My questions to the question of making teaching practicum more rigorous are: Do we have time/energy for that as new TAs? What are the benefits of increasing “rigor” of a practicum? Should rigor be increased only if the practicum is graded? As a new TA in the fall of 2015, I was beginning to negotiate my roles of both teacher and student. I taught, took my own classes, and attended practicum once a week. Oh, and spent hours a week grading. Our practicum serves as more of a reflective space where we share, ask questions, and go over the curriculum and activities for the coming classes and weeks. As TAs, we were also required to take three courses to help us in teaching first-year writing (this class is one). This is where the rigor comes into play. The Composition theory course served as a foundational base for my introduction to Composition and Rhetoric. As Dobrin states, a lot of undergraduates are not exposed to it. As far as the purpose of practicum, Dobrin encourages “asking students to think not about how to teach, but how they think of themselves as teachers and writers” (20). As we think of ourselves as teachers and writers and learn and question theory and pedagogies, however, we do ultimately think about how to teach.
Moving to Ellsworth, she argues pedagogy “can be magical in its artful manipulation of inner ways of knowing into a mutually transforming relation with outer events, selves, objects, and ideas” (7). I found this quotation inspiring in the goal to create a balance between mind, body, and outside influences in the classroom. Ellsworth reminds us that “students are not simply brains on tripods” (23). We need to allow the body into the classroom. Ellsworth synthesizes the theorists discussed in the introduction and first chapter by writing, “the very possibility of thought is predicated upon our opportunities and capacities to encounter the limits of thinking and knowing and to engage with what we cannot, solely through cognition, be known” (25). What can be known by the body? Do we first experience through the body in order to produce any cognition at all? We certainly have memory through the body. Does the body operate first, then knowledge of the mind? Corporeal experiences certainly shape much knowledge stored in the mind.