"Good learners, like everyone else, are living, squirming, questioning, perceiving, fearing, loving, and languaging nervous systems, but they are good learners precisely because they believe and do certain things that less effective learners do not believe and do." -Postman and Weingartner (31)
Wary of platform overload for my composition students this semester, my external class site is on hiatus, and I’m having them work solely in Blackboard. However, I want a space where I can link interesting things / associations from class discussions, so I’ll try to do that in weekly connections posts on my teaching blog that I can tweet and link to the Blackboard site.
Monday, as I read through students’ thoughts on why we write, why does writing matter, and how do we make our writing matter, I reflected on a poem I used to ask students to read at the onset of my composition classes, Langston Hughes’s “Theme for English B”. The poem demonstrates some of the principles that my students described in their writing: writing is emotional…writing helps us articulate things we are working through…sometimes writing is the only way (or the first way, at least) that we know someone…writing has an impact on whoever reads it (and we need to carefully consider this impact as we write). In class, in our follow up discussion, one of my students offered that writing that *matters* is writing that brings people together–I added that sometimes influential writing is divisive, too, but I liked what she said better. In this poem, we see the act of writing doing both things: acknowledging the sharp differences between the instructor and the student at the same time that the student is, through the writing, just starting to scratch the surface of showing the reader what he is. The act of writing, we see through the words of the speaker of the poem, requires that we articulate *something*, but we will have to think and work, write and rewrite, to get that right. What we put down on the page will never, actually, be the whole thing.
This second connection is a silly one, but scanning the title “Backpacks and Briefcases” yesterday, one of my students made a comment about how it sounded like an action movie. I joked that it sounded like an episode of “We Bare Bears”. Then, last night, I saw this: “Tote Life”.
I actually think there’s a fair bit to uncover in that episode, but I’ll pause here for now.