Edited Inksheds on session 1a: Lost in the fun house: Negotiating colliding values in literacy instruction (Laura Atkinson, Sandy Baardman, Pat Sadowy, Stan Straw)

The more discussion and dialogue, the more help can be offered -- but also this is not the intention of a writing course and besides, what makes us so sure we as teachers are not racist, sexist, violent -- Donna-Lee

I feel increasingly that truly "personal" engagement in academic discussion and learning is what cannot be asked for in course requirements.

It might have been interesting to have had the students read some examples of confession, to discuss and note the various purposes and ploys in confession, to discuss audience of the confessional genre, etc., and then to plan and/or draft their own confessions. -- Jamie

Some of the issues are likely to have clear, legally required responses, eg. Where freedom from harm "trumps" a promise of confidentiality.

I also feel that, in my own multicultural classroom at least, some opinions are not acceptable and I say "You can't say that here. It's not appropriate." -- Betty.

Pedagogy must expand its gates, the classroom cannot compartmentalize people. Some issues cannot be pushed out of the classroom. The classroom must become part of the world rather than a sanitized place.

There are also cultural problems involved in "baring the soul," for example, a student/friend of mine from Indonesia was profoundly disturbed by this sort of process. Doesn't dialogue involve dialogue with other writers as well as with one another? Doesn't respect for students also involve respect for their privacy?

Provocative, raised several issues. The key one for me is whether we ought to invite confessional writing in the first place. Who is it for? For the teacher as confidante, therapist, grader? Confessional writing can be therapeutic for the writer - getting stuff off my chest - discovering and naming my biases - but that writing is for myself or my therapist to deal with. -- Patrick

When we engage, accommodate the violent - the racist, homophobic, fascist - do we make the public space less safe for us all.?

All too often, we rely on tired, unexamined assumptions about the "right" or "appropriate" thing to do in the circumstances. We tend also (I tend also) to grasp at the most explicit, the most "out there" part of the problem, the aggressive violence in the homophobic story) rather than the underlying layers.

So many of the writing "tasks" described in the stories take place in a vacuum - a voice speaking to no-one, nowhere, for no reason (other than self-exposure). To whom are they addressed? For what purpose? To explain oneself? -- Anthony

The reason this discourse (that poster, the anti-semitic paper) pose such crucial problems (and, in fact, the reason the texts exist at all) is the position classroom texts hold. Once everyone is reading them they have the power of institutional context. -- Russ.

I wonder if most writing teachers experience more than the average of these dilemmas, or do certain writing teachers seem to foster their development in their classrooms?


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