The readings this week left me with so many ideas for projects to incorporate into my future teaching.
First, I was intrigued by the concept of social action. While I’m not sure how much I would want students to set the course agenda, I do think they should get a say in it. I like the idea that all people take part in working towards creating social change. I also like the idea of the teacher as a guide through the social action process. Many of the concepts in “What is Social Action” are ones I hope to incorporate into my teaching.
Next, I found the different pedagogies discussed in “Toward a Sustainable Citizenship and Pedagogy” also gave me ideas for things I’d like to do. One of the stories that stood out to me most was that of Kim’s husband’s bad first impression in this classroom (Donehower, Hogg, and Schell 160). I felt like his “mistake” is one I could easily make. Similarly, I would like to have students look at media representations and engage with them to learn what’s out there, or rather, what the media wants viewers to think about various locations/types of people. Stereotypes all come from somewhere, right? I think looking at media representations would be an interesting way to look into some of these place-related viewpoints.
I think the above pedagogy could also easily incorporate some of the websites we looked at this week to show some of what is being done and pave way for new ideas to be thrown into the mix.
I was also interested in the “Status: Or, Should Farmers Read Plato?” essay mentioned in Donehower, Hogg and Schell’s piece (163). The description of the piece reminded me of a play I was in in the 8th grade “Shakespeare meets the Hillbillies.” The premise of the play is that a the grandmother in a family of hillbillies has one dying wish: “Before she departs for the Promised Land, Granny wants her hillbilly family to learn and understand the words of William Shakespeare – the true sign of an “educated person.” The fact that learning the words of Shakespeare are what she believes makes a person truly educated makes me think about hillbilly and other similar stereotypes. Why is it assumed hillbillies would specifically be the people who would not be educated about Shakespeare? Granted, I don’t know much about “hillbilly history,” but this thought is what came to me when reading about the farmers reading Plato piece.
The Pittsburgh course described in Susan Swan’s piece was one I would like to incorporate in some future syllabi. I particularly liked how she began with the workplace autobiography as a way to understand the “curricular melting pot” of her classroom. I think it is important for us to know something about our students and where they are at personally before we begin our teaching. It’s good to know who you are working with so that you can figure out what his or her interests and beliefs may be and watch him or her develop or change over the course of your time teaching the student.
Throughout this week’s readings, I also liked the various definitions for rhetoric and what these classrooms should be doing, but they all seemed to boil down to same word: change. To me, teaching students composition and rhetoric is a means to helping them inquire about why things are the way they are and work towards making a positive difference in their communities and beyond. As Jeffrey T. Grabill says in “On Being Useful: Rhetoric and the Work of Engagement,” “when we teach students to be rhetors, we are teaching them to speak or write purposefully” (193). Again, I firmly believe in teachers being guides towards these inquiries rather than forcing our own beliefs upon them.