Monday, June 10, 2013

Workshop #2

Both my second workshop of the summer, and the second time I've done this workshop.  I did it last summer, in preparation for teaching our new composition course.  If you remember (or look back to) last August, I was pretty frustrated by the workshop last time and more frustrated by teaching the course in the fall.  It got a lot better in the spring.

I'm not sure if I was invited to do the workshop again because I was so obviously lousy or because I was pretty good.  I'm guessing I'm a remedial retaker.  Alas.  (The weird thing is, I'm not teaching the comp class this year because I'm teaching our gateway to the major class!  But here I am, because the money is helpful.)

It's interesting to see the workshop a second time, when I'm not at all stressed about it.  It's easy to see that other folks are stressed, though.

Last summer, I decided to go with the research and restrain my responses to proofreading sorts of issues in student papers.  And I did.  And it was really good.  I did, on a few occasions, talk to students about grammar issues.  For example, I had one student who was a really good writer, doing all sorts of neat stuff, but who made this one type of mistake.  So I talked to her about it, and voila, she was happy to know and didn't make the mistake again that I noticed.  She was just ready to learn that.

There were a few really resistant folks, totally understandably resistant.  We tend to think that doing something is always better than doing nothing.

But, one of the cool things I discovered looking at my students' writing over the semester was that most of them improved their proofreading sorts of stuff a bit by the end of the term.  I didn't do it, but it happened for some of them.  (Not all, of course.)

The big thing was that it was less stressful for me.  That's huge.

Like all fields, comp has lots of jargony stuff.  I find jargon I'm comfortable with perfectly acceptable, and jargon I'm not comfortable with just obnoxious.  Today, it was jargon that used very capitalist market oriented terms to talk about learning and writing, and I was really uncomfortable with that.  I mean, do we need a market term for learning?  And another for writing?  I'm still not clear how either of these terms is better than "learning" or "writing."  Maybe I'm just more bothered by the capitalist market aspect of the metaphors?  It's seems to me that using these metaphors this way sort of normalizes thinking of writing as a capitalist, market enterprise.  And while it certainly sometimes is, I'm not sure that I want that to be the central metaphor for it.  (I'm not articulating this well, though.)

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