Mike Brown R/R 11-22-2011
I enjoyed reading The Way Literacy Lives more so that some of the other books that we have read for the class simply because I can better relate to what Carter is talking about in the book. It is one thing to read about basic writers, literacy, and other writing topics going on in other parts of the country; however, it is easier to understand and put into context when I am reading something that I actually have some firsthand knowledge about. In chapters 4 and 5, Carter explains her justification for a pedagogy of rhetorical dexterity in detail by discussing a combination of new literacy theory and case study analysis to show how the pedagogization of literacy splits between in-school and out-of-school literacies early on in school. She discusses how "traditional literacy education" failed her brother because it could not provide him with the ability to draw what she terms “points of contact” between the literacies he did possess (in this case, in video games) with those he did not (standardized reading tests) (80). In chapter 6, Carter discusses her take on a curriculum has students examining “the process by which newcomers become part of a community of practice”, which will enable them to develop greater rhetorical dexterity (126). Carter describes the curriculum as a sequence of six writing assignments. The first assignment is a literacy biography assignment, the next three assignments are three essays that look at the structure and rules of literacy. The last two assignments are two essays discussing school-based literacies. Again, I found this book to be refreshing in that there was a lot of information being presented that I could actually relate to and understand. Literacy is key for writers to be able to achieve.
Kohut post 11-22
The idea of rhetorical dexterity made more sense to me after reading the rest of this book. In my own words I would say that this pedagogy refers to writing by critically assessing where and why you are writing to make it a whole experience. Much simpler to define than to implement, from what Carter says and from what I have seen.
When I read the section on Carter’s brother it reminded me of something I have often thought about involving this television show called “Gangland” where they recount these very detailed histories of specific gangs. In its documentary style it talks about their internal hierarchy and very complex systems for business, etc., often created and maintained while some of these people are under constant surveillance in prison. I am sometimes fascinated by the very lucrative, albeit illegal, operations that these people, who admit they had little or no formal education in a school system, grow and run. Yet they know the specific language and terms (codes) necessary to do something that is so successful in the larger view of the world. In their bloody and violent example we do not focus on the organizational savvy and intellect it took to build such an empire-and with good reason-but if their background wasn’t even so illegal and dangerous-would what they can do be recognized or by a business school audience or economics audience? no, because it wasn’t learned in the formal classroom where the conditions and the learning style can be controlled by the teacher or professor to an extent.
Carter’s brother knowing how to write his name and then NOT knowing how to write his name is where I saw this tenuous connection to the “Gangland” show. But even as a write this I realize that the connection goes deeper than just noticing that someone learning something authentically outside of a classroom is not celebrated. Now I am wandering into the realm of WHY? Just as I touched on earlier, I think that some classrooms become a little world where the teacher has all the control, so that teacher makes you learn something the way he/she believes it should be learned, not taking into consideration that all of our brains do not have identical neural pathways and never will, no matter what he/she says or does to us (although they think it should be for us).
It is very frustrating to think that some people, like Eric, succeed in spite of an education versus because of an education.
Some sections in this second half of the book also kindof brought me down in that Carter focused on these theories and philosophies of different people but there was always a problem with them as to why it would not work. For example, when she talks about David Russell and his analogy using one set of ball-handling techniques to help in any number of specific activities using a ball I suddenly saw futility in teaching writing in a core class by itself, because wouldn’t teaching writing during every core class be what would really help kids view writing more authentically? Ugh. There goes my job. But really would our students be best served in having writing encompass every part of their academic lives versus specifically in one period of the day? Or would it help if we had all pre-service teachers take writing as a minor regardless of what else their major is going to be? I don’t know, but only when we keep trying to find and champion solutions will one finally rise up and make its presence known.
I feel like in the end this was Carter’s point also: we are not where we want to be by any means, and we are nowhere near being heard by proponents of standardized assessments and basic writing distainers, but we must keep on keepin’ on. Only if we keep trying to make the basic writer viewed and appreciated for all he has to offer before we “help” him, will his day as a truly recognized writer and expert in his own ways be appreciated.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! Kohut end.
Ode to Carter: Rhetorical Dexterity Apocalypse
Be my legitimate/ I’ll be your literacy-seeking peripheral participant./ Let me shadow and hear you spread your word/ Of this thing called rhetorical dexterity pedagogy,/ Has me like grasping on the outstretched wings of a high-altitude flyin’ bird,/
Gliding over an institution’s external grammar design/ That stratifies basic writers and magnifies the Great Divide./ Yet, you quell the learners with the idea of a literacy/ Not like in school but in the outside-of-school things we do/ In workplaces, the video games, basketball, football, And other community-of-practice intricacies.
Like your brother Eric’s computer know how,/ Sponsored by your parents’ access to legitimacy/ And to resources that rendered the education system/ Boring, staid, and futily parlaying the mantra/ of an autonomous model pedagogy.
And gliding over the literacies that (re)produce and I look down/ I find that I like my outsider baller status because from where I stand/ I can query to ask / “Who has the authority to make literacy judgments?”And/ “What the hell is going on?” And tell the schools and institutions,/ “Under oppression, I do not like to bask.”
But I think I like where we just landed/ Amongst all the ways literacies live,/ Even the way government extols oppressive literacy standards./ But I know, and I understand,/ As I ward off basic writer status and marginalizing demands with/ The aegis of rhetorical dexterity pedagogy in my hand.
Since this is a sanction by our institution’s sway/ And I understand the external grammar design that comes into play,/ I need to state that the poetic literacy that I have expressed/ Combined with the institution’s literacy for academic text/ Allows me to eschew Freire’s false consciousness as he derides/ A bummer mentality, but that is why/ I gird up the pen and write on with my poetic literate player status/ Riding by your rhetorical dexterity side.
end of ed's response
First, Ed, you are awesome!