This week’s post is admittedly delayed because I took the Thanksgiving strecth off. I hope you did too. Collective time off should be observed, especially those breaks that are intended to pass in the practice of gratitude. Thanks to Ryan for writing thoughtfully with the spirit gratitude this week.
I hope you all had a bit of time to rest and recharge, and that the time passed safely for you.
Voice & Equity
We ended last week with a kind of “grand finale” paying tribute to the importance of voice and the quest for equity in education. I think this was the perfect note to close out our collective reflections on writing.
Thanks to Bailey for having us think together about why the concept of voice is at once elusive but also so critical when thinking about writing. It was an important moment for all of us to have the chance to discuss what makes up a “voice” as the writer develops. “Voice” is framed by Elbow as a rhetorical tool – a writing skill that needs to be considered (applied or withheld) depending on the writing context. Is the goal of teaching writing to develop the self by honing voice? Or is voice a misleading metaphor? Perhaps we do not really write, …for we are ultimately written by culture? When facing these tensions around the concept of voice in writing, Elbow points out the problem of either/or thinking which often leads to a “compromise” mandate. (And compromise often becomes a problematic way of understanding the complexity of perspective. The result is often a watered-down middle-of-the-road take away). Elbow thoughtfully favors both/and thinking. Thinking that might instead include two opposing perspectives in relief, standing side by side for us to apprehend in stark contrast, in order for us to gather a more profound understanding of why there might be such distinct/disparate perspectives. (With our current political-rhetorical landscape in mind, what a timely reflection to have at this point, no?). ….So what does a deeper dive into modes of thinking have to do with the construction of voice in writing? The voice-as-self verses the voice-as-role debate illuminates that “voice” is indeed the perfect lens or metaphor for language as both material and historical. It is interesting to note that Elbow always defines voice from an auditory/aural perspective. This prompts us to think further about the embodiment of language. For we know things in our bodies. How do we give that kind of knowledge “voice”….in writing? …and in our lives? What other ways can we claim “voice” (….other than through the polished act of writing text)?
Thanks to Kefah for her compelling presentation of Lisa Delpit’s The Silenced Dialogue, which directed us to think about what is happening to non-white and poor students in our own national context. Kefah was successful in highlighting an invisible “culture of power” and the importance of gaining certain cultural capital. As a specialist in teaching and learning in multicultural settings, Delpit seeks to provide opportunities for minorities and poor communities to articulate and effect change in the United States’ educational system. She is also concerned with creating connections and building bridges between teachers of differing cultural backgrounds, between educators and culturally diverse children and their parents, and across the multi-cultural communities that make up our society. In reading Delpit’s work, we come to see that everyday interactions are loaded with assumptions made by educators and mainstream society. As I mentioned at the close of our discussion, by developing code-switching literacies and refining specific cultural translation skills, we might start to forge a pathway for certain children to grow and thrive as they continue to navigate a world designed to leave them behind. I recommend that you check out the inspiring videos that Kefah included in her writing for class:
— Burning_Brilliance (@BurningBrillia1) November 22, 2020
What is next?
We have four classes remaining in the semester to work together on your final project: Nov. 30th, Dec. 7th & 9th. On Dec. 14th, we will meet for the final time and you will close out your final project together, finalizing and summarizing your overall work. On Friday Dec. 18th (no class meeting) you will submit your final class portfolio.
Consider this final stretch of our class as a critical time. The seminar time we have left together will be dedicated to “workshop” time. There is a lot to do in this final stretch together – you will brainstorm and negotiate, plan and design, and implement the project while delivering goals and intended outcomes. It is the final push for creativity and collaboration. This project should be fun, inspiring, and a time to connect further regarding your work and learning within the graduate program. Expect there to be some unexpected twists and turns.
So, ….see you a bit later today! I look forward to this final chapter in “Writing Theory & Practice” with all of you.