*After* Writing Program Issues || Stick a fork in it

For your final blog post (due 5/10), and with Lynch and After Pedagogy in mind, I’d like you to look back at the semester and take stock of the wonderful work you did, as well as the work we did together. Think of your audience for your post as yourself, with the rest of us (and, of course, the entire Web) listening in. That is, you should write the post to be useful to a current and future you, rather than a text that might be useful to someone else (although it might be, incidentally). You might think about: a review of ideas and themes from the course; directions for future research or teaching; comments on texts you found useful for your thinking; etc. Since you all have widely varying interests and writing styles, I’m not placing a word guideline on this final post. I assume we’ll see a wide variety of responses here, from the creative to essayistic to scattered notes, etc.

For discussion this week: please come to class ready to share a moment in the Lynch text that resonated with you and why. Along with that moment, come up with an interesting and engaging question you’d like to offer up to the class for discussion. 

Looking forward to hearing from you, as always!

Post script: After our Lynch discussion, we shall mosey to another place of learning (because learning will undoubtedly continue…) and I will buy you some appetizers.

Post the post script: I’m baking the class a pie.

Reading: Paul Lynch’s After Pedagogy: The Experience of Teaching
Deep reader(s): Josh, Dylan, Kasey
DUE: Blog post wrap-up

Treats: Nick + dr. c

heart,

dr. c

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11 thoughts on “*After* Writing Program Issues || Stick a fork in it”

  1. After Pedagogy by Paul Lynch finally put words into my thought process that I knew were there but couldn’t access—if that makes sense. His Monday Morning Question finally gave me a vehicle to express what I’ve actually been feeling all semester. With all the pedagogies and theories we have discussed this semester, I have definitely situated myself with scholars such as Shipka as a (“wanna be”) multimodal expressivist and with Donald Murray, favoring process over product. I say “wanna be” precisely because of Lynch’s question: “This theory (or idea, or philosophy) you’re proposing is great and everything, but what am I supposed to do with it when the students show up on Monday morning” (xi). After every class, this is the question that has been gnawing at my brain. I have all of these potentially fun and engaging activities that I want to integrate into my classroom. I want my students to feel the affect and embodiment that composition could potentially have on them. Our May 3rd class activity where we had to create a hypothetical lesson was fun for me. Jane and I created an integrative lesson on how to physically act out what an argumentative paper looked like. After this class, I began imagining what this would look like if I did it in my first year comp courses that I teach. I think back to Shipka, who would argue that acting out the argumentative paper is a form of composition (as long as you’re having fun while doing it!) whereas current traditional rhetoricians would most likely scoff at the idea of even attempting to get freshman students engaged in such a way. Yet, I still feel like I’m missing an essential part to my own teaching philosophy—a question Lynch also problematizes—which is how to get theory to align with practice. It seems that Lynch believes this should not be the goal. Post pedagogy offers a step back from theory and practice and instead asks teachers and students to imagine them as two separate entities. Like Lynch, I believe that the pedagogical conversations are not enough to define us as teachers and the experience we hopefully receive from this practice. I love his notion of ignoring this binary—to an extent—of practice versus theory. Practice versus theory sounds harsh and combative; my goals as a current and future educator are to find peace between these two ideas. Experience is another key term that emerges quite a bit in Lynch’s text, as it is appropriately titled After Pedagogy: The Experience of Teaching. This is a term that I’ve found myself wrestling with this semester as I attempt to debunk what it truly means and how I experience teaching myself. As not only a composition and rhetoric student but also as an educator, I want to continue to grow as a teacher and figure out ways to experience my own affect—to feel, to be in the moment, and to teach beyond what’s on the page.

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  2. During our first class, I shared my comp. tale about my negative experiences as a female teacher. My first semester teaching at SU I had a mostly male classroom with three female students. Now, ending my time here, I have a mostly female classroom with only three male students. I could never teach these two very different classrooms the same way. Thinking about Hawk and Rickert’s readings alluding to the importance of pedagogies not becoming repeatable and connecting it to Lynch’s After Pedagogy, I’ve realized that most of my “a-ha” teaching moments occur after a lesson plan/activity fails or goes extremely well. The classroom is a different space, a different network, each semester. The network grows and changes within the scope of the semester as well. Even with the standard curriculum for first-year writing at Salisbury, my classroom has looked different and my students and I have engaged differently with the material each semester. Careful reflection after each class period and semester as a whole allows the next class period or semester to be more productive for the network.

    Although I struggle with practical applications of pedagogies, I realize that I value students’ voices, encouraging and being open to different processes, feminist and cultural studies, and WAC/WID. Lynch recapitulates Dewey’s argument to discourage “reducing teaching to mere recipe writing” (65). I believe that learning theories and pedagogies is a necessary act for asking questions about how we teach and why we value certain aspects of these theories and pedagogies than trying to apply theory and pedagogy directly to the classroom. Intentional application may become formulaic. After this semester, I’m more open to thinking about classroom environments and networks, welcoming the body into the classroom, and challenging and changing my own teaching methodologies.

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  3. As we are preparing for the end of this spring semester, I have recently been thinking about the idea of enjoyment and play in the classroom. Certainly, my consideration of this concept has stemmed from both ENGL 514 content and conversations as well as my TA experience. At this point in the semester, my students have recently turned in a lengthy argumentative paper that in many ways serve as the cornerstone to ENGL 103. For our third and final unit, they must write a reflective argument relating to their own writing. Perhaps from both the vibes they’re sending off and perhaps due to my own, we all seem ready to wrap up this semester as we are stumbling around sleep-deprived and working hard on our final projects and in preparation for final exams.

    I think now seems more apparent to me than ever to incorporate enjoyment, play, and joissance into the classroom. As texts from Rickert, Hawk, and even Shipka have touched upon the importance of play and enjoyment within the classroom, I have been trying to find ways to do so within the ENGL 103 course. Of course our class has problematized this as well in conversation; when does the writing instruction that is expected occur in a first-year composition course? Even at the end of the course, as I’ve encouraged students to feel a sense of accomplishment for the many things they have learned and covered throughout the semester, I’m left wondering what pleasure-ful activities are appropriate and (as I’m grading Argumentative Papers): Should I still be spending time on in-text citations and developing paragraphs before their final paper and exam? Can I provide hammers and VHS tapes for everyone? And get one more time around for it myself?

    The texts that we have covered that have both explicitly and implicitly discussed this concept in different ways. Rickert has brought this idea to the forefront of the conversation and Hawk presents a similar idea framed in the discussion of postmodern cynicism and apathy. Shipka might suggest for students to experiment both how and what they compose that as a way to bring play back into the classroom. Rhodes and Alexander might take Shipka’s exploration of composition even further to include rhetorical ways that students can compose and understand various compositions (maybe even gaming!).

    Perhaps it is because TAs do not have much freedom in determining what assignments and materials are covered in the course that is restricting. One benefit of our specific practicum, an aspect of composition re-examined by Dobrin, is hearing from other TAs about new ideas and activities (just while I have been composing this final blog post, I have come across three different ideas from three different educators that could be incorporated into the first-year composition, similar to the “recipe” that Lynch discusses in conversation with other scholars). However, as Kasey mentioned in her blog post, certainly no classroom, even with very similar content and teacher, is the same. Lynch’s text somewhat alleviates my anxiety that some of the scholars we’ve discussed throughout the semester wrestle with concerning composition, the composing process, student-teacher power dynamics, etc. in After Pedagogy. Concerning enjoyment, I see that he invites educators to consider experience and evaluation through the “beginner’s mind” Zen principle. Similarly, he discusses what experiences teachers can consider and perhaps “divide students,” as McLaughlin articulates, to “make the life experience– the conscious development which people care about– into a classroom experience” (133). After Pedagogy assures me that I don’t need (not even as a hopeful, future second-year TA) to have it all figured out but instead can reflectively analyze my experience(s) as a teacher, my teaching philosophy, my preferred assignments, activities, and content as I continue “everyday living” and teaching.

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  4. We have explored issues that cannot always be categorized as macro and mirco level issues, but that have a reciprocal relationship between what goes on in the classroom, in the minds of students, and at the administrative decision making level. We have looked at what content is best suited for a composition class, as well as how to utilize the many perspectives that make up a classroom. We have tackled what composing is from a level that explores how knowledge is created, to expanding the idea of what it is to compose beyond pen and paper and beyond a computer screen, as well as what it means to enter a discourse and how that can effect something as seemingly straightforward as patch-writing and plagiarism. All of these thoughts influence what goes into a writing pedagogy and even how we frame a writing program and its typical discourses, to looking at the affect of certain media, our ability to incorporate corporeal aspects of the composing process, and the ability to create meaning through relationships/consubstantiality as opposed to traditional epistemological assumptions.

    Two major aspects of discussion that have really changed my thinking throughout the course have been based on what it means to “compose” and what composing can mean to students in a postmodern classroom. Shipka, Jordan, as well as Alexander and Rhodes have helped me see composing in a way that incorporates specific ecologies, classroom dynamics, and how the body can play into the process of creating meaning through text or other media. Our earlier readings in the semester have also helped me understand how much composition pedagogies are founded on epistemological questions – something I have known and acknowledged, but have been able to better wrap my head around lately. However, these ideas should always be grounded in the Monday, or now Tuesday morning question, especially in a post-process/post-pedagogical mindset, where the major aspect we can build from is our experience teaching and our adaptations from there. This is especially true in the classroom where students may have widely different assumptions and expectations than that of the instructor, and knowing that there is no pedagogy that can simply be transplanted into new situations and environments.

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  5. I think that Paul Lynch’s book may have spoken to me as a teacher more than any of the other books we have read this semester. I especially like the thoughts of the Monday and Tuesday morning questions as well as Lynch’s thoughts on experience.
    The Monday morning question that states “’this theory (or idea, or philosophy) you’re proposing is great and everything, but what am I supposed to do with it when the students show up on Monday morning’” (Lynch xi). This statement seems to be particularly true for me. It seems that each year there is some new book to read or some new initiative to follow. Not only does it seem that my district does not follow an initiative or the theories proposed in the book for long enough to actually see any kind of difference, but most of the time these ideas are just not feasible for the classroom or do not mesh with my teaching style or curriculum. I often think this same “Monday Morning” question when this happens.
    The ”Tuesday Morning Question” struck me as important also. It asks, “what do we do on Tuesday morning with the experience of Monday morning?” (xviii). This, along with some of Lynch’s other comments about experience strike me as being some of the most important. To me, experience in teaching is equally as, if not more important than pedagogy. From my experience, it did not matter how long I spent in classes, how many books I read, or how many lesson plans I made for undergraduate assignments. Nothing prepared me for teaching as much as actually getting into the classroom. Teaching in the classroom, getting to know my students, and learning and growing from my mistakes have taught me more than reading any pedagogical theories. While I personally think that experience is more important, I do not believe that pedagogy is useless. After gaining some of this aforementioned experience, I would have to agree with Lynch’s sentiments that pedagogy and theory can coexist with experience to create a better learning environment for all.

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  6. Hi everyone,

    Can I use an extended topography metaphor here? I’ve been looking at maps of the country a lot lately while applying for jobs, and for some reason I really wanna use a topography metaphor here. OK. Here I go:

    I was surprised this semester by primarily two things, as I found ideas of writing far more spread out and dispersed, on a larger page, than I was previously accustomed to considering (ex: WPA perspectives), and as I saw old borders that previously seemed unmovable, mapped in ink, dissolve (ex: the term “composition” as used by Shipka and the distinctions between the fields of composition and communication). While previous courses such as Composition Theory and its pedagogical focus mapped out ways of thinking about writing in an academic setting as particular plotted points and places, our course this semester, for me, added contour lines (the things that visually represent slopes, valleys, and hills based on line proximities). In reading on the WPA’s roles, challenges, and perspective on the complexities of institutionalizing writing, I was able to observe the layers of depth that are constantly flowing over, through, and under existing discourses on pedagogical theory (metaphorically mountains, plains, and valleys, respectively). There is an overwhelming yet grand density to how writing functions in, with(, and sometimes despite) writing programs. This is yet another conclusion I have been able to draw from my experience with the course, especially as thinkers such as Hawk, Lynch, and Rickert ask us to revaluate the institutionalizability of writing (and, yes, that is an ugly neologism, but I want it to appear as unsettling as the practice—the act of assuming something is institutionalize-able—often is).

    Reflecting on that metaphor up there: I think I’ve in some way attempted to here embody something of what Lynch and Ellsworth discuss as the importance of “experience.” As Lynch specifically claims, educators might benefit from asking “how shall we cultivate experience in order to foster growth” (20; author’s emphasis)? This metaphorical construction of my experience of the course is highly situated with the context within which I’ve found myself lately (looking for mountains near teaching jobs and writing for this course—sometimes switching between these digital frames to stay motivated). If anything, as I’ve scrolled through Google maps, and occasionally zoomed out until it no longer lets me, I’ve found myself remembering more often than normal that we are tiny little specks roaming a big blue marble (itself a tiny blue speck if you zoom out enough). That said, it will require a great deal of communication, collaboration, and teamwork (solidarity?(!!!)) if composition is ever going to compose a more encompassing map of the Issues that become enmeshed with “writing” as it becomes institutionalized, or, to borrow the language from our course’s title, programmed.

    Thanks for an enjoyable & stimulating semester folks! Stay gr8.

    -josh

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  7. As we near the end of the semester, I find myself wondering how I will use everything I’ve learned; what it will look like when I teach; how I will transfer pedagogy to practice; how I will develop future practice based on prior experience; and mostly, I find myself wondering where the heck I am going to get a job. The latter is insignificant anyway. Not a big deal. However, these questions focus my attention to Lynch’s “Tuesday Morning Question,” which considers what happens after you attempt to apply the pedagogy you have learned, assess your successes and failures from that application (on Monday), and then decide how you will use those successes and failures to aid in your future lessons (on Tuesday).

    What experiences have I taken from this class to aid in my future career as an educator? What I have learned is that I wish I had taken this class before student teaching—not that student teaching was a failure on my part. I think it was just more stressful than it could have been. I was too focused on planning every minute of the class, structuring assignments perfectly to fit into the time period and day-to-day lesson scheme. Structure took away from those spontaneous learning opportunities that I have learned to appreciate more and more since those student teaching experiences. This class reminded me of the value those experiences provide. Thinking of Rickert and Byron, I consider how my class might look now. If, for example, teaching is the route I choose to take after graduation, I think my classroom might be more explorational, like those prompted by Rickert and Byron. I will spend more time learning my students, and less time learning an itinerary. I will come prepared with a structure, but ready to destroy it if ample learning experiences are initiated by new disruptions. I continuously think back to the vitalist approach that Byron suggests. Though I may not agree with all of his “hippie-dippie” ideas (Cite Lauren here), I certainly do agree with the expressivist route he chooses and the idea that no classroom can mirror another. The environment is as much a factor as the composition being taught.

    This brings me to my last thought: I still grapple with what composition is, and whether it is teachable. From what we have learned, I can no longer see composition as a purely written piece. I see it as art, music, digital compilations, even clothes. Because of this, I find myself exploring the opportunities presented by every situation that prompt a compositional opportunity. Combining a vitalist approach with this new mindset, I think that my application of this material will look something like one of the mash-ups we created on audacity—it will be full of surprises, but it will have a point, and it will answer questions—it will succeed in its purpose, but not in the way that might be expected.

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  8. Multilingualism, multimodality, activism, re-evaluation, broadening the composition field, inclusion of the body and environment – so many theories, so little possibilities to try and practice. Evaluating information and connecting it to teaching in classroom is difficult, especially for those who are just starting out. As Paul Lynch notes, “teaching begins neither in practice nor in theory, but in experience” (XVII). While I slowly accumulate my experience, I can develop my conceptual framework “to sort out what I read and hear.” So, where to start?
    Facing the issue in my classroom this semester for the very first time, I will start with plagiarism. As discussed in Rebecca Howard’s “Ethics of Plagiarism,” plagiarism can be divided into two categories: intentional and unintentional. While there are students who directly copy-paste text or buy a paper from one of many available paper mills, there are some who plagiarize unintentionally. Howard discusses how lack of understanding of the concept of plagiarism can lead to unintentional plagiarism. The author argues that patchwriting (a new term for the familiar concept for me) – “copying from a source text and then deleting some words, altering grammatical structures, or plugging in one-for-one synonym-substitutes”- should not be considered as plagiarism since it is one of the strategies that allows students to enter unfamiliar discourse. After reading about the patchwriting, it was easier for me to understand my student’s point of view and possible motives.
    Being L2 writer, Jay Jordan’s Redesigning Composition for Multilingual Realities was particularly interesting for me. Proposing to move toward intercultural composition with linguistics, English, ESL, and composition being in “conversation,” Jordan argues that composition would open up more possibilities for both multilingual and monolingual students. His theory seems charming to me! (I couldn’t contain myself – had to put exclamation mark here).
    Both Toward a Composition Made Whole and On Multimodality try to broaden the field of composition. Discussing the environment in which the writer composes, Shipka attempts to make the process of meaning making visible; she points out features that have been previously ignored. Further, she opens up “composition”, arguing that it should include not only print or digital, but other modes as well. Similarly, Alexander and Rhodes argue for broadening and avoiding limitations for composition and rhetoric. Although their theories are interesting, I am not sure if I would incorporate them in the classroom.
    While composition field is not exactly an area of my interest, it was exciting and mind-broadening to read and discuss all of our readings for this class!

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  9. I think Lynch’s chapter 2 entitled “Is Teaching Still Impossible?” resonates with me the most as a current TA and a future high school teacher. Throughout the semester our class continually asks the questions: What is writing? Can you teach writing? without reaching a “true” answer. I think Lynch hits on this idea suggesting that the question itself is entirely problematic, “writing/teaching of any sort is so complex that no process or system can predict outcomes…My argument is that post pedagogy has not yet developed a philosophy of experience”(58). Writing theories and pedagogies continue to evolve and change the ways teachers even view the concept of writing: Is writing words on a page? Can students compose beyond the textual? This semester has opened my eyes to new ways of viewing composition as more than writing on the page. I had not thought of incorporating assignments in the classroom that deal with technology for my own fears and resistance towards the medium. I hope in the future I can incorporate assignments in the classroom that engage the students beyond the textual that can resonate with them. Miranda and Jane’s idea of the argumentative paper assignment has inspired me to try a similar activity with the literature review next semester. Rather than only introduce the assignment with the textual, the Burkean Parlor metaphor (which I truly love to animatedly read out to my students), but have them interact with one another. The literature review focuses on synthesizing the ideas of sources rather than their own personal opinion, and if I can incorporate an activity that has students interacting as sources with one another they may understand the assignment better than in my previous semesters. After reading A Rhetoric for Writing Program Administrators ed. by Rita Malenczyk about the concept of transfer, I have been thinking about how the English department views transfer and how I even view transfer in the classroom. English 103 can extend beyond the writing classroom, and I have been intrigued by how my future lessons can incorporate this idea. For my final Unit 3 assignment I incorporated a WAC approach to the reflection unit, as I had previously done, but I tried to give the students more encouragement and understanding of what WAC means. I included information from SU’s website about the WAC program that started in 1984 to give my students the context and history behind even SU’s involvement with WAC. In the future, I hope that incorporating more activities that discuss transfer knowledge will help my students understand the ways English both literature and writing extend beyond the walls of a classroom.

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  10. Dear Current and Future Self (and anyone who may be listening in),

    Well, this is it. I feel as though the next couple of weeks will be filled with lasts. This will be my last college class (for the time being, at least), my last assignment, last paper, etc. Sometimes we get so caught up in the “Oh, this is the first time I’ve done this or that” and “Uh oh, the semester is coming to end” that we forget about all that happens in between. Then again, I guess that’s why this is a reflection/wrap-up. It offers the chance to look back at all we have accomplished over the past fifteen weeks. This final blog will serve as an attempt to put those experiences into words.

    We read so much in this class that it is difficult to take stock of so much information, theory, and author names. But I believe it was all a part of the process of the class. To understand the conversation(s) within the field of composition, we had to do our research. By reading all the various texts, we became acquainted with each author and her/his theories relating to the field. And I enjoyed that aspect of the class, because it differs from other classes. How many other classes offer an on-going conversation that we, too, must engage and participate in? Maybe someone is able to name one or two classes. But this class was unique in the respect that everyone in the class has some kind of aspiration to enter a professional associated with writing. Ha! It’s inescapable! And, everyone in the class is currently a member of some type of writing community. Whether it be for this particular class, teaching a FYC or in the public school system, we all have a personal stake concerning the information we read each week.

    So where do we go from here? I can’t answer for my classmates; however, I look forward to writing. Just to write. Free of expectations (well, other than my own) and requirements (again, other than my own). For the past seven years, I have written for academic purposes – to fulfill requirements. Yes, it was all worthwhile and even enjoyable at times. And I believe it was a necessary step to get where I am now. But how nice it will be to write – just for the sake of writing. There better be coffee. I’m not talking Stephen King 10,000 words a day kind of deal, but a bit of nearly-legible scribbles on a yellow notepad doesn’t sound too bad.

    The process continues,

    Your current self

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  11. The second chapter of “After Pedagogy” is particularly interesting, and I found Lynch’s analysis of postprocess theory to be valuable. I know we have debated the importance of “process” across a variety of domains and definitions in many different classes this semester. For me, the term has always seemed empty and vague because of the nature of definition that is often associated with “process”–across disciplines. That is, to say, one’s writing process (or one’s “embodied” process of learning, or a team’s “process” of going from worst-to-first) is definable seems erroneous in many ways; because the process differs for each person, associating a solid definition with the term seems unnecessary.

    Lynch makes an interesting point in this passage about the limits of postprocess thinking and how such a term can actually open things up for both students and teachers. He writes, “In effect, postprocess offers an oblique pedagogy, one whose gaze is not squared firmly on its object. We can expose students to new situations, but that is all we can do” (Lynch 37). This makes me reflect on coaching and the “process” through which we lead athletes when giving them something new, whether we give a new skill to work on or we try to put in a new play in practice.

    But Lynch is right. We can expose those whom we are trying to teach to something new, but we can’t make them learn it or use it or even understand it. We can offer experiences to students; we can offer knowledge based on facts and the experiences of others; but it is up to the students to make something of a situation–of knowledge–of content–of an experience. For me, THIS is the process. This “making new” something out of something else. (And yeah, I realize this is the Shipka exercise almost exactly). The issue that I’ve run into regarding such a “process”–if we have to term it that way–is that is HAS to be defined in order to exist. While this is an issue of vocabulary and semantics, it’s limiting.

    For example, the Philadelphia 76ers have had fans chanting “trust the process” for the last few years as they try to turn the franchise around. The ‘6ers process has involved building the roster mainly through the draft with few trades and big-name free agent signings to bolster the team. But what about teams who achieve success through a different process? Is the process that the Warriors used in going from (arguably) best-to-even-better through the signing of Kevin Durant wrong? Is it a process? Or is it just something that happened?

    These are all questions that I encounter and assess both in the classroom and in my job. I find myself, too often, using the word when I don’t want to because it has become vague and cliche in the world of sports (and in writing). So, after reading Lynch and looking through chapter two–with particular attention paid to the passages referencing postprocess pedagogy–I will approach my own understanding–and usage of the word–from a different point of view.

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