Monday, March 28, 2005

English Language History

I'm reading Do You Speak American? for my Modern American English class and must laugh at the politics of language education. The need for people to be pretentious about the superiority of one language or one dialect over another has been going on forever. Or as one of the writer's put it since the Tower of Babel.

So from this need to feel superior we have bans on nonEnglish education in classes
English only in various states
bans on Black English or Ebonics
Bans on speaking Spanish in the work place--even though laws do not alway agree with this stance. With so many important issues in education to work on people spin their wheels on making certain that English remain the language of the land. The people proposing these laws do not know the history of English nor do they know the facts about language use, growth, change, and history. I suppose I could spend a long time working on these issues without running out of things to do. I'm hoping that I can tie in these discussions with my self and the project of memories, language education, and rhetoric.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Response to some Readings on Memory and Writing

Four Cs was great and oddly I found myself mentally kicking myself for not having written more. My favorite topics were all the rage and I was not participating in the conversations. Memoirs or Memorias or Family Histories were a huge part of the presentations during the convention. Gail Okawa and Victor Villanueva made excellent presentations of their work recovering family histories. Gail's work on her recovery and reconstruction of family history through archival papers, pictures, etc was extremely well done. I found another piece of hers in a Journal of Teaching of Writing which really fit in well with her presentation. I obtained it in a panel with linguists and could see how she's been working at parts of the larger research that she presented at this year's 4Cs for quite some time now. What I noted about her writing is that she uses academic discourse more than Victor did. He uses it but he managed to hybridize it for the presentation. Gail's discourse adhered more to the formality of an academic presentation. Her writing too is more formal than other similar work. Could their be a difference between Asian culture and Latino/a culture that encourages greater formality from one group and not the other?

Francsico Tamayo-Rico did a fine presentation on Englishes and Spanishes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

To Reinvent or to Die

Well, I may be a bit dramatic but I just returned from teaching classes at the University. I sensed a need to have students evaluate me without their losing a sense of anonymity. AS usual my structure for the class seems to frustrate some students. I'll have to be more rigorous about that as poor evaluations will lose me the job. Who says that academics have no pressure?

I liked giving students a place and format to speak to me, and I noted that many of the early complainers are happily at work now.

I'm making a list of some of the theorists others spoke about at 4Cs. One such scholar has a website. Enrique Dussel was one of the men who discusses dependancy theory. Others are: Andre Gunder Frank, Samir Amin, Janet Abu-Lugod, and Immanuel Wallerstein. According to Victor Villanueva and Damian Baca these scholars add to postcolonial theory, address globalization and its impact on third world countries and in one instance or two can contribute to White Studies, which Joyce Middleton recommends as we work on diversity issues.

As I piece together my own work, I'll post any summaries of these to this blog in hopes that some where along the way I'll get responses to my mental tours of theories.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Gadgets and Things

I like gadgets and while reading a friend's blog found a site with smileys and other fun faces for writing.

Well off to the business of reading. Will be back tomorrow with more to say about the Rorty book.

Here is one of them: Here

Can't Figure It Out

For all the times I must plan classes and other events, I still can't figure out what best motivates students. They are all great people, and most of them are eager to learn, except for----.

Reading and writing. Yet it is my vocation to try to motivate them. I like to do so without resorting to the use of grades as the final reward, but so many of them don't get the need for thinking, reading, and writing. These young people are into "a job that will pay a good salary." Am I getting jaded? But then I realize there are so many distractions in the world today that I did not have access to when I was younger. Then it is I who must stop, think, and find ways to teach, have them work, and still maintain a harmonious classroom.

My classrooms are harmonious only in terms of people getting what they want and need from the experience. I do play devil's advocate to challenge students. Oh! I teach writing and that is both a wonderful thing to do and a challenging thing to do.

I teach at various levels now, but have taught first-year college students for a very long time. Over the years, I've observed and worked through a great deal with the future generations.

Of course, in this blog, I'll post observations like the one with which I started this post, but most of the time I'll have materials for my own use and the use of my students. I want to encourage the use of new technologies; hence, my jumping in and learning about websites, blogs, and other things.

One of the things that I can't figure out that affects teaching, teachers, and students is the mood of the country. I should say the perception that our country is so conservative, so fearful, that we its citizens must give up freedom of speech, laws that were enacted to protect minorities from the tyranny of majority rule and other things that have occurred during the past four years. I do love taking a poke at some of the issues that rise from the current situation but students have not been eager to challenge authority. They are concerned with money and status and materialism.

Where I work there are a lot of great people working to help our students see their responsibilities for others. This helps me teach community-based writing units and writing units that address the politics of power with the realities of poverty, illiteracy, and other social ills.