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?


Farris & Anson’s chapter 16 and Janice Lauer’s chapter 3

     Farris and Anson's chapter 16 by Kathleen Blake Yancey dealt primarily with reflection and how it can improve instruction. When looked at through the lens of a college professor, the amount of reflection Yancey speaks of sounds like it could be doable. But looking at it as a high school teacher who can see well over one hundred students on a daily basis, it seems impossible.

     There is always a level of reflection after a class and it is never the same for each class. The students in each class create variety in instruction and game planning. The one element that can't be prepped for is how the students will be on a given day. I have a colleague who prays that she gets observed during 5th period because that is her "good" class and not during her "bad" 8th period. A student who likes to cause trouble will view a supervisor observing his teacher as a challenge to be difficult.

     I turn to talk of observations because I want to discuss how reflection has become part of teacher evaluations, and not something a teacher does to improve. In my district, we have Charlotte Danielson to thank for this. Her Framework for Teaching has been adopted by many districts in New Jersey, and has really turned how teachers reflect on their lessons into a chore.
blogs.puyallup.k12.wa.us
     As you can see above, Danielson has created four domains that teachers must focus on. Reflection is a big part of each domain, and requires artifacts (the term for evidence) in order to be properly evaluated. When a teacher gets observed, there are forms that have to be filled out on a website that tracks everything. One form is all about what you plan on teaching and accommodations you've made. Another form is where you reflect after the lesson. It's nice in theory, but the fact that it is part of the evaluation has driven teachers to see it as a chore. This, in turn, makes reflection a chore and teachers then dislike doing it.

     Educators have to be willing to reflect on their experiences in an attempt to become better. Think about why most students don't enjoy doing homework. They don't see it as beneficial practice that improves skills. Instead, it's a punishment and something to be avoided whenever possible, even though it's necessary.

Teachers line up to provide artifacts.
xpressivecafe.com


Farris & Anson’s chapter 16 and Janice Lauer’s chapter 3

     Farris and Anson's chapter 16 by Kathleen Blake Yancey dealt primarily with reflection and how it can improve instruction. When looked at through the lens of a college professor, the amount of reflection Yancey speaks of sounds like it could be doable. But looking at it as a high school teacher who can see well over one hundred students on a daily basis, it seems impossible.

     There is always a level of reflection after a class and it is never the same for each class. The students in each class create variety in instruction and game planning. The one element that can't be prepped for is how the students will be on a given day. I have a colleague who prays that she gets observed during 5th period because that is her "good" class and not during her "bad" 8th period. A student who likes to cause trouble will view a supervisor observing his teacher as a challenge to be difficult.

     I turn to talk of observations because I want to discuss how reflection has become part of teacher evaluations, and not something a teacher does to improve. In my district, we have Charlotte Danielson to thank for this. Her Framework for Teaching has been adopted by many districts in New Jersey, and has really turned how teachers reflect on their lessons into a chore.
blogs.puyallup.k12.wa.us
     As you can see above, Danielson has created four domains that teachers must focus on. Reflection is a big part of each domain, and requires artifacts (the term for evidence) in order to be properly evaluated. When a teacher gets observed, there are forms that have to be filled out on a website that tracks everything. One form is all about what you plan on teaching and accommodations you've made. Another form is where you reflect after the lesson. It's nice in theory, but the fact that it is part of the evaluation has driven teachers to see it as a chore. This, in turn, makes reflection a chore and teachers then dislike doing it.

     Educators have to be willing to reflect on their experiences in an attempt to become better. Think about why most students don't enjoy doing homework. They don't see it as beneficial practice that improves skills. Instead, it's a punishment and something to be avoided whenever possible, even though it's necessary.

Teachers line up to provide artifacts.
xpressivecafe.com


blog 5

“Theory, Practice, and the Bridge Between The Methods Course and Reflective Rhetoric”

“That prospective teachers often bring with them a model of a teacher they want to be, their favorite teacher or the one they wished they’d had.” This is very interesting and very true, in my opinion.

“Question: Do “better” students tend to favor a particular kind of model? Do all models require revision?” I think “successful” students have learning / self-teaching models of their own that help them adapt to the models of their teachers. Knowing yourself as a learner is an invaluable skill that many students do not possess; more importantly, I do not believe students are encouraged to learn about themselves in this way. I think schools are more interested in dictating what needs to be done to take time out and explain that not every model works for every students, no matter how good it may be. Instead it’s more of a “if you don’t get it, then you are dumb and that’s nobody’s problem but your own” kind of mentality.

“That better students tend to focus on the curriculum and the students; weaker ones tend to focus on themselves.” This makes sense; it is difficult to consider a / the bigger picture when you are still struggling with the smaller one.

“Question: what activities, what questions can help weaker students move outside the self? Or is there, in fact, a way to accelerate such readiness?” I think this readiness comes from a better understanding of the material. I don’t think it is a matter of introspectiveness, but rather a matter of basic skill acquisition. Sure there are things teachers can do to help a student, but there are no epiphany inducing questions that can speed up the process. It’s all about the bigger picture. But in the case of weaker learners, it is more like a puzzle. Each lesson/ objective is a puzzle piece. The bigger picture won’t matter to you until you figure out where this piece is supposed to go.

“That in many ways this course is an exercise in identity and identification.” Probably also some internalization and motivation examination as well.

“this takes the form of wanting to replicate another teacher, or seeing a student so much as a version of an earlier self of ours that we can’t see the student in any other way” I think the assumption that a lot of teachers are replicating a past personal experience is at least moderately sound, however, I don't like the implication here that this desire to "redo the past, but in a better way" blinds teachers from seeing their students as individuals. 

“Question: What other kinds of reflection should we include? Toward what end?” I think that refection is so vague that any kind suffices.

“When reflection “works,” it raises as many questions as it answers, perhaps more” isn’t that the whole point to reflection in the first place?


I feel the talk of her students was drawn out and didn’t really help prove her points. I think she could have reduced the length of this chapter and still gotten her message across (especially that bit of “fluff” about the weather and her students typing). However, I felt she raised some good questions. I think I would have liked to see her own answers to these questions, but they were good enough on their own that they got me thinking as well. 

blog 5

“Theory, Practice, and the Bridge Between The Methods Course and Reflective Rhetoric”

“That prospective teachers often bring with them a model of a teacher they want to be, their favorite teacher or the one they wished they’d had.” This is very interesting and very true, in my opinion.

“Question: Do “better” students tend to favor a particular kind of model? Do all models require revision?” I think “successful” students have learning / self-teaching models of their own that help them adapt to the models of their teachers. Knowing yourself as a learner is an invaluable skill that many students do not possess; more importantly, I do not believe students are encouraged to learn about themselves in this way. I think schools are more interested in dictating what needs to be done to take time out and explain that not every model works for every students, no matter how good it may be. Instead it’s more of a “if you don’t get it, then you are dumb and that’s nobody’s problem but your own” kind of mentality.

“That better students tend to focus on the curriculum and the students; weaker ones tend to focus on themselves.” This makes sense; it is difficult to consider a / the bigger picture when you are still struggling with the smaller one.

“Question: what activities, what questions can help weaker students move outside the self? Or is there, in fact, a way to accelerate such readiness?” I think this readiness comes from a better understanding of the material. I don’t think it is a matter of introspectiveness, but rather a matter of basic skill acquisition. Sure there are things teachers can do to help a student, but there are no epiphany inducing questions that can speed up the process. It’s all about the bigger picture. But in the case of weaker learners, it is more like a puzzle. Each lesson/ objective is a puzzle piece. The bigger picture won’t matter to you until you figure out where this piece is supposed to go.

“That in many ways this course is an exercise in identity and identification.” Probably also some internalization and motivation examination as well.

“this takes the form of wanting to replicate another teacher, or seeing a student so much as a version of an earlier self of ours that we can’t see the student in any other way” I think the assumption that a lot of teachers are replicating a past personal experience is at least moderately sound, however, I don't like the implication here that this desire to "redo the past, but in a better way" blinds teachers from seeing their students as individuals. 

“Question: What other kinds of reflection should we include? Toward what end?” I think that refection is so vague that any kind suffices.

“When reflection “works,” it raises as many questions as it answers, perhaps more” isn’t that the whole point to reflection in the first place?


I feel the talk of her students was drawn out and didn’t really help prove her points. I think she could have reduced the length of this chapter and still gotten her message across (especially that bit of “fluff” about the weather and her students typing). However, I felt she raised some good questions. I think I would have liked to see her own answers to these questions, but they were good enough on their own that they got me thinking as well. 

Christopher Ferry: "Theory, Research, Practice, Work"


Christopher Ferry’s “Theory, Research, Practice, Work” begins with Paulo Freire’s argument that education must be a process by which students and teachers transform reality and become more fully human by working together. Ferry notes that “Praxis” is central to this process—praxis being the interaction between thought (refection) and action. In order for the process to be effective, both components must be present.

Ferry then goes on to use Freire’s praxis concept to examine the different components of composition studies: theory, research, practice, and work. He also seeks to find the place in which “work” fits within the realm of higher education. What exactly is this “work”? What exactly is it that we do?  

“what we have in composition now is an unbalanced praxis, one that seems focused on reflection at the expense of action (or to put in more appropriate terms for this essay, a praxis focused on theory at the expense of work).”

“I want to make a case that in composition our focus on theory leads us to overlook the teaching of writing”

Ferry writes that we perceive theory and practice as separate. He discusses the historical shift that occurred within universities, a change that placed more emphasis on research than teaching. Now, there are apparently some who see writing teachers as part of the “academic working class”. Ferry notes that most of the time, when academics are referring to their work, they are not referring to the act of teaching; they are referring to their own writing or their research.

The divide between the two realms of the English department—literature and composition studies—is also discussed. Referring to writing teachers, Ferry references David Bartholomae: “As a professor, you’re not identified with something of great cultural value, like Shakespeare or the English novel…. You’re identified with the minds and words of 18-year olds”.   

Going back to Paulo Freire’s concept of praxis, Ferry stresses the idea that there must be a dialog between reflection and action, between humans to name and transform the world. Teachers must work with students; learning must take place together, continuously. Ferry discusses the idea the classroom as “a culture in progress” and as a grounds for theory-work. Learning environments should be inclusive and there is a need to replace the “us versus them” model, to break down the power structure.

Christopher Ferry: "Theory, Research, Practice, Work"


Christopher Ferry’s “Theory, Research, Practice, Work” begins with Paulo Freire’s argument that education must be a process by which students and teachers transform reality and become more fully human by working together. Ferry notes that “Praxis” is central to this process—praxis being the interaction between thought (refection) and action. In order for the process to be effective, both components must be present.

Ferry then goes on to use Freire’s praxis concept to examine the different components of composition studies: theory, research, practice, and work. He also seeks to find the place in which “work” fits within the realm of higher education. What exactly is this “work”? What exactly is it that we do?  

“what we have in composition now is an unbalanced praxis, one that seems focused on reflection at the expense of action (or to put in more appropriate terms for this essay, a praxis focused on theory at the expense of work).”

“I want to make a case that in composition our focus on theory leads us to overlook the teaching of writing”

Ferry writes that we perceive theory and practice as separate. He discusses the historical shift that occurred within universities, a change that placed more emphasis on research than teaching. Now, there are apparently some who see writing teachers as part of the “academic working class”. Ferry notes that most of the time, when academics are referring to their work, they are not referring to the act of teaching; they are referring to their own writing or their research.

The divide between the two realms of the English department—literature and composition studies—is also discussed. Referring to writing teachers, Ferry references David Bartholomae: “As a professor, you’re not identified with something of great cultural value, like Shakespeare or the English novel…. You’re identified with the minds and words of 18-year olds”.   

Going back to Paulo Freire’s concept of praxis, Ferry stresses the idea that there must be a dialog between reflection and action, between humans to name and transform the world. Teachers must work with students; learning must take place together, continuously. Ferry discusses the idea the classroom as “a culture in progress” and as a grounds for theory-work. Learning environments should be inclusive and there is a need to replace the “us versus them” model, to break down the power structure.

To research or not to research? Farris and Anson Chs. 1 & 2

Chapter 1:
"Theory, Research, Practice, Work"
Christopher Ferry

Anything that starts with a Rent reference is off to a pretty great start in my book (and you can safely assume that I spent the rest of this reading humming "Santa Fe," but that's a great deal better than "#Selfie" so, you know, small blessings). I liked how Christopher Ferry began his paper by highlighting the importance of praxis, which is the phenomenon which includes both reflection and action in order to improve the overall learning experience between teachers and students. This idea of a learning environment in which both categories involved can benefit is something that is crucial and, sadly, is lacking in many classrooms. The presence or absence of collaboration can make a huge difference in the school experience. Once Ferry introduces this concept as a jumping off point, he raises more questions most notably, "What is the nature of our 'work' within institutions of higher learning" (11)?

As he further explores this question, he first mentions that what compositionists do is "create a theory of composition" (12), but counters then that theory without demonstration is not enough. He finds that the current theory at work is unbalanced because there seems to be a surplus of theory, and a lack of action. I think this is a valid point. In some of the theory we have read thus far, I've found that people raise excellent points, but the question has remained, does it work in practice? We can think and theorize all we'd like, but the true test is application.

I thought that Ferry's walk through history was an interesting way of telling the story of the division between theory and practice, particularly the part in which he notes that "universities become tangential to the everyday world, even to the extent of providing refuge from it; departments become nations with fiercely defended frontiers, and disciplinary discourse, 'self-enclosed and often self-confirming' becomes a professor's native language" (14). Isn't that the sad truth (in some cases, not all).

This is an interesting section for me because I want to be a professor, but I do not want to be disconnected. I want my students to be able to live in this world, and apply what I teach them, and use it to enhance their lives, not use it to separate themselves from the word around them. 

Further into the paper, I liked Ferry's reflection upon praxis, that "The educator who wold engage in praxis must die to her assumptions about reality and be reborn in communication with her students: 'Conversion to the people requires a profound rebirth. Those who undergo it must take on a new existence'" (17). Further, "Rather than forcing students into some preconceived theoretical model such teachers must work with and for students to understand the reality they share, then to construct a theory together that will  change that reality" (17). These are both excellent points, as well as encouraging ways in which to start in the direction of coming down off of the academic pedestal and facing reality. 

In conclusion, theory+research+practice+work= theoryresearchpracticework. All of these things must go in, and they all must work together in the result. To have classes that belong to all is so much better and more inclusive, and an all-around positive experience.

Chapter 2:
"Composing Composition Studies: Scholarly Publication and the Practice of Discipline"
Peter Vendenberg

"Rhetoric and composition around the end of the nineteenth century has been described as 'as academic desideratum...to be escaped as soon as practicable" (19). Hah!

This chapter seems to be an interesting juxtaposition from chapter one, as Vandenberg debunks the argument that "Quality teaching, as the argument goes, is dependent on research, and research presupposes its teaching: 'to achieve a balance in which the two activities actually complement each other is one of the most important contributions we can make'" (19). Vandenberg's case, on the contrary, is that this argument fails to take account of the "profoundly powerful institutional and disciplinary structures that lend teaching a research practical definitions as neatly hierarchized workplace activities" (20). This is quite a different stance from Ferry, and I'm interested to see what the opposing arguments are. 

Once again, I like how these writers have included historical framework to shape their respective arguments. This inclusion adds dimension because it's interesting to see how the past can be interpreted to explain the present. Further, it is interesting to see the transformation of what became valued in the classroom-- not necessarily the act of teaching or being a good teacher, but the concept that "Each faculty member should 'resolve that he will become a recognized scholar in his field and begin at once some piece of productive work'" (21). This raises an interesting question-- what is this "productive work?" And what are the implications of saying that being a teacher alone is not productive? Granted, this is a quote from Charles R. Van Hise in 1916, but this is a point from which our current system rose. It also rose from a Frankenstein-esque (thanks, Colin!) concept of students existing as "raw material" (22) to be shaped by the teachers, who have been given specifications by superiors. I'm not sure I like this analogy. 

And yet, the question remains, where does composition fall into this field? How does research work its way into this picture? Can they possibly be married together? If the administrators are the ones who research and publish, and they don't want the teachers below them rising, is this where the discussion ends? Additionally, I made this note in my reading-- is this true? I can't understand why teachers doing research wouldn't serve to better everyone. Why is this perceived as a threat?

It seems to me, that I would have to agree that the praxis concept that Christopher Ferry writes about is an excellent approach, that marries together research and teaching in order to get the best of both worlds. However, Vandenberg's article is enough to make one nervous. Is this really what it's like out there in the teaching world? Is the praxis concept merely an unreachable ideal? It would appear that the world of academia and administration is rough when it comes to rhetoric and composition, and Vandenberg certainly paints a bleak picture of the system that is currently in place.

 

Bonus:
Santa Fe from Rent 


To research or not to research? Farris and Anson Chs. 1 & 2

Chapter 1:
"Theory, Research, Practice, Work"
Christopher Ferry

Anything that starts with a Rent reference is off to a pretty great start in my book (and you can safely assume that I spent the rest of this reading humming "Santa Fe," but that's a great deal better than "#Selfie" so, you know, small blessings). I liked how Christopher Ferry began his paper by highlighting the importance of praxis, which is the phenomenon which includes both reflection and action in order to improve the overall learning experience between teachers and students. This idea of a learning environment in which both categories involved can benefit is something that is crucial and, sadly, is lacking in many classrooms. The presence or absence of collaboration can make a huge difference in the school experience. Once Ferry introduces this concept as a jumping off point, he raises more questions most notably, "What is the nature of our 'work' within institutions of higher learning" (11)?

As he further explores this question, he first mentions that what compositionists do is "create a theory of composition" (12), but counters then that theory without demonstration is not enough. He finds that the current theory at work is unbalanced because there seems to be a surplus of theory, and a lack of action. I think this is a valid point. In some of the theory we have read thus far, I've found that people raise excellent points, but the question has remained, does it work in practice? We can think and theorize all we'd like, but the true test is application.

I thought that Ferry's walk through history was an interesting way of telling the story of the division between theory and practice, particularly the part in which he notes that "universities become tangential to the everyday world, even to the extent of providing refuge from it; departments become nations with fiercely defended frontiers, and disciplinary discourse, 'self-enclosed and often self-confirming' becomes a professor's native language" (14). Isn't that the sad truth (in some cases, not all).

This is an interesting section for me because I want to be a professor, but I do not want to be disconnected. I want my students to be able to live in this world, and apply what I teach them, and use it to enhance their lives, not use it to separate themselves from the word around them. 

Further into the paper, I liked Ferry's reflection upon praxis, that "The educator who wold engage in praxis must die to her assumptions about reality and be reborn in communication with her students: 'Conversion to the people requires a profound rebirth. Those who undergo it must take on a new existence'" (17). Further, "Rather than forcing students into some preconceived theoretical model such teachers must work with and for students to understand the reality they share, then to construct a theory together that will  change that reality" (17). These are both excellent points, as well as encouraging ways in which to start in the direction of coming down off of the academic pedestal and facing reality. 

In conclusion, theory+research+practice+work= theoryresearchpracticework. All of these things must go in, and they all must work together in the result. To have classes that belong to all is so much better and more inclusive, and an all-around positive experience.

Chapter 2:
"Composing Composition Studies: Scholarly Publication and the Practice of Discipline"
Peter Vendenberg

"Rhetoric and composition around the end of the nineteenth century has been described as 'as academic desideratum...to be escaped as soon as practicable" (19). Hah!

This chapter seems to be an interesting juxtaposition from chapter one, as Vandenberg debunks the argument that "Quality teaching, as the argument goes, is dependent on research, and research presupposes its teaching: 'to achieve a balance in which the two activities actually complement each other is one of the most important contributions we can make'" (19). Vandenberg's case, on the contrary, is that this argument fails to take account of the "profoundly powerful institutional and disciplinary structures that lend teaching a research practical definitions as neatly hierarchized workplace activities" (20). This is quite a different stance from Ferry, and I'm interested to see what the opposing arguments are. 

Once again, I like how these writers have included historical framework to shape their respective arguments. This inclusion adds dimension because it's interesting to see how the past can be interpreted to explain the present. Further, it is interesting to see the transformation of what became valued in the classroom-- not necessarily the act of teaching or being a good teacher, but the concept that "Each faculty member should 'resolve that he will become a recognized scholar in his field and begin at once some piece of productive work'" (21). This raises an interesting question-- what is this "productive work?" And what are the implications of saying that being a teacher alone is not productive? Granted, this is a quote from Charles R. Van Hise in 1916, but this is a point from which our current system rose. It also rose from a Frankenstein-esque (thanks, Colin!) concept of students existing as "raw material" (22) to be shaped by the teachers, who have been given specifications by superiors. I'm not sure I like this analogy. 

And yet, the question remains, where does composition fall into this field? How does research work its way into this picture? Can they possibly be married together? If the administrators are the ones who research and publish, and they don't want the teachers below them rising, is this where the discussion ends? Additionally, I made this note in my reading-- is this true? I can't understand why teachers doing research wouldn't serve to better everyone. Why is this perceived as a threat?

It seems to me, that I would have to agree that the praxis concept that Christopher Ferry writes about is an excellent approach, that marries together research and teaching in order to get the best of both worlds. However, Vandenberg's article is enough to make one nervous. Is this really what it's like out there in the teaching world? Is the praxis concept merely an unreachable ideal? It would appear that the world of academia and administration is rough when it comes to rhetoric and composition, and Vandenberg certainly paints a bleak picture of the system that is currently in place.

 

Bonus:
Santa Fe from Rent