “become conversant with the features of Black Language” (1) or Young’s recommendation that English teachers should “know everybody’s dialect, at least as many as we can” (111) as they are highly impractical. While it would be fantastic for a kid to walk into a classroom and find that the teacher is familiar with their language, regardless of what it might be, the suggestion that teachers should learn one or more other languages before teaching is just impossible to implement. I think that a more practical, and useful recommendation is for English teachers to learn how to use a student’s knowledge of one language to strengthen the other (just as learning Spanish in high school strengthened my knowledge of English grammar). While I don’t think a student should be chastised for blending languages, I think that there is no point in teaching Standard English if you continuously back off on enforcing the rules that govern it. If language exists to foster communication, the further away we get from everyone following one set of rules, the more confusing things become. 

A change is definitely necessary when teachers are sending students a message that some part of who they are is wrong or invalid, but a solid solution still escapes me. When we discussed multicultural classrooms, it became clear that it’s not feasible to include a representation of every culture in the curriculum, no matter how nice that would be. And as much as we want to support ESL students, no teacher can be expected to learn every language in preparation for every type of student that might join their class. I do not know what an appropriate change would look like, and none of the writers has given me a practical and specific vision of it, either. But I am interested and open to seeing what develops as a result of Cunningham, Baker-Bell, and Young’s influence on pedagogy.

Paper, Slides, & Response to “Suggestions for Tutoring ESL Students”

Reaction Paper

Presentation

My reaction paper and presentation are above. My response to “Suggestions for Tutoring ESL Students” is below.

Suggestions for Tutoring ESL Students: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

When registering for the Spring 2024 semester, I noticed on the list of classes we can choose from that there are three electives that have to do with tutoring in or administration of writing centers. Working in a writing center in the future would be interesting to me–I could have the benefits of teaching without the drawbacks. (Imagine, one-on-one interactions with students without having to grade papers afterward–that’s living the dream!) I also had many ESL students in my former life as an English teacher, so I was very interested in this week’s article by Tony Silva, “Tutoring ESL Students: Issues and Options.” In it, Silva offers strategies for tutors tasked with helping ESL students with their writing. While reading it, I looked backward, revisiting my interactions with ESL students to see how my strategies compared to Silva’s, and forward, thinking about which tips might be useful should I ever find myself working at a writing center. While I found parts of the article that could be useful to me, my response to this article was skewed toward the negative. On the one hand, I was really happy to read an article that offers some specific advice about how best to serve the ESL population in the capacity of a writing tutor. On the other hand, I was taken aback by Silva’s insistence on the limitations of ESL students.

Let’s start with the positive. What I found to be the most interesting in the article was Silva’s position that the social interactions between the tutor and the student are just as important as the teaching that goes on, and that, in fact, it may not be possible to teach the student effectively if there is a lack of cultural understanding: “[U]nderstanding and accommodating cultural differences is, to a great extent, what ESL instruction is all about” (Silva 527). Silva also suggests that it is important to learn how to differentiate between cultural preferences in writing and weaknesses in writing, and I support his conclusion that the rules of American English are not better or more correct “conventions and preferences,”  but rather “alternate” ones (527). He advises that American tutors should, if possible, learn about sources of potential cultural misunderstandings, like eye contact, personal space, physical contact, and customs surrounding time management, prior to working with ESL students (Silva 527). He also mentions that ESL writers may “come from cultures/educational systems where teachers are expected to be “tellers,” where those who don’t “tell” are seen as poor teachers, or where such casual interaction with relative strangers is seen as odd or inappropriate” (Silva 533). With Silva taking so much care to avoid positioning American ideas and rules as superior to those of other countries, I was very surprised when I reached page 533.

After enjoying the reading and finding it interesting and helpful, I encountered the following sentence: “Tutors need to tell ESL writers that it is unrealistic for them to expect to be able to write like native speakers of English” (Silva 533). Silva goes on to advise tutors to “explain that even non-native speakers of English who live in an English-speaking area for many years and write regularly in English maintain a written accent” (Silva 533). He goes on to say that the tutor should tell the ESL student not to worry because if native speakers “penalize them” for minor writing problems, it will only be a small penalty (533). While I think it is reasonable to tell a student that he will not learn how to write like a native speaker in the short time he is with a tutor, I think that it is not right to dash his hopes of ever doing so. For all of the good that Silva is trying to do by sharing his knowledge in this article, this part made a little alarm bell go off in my mind: Is he being racist? He’s not citing any evidence to support his proclamation that people who aren’t native English speakers can never write like native English speakers–he just declares it to be so, repeatedly. Are there exceptions and idioms in English that make it incredibly challenging to avoid making mistakes? Sure, but they are not infinite. If someone truly wanted to learn them, I believe they could. Silva is claiming that all ESL students, without consideration of the age at which they began learning English or how hard-working they are, are all equally limited in their ability to achieve true proficiency–this is stereotyping. Silva is saying that their lack of Americanness will prevent them from full mastery of English.

I had hoped that this comment was just a one-off, but to my dismay, it was not. Two more times in the article Silva positions ESL students as lacking the potential for full mastery. On page 535, he writes that “it’s not realistic to expect that an ESL writer will ever use articles like a native speaker does. ESL students should be encouraged to do the best they can and then get a native speaker to proofread their work” (Silva 535). I had a visceral reaction to the idea that the ESL students should “do the best they can” and then, when they reach their threshold of understanding, they can ask a benevolent and heroic native English speaker to lift them up from their state of confusion and carry them to the finish line. How patronizing! And, if there’s any hope that I’m just misinterpreting his position, he writes one last time that “even the most proficient [ESL students] aren’t likely to display native speaker-like intuitions” (Silva 535). It makes sense that they wouldn’t have intuition, but I would hope that an educator would understand that acquired knowledge can inform something like proofreading. And, for what it’s worth, I have encountered plenty of native speakers of English who were unable to hear the mistakes in their own writing.

I understand that Tony Silva is in a helping profession and that the whole point of this article is to help people. I understand that he has years of experience under his belt and I cannot deny that there are useful strategies offered in the article, some of which I have used in the past to help my own ESL students succeed. But after working through my thoughts on Silva’s comments, I don’t know whether I should trust any of Silva’s suggestions if some of them are patronizing and soul-crushing. I may work at a writing center someday, but I know for sure that I will never tell another human being that he will never be as good at writing as I am. No way, no how.

Unraveling a Contradiction

After last week’s reading by bell hooks, this week’s readings were a return to a more demanding, academic style of writing that required more focus from me. As I waded into Peter Elbow’s text, “Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries,” I encountered many unfamiliar names, so I grew concerned that I would be lost unless I researched every unknown person. Eventually, though, I saw his point, and it was an interesting one. Elbow wants his readers to “engage in two contrary activities: paying lots of attention to voice and pushing away considerations of voice” within the same piece of writing. While his argument is interesting, I think that it’s difficult to put off acknowledging a finding during your first reading because you know you’re not supposed to address it until your second reading. Elbow’s recommendation to both pay attention to and ignore voice might be a huge challenge for many readers (7).

In “Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers,” Sommers shares her findings on how different types of writers engage in revision. Had I read her article in isolation, it would not have occurred to me to look for similarities between revision and voice, but I noticed them when reading Sommers’ article on the heels of “Voice in Writing,” by Elbow. For instance, when Sommers examines the approaches of the experienced writers, she finds that they initially focus on getting “closer to their meaning” at first, then later address “vocabulary and style” (386). The writers are engaging in “two contrary activities” in their writing, focusing only on meaning at first and then only on developing their voices. The writers celebrated by Sommers are employing the tactics recommended by Elbow. Sommers seems to agree with Elbow’s position on how to approach voice in writing. 

As we move through the readings in this class, I am learning more about what I need from them. When we read articles solely about theory, I feel unfulfilled; I always have a desire to know how the theory would actually be put into effect. When I can see an idea move beyond theory into practical application, it is much easier for me to understand. This week, Elbow presented a theory, and I felt the familiar urge to know how that story would end in real life. Luckily, Sommers’ article was there to fill in the blanks.

Survey Says…Mediocrity

When I was very young, I sometimes watched Family Feud on TV with my family. I would yell out my answer and wait anxiously to see whether it was on the board. At that young age, I did not understand that the idea was to give the answer that most other people would also give. As I grew older, I came to understand that in order to succeed at Family Feud, I would have to come up with the most mediocre, least inspired answers. In Katy Ilonka Gero’s article, she discusses a TV writer who needed her work to be highly original and thought AI might help her to avoid a generic ending: “[T]he computer’s ideas would represent a low bar that the writer must improve on” (Paragraph 6). This makes sense, since AI is programmed to identify the word choice, syntax, and other patterns that are most common and emulate them, not produce something wildly different. That TV writer is striving to avoid what I am calling the “Family Feud effect,” which is the most average result possible. I worry about the “Family Feud effect” becoming widespread if AI is embraced too readily by writers.

In “AI Reveals the Most Human Parts of Writing,” Gero points out that writing is a challenging pursuit: “Figuring out how a poem should end is difficult….” (Paragraph 7). Gero’s article suggests that AI can help writers get past writer’s block because “[t]his is literally the task most computer systems are trained to do: predict what comes next” (Paragraph 8). Using AI in this way would certainly make things easier for struggling writers; AI might become a tool that every writer uses, just like a computer. But the danger here is that when there is a tool that makes a task easier, people will gravitate to it, get used to it, and soon be unable to imagine life without it. Writers will grow increasingly dependent upon AI. Is this a desirable outcome? In “The Risk Of Losing Unique Voices: What Is The Impact Of AI On Writing?” Delgado describes the writing he produced entirely with AI as writing in which his “unique voice,” his “essence,” his “humanity” all “seemed to have been brushed aside” (Paragraph 3). This is not a desirable outcome, and Delgado consequently cautions us to use AI “judiciously” (Paragraph 12).Delgado thinks that AI is not always the answer, and Gero points out that there can be joy in doing difficult things (Paragraph 7), but I just don’t believe that most writers will be able to resist the temptation to overuse AI. I expect that, soon enough, we will be living with the “Family Feud effect,” a reality where people are choosing the easiest path–the one leading to mediocrity. Gero says that “[t]he achievement of landing the end of a scene may only come from struggling to do it yourself” (Paragraph 7). If all struggling writers eventually succumb and turn to AI for assistance, they may never “land” their ideas. I believe that the struggle contributes to the work, and I want my writing to be in my own voice and contain humanity. I will count myself among the struggling rather than turn to AI and miss out on that accomplishment

A Dangerous Affair

A Dangerous Affair

America has a love affair with the idea of the teacher who sacrifices a personal life, does battle at work every day, and leaves work exhausted at a late hour to face an empty house and a microwaveable frozen dinner. In fact, several movies have been made about real-life teachers who fit this mold in some way, including Dangerous Minds, Stand and Deliver, The Ron Clark Story, and Freedom Writers. These teacher characters constantly go the extra mile for their students, usually becoming fully immersed in the students’ lives to the detriment of their own. Much like these lionized teachers, hooks tried to take care of her students’ every need–she even went so far as to feed her students in her own kitchen (hooks 20). Her relationship with her students was more like that of a parent than a teacher.

As I write this, I keep thinking about what Marie Kondo learned about parenting. Her book about organizing, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, came out in 2014. Her entire career was based on how orderly and clean she was. For years, I envied her organized home, imagining the serenity I would feel if I had her sparkling countertops and spotless coffee table. As I stared at my children’s toys strewn around the living room and the mounds of laundry in their bedroom, I wondered, how does she do it? Well, it turns out that she was able to do it when childcare wasn’t a factor. After having her third child, Kondo admitted to the world that she had reprioritized. Her house was no longer immaculate, and she was fine with that (source). Kondo recognized that something had to give–there is only so much time in the day, so she decided where to expend her energy. We can parent our students when we are not parents ourselves, but it is impossible to sustain that relationship once we have our own children to care for. Hooks’ model likely worked for hooks because she derived her sense of wellbeing mostly from teaching and because she didn’t have children of her own. Teachers who become parents and want to maintain their sanity, like Kondo, reprioritize.

Hooks’ model is an untenable representation of what a teacher should be. The fulfillment hooks derived from the teacher-as-parent relationship is rare–where hooks thrived, most teachers suffer. Unless your teaching is the source of your wellbeing, as it was for hooks, there will not be time available to tend to your own wellbeing if you parent your students in and out of class. It is dangerous to suggest to teachers that they can act as both teacher and parent to their students and still maintain their own wellbeing. Hooks believed in a model that enabled her to reach her goals, but it is a model uniquely suited to hooks and not easily adopted by most teachers.

Fix the Classroom, Fix the World

Reading Chapter 2 from Freire’s book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, made me wish for more context so that I could better understand where he was coming from. It turns out that he was literally “coming from” Brazil, a country in political turmoil where people were oppressed. Freire’s writing was designed to point out the ways in which a country prepares itself to receive and accept authoritarian leaders; he identified schools as one place where this occurs. Given the moment and place Freire was living in when he wrote, this conclusion makes sense. Even so, I had trouble imagining how his ideas might be implemented in a real-life classroom in the contemporary United States.

Freire suggests a classroom arrangement where the student and teacher are teaching each other, “simultaneously teachers and students” (72). As a former teacher and the mother of two eleven-year-old boys with ADHD, this was tough for me to imagine. While I do learn things from my children every day, there is no way to ensure that my interactions with them will result in valuable discoveries. For example, yesterday, they informed me about the ring of fire solar eclipse (valuable), and today they informed me about some armadillo character that has just been added to Minecraft (not-so-valuable). I was hoping to find more detail about what Paulo Freire’s vision might look like in a modern classroom, and I found what I was looking for in this article by educational consultant, Chris Sowton.

First, I examined how Sowton describes the roles of teacher and student in Freire’s model and how learning would ideally take place. Sowton’s use of the words “organizer” and “coach” to clarify the function of the teacher in Freire’s ideal classroom helped me to understand that, in Freire’s model, the teacher is not supposed to be a buddy figure walking into the classroom each day without a plan. The teacher would still be the “adult in the room,” but would function as the facilitator of the students’ learning (Sowton). Once I was better able to envision this structural component of Freire’s model, I wanted to know how learning would be achieved. Sowton describes the learning as being “more problem-centred [sic], with students learning inductively and through processes such as guided self-discovery.” “Problem-centred [sic]” learning is great, but it is Sowton’s use of the word “guided” here which I most appreciate, because it helps me to see that the teacher would have an objective in mind and students wouldn’t be missing out on critical knowledge just because it didn’t come up in class that day. I agree that having students find their way toward knowledge is better than “depositing” the knowledge into the students, as Freire cautions against (Freire 72).

Next, I examined Sowton’s explanation of how Freire’s educational model allows students to learn to contribute to and participate in shaping their society. I’ve encountered plenty of students who have a desire to effect change but lack either the understanding of what needs changing, the knowledge of how to go about changing it, or both. The Freire-style English classroom remedies this, as the content would extend beyond the typical literature and grammar that are the hallmarks of current ELA curriculum to include “meaningful social issues from a wide range of different perspectives” and “learning would be linked to social activism” (Sowton). And how might learning the English language enable students to engage in social activism and address these “meaningful social issues”? Well, Sowton explains that in Freire’s model, English is “a tool for participating in a global conversation about positive social change,” so learning English would empower students to accomplish their goals for improving society.

In his introduction Sowton laments the fact that Freire has not had a bigger influence on schools today. After gaining a better understanding of how Freire’s ideas might shape classroom curriculum and inform the teacher-student relationship, I think that rather than lamenting what has not come to pass, we should remind school administrators everywhere that they have the power to make Freire’s vision a reality. The teachers I know would be more than happy to teach this way every day, and I would be heartened to have my sons attend a school where they learn daily how to make the world a better place.

Works Cited:

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Translated by Myra Bergman Ramos, Continuum International Publishing Group, 1970.Sowton, Chris.

“What Freire Can Teach Us About Teaching.” World of Better Learning Blog, 09 November 2021, cambridge.org/elt/blog/2021/11/09/what-freire-can-teach-about-teaching/. Accessed 15 October 2023.

The Journey to a Journey

I thought about following in Michael’s footsteps this week and incorporating freewriting in my blog post like he did. I told myself, “Look, he ended up writing interesting stuff! That could be you!” But, in the end, every fiber of my being pushed back against it. I have considered why that might be. Maybe it’s because I don’t recall prewriting and rough drafts being graded in school as meaningfully as my academic writing, or even being graded at all (once a final story or essay was turned in, most teachers were okay with you tossing all of your “process” in the trash). My takeaway from my teachers’ approaches was that the final product was the prize, not the work leading up to it. 

Murray and Elbow, however, clearly disagree with the idea that the final product should get all of your focus. In his post, Tyler effectively highlights how focusing entirely on an end result doesn’t make sense for a student of writing: “Think of it like this. I give you a novel to read and then ask you to write your own novel. You look at me and say okay, what is the first step? Just because I showed you a finished product, does not mean you know the process to reproduce it.” After reading that, I considered deeply how much I must be missing out on by skipping over the formative parts of the writing process. 

But then I noticed how I was approaching writing this post, and I realized that some of what Elbow and Murray suggest is actually part of my process. Do I write, as Elbow suggests, continuously and with no judgment (Elbow 3)? No, but I do jot down my thoughts fairly quickly as they come to me. Later, I select which pieces to use from among those I’ve jotted, separating the “good bits” from the random writing for inclusion in my finished work (Elbow 10). I also think that my process is in keeping with Murray’s recommendation: my “jotting” is the prewriting, the stitching together of the selected pieces is the “writing,” and when I trim a loose thread or add more color in the final stages, I am “rewriting” (Murray 4). Perhaps there is hope for me yet!

The remix article by Garcia offered a window into a different creative process. Remixing was the basis for many assignments I’ve given to students over the years, and I have seen firsthand how allowing someone to work with existing materials can actually free them to be more creative than telling them they can “do whatever they want.” Whether my students were rewriting an older story to set it in modern times, creating song parodies, or making Facebook posts for book characters, working with an existing framework gave them a way to choose a direction, moving away from the original material or traveling further down the same road. They also explored whether it gave them what they needed or needed to be stripped down to reveal its essence. I think that remixing is a useful tool in English classrooms as a way for students to express their creativity and display their understanding of important concepts.

Murray, Elbow, and Garcia all want their readers to understand that when we approach crafting our artistic works, we must treat the process itself as an experience that is equal in value to that of the finished product. Unlearning the lessons to the contrary from my formative years is challenging, but going forward I will try to view the process of writing as its own reward rather than simply a means to an end.