Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Wednesday: Vital Issues

1.  Never ever ever end an email with the closing, "Educationally yours."
2.  Lakoff's radial prototypes ~ Berthoff's ladder of abstraction?
3.  On the walk home from class Monday night, five or so houses ahead, a skunk crossed the street, crossed the sidewalk and went under a front porch.
4.  Two slices of pizza for lunch today.  My health?  Notaworry.  One slice was supreme--topped with bits of veggie. Plus I biked to campus today. Plus I gulped lunch with a Diet Pepsi so the calorimeter would even out. 
5.  Past-a-Past-a-due-date-form. Nobody at SU has checked out Weaving a Virtual Web: Practical Approaches to New Information Technologies?
6. Campaign this-n-that: Hawaii matters. (From random bloglines links I haven't read on a word level)
7. To avoid the skunk (a chance meet-up on my side of the road), I crossed the street, slinked a wide curve to be sure not to startle it.
8. "I said peppermint tea." (Ever clarifying my tea order so to avoid the dreaded--and day-ruining--pissmint tea they put in a cup for me the other day.) I didn't drink it all, but I did take a second sip (for experimentation's sake) to make sense of the non-minty flavor of hot whatever-drink and honey they'd served.  Faintly like sweet chicken soup.
9. This morning, skunk odor in the neighborhood.  Next, where's my copy of Comp in Four Keys?
10.  Just a few minutes until I offer a talk on C. Selfe's Technology and Literacy in the Twenty-First Century:  The Importance of Paying Attention.  What to say?
Bookmark and Share Posted by at October 27, 2004 4:19 PM to Unspecified


What *did* you say?

Posted by: Susan at October 28, 2004 12:39 PM

Hi Susan.

I tried to frame Selfe's project with particular attention to her general audience, the tech-ambivalent comp cadre who've "got no time for it." In many ways, it's an on-ramp, baby-steps-with-electronic-aparatuses book, and in other ways, it's urging comp-rhet folks to be more on the ball with technological uptake that is critical inasmuch as our adaptations are always mindful of access, always mindful of local conditions, and always mindful of larger forces propagating cultural infatuations with zippiest machines. Gist: To be good, effective literacy specialists and humanists, we must have technological wherewithal. Without being disingenuous to the book, because it is important, I think, and carefully aimed at folks who aren't convinced literacy specialists and compositionists should be on board with tech initiatives, I find the "paying attention" edict to be a bit light. And perhaps that's necessary to actually get people to pay attention, yet I'm un-convinved that "paying attention" is enough. Selfe eventually asks for something more; she shifts from calling for literacy educators to be attentive to critical to (near the very end) hard-nosed. I tend to think being attentive isn't enough, but that wasn't so much a part of my talk last night, and it might not be a fair answer to Selfe's project, which is, after all, a starting place for many. Here's the handout I used. Brought up a few quotations, terms we ought to work on rather than using them too indiscriminately, and questions for mulling over. All in all, it seemed like it went okay.

Selfe, Cynthia. Technology and Literacy in the Twenty-First Century. Carbondale, Ill.: So. Illinois, 1999.

"With these two goals in mind�paying attention and working toward productive change�and with great respect for the powerful social and intellectual force that teachers of literacy collectively represent, I begin and end this book" (xxiii).

"This national project bears directly on the work we do as literacy specialists. Technology has become part of our responsibility, whether we like it or not" (5).

"Although we are tolerant of those colleagues interested in the 'souls of machines,' to use Bruno Latour's term, we assign them to a peculiar kind of professional isolation 'in their own separate world' of computer workshops and computer classrooms and professional conferences that many of us feel are influenced more by the concerns 'engineers, technicians, and technocrats' than by those of humanists (vi)" (22).

"We are much more used to dealing with older technologies like print, a technology old enough that it doesn't call such immediate attention to the social or material conditions associated with its use" (22).

"Computers should not be required in every course, or teachers should decide when and where a range of technological and nontechnological literacies should be taught�and not taught�in a curriculum" (149).

"The frustrating cycle associated with [technological literacy initiatives] is so dismally clear and sickeningly familiar because it mirrors exactly the dynamics associated with more traditional literacy efforts in our country" (136).

technological literacy
paying attention
literacy myth (133)
Haraway's "coyote" way of knowing (147)
critical technological literacy (148)

Technological literacy�a step forward or a step back? How must we position ourselves relative to the boon-bane polemic? (25)

To what degree should computer proficiency be taught by compositionists? Should it be the composition teacher's responsibility to teach the rudimentary technological skills such as keyboarding, simple web browsing and searching and word-processing? (152)�

Beyond paying attention and accepting the premise that we are agents of change in the complex arena of technological literacy, what would Selfe have us do? Will you do it?

Posted by: Derek at October 28, 2004 1:55 PM

This material was the focus of Cindy's CCCC Chair's Address, so I know it from that form--and hearing several presentations she and Gail Hawisher have done over the years, including one of the earliest C & W conferences at Ogden, Utah, when Cindy was still at Colorado State.

I agree that "pay attention" is soft and I'm not sure very helpful. Her examples are more useful. My personal sense is that comp/rhet people entertain themselves with the "agents of change" notion, but , taken as a whole, we're a pretty conservative discipline.

While a number of us may construct anti-machine arguments in behalf of humanism, in my department, I think the biggest resistance to using electronic tools, especially web-based teaching, has to do with teacher's personal needs for physical presence in the classroom. They want the direct, eye-to-eye experience. I've rarely heard us talk about the personal audience needs of teachers, but I think it's a bigger deal than has been acknowledged.

I write this in the context of offering a second staff development class (the first on hybrids, today's on blogging). The first drew two part-time faculty. Today's drew four full-time faculty and the return of one of the part-timers. Two were in Reading, one in English, one in French and one in Phys Ed.

We have skunks around here too, but I see more raccoons, who live in the sewers and come out at night and lately attract mountain lions from the foothills. I think I'll start staying up late outside to watch the nocturnal fauna.

Posted by: John at October 28, 2004 8:37 PM

I missed Selfe's keynote in Chicago (right?). I'm with you that the examples are useful; I picked up on some of the national policy formation and, too, I thought the recognition of technology initiatives beyond the classroom stands was an important move. Personally, I've learned very little computing in formal schoolroom environs (labs, clusters or whatever). In fact, I've had just one computer course ever and it was almost unbearable. I prefer the tinkering method--puzzle around with it until it's right. And so it's hard for me to imagine institutionalized computing where we all sit in a room in front of computers and carry on about spreadsheets as productive, although there's definitely a need for cooperative ventures, training and so on. (Sorry, I'm all over the place on this, I know.)

The personal audience question is interesting. My perspective would probably be idiosyncrasic because I've enjoyed a few rewarding experiences teaching composition online. The comparisons break down, and too often--perhaps because we're less familiar with teaching through alter-spaces--wired environs and computer-mediation takes the brunt of semi-informed critique for all that it can't do.

Hope the development sessions went well. I'll watch jocalo for the updates on nocturnal fauna activity. Around here, the night life amounts to an occassional side(ways)walker taking a pause from tippling by resting against the chainlink fence across the street. Just leaning back, waiting. And then there's the skunk.

Posted by: Derek at October 28, 2004 9:43 PM

And then there�s the Skunk!

Did I tell you about the snake I almost stepped on this past summer? It was along the banks of the backwaters of Swan Creek. I was looking for a � corner that was partially controlling for a survey I was working on. As I was about to traverse a stony bank and enter a swampy, wetland, I suddenly became aware of two beady eyes watching my every move. My heart quickly leapt into my throat! There we were, eyeball to eyeball, the serpent with a head as big as the top of a baseball bat, lying coiled within 2 feet of my legs. I slowly backed off. When I felt that I was at a safe distance from this monster, I took a little time to see what this creature was all about. The serpent was just enjoying the summer sun, and from the appearance of the bloated body, had probably just consumed a large breakfast of river rats. Life is good, especially when one is lying in the sun with a full belly.

For some serious sKUnk TailS go to www.muellerlandsurveying. com & click on sURvEy TaiLS

Posted by: pops at October 31, 2004 8:36 PM

Happy Halloween, Dad. So if I built you a blog for Christmas.... I'll call rather than playing it all out here in the blogosphere.

Skunks. Probably shouldn't use a live trap, eh? I don't remember the one about being close to a snake this summer. With all that GPS gadgetry, you probably don't need to carry a machete anymore, eh?

Posted by: Derek at October 31, 2004 9:29 PM

Live traps work. Remember when I was catching the ground hogs out in KC. So they wouldn't bother me anymore, I would liberate them at the closest golf course.

Life is all about having more fun than any human person should be allowed to have and that includes liberating ground hogs.

However, the ground hogs always preferred the garden to the golf course. Nothing like laying around in the sun with a full belly.

Got a couple of calls today from some prospective clients because they have "assholes" for neighbors. Thank God for assholes, if it weren't for them I'd have a lot less work.

Looks like proctologists and surveyors have a lot in common.

How'd we get from there to here? Live traps to proctologists? Does that compute?

Posted by: pops at November 1, 2004 7:55 PM

I don't know. It computes, though, technically speaking. I mean it's published, online, and available for the webbed world to read.

Say, Ph. already had hoops tryouts today. Sixty-two kids came out; they keep fifteen. Fierce. Ph. said the coach wanted to talk to him afterward. Asked him where he learned to play defense like that. name probably didn't come up. I'll let you know what comes of it.

Posted by: Derek at November 1, 2004 8:05 PM