Rhetoric and Composition: Tying the Greeks to the present.

Maybe this is worthy of #dorkalert, but I am so excited to read Chapter 3 of Janie Lauer Invention in Rhetoric and Composition because I see it's bringing us back to the Greeks (and following that, the Romans, the medieval period, the Renaissance and, finally, my beloved eighteenth and nineteenth centuries-- which I might have to explore at a later date).

I was immediately struck by the dilemma given in the opening paragraph, that "in earlier periods rhetoricians held narrow views of who could hold the subject position of rhetor, i.e., who could engage in rhetoric and hence in invention" (11). This brought me back to a conversation from a few weeks ago in which we discussed the world of research academia, where a few key scholars seem to set the rules, and the rest are left to wonder about their place in the field. It is interesting to me that this was a question going all the way back to the Sophists.  Evidently, as is the case today, people argued the answer to this dilemma, as Aristotle, Ramus, Bacon, Blair, and Hope exemplify).

Lauer breaks into the three dominant Greek conceptions of invention, regarding composition. First up was the Sophists, who focused on the initiation of discourse as being of top importance. They called this initiation, "Kairos" (or, as Debrah so kindly expanded on via Hypothesis, the "opportune moment"). In conjunction with dissoi logoi, defined as a two fold argument in which one must equally consider both sides, I find this to be a compelling conception-- utilizing kairos, the opportune moment, as the catalyst for knowledge. However, it seems to be difficult to pin kairos down-- a key point offered by Lauer and backed up by other critics is the question of if "rhetor could control kairos or be overwhelmed by it" (15).

Lauer then considers sophistic epistemology, and she cites Kathleen Freeman's writing on Protagoras's theory of knowledge and explains that, "each individual's perceptions are immediately true for him at any given moment, and there is no means of deciding which of several options about the same thing is the true one; there is no such thing as 'truer' though there is such a thing as better" (qtd. in 15). Hmmm. I don't think I'm a fan of this approach. As Lauer goes on to explain, this totally disregards any kind of stable knowledge. Additionally, "objects do now exist except while someone is perceiving them" (qtd. in 15). Once again, hmm. Lauer cites Janet Atwell as defending this idea, "while his theory of knowledge is relativistic, it does not give way to skepticism or solipsism. Considering that solipsism is defined as "the view of theory that the self is all that can be known to exist" (and yes, I had to Google that), the fact that everything is based on each individual's perceptions, then I feel that this may imply that the self is the only thing that does truly exist. I think, to the contrary of Atwell, that this does certainly give way to skepticism and solipsism.

Moving on from the Sophists, Lauer next considers Plato's view of Invention. Plato seems to be more focused on the soul of the matter, in regard to discourse, and Lauer cites Martha Nussbaum as arguing that "to reach insight one needed personal love and passion, the ferment of the entire personality, even certain aspects of madness" (18).  Scholars differ in their approaches to Plato's view of the purpose of invention. Some argue that Plato "considered invention's goal to be locating support for judgments and truth found outside of rhetoric and then adapting these truths to various audiences" while others "have claimed that Plato viewed invention as a process of inquiry and reasoning" (18).  I'm not sure where I would side on this issue, and I think I would have to know more about Plato to make an educated decision on the matter. Regardless, it appears that, unlike the Sophists, Plato seems to dig more into the meaning of knowledge, not merely the point at which a new idea is instigated.

Finally, Lauer focuses on Aristotle's Rhetoric, in which he "delineated several acts of invention and constructed arts(strategies or principles)...for analyzing the discourse situation and categorizing its matter; arts for exploring using the 28 common topics...and the special topics...:and arts for framing its probably rhetorical epistemology facilitated by the enthymeme and the example" (19). Of the three groups examined thus far, Aristotle seems to have the most point-by-point breakdown of his analysis, however, there is still debate over the implications of what is has lain out.  I found John Gage's opinion to be intriguing, that "Aristotle's rhetoric was legitimate inquiry into probable knowledge...that for Aristotle knowledge was created through invention in the activity of discourse (21). However, Eugene Garver would argue that "Aristotle was not interested in creating specialized knowledge but in finding the available arguments" (21).

The questions of truth, purpose, and meaning were clearly hotly debated among the Greeks, and I think it is so interesting to be able to go back in time and see that the questions that are debated today were problematic back then too. I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is nothing new under the sun.

Moving on to something a little more recent (I think that's safe to say!), this reading was paired with Chapter 16 of Farris and Anson, "Theory, Practice, and the Bridge Between: The Methods Course and Reflective Rhetoric" by Kathleen Blake Yancey. I think that this pairing is going to be an important one, because all of the previous reading was theory. Theory is fantastic, but sometimes it seems like a far leap from what is actually instituted in the classroom, and I think Yancey's questions are important ones: "How have I taught? How do I understand my own teaching? What have my students learned?" (234). Stepping back from theory, I think it is crucial to realize that human beings are the test subjects in the field of knowledge, and Yancey immediately highlights this as being the case.

Yancey explores the important question of delivery and perceived intention, which certainly hearkens back to the writings of the Greeks. As one could see all throughout Lauer's article, scholars differed in their interpretations of the texts. This is an issue across the board, whether one is reading the ancient Greeks, or attempting to convey a mathematical concept to a group of 4th graders.

I particularly loved Yancey's point that a good teacher is forever a student. I've seen this to be true in my own life, as the best teachers that I have had have been openly willing to learn from those they are teaching. Conversely, the worst have been the one's who waltz into the classroom, completely disconnected, and pretending to have all the answers. Yancey seems like a teacher whom I would love to have!

I appreciated this article because I felt a very real connection to Yancey through her writing. In so any ways, academic articles can seem to fly over the heads of the intended audience, for the purpose of being on another level. However, throughout her article, Yancey continually brings the topic back to her research, her students, and her purpose mentioned within the first few pages, to weave together a theory that would be applicable to her own students who seek to teach, as well as any other aspiring teachers that may be out there. Her ending point about the importance of reflection is threaded throughout the entire article, and it is an important one. As a future teacher, I want to be approachable, and I want my students to know that I care. I do not want to passion to be crushed out of me by cynicism, and an inability to connect with those who I intend to educate. If that were to happen, what good would come to me, or to my students?

Rhetoric and Composition: Tying the Greeks to the present.

Maybe this is worthy of #dorkalert, but I am so excited to read Chapter 3 of Janie Lauer Invention in Rhetoric and Composition because I see it's bringing us back to the Greeks (and following that, the Romans, the medieval period, the Renaissance and, finally, my beloved eighteenth and nineteenth centuries-- which I might have to explore at a later date).

I was immediately struck by the dilemma given in the opening paragraph, that "in earlier periods rhetoricians held narrow views of who could hold the subject position of rhetor, i.e., who could engage in rhetoric and hence in invention" (11). This brought me back to a conversation from a few weeks ago in which we discussed the world of research academia, where a few key scholars seem to set the rules, and the rest are left to wonder about their place in the field. It is interesting to me that this was a question going all the way back to the Sophists.  Evidently, as is the case today, people argued the answer to this dilemma, as Aristotle, Ramus, Bacon, Blair, and Hope exemplify).

Lauer breaks into the three dominant Greek conceptions of invention, regarding composition. First up was the Sophists, who focused on the initiation of discourse as being of top importance. They called this initiation, "Kairos" (or, as Debrah so kindly expanded on via Hypothesis, the "opportune moment"). In conjunction with dissoi logoi, defined as a two fold argument in which one must equally consider both sides, I find this to be a compelling conception-- utilizing kairos, the opportune moment, as the catalyst for knowledge. However, it seems to be difficult to pin kairos down-- a key point offered by Lauer and backed up by other critics is the question of if "rhetor could control kairos or be overwhelmed by it" (15).

Lauer then considers sophistic epistemology, and she cites Kathleen Freeman's writing on Protagoras's theory of knowledge and explains that, "each individual's perceptions are immediately true for him at any given moment, and there is no means of deciding which of several options about the same thing is the true one; there is no such thing as 'truer' though there is such a thing as better" (qtd. in 15). Hmmm. I don't think I'm a fan of this approach. As Lauer goes on to explain, this totally disregards any kind of stable knowledge. Additionally, "objects do now exist except while someone is perceiving them" (qtd. in 15). Once again, hmm. Lauer cites Janet Atwell as defending this idea, "while his theory of knowledge is relativistic, it does not give way to skepticism or solipsism. Considering that solipsism is defined as "the view of theory that the self is all that can be known to exist" (and yes, I had to Google that), the fact that everything is based on each individual's perceptions, then I feel that this may imply that the self is the only thing that does truly exist. I think, to the contrary of Atwell, that this does certainly give way to skepticism and solipsism.

Moving on from the Sophists, Lauer next considers Plato's view of Invention. Plato seems to be more focused on the soul of the matter, in regard to discourse, and Lauer cites Martha Nussbaum as arguing that "to reach insight one needed personal love and passion, the ferment of the entire personality, even certain aspects of madness" (18).  Scholars differ in their approaches to Plato's view of the purpose of invention. Some argue that Plato "considered invention's goal to be locating support for judgments and truth found outside of rhetoric and then adapting these truths to various audiences" while others "have claimed that Plato viewed invention as a process of inquiry and reasoning" (18).  I'm not sure where I would side on this issue, and I think I would have to know more about Plato to make an educated decision on the matter. Regardless, it appears that, unlike the Sophists, Plato seems to dig more into the meaning of knowledge, not merely the point at which a new idea is instigated.

Finally, Lauer focuses on Aristotle's Rhetoric, in which he "delineated several acts of invention and constructed arts(strategies or principles)...for analyzing the discourse situation and categorizing its matter; arts for exploring using the 28 common topics...and the special topics...:and arts for framing its probably rhetorical epistemology facilitated by the enthymeme and the example" (19). Of the three groups examined thus far, Aristotle seems to have the most point-by-point breakdown of his analysis, however, there is still debate over the implications of what is has lain out.  I found John Gage's opinion to be intriguing, that "Aristotle's rhetoric was legitimate inquiry into probable knowledge...that for Aristotle knowledge was created through invention in the activity of discourse (21). However, Eugene Garver would argue that "Aristotle was not interested in creating specialized knowledge but in finding the available arguments" (21).

The questions of truth, purpose, and meaning were clearly hotly debated among the Greeks, and I think it is so interesting to be able to go back in time and see that the questions that are debated today were problematic back then too. I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is nothing new under the sun.

Moving on to something a little more recent (I think that's safe to say!), this reading was paired with Chapter 16 of Farris and Anson, "Theory, Practice, and the Bridge Between: The Methods Course and Reflective Rhetoric" by Kathleen Blake Yancey. I think that this pairing is going to be an important one, because all of the previous reading was theory. Theory is fantastic, but sometimes it seems like a far leap from what is actually instituted in the classroom, and I think Yancey's questions are important ones: "How have I taught? How do I understand my own teaching? What have my students learned?" (234). Stepping back from theory, I think it is crucial to realize that human beings are the test subjects in the field of knowledge, and Yancey immediately highlights this as being the case.

Yancey explores the important question of delivery and perceived intention, which certainly hearkens back to the writings of the Greeks. As one could see all throughout Lauer's article, scholars differed in their interpretations of the texts. This is an issue across the board, whether one is reading the ancient Greeks, or attempting to convey a mathematical concept to a group of 4th graders.

I particularly loved Yancey's point that a good teacher is forever a student. I've seen this to be true in my own life, as the best teachers that I have had have been openly willing to learn from those they are teaching. Conversely, the worst have been the one's who waltz into the classroom, completely disconnected, and pretending to have all the answers. Yancey seems like a teacher whom I would love to have!

I appreciated this article because I felt a very real connection to Yancey through her writing. In so any ways, academic articles can seem to fly over the heads of the intended audience, for the purpose of being on another level. However, throughout her article, Yancey continually brings the topic back to her research, her students, and her purpose mentioned within the first few pages, to weave together a theory that would be applicable to her own students who seek to teach, as well as any other aspiring teachers that may be out there. Her ending point about the importance of reflection is threaded throughout the entire article, and it is an important one. As a future teacher, I want to be approachable, and I want my students to know that I care. I do not want to passion to be crushed out of me by cynicism, and an inability to connect with those who I intend to educate. If that were to happen, what good would come to me, or to my students?

3/28: Yancey and Lauer


Yancey’s “Theory, Practice, and the Bridge Between”

In this article, Yancey discusses reflective transfer. She begins by asking some important questions: “How have I taught? How do I understand my own teaching? What have my students learned?” Yancey points out that because we work with human beings—students are not lab rats—it’s not that simple to “know” that they have learned or how well your teaching methods work. She argues that this sort of “knowing” is “too singular, too reductive, ultimately too inhuman”. But we doneed to know what works, and so Yancey suggests reflection as a means of identifying causes of desired effects.

There are four steps to reflective transfer.

1.       Observe and examine your own practice.

2.       Make hypotheses about successes and failures and the reasons behind them.

3.       Shape the next iteration of similar experience based on your learning.

4.       Begin the cycle again.

Yancey notes that reflection is collaborative. The teacher plans and delivers the curriculum, and the students experience it. The points of intersection among delivered and experiencedis where learning and teaching occur.

“good teachers are always students: learning about their own learning processes, about their teaching, about curricula, about students.”

Yancey goes on to discuss her experience with reflection in her own class. One of the reflective aspects that she mentions is providing a list of questions for her students at the end of the term. Some of the questions: “Describe the student who came through the door in January”, “Describe the teacher who will be leaving in May”, “What has this person learned about theory?”.

The article concludes with the idea that when reflection works, it raises more questions than it answers. But that is a good thing: reflection and learning should be a continuous endeavor.

 

Lauer’s “Historical Review: Issues in Rhetorical Invention”

                Notes on Part One: Theoretical Issues

-Invention has been positioned differently in rhetorical history.

-3 issues: differences over what constitutes invention, its purpose, and its underlying epistemology

 

Greek views:

-3 dominant Greek conceptions of invention

-Interpretations of Sophists, Plato, and Aristotle

-Differences exist over which inventional acts and arts are included

- Disagree over purposes of invention:

                -Initiating discourse with questions, issues, contradictions

                -Creating knowledge

                -Reaching probable judgment

                -Finding arguments to support existing theses

                -Communicating truths

                -Supporting persuasive propositions

 

Roman Views

 

-Differed from the Greeks and among themselves and their interpreters

-Invention was largely viewed as finding support for judgments and material for sections of the text

Cicero’s conceptions of invention would prevail through hundreds of years and influenced theory and practice through the Renaissance and still characterize pedagogies and textbooks today

 

Invention in Second Sophistic, Medieval, and Renaissance Rhetoric

 

-Invention narrowed to function and rarely served an epistemic purpose in the Second Sophistic period

-Classical status and topics were transfigured for new generic purposes

-Epistemic function of rhetorical invention practically disappeared, giving way to theology and the scientific method

-Renaissance: version of classical invention was adapted for vernacular culture

-Bacon: rhetorical invention dealt only with retrieving the known, while science created new knowledge

 

18th -19th Century Invention

 

-Scottish and British rhetoricians considered logic the home of invention. Rhetoric was assigned to communication

- Invention was compartmentalized into faculties of understanding, imagination, emotion, and will

-19th century: rhetoricwas replaced with composition, which was devoted to practice and criticism.

-women rhetorical theorists brought new interests to composition

3/28: Yancey and Lauer


Yancey’s “Theory, Practice, and the Bridge Between”

In this article, Yancey discusses reflective transfer. She begins by asking some important questions: “How have I taught? How do I understand my own teaching? What have my students learned?” Yancey points out that because we work with human beings—students are not lab rats—it’s not that simple to “know” that they have learned or how well your teaching methods work. She argues that this sort of “knowing” is “too singular, too reductive, ultimately too inhuman”. But we doneed to know what works, and so Yancey suggests reflection as a means of identifying causes of desired effects.

There are four steps to reflective transfer.

1.       Observe and examine your own practice.

2.       Make hypotheses about successes and failures and the reasons behind them.

3.       Shape the next iteration of similar experience based on your learning.

4.       Begin the cycle again.

Yancey notes that reflection is collaborative. The teacher plans and delivers the curriculum, and the students experience it. The points of intersection among delivered and experiencedis where learning and teaching occur.

“good teachers are always students: learning about their own learning processes, about their teaching, about curricula, about students.”

Yancey goes on to discuss her experience with reflection in her own class. One of the reflective aspects that she mentions is providing a list of questions for her students at the end of the term. Some of the questions: “Describe the student who came through the door in January”, “Describe the teacher who will be leaving in May”, “What has this person learned about theory?”.

The article concludes with the idea that when reflection works, it raises more questions than it answers. But that is a good thing: reflection and learning should be a continuous endeavor.

 

Lauer’s “Historical Review: Issues in Rhetorical Invention”

                Notes on Part One: Theoretical Issues

-Invention has been positioned differently in rhetorical history.

-3 issues: differences over what constitutes invention, its purpose, and its underlying epistemology

 

Greek views:

-3 dominant Greek conceptions of invention

-Interpretations of Sophists, Plato, and Aristotle

-Differences exist over which inventional acts and arts are included

- Disagree over purposes of invention:

                -Initiating discourse with questions, issues, contradictions

                -Creating knowledge

                -Reaching probable judgment

                -Finding arguments to support existing theses

                -Communicating truths

                -Supporting persuasive propositions

 

Roman Views

 

-Differed from the Greeks and among themselves and their interpreters

-Invention was largely viewed as finding support for judgments and material for sections of the text

Cicero’s conceptions of invention would prevail through hundreds of years and influenced theory and practice through the Renaissance and still characterize pedagogies and textbooks today

 

Invention in Second Sophistic, Medieval, and Renaissance Rhetoric

 

-Invention narrowed to function and rarely served an epistemic purpose in the Second Sophistic period

-Classical status and topics were transfigured for new generic purposes

-Epistemic function of rhetorical invention practically disappeared, giving way to theology and the scientific method

-Renaissance: version of classical invention was adapted for vernacular culture

-Bacon: rhetorical invention dealt only with retrieving the known, while science created new knowledge

 

18th -19th Century Invention

 

-Scottish and British rhetoricians considered logic the home of invention. Rhetoric was assigned to communication

- Invention was compartmentalized into faculties of understanding, imagination, emotion, and will

-19th century: rhetoricwas replaced with composition, which was devoted to practice and criticism.

-women rhetorical theorists brought new interests to composition

Comp Studies Research & Methods 2016-03-28 17:54:00


Out of the choices we had to read for today, I liked Yancey’s piece the best. To begin, in Yancey’s Theory, Practice, and the Bridge between the Methods Course and Reflective Rhetoric I liked the idea she had of “tasks that resemble ‘real’ teaching . . . that to complete them one acts as (in the process of becoming) a teacher” (235). What came to my mind after reading that is students having to teach themselves a lesson then complete the homework assigned. I did this for a grammar class I was unable to attend, due to a storm that left me stuck in another state, and I was really surprised that I understood and did well on the homework. In a way, it can also be compared to the discussion lead/the written portion Dr. Zamora has us do. In addition, like Yancey mentioned this also made me think of collaboration. For example, one student may understand a lesson and explains it to another student. Furthermore while reading Yancey’s article, I felt like some of the information or suggestions she presented my teachers already do, and I also recalled other readings from last semester. I appreciated the fact she also liked the idea of students taking peers work home like Jaxon.

Continuing in Historical Review: Issues in Rhetorical Invention in Janice Lauer’s Invention in Rhetoric and Composition, I agree with a statement Carter makes. “Carter maintained that later, especially in the Roman period, the development of status, identifying the point at issue, offered a way for the rhetor to gain some control over the moment” (14). I think this statement can be applied to now, and it automatically took me back to my debate class. In order to have a strong argument, everything you said should have been supported by experts. If it did, not only did you but the audience felt like your argument was more valid. In my class, our opinion alone was not good enough because we did not have status or expertise. Sometimes, expertise leads to status. Although I think Historical Reviewwas difficult to read, I think some of the people mentioned had really interesting things to say.

Comp Studies Research & Methods 2016-03-28 17:54:00


Out of the choices we had to read for today, I liked Yancey’s piece the best. To begin, in Yancey’s Theory, Practice, and the Bridge between the Methods Course and Reflective Rhetoric I liked the idea she had of “tasks that resemble ‘real’ teaching . . . that to complete them one acts as (in the process of becoming) a teacher” (235). What came to my mind after reading that is students having to teach themselves a lesson then complete the homework assigned. I did this for a grammar class I was unable to attend, due to a storm that left me stuck in another state, and I was really surprised that I understood and did well on the homework. In a way, it can also be compared to the discussion lead/the written portion Dr. Zamora has us do. In addition, like Yancey mentioned this also made me think of collaboration. For example, one student may understand a lesson and explains it to another student. Furthermore while reading Yancey’s article, I felt like some of the information or suggestions she presented my teachers already do, and I also recalled other readings from last semester. I appreciated the fact she also liked the idea of students taking peers work home like Jaxon.

Continuing in Historical Review: Issues in Rhetorical Invention in Janice Lauer’s Invention in Rhetoric and Composition, I agree with a statement Carter makes. “Carter maintained that later, especially in the Roman period, the development of status, identifying the point at issue, offered a way for the rhetor to gain some control over the moment” (14). I think this statement can be applied to now, and it automatically took me back to my debate class. In order to have a strong argument, everything you said should have been supported by experts. If it did, not only did you but the audience felt like your argument was more valid. In my class, our opinion alone was not good enough because we did not have status or expertise. Sometimes, expertise leads to status. Although I think Historical Reviewwas difficult to read, I think some of the people mentioned had really interesting things to say.

Rhetoric & Invention; Greek Style / Yancey on Reflection, Invention and the Methods Class




            Rhetoric. Invention. Aristotle wrote much about it; his thoughts are still argued, mulled over, used, or ignored. He was not the first, and will not be the last. But what exactly is it? Janice M. Lauer explains the three primary Greek interpretations of rhetoric or “invention.” Her research suggests that Sophists focused on the early parts of any discourse known as “Kairos” or the opportune moment, and believed in the “dissoi logoi” or arguing for both sides of an argument. Plato instead, emphasized the “inventional” role of dialogue but numerous reviewers remain undecided about his reasons as well as his epistemology. Aristotle developed the most explicit theory of “invention” in the Rhetoric providing a clear conception of its nature and his view of its purpose.
            Though most agree that for the Sophists, conflict triggered the discourse, the question remains—did Kairos (opportune moment) control the discourse or did the discourse control Kairos? That opportune moment should prove something right or wrong; the concept of dissoi logoi (arguing on behalf of both sides) displays the powerful effects of rhetoric as an art of persuasion with potential for disastrous effects, if held in the wrong hands. Because of differing opinions on both Kairos and dissoi logoi, Lauer affirms that there remains controversy among a lengthy list of scholars as to aspects of rhetoric or “invention.”
            Between the mythos/ beliefs and the logos/ discourse there lies the nomos or “that which is assigned.” This exemplifies thinking strategies of the rhetoricians during Greece’ Golden Age. Their goal: “…a self-conscious arrangement of discourse to create politically and socially significant knowledge” (16). Plato’s views of invention illustrate rather than systemize topics while Aristotle delineates inventional issues, strategies, and principles for analyzation of discourse. He also prompts the rhetor to find appropriate content, and frame the rhetorical epistemology, aided by the enthymeme or “body of proof.” Scholars argue effectively, on rhetoric’s art, use, and validity. Their discourse proves theirtruths through invention.
            Similar methods of looking at multiple perspectives are evidenced by Kathleen Blake Yancey as she questions herself, her teaching approaches, the importance of reflection, and the methods course. Opening with her concerns, she theorizes about how she can most effectively run a Methods Course, and which practices work best for her students “who-will-be-teachers.” She also hopes to bridge the gap between these by using reflection-in-action to shape her model as she helps students become teachers who learn with their students.

            Yancey defines reflective transfer as: “the procedure that enables us to learn from and theorize our practice” (235). Its four steps are clarified simply: observation and examination of one’s practice, hypothesis regarding ones successes and failures, planning the next attempt using all one has learned, and finally, starting over. Through this exercise, teachers can begin to grasp how students learn, and which assignments prove beneficial to that process. Results place one on the path of thinking like and becoming that future teacher.
            Reflection in this context becomes collaborative; Yancey plans and delivers the lessons that her students experience. Through this process they connect. She knows this transfer of knowledge may result in something other than her original intent, but that will provide new insights—collaborative learning—to their methods class. Her implementation of reflection throughout this course offers numerous contexts to encourage and inspire learning.
The focus is to shape her course as the most effective tool for this diverse group of students, hoping to soon be teachers. The two aspects of development she addresses are helping prospective teachers see their prospective students as both like and unlike them, and helping those “almost-teachers” explain their own learning process thus enabling them to better teach and direct their students learning skills in the near future.
Yancey speaks of invention, not for the purpose of rhetoric or discourse, but through a process called cubing to reveal the many perspectives of any subject. Her lesson is unique and inspired as she gives them the opportunity to “invent” their model classroom, complete with students. She asks them to decide who these “students” are, how they will cooperate and also, how they will resist. This process requires thought, reflection, honesty, and the applied insight from the cubing exercise.
The exercise of literary analysis forces students to think and react like teachers as they study a high school student, “Ryan’s” portfolio. Guided by simple questions, the students supply more than enough responses. According to Yancey, they did what she does for every student: “read the data, reflect upon it, make meaning” (241). Differing feedback, interpretations, and recommendations evidence each student’s position on their journey to become the “teacher.”
Leaving behind the role of student to become “the teacher” is discussed by Yancey. Perceiving her students concern about this transition, she points out that “good teachers are always students” (242). Yancey reminds them that teachers are working in communion through many worthwhile venues, like the NWP and NCTE towards clearer student understanding, enrichment, and to insure that the circle of learning never ends.
Yancey has students work in groups for a non-graded curriculum project which requires different thinking, strategies, and seeing themselves as learners. She stops them midway and has them implement “reflection-in-action” using three simple questions: How’s it going, what’s left, and what are you learning? The reactions differ as each student offers their perspective, but Yancey can assess individual progress through these replies. They have learned about voicing opinions, the sequence of texts to goals, and the flow of knowledge through timing and directions. Mostly, they have started to think like teachers, which was the original intent.
Finally, Yancey gives her class questions to ponder that may help them further move into the role of teacher. She reminds us of the two questions with which she began her “reflective quest” and reviews the success of the semester’s exercises. Because reflection-in-action worked well she hopes to unearth a link from this to reflective teaching in the future. She believes teaching the course reflectively will create knowledge. Yancey always strives for improvements as she reflects on her teaching practices. She reminds us that when reflection works it not only answers questions but creates many more. But that is what learning is all about, isn’t it?

1.      Rhetoric is the art of persuasion and, effectively used, can bring an audience to believe—or disbelieve—almost anything; good and truthful to bad or evil. Grasping the power of this art, and given the role of educator, how might one use this powerful tool for the best possible results in a classful of impressionable writing students?
2.      Yancey is notably pleased with her students’ ability to articulate their learning experience through metaphors.  Their unexpected use of figures of speech indicate to Yancey, “…a developmental mark of teacher identity formation” (239). Why do you think she feels this way? Do you think this is a deciding indication of readiness?
3.      Yancey uses reflection effectively in many aspects, and encourages her students to do the same. She implements it into her exercises and classwork to enable this process to reach some level of success. She now wants to teach reflectively, tying it in with reflection-in-action. In your opinion(s), can this be done and might it create a better learning experience for both Yancey and her students?


Rhetoric & Invention; Greek Style / Yancey on Reflection, Invention and the Methods Class




            Rhetoric. Invention. Aristotle wrote much about it; his thoughts are still argued, mulled over, used, or ignored. He was not the first, and will not be the last. But what exactly is it? Janice M. Lauer explains the three primary Greek interpretations of rhetoric or “invention.” Her research suggests that Sophists focused on the early parts of any discourse known as “Kairos” or the opportune moment, and believed in the “dissoi logoi” or arguing for both sides of an argument. Plato instead, emphasized the “inventional” role of dialogue but numerous reviewers remain undecided about his reasons as well as his epistemology. Aristotle developed the most explicit theory of “invention” in the Rhetoric providing a clear conception of its nature and his view of its purpose.
            Though most agree that for the Sophists, conflict triggered the discourse, the question remains—did Kairos (opportune moment) control the discourse or did the discourse control Kairos? That opportune moment should prove something right or wrong; the concept of dissoi logoi (arguing on behalf of both sides) displays the powerful effects of rhetoric as an art of persuasion with potential for disastrous effects, if held in the wrong hands. Because of differing opinions on both Kairos and dissoi logoi, Lauer affirms that there remains controversy among a lengthy list of scholars as to aspects of rhetoric or “invention.”
            Between the mythos/ beliefs and the logos/ discourse there lies the nomos or “that which is assigned.” This exemplifies thinking strategies of the rhetoricians during Greece’ Golden Age. Their goal: “…a self-conscious arrangement of discourse to create politically and socially significant knowledge” (16). Plato’s views of invention illustrate rather than systemize topics while Aristotle delineates inventional issues, strategies, and principles for analyzation of discourse. He also prompts the rhetor to find appropriate content, and frame the rhetorical epistemology, aided by the enthymeme or “body of proof.” Scholars argue effectively, on rhetoric’s art, use, and validity. Their discourse proves theirtruths through invention.
            Similar methods of looking at multiple perspectives are evidenced by Kathleen Blake Yancey as she questions herself, her teaching approaches, the importance of reflection, and the methods course. Opening with her concerns, she theorizes about how she can most effectively run a Methods Course, and which practices work best for her students “who-will-be-teachers.” She also hopes to bridge the gap between these by using reflection-in-action to shape her model as she helps students become teachers who learn with their students.

            Yancey defines reflective transfer as: “the procedure that enables us to learn from and theorize our practice” (235). Its four steps are clarified simply: observation and examination of one’s practice, hypothesis regarding ones successes and failures, planning the next attempt using all one has learned, and finally, starting over. Through this exercise, teachers can begin to grasp how students learn, and which assignments prove beneficial to that process. Results place one on the path of thinking like and becoming that future teacher.
            Reflection in this context becomes collaborative; Yancey plans and delivers the lessons that her students experience. Through this process they connect. She knows this transfer of knowledge may result in something other than her original intent, but that will provide new insights—collaborative learning—to their methods class. Her implementation of reflection throughout this course offers numerous contexts to encourage and inspire learning.
The focus is to shape her course as the most effective tool for this diverse group of students, hoping to soon be teachers. The two aspects of development she addresses are helping prospective teachers see their prospective students as both like and unlike them, and helping those “almost-teachers” explain their own learning process thus enabling them to better teach and direct their students learning skills in the near future.
Yancey speaks of invention, not for the purpose of rhetoric or discourse, but through a process called cubing to reveal the many perspectives of any subject. Her lesson is unique and inspired as she gives them the opportunity to “invent” their model classroom, complete with students. She asks them to decide who these “students” are, how they will cooperate and also, how they will resist. This process requires thought, reflection, honesty, and the applied insight from the cubing exercise.
The exercise of literary analysis forces students to think and react like teachers as they study a high school student, “Ryan’s” portfolio. Guided by simple questions, the students supply more than enough responses. According to Yancey, they did what she does for every student: “read the data, reflect upon it, make meaning” (241). Differing feedback, interpretations, and recommendations evidence each student’s position on their journey to become the “teacher.”
Leaving behind the role of student to become “the teacher” is discussed by Yancey. Perceiving her students concern about this transition, she points out that “good teachers are always students” (242). Yancey reminds them that teachers are working in communion through many worthwhile venues, like the NWP and NCTE towards clearer student understanding, enrichment, and to insure that the circle of learning never ends.
Yancey has students work in groups for a non-graded curriculum project which requires different thinking, strategies, and seeing themselves as learners. She stops them midway and has them implement “reflection-in-action” using three simple questions: How’s it going, what’s left, and what are you learning? The reactions differ as each student offers their perspective, but Yancey can assess individual progress through these replies. They have learned about voicing opinions, the sequence of texts to goals, and the flow of knowledge through timing and directions. Mostly, they have started to think like teachers, which was the original intent.
Finally, Yancey gives her class questions to ponder that may help them further move into the role of teacher. She reminds us of the two questions with which she began her “reflective quest” and reviews the success of the semester’s exercises. Because reflection-in-action worked well she hopes to unearth a link from this to reflective teaching in the future. She believes teaching the course reflectively will create knowledge. Yancey always strives for improvements as she reflects on her teaching practices. She reminds us that when reflection works it not only answers questions but creates many more. But that is what learning is all about, isn’t it?

1.      Rhetoric is the art of persuasion and, effectively used, can bring an audience to believe—or disbelieve—almost anything; good and truthful to bad or evil. Grasping the power of this art, and given the role of educator, how might one use this powerful tool for the best possible results in a classful of impressionable writing students?
2.      Yancey is notably pleased with her students’ ability to articulate their learning experience through metaphors.  Their unexpected use of figures of speech indicate to Yancey, “…a developmental mark of teacher identity formation” (239). Why do you think she feels this way? Do you think this is a deciding indication of readiness?
3.      Yancey uses reflection effectively in many aspects, and encourages her students to do the same. She implements it into her exercises and classwork to enable this process to reach some level of success. She now wants to teach reflectively, tying it in with reflection-in-action. In your opinion(s), can this be done and might it create a better learning experience for both Yancey and her students?