Elephant in the classroom @ The Berkeley Beacon

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Sep 192013

One of my close friends at Emerson, who also happens to be a Republican, recently told me: “I like to give off the vibe that I’m not conservative sometimes because social interaction is hard enough as it is.” This is not the mentality to carry around on a college campus. We shouldn’t have to apologize or feel the need to defend ourselves and our beliefs on a regular basis.For such an open and tolerant school, I find it ironic that some conservatives on campus, including me, feel ashamed or scared to proudly claim their political identities. On Emerson’s campus, the stigma of “coming out” as a conservative seems to mimic “coming out” as gay on a less progressive campus.Not only do I fear the judgment from my fellow students, but I have the same fear of being judged by my professors. I have hesitated to speak up in class, feeling trapped into representing views that I simply did not share.

~ Elephant in the classroom @ The Berkeley Beacon

In light of our conversation about the many facets of diversity in yesterday’s FYWP program meeting, this opinion piece written by a student caught my eye. The position the writer describes being in is one I think about often, and at times I find myself deliberately making a case for political positions not my own (playing devil’s advocate, I suppose) to make sure they’re taken seriously as arguments rather than dismissed out of hand — not to change minds, necessarily, but to reinforce and demonstrate the “generosity” Harris urges upon us as writers. It’s a complicated, negotiated decision to decide how your own politics will enter your classroom, but one that matters to me.

Literacy narratives database

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Sep 192013

Here’s some information about literacy narratives database I mentioned during our recent program meeting:

The Digital Archives of Literacy Narratives (DALN) is a publicly available archive of personal literacy narratives in a variety of formats (text, video, audio) that together provide a historical record of the literacy practices and values of contributors, as those practices and values change.

The DALN invites people of all ages, races, communities, backgrounds, and interests to contribute stories about how — and in what circumstances — they read, write, and compose meaning, and how they learned to do so (or helped others learn). We welcome personal narratives about reading and composing all kinds of texts, both formal and informal: diaries, blogs, poetry, music and musical lyrics, fan zines, school papers, videos, sermons, gaming profiles, speeches, chatroom exchanges, text messages, letters, stories, photographs, etc. We also invite contributors to supplement their narratives with samples of their own writing (papers, letters, zines, speeches, etc.) and compositions (music, photographs, videos, sound recordings, etc.).

Also, the book Tamera shared an excerpt from in that meeting was Peter Elbow’s Vernacular Eloquence: What Speech Can Bring To Writing.

Lessons Learned From a Freshman-Composition MOOC

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Sep 192013

I don’t think any of us writing and communication instructors would rush to teach another MOOC soon. For now, the technology is lacking for courses in subject areas like writing, which have such strong qualitative evaluation requirements. Too often we found our pedagogical choices hindered by the course-delivery platform we were required to use, when we felt that the platform should serve the pedagogical requirements. Too many decisions about platform functionality seem to be arbitrary, or made by people who may be excellent programmers but, I suspect, have never been teachers. Despite the challenges, we all feel that being part of the early process of testing new pedagogical approaches was instructive and exciting.

via Lessons Learned From a Freshman-Composition MOOC – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Signs for the new semester

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Sep 092013

Welcome back to campus, FYWPers. Here are two useful reminders to get your semester going. First, why a writer should always evaluate their sources:

When officials asked for the Welsh translation of a road sign, they thought the reply was what they needed.

Unfortunately, the e-mail response to Swansea council said in Welsh: “I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated”.

So that was what went up under the English version which barred lorries from a road near a supermarket.

“When they’re proofing signs, they should really use someone who speaks Welsh,” said journalist Dylan Iorwerth.

BBC News – E-mail error ends up on road sign.

And second, why it’s crucial to know your audience:Bilingual Welsh sign stumps Scots

A sign on a Aberdeenshire building site left local people mystified because it was written in Welsh as well as English.

Building company David McLean, whose HQ is on Deeside, north Wales, put up the notice apologising for inconvenience during the work in the Bridge of Don.

But local MSP Brian Adam said that if bilingual, it should at least have been in the local dialect of Doric.

The firm apologised and said a new sign would be put up as soon as possible.

via BBC NEWS | UK | Wales | Bilingual Welsh sign stumps Scots.

In Defense Of Metaphors In Science Writing

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Jul 182013

Subtle writing, writing that leads the reader into a carefully nuanced emotional or intellectual state, is certainly the finer craft. A story evoking a visceral sense of the enormity and alien magnificence of something like a supermassive black hole, and its cosmic context – made with nothing more than finely chosen words and rhythm – would be wonderful. But I think it’s a very significant puzzle as to how to accomplish that without leaving readers confused and adrift.

Subjects like astrophysics, mathematics, microbiology, or quantum mechanics, or for that matter any scientific field, are built upon dryly quantitative facts. They are also, if taken to a sufficiently deep level, beyond our direct physical experience. This does not make for a clearly defined pathway of delicate prose, although I’m sure it’s there if one is lucky enough to find it – and so we’re left making some rather tough language choices.

~ Caleb A. Scharf @ Scientific American

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