On February 26th, our group (The Hallster, Stephy, and myself), continued our slightly unfocussed but nevertheless highly interesting conversation about chapters 2 and 3 of Richard Haswell’s Gaining Ground in College Writing. Rather than examining a single question together, we chose to each look at a passage/area of interest and toss it into the group gumbo pot (yes, I just made a cheesy satura reference), which actually had some pretty interesting results. Sure, we didn’t quite reach the full-flu, cold-medicine-drenched level of brilliance that we have during previous discussions, but we were still able to dredge up some interesting points.
So, to the report!
The Hallster started off our group discussion with an exploration of the ways in which educators function based on unspoken, unexamined, implicit assumptions about what it means to teach and learn. He posited that in order for change in ideology and policy to take place, people must be able to first acknowledge and than lay bare and examine those sets of imprinted assumptions. Haswell’s interpretive tales, he argued, provide a narrative framework for that sort of meta-cultural examination. Erin chimed in with her take on those aforementioned implicit assumptions, based on her chosen topic focus (Ungrounded English Teacher Ways), and Stephy added input on degeneration, improvement/improvement, and the process of maturing as “generative change, at once nurturable and natural, toward cultural standards” (68).
The discussion, with the input of Dr. Stacey, then turned toward the much-touted-of-late-question, “were students really better writers a hundred years ago, and how could we tell?” We determined by overall consensus that any exploration of the topic would have to be rooted in a multi-textual, New Historicist, context-based examination of both actual documents and cultural realities of the given time period. The Hallster was able to bring his focused-on area of interest back into the mix with precision, looking at the interpretive tale template as a narrative framework for this sort of evolving, context-based history. Good stuff.
The presentation consisted of brief topic and discussion summaries by the Hallster, Stephy, and Erin, with a Dr. Stacey-led mention of the historical exploration of writing practices through interpretive tales. Good stuff.
Not to be all hyphy-modern, but I’m going to let myself fall prey to some meta-examination. Yep, I'm gonna talk about my FEELINGS. Overall, the discussion was interesting, but I really don’t feel content with it. Perhaps it is because the chapters we were focusing on were assigned so long ago that they felt stale and atrophied by the time we got to discuss them. It could also be because my exploration of my chosen topic was made obsolete by the sheer percentage of my classmates who focused on the exact same topic. Because my area of focus ended up being such a popular one, and because each member of our little group had his/her own topic to present, I felt that I had to keep my summary extremely brief. It just felt awkward.
Also, to be honest, I created my own little awkward scenario by being too darn paranoid. I didn’t realize during the presentation that Dr. Stacey’s nifty gadget was a digital recorder, so when he waved at me, I thought it was some kind of magical, futuristic timing device, and I interpreted his gesture to mean, “get on with it, kid, you’re running out of time!” As a result, I kind of stumbled over myself verbally and psychologically. Yeah, I’m a dork.
Oh, well, the next one will be better.