Edited Inksheds on
BICULTURAL AWARENESS AND WRITING IN THE DISCIPLINES:
Ann Beer and Jane Ledwell-Brown
There is an inevitable integration between what is taught and how it
is taught. The split between curriculum and instruction has always been
artificial. So I guess if someone doesn't like how you teach then they
don't really want what you teach! The slightly twisted corollary is, you
can't teach what you don't really like without being miserable.
Well maybe my first reaction is to say that I don't believe the stuff about
boys and girls play anymore now that I've had a son: I see boys' play very
differently that I used to. For instance, a pick-up roller hockey game
involving a 5year old who can't skate, an 11year old with asthma, 3 ten-year
olds and an 8 year old is a VERY co-operative venture, involving lots of
compromise and generosity all around. I no longer believe that boys don't
care about relationships but instead care about competition when they play.
I wonder how many other oppositions or conundrums depend on false dichotomies.
Maybe all of them. Maybe the presence of a conundrum means that the questions
is phrased wrong.. Maybe some conundrums simply don't go away.
What would happen if the individual students could no longer be a focus,
if I had to start Bell-Curving and refusing a 5-minute -late paper? How
do you teach to an ideology that is repugnant? How do you keep teaching
STUDENTS? -- Kenna
Very interesting and stimulating analogies. But we're still being asked
to think in terms of duality, even if there's a compromise or negotiation
involved. What are the shared goals and values of the two worlds?
Streaming. We don't do it yet (or don't acknowledge that we do it without
recognizing or designing for it). But it seems to me that something like
streaming (or more precisely what in England they call "setting")
is appropriate and quite ethical, providing we're willing to face the extra
costs and extra effort involved. -- Lynn
"Situational Grading" I'm not sure what this really means, or
how far it could/should be taken. E.g. of raising a student from a B+ to
A- isn't hard to swallow, but is the boost/jump ever greater? What are
the limits? And do you ever mark DOWN situationally? -- Brock
So Ann is in a place where she can feel some power within the engineering
board meetings, and that means what? She's influencing the culture? Or
do they imagine the time with her (and by extension her writing courses)
as "down" time or somehow not as "serious" as "real"
courses? But isn't Loyola's prescription for the act of prayer? Just the
form over and over might have an effect.
When things go well, it's usually because personal relationships override
professional absolutes. You become one of the Good Old Boys and protect
colleagues you secretly deplore. You justify this by protesting it's an
imperfect world and no one asked you to set it up. The older the system,
the more rigid, the more subtle, the more it commands respect and exasperation.
The Army, the Church, the Law . . .
I'm getting requests from different faculties, not to teach writing but
to design workshops that address specific needs of students from their
faculties . . . . This seems to be fueled by the large number of ESL students
. . . They want me to facilitate graduate students so they can do the teaching.
. . . Mutual "relationship" is in the new engineering ethic,
but how do we empower students with our understanding of these mutual differences?
Perhaps engineers have to learn to exist in both cultures. There may be
rule-bound areas where they must respond in a lock-step manner. Unsuccessful
engineers are those who don't understand how to respond when cultural assumptions
change. -- Theresa
. . . The tensions here between these cultures are issues academic women
face daily in or out of writing centres. First (using Audre Lorde's argument)
you can't dismantle the master's house using the master's tools. . . emerging
organizations are resisting the "old boy" values (not because
they believe in them of course but because they may reap more profit) .
Ann's dream is perfect. Once, the CSTW people would never have fled from
the room "I've got the wrong clothes" because they'd have been
the right clothes for the "growing" (farming/developmental) work
involved. The dream would have been sadder, if Ann had been there in pinstripes
and buttondowns and not been aware of the oddness of it. There is something
lurking in my head here which I can't formulate about authenticity and
genre and writing in the disciplines and about how much I fundamentally
distrust "authenticity" as a standard of judgment. -- Susan
One of the problems, it seems to me, is the sense they have that we're
"outsiders" -- we're ineluctably other, to use the trendier term.
It sounds like you've managed to achieve a measure of success in breaking
out of that pattern at Engineering, but not yet at Management. -- Brock
How's this for a perfect metaphor! The Emperor/ess may have no clothes,
but the real tragedy is the fact that his/her subjects are worried about
dress codes. The metaphor cuts deeper as well: good grammar & usage
= being dressed right.
There is a common belief that we two groups see the world differently.
I'm not sure if that belief isn't founded largely on fears and assumptions
and old history. Neither group is purely one way or another, though behaviors
do tend to cluster.
This year the Univ of Alta. Asked for applications for a position in Rhetoric
and Composition. Out of the 10 applications received, none were given interviews;
I was told that part of the reason was that none had PhDs in Composition,
but the largest reason was that the department had no idea what such a
specialist would do in the department. I think applicants will have to
sell not only themselves but sell a kind of position the dept. would like
them to fill. We need to offer a concept of the system and how it could
adapt to fit us. I think it is a good exercise for teachers of writing
to have their idealism and methods of nurture challenged by practical &
political pressures. It makes us realize that our task must involve compromise
and collaboration with people and ideologies that seem very "Other."
-- Tania Smith
It seems that some departmental cultures have a clear notion of what they
want & some students are comfortable working under clear directions.
While I might want the student discover what he/she wants to say, and help
him/her say it effectively, I feel the irony in my desire to know what
it is the professors really expect from a writing tutor.
Why should we be surprised that our educational goals don't match those
of management when our literature colleagues missed that boat and still
haven't bought their steamship ticket?
Do these spheres overlap? I suspect that much/most of what happens in
the faculty of _____ (Engineering, education, social work, medicine, agriculture)
do not match the workplace (that is, what people do in engineering firms,
or in Elementary schools, or with a social serviece sgency, etc., etc.
Academia does not allow for co-authoring, collaboration, teamwork -- not
really an "ethics of competition" unless there is an "ethics
of competition" between "our" team and "their"
Ira Shor (at the CCTE conference) the last time it was in Montreal, suggested
that discipline-based literacy is best taught through a partnership (team?)
Between a content specialist and a literacy specialist -- in the same
My feeling is that often those who look at writing centres etc for specific
help with program requirements often don't understand the complexity of
language acquisition & are reductionist in their thinking. This is
even more so in business world -- i.e., delivering communication courses
to clients. The literacy problem is often seen only as one of "grammar,
punctuation & spelling difficulties" only.
I'm really interested in Mary's question about power. Perhaps we would
not have to bend so much to demands if we had funding that would prevent
us from having to scramble for "clients" -- students.
Just for a change, let's work backwards from product to process, to understand
why those 2 groups have the expectations they do of their students. How
does an oral presentation sale pitch differ from a formal tender for a
bridge or an electrical sub-contract? What Ann and Jane were (I think)
talking about was all the unspoken tensions our students have to deal with.
[marginalium] [I took it they were talking about
unspoken institutional tension & the ethical conundrums they engender.
The effects of these institutional tensions on our students is another
but fascinating matter.]
What I think we heard here was not a conflict between male and female models
of behavior, but between corporate-commercial models and educational ones.
And in larger terms what I think Jane and Ann described was the subjugation,
from outside, of the latter to the former. [marginalia]
-- Russ Hunt
Local parallels? My university is becoming more and more bottom-line driven,
& in fairness its survival depends on it. We are continually being
asked to do things in an academic context that are incongruous with learning
and with teaching, at least as we cranky faculty members see it. Yet we
collaborate with our administrators. We have to, or no real change would
take place. Why do we do this? Some of our collaboration is, of course,
this unequal power relationships. If untenured, we fear not being renewed;
if tenured we fear not being promoted, losing face, or perks or whatever.
But there is more: in a culture in which value is located first in economics,
in material gain, it is difficult to resist it all the time. I find myself
choosing, or trying to choose, where to pick fights or resistance, trying
to trust a consultative process I suspect is flawed, and repressing a feeling
that I am failing to grasp the larger issues that are driving the whole
discourse. -- Thom
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