Writing for Empathy, Writing-as-Making

Thank you to Amber and Hugo for another insightful evening exploring writing theory together.  Their selections to read together this week yielded some important reflections. Amber’s selections from “Bad Ideas about Writing” seemed at the onset to point to writing problems while Hugo’s selection pointed to a focus on multimodality.  But what emerged was defintely more than just that.  We took a closer look into the relationship between writing and empathy.  We also started to think about writing in more expansive terms – as a mode of composition that includes more than just words on a page or screen.

Our Slides:

Amber picked up on the connection between writing and rhetoric and the urgency of centering empathy in our public discourse.  In short, our rhetoric can be mobilised to increase fear and misunderstsanding, or it can work to bridge difference in ways that help us design better solutions to real challenges we share in society.  But how do we model and pratcice writing as an act of citizenship?  How do we learn to liste?  How do we foster more productive understanding(s) of difference in society through our shared words.  How do we empower students to feel like thougthful stakeholders in their own communities and in society at large?    Through Amber’s closer look at the omnipresent fear of failure in education, and thinking about the underlying goals for teaching writing, we can also start to see how the enterprise of educating students to read and write is at once at the core of both our biggest problems as well as possible solutions.

Make no mistake, writing is essential to communication, learning, and citizenship.  Writing is the currency of the new workplace and global economy. Writing helps us convey ideas, solve problems, and understand ourselves and our changing world.  Writing is a bridge to the future in part because it presents the possibility for opening up empathy among our ranks.

Hugo chose an article that at first left a few bewildered, but it also opened up a new expansive understanding of what writing actually is.  I think this article made it  more clear to all of us that writing is a pathway to thinking (meta-cognition).  How do we think?  And how does writing effectively facilitate our thinking?  If we expand our notion of writing beyond the traditional forms of literacy (reading and writing text), how do we apprehend how we learn through composition of thoughts and ideas?  Ultimately, “writing-as-making” broadens the traditional understanding of writing.  Composition in this broader multimodal sense leads to new depths of discovery by highlighting a critical awareness of a) one’s thinking and learning and b) one’s understanding of oneself as a thinker and learner.  Thanks to Hugo for walking us through some of the more salient points in this article, and also asking some very thoughtful kinds of questions which lead to our rich closing discussion last night.

Reading in a Social Context

(i.e. multimodal social reading as empathetic experience….)

The first thing I hope you might do on the heels of our last discussion is participate in this week’s Equity Unbound activity – a social reading experience.  When we read on our own, sometimes we take notes in the margins (we annotate).  But with a new digital tool /application called “hypothes.is” we can read and annotate together.  We can  share insight into how we are reading and what compels us, with any page or website that exists on the open web.   Equity Unbound invites everyone to join us in annotating Lina Mounzer’s haunting and beautiful piece, War in Translation: Giving Voice to the Women of Syria.  Here is the invitation and the instructions for how to join in this exercise:

We will do this using a private Hypothes.is group because the article has so many public annotations already (you can take a peak, but the sheer number of annotations is making it heavy).

Everyone is welcome to join, and Hypothes.is is a really easy platform to use.

Steps to join:

  1. If you do not have a Hypothes.is account, please go to their website and join. It’s a really quick process. Here are some guidelines on how to use it.
  2. Once you have a Hypothes.is account, join the Unboundeq group via this link: https://hypothes.is/groups/drd7q2JL/unboundeq
  3. To start annotating the article, go to this link and start adding your annotations to the UnboundEq group and NOT public/private. Only annotations that are comments will appear to others. Your highlights are private.

I look forward to hearing about your thoughts on this work and how it realtes to our discussion this week.

Your to-do list:

Read & annotate:  ‘War in Translation’ by Lina Mounzer via @hypothes_is annotation

Read: Teaching Writing as Process Not Product by Donald Murray (Kate’s selection)

Read:  Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers by Nancy Sommers (Alyssa’s selection)

Please post Blog #5 which should be a reflection on the social annotation of “War in Translation” as well as the Murray & Sommers articles. **Please remember to tweet your blog post after publishing it!  Next week in class we will  hear from Kate & Alyssa, and wrap our time together with a creative activity in order to participate in the National Day on Writing!

Enjoy the rest of the week,  and the weekend.  Remember to pace yourself and to take care of yourself too.

xo  -Dr. Zamora

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