This is your EMWP Summer Institute Book Group blog. You are asked to post at least once a week before and during the Institute. Your group leader will post additional assignments and topics. Check back often. If you have any questions or concerns contact your leader, Bill - ypsilantibill@gmail.com .

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Quote from Janet Bean (Response to Prompt #2)

From Janet Bean's freewriting example that Elbow uses on pages 156 and 157: "...we need to free writing (like those posters, FREE MANDELA, FREE THE WHALES) -- free writing from the racist and classist practices of educational institutions."

This is the type of thinking that simultaneously makes me think "yes! yes! That is exactly what we must do!" and "...but that isn't possible in a school setting, where we as teachers are a part of educational institutions with those racist and classist practices built in." It is something that I often struggle with - the idea of using literacy as a tool for liberation and anti-oppression work (like the writings of Paulo Freire, which in theory I completely agree with) - up against the actual practice of teaching in higher education, where students come precisely because they want to be a part of the system. A friend once told me, for instance, that as a community college instructor requiring students to write papers in formal written English, rather than writing their papers in African-American Vernacular English, I was causing great damage to my students, oppressing them every time they set foot in my classroom by enforcing formal written English in essays. We debated back and forth about this until I finally pointed out  that he should be having this conversation with one of the single mothers in my classes, who were working multiple jobs in fast food and were coming back to school in order to move out of fast food and into something more meaningful to themselves and with better pay and benefits (in other words, to move out of the oppressive conditions of their current living.) I asked him what he thought they'd choose: stay working in fast food in order to avoid being oppressed by having to translate their spoken language into formal written English, or get out of economic oppression of their current circumstances by learning the language of their oppressors.)  

...All of this is to say that this quote brings up a lot of thoughts for me, I guess!

1 comment:

  1. Very difficult thoughts; but the free writing, or now, speaking on the page that Elbows asks students to do will help them learn code switching don't you think?


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