Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Thursday 1-24

Faigley teaches us the history of the Internet and World Wide Web, historicizing the impact of how the digital revolution permeated the mid-1990’s and beyond. Of course this communications medium has impacted today’s way of life and we, as composition instructors, (well maybe just a few of us older guys) struggle to incorporate technology with composition. What can we do to alleviate this condition I feel too often on a sixteen hour basis every day - as a composition instructor, “…teaching writing as a drudgery from which we wished deliverance.” (Faigley). From the technological perspective, my students, most born the time I graduated from high school, are so cutting edge that I cannot readily incorporate an innovative approach to combining internet and/or other technologies into teaching.

Faigley doesn’t cheer me up any by discussing,”…the second class status of a writing teacher in an English Department.” I perceive writing teachers as not second class however, is Faigley’s article dated in this regard? What I see here at our institution is that writing teachers have a very strong community and are respected for their profession. There are people excluded from a community of colleagues such as the one in existence within our English Department, such as exclusion by means of not going through Bob’s 501, for example, those adjunct instructors who come and go at the semesters beginning and end. We never know if these folk will return to us or not as their futures are so unpredictable and uncertain. Hey, that’s one of the reasons I came back to school, the crushing uncertainty of your employment as an adjunct instructor.

And in the discussion of communities, Faigley has another dynamite observation, “When our own communities have become unsafe, uncertain, unpleasant, and ugly, we seek artificial ones.” What’s more therapeutic than an on-line community? I know I’ve searched out on-line support within indigenous cyber-communities more than once, at times like this, when the ice prevents me from running over to White Swan to have my uncles help me with something. I can get on-line at and ask one of those guys how to make a peyote stitch that ain’t all loose and unraveling. Who is this Faigley guy anyways, I’d like to have a coffee with him, ask him a few questions. I wonder if he could show me how to make a tight peyote stitch, I wonder if can sew the eagle feather design in his stitches:)

Another glaring fact that I overlooked was how Faigley described the ownership of cyber territory. Those huge corporations bought up and controlled the internet of Faigley’s 1997, do they yet control the internet? How panapotic is TimeWarner and Disney? How does all this tie into our classrooms? We discussed how having our students sit at computers can or cannot make them better writers, and the extent to which today’s college freshman has been exposed to digital culture, we know that technology will continue to improve, but is there a good reason that we shouldn’t “throw-back” every so often to an old-skool approach of composition in the classroom?


Interesting how an aspect of a struggle within my composition classroom enters into the New London Group’s scholarly work, “Language discourse, and register differences are markers of lifeworld differences.” The argument is for a celebration of register diversity, but this comes from people who have never taught a homogenous mainstream group of students from the dominant sphere of society with a diverse register. I found here, among the middle class freshmen, that once that accent came out of my mouth, somehow my credibility as a “qualified” instructor vanished. I believe this only occurred because of the type of course that I am instructing. If I were within my own element of Native American Literature, then that reservation drawl would actually improve my credibility. Aristotle, why didn’t you warn us that register impacts credibility? You only argued for ethos, pathos, and logos.

“Of course, the necessary negotiation of differences will be difficult and often painful.” I don’t recall the New London Group ever watching my 101 section, but I suppose they must have snuck into the AML during my in-class writing. As a composition instructor of color, every class session at this institution is a negotiation of differences, for myself and the students. However, I have witnessed our colleague, Gregory Phillips, instructing his 101 section which was a rich exchange of ideologies and a respectful learning environment where the relationships as defined within this text were practiced in actual application.


“And piggy-back on the new advertising industry, there arose for the first time a national mass culture, whose main product was not the magazine." In response to Ohmann's analysis of capitalism, literacy, and technology, he historicizes the literacies as belonging to the privileged which is still a point of importance to argue when entering the discussion of technology and classism. The Haves will always be cutting edge and the Have-Nots will learn technologies as the hardwares become discarded and handed down in a charitable fashion to the organizations who assist the populations at poverty level and below. If asked, would the most povery-stricken citizen, the homeless person, have access, motivation, or desire to acquire a technological literacy?

If Ohmann wants to discuss capitalism then I will be first to express the conditions of those at the very bottom, conditions which I witness in the constant relationship of balancing rez, prison inmates, and ghetto to that of academia and its extreme conditions of privilege. I recall our classmate, Donna, who brought into discussion the access to technologies and computer literacies of elderly citizens. As teachers, I believe it is an important excercise to discuss the underrepresented groups for the reason that it is inevitable that we will encounter a person from such a population at some point in our careers. Especially in the community colleges. Which brings me back to that homeless person and his/her computer literacy, what pedagogical instruction could you, as an instructor in a community college, give to a student who has just come into your classroom from off the streets? It happens more often than one would think.

1 comment:

kristin said...

It's really nice to see you relating the readings to your personal experiences in the classroom and the world. I think being able to link up theory w/ practice is a crucial skill in the academy. Also, thanks for doing a bit of work with the texts themselves. It's nice to see you pulling quotes and working with them--so thanks :)

I appreciate your comment on the value of online communities. I think they can function in many different ways, but they certainly do function as spaces for knowledge making and knowledge retrieval.

When talking about Faigley, you say: "I’d like to have a coffee with him, ask him a few questions. I wonder if he could show me how to make a tight peyote stitch, I wonder if can sew the eagle feather design in his stitches." I'm curious, do you think the New London Group would value this literacy? If so, how? What would they see as valuable about it? (you don't need to answer that, just ponder it)

Finally, you say, "The Haves will always be cutting edge and the Have-Nots will learn technologies as the hardwares become discarded and handed down in a charitable fashion to the organizations who assist the populations at poverty level and below." This certainly ties in with what Wysocki and Johnson-Eilola spoke about regrading our literacy narratives, and also with Grabill's experiences in the community literacy project. If we just give folks computers, even if they're old, does it fix anything? What are we trying to achieve?

Thanks for the thoughts.