D = Deliberative Practice

“Deliberative practice is characterized by a high degree of focused effort to develop specific skills and concepts beyond one’s current abilities” (Schwartz, Tsang, and Blair 39).

Students (and perhaps faculty too) often mistake practice for deliberative practice.

Our memories have limited capacity, so we can’t learn too much at one time. Therefore we need to chunk information–for ourselves and for our students.

“Over time, engaging in deliberative practice changes people’s knowledge organization, making it more specialized for the tasks they regularly face” (43).

That is an interesting aspect of the idea of deliberative practice and may help students understand why they have to have another writing class when they have been writing for the last 12 years in school.

Deliberative practice, however, doesn’t take place during the meaningful activity itself. This means if we want students to practice changing their sentences for style (a fairly basic point), they should be practicing BEFORE they write their next essay. How do we add that to the curriculum?

Obviously exercises, where we provide the sentences and they change them, would work. But then they aren’t their writings.

Maybe start there. Then have students find a paragraph they have already written and have them change it. Then perhaps incorporate the exercise into a standard class exercise, like the four-minute writing at the beginning of each class session.

The ABCs of How We Learn: 26 Scientifically Proven Approaches, How They Work, and When to Use Them by Daniel L. Schwartz, Jessica M. Tsang, and Kristen P. Blair.

Benjamin Franklin and Visual Rhetoric

Some fascinating tidbits from Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln by James C. Humes:

When he [Franklin] arrived in Versailles to become the American minister to France, he wanted to stand out among the bewigged members of King Louis XVI’s court, who were garbed in the silk and velvet fashions of the day. Franklin’s daughter Sally said, “Poppa, you must buy new clothes if you’re going to Versailles.”

Franklin answered, “I want to look more like a pioneer than a prince.”

So instead of silk, Franklin wore just plain American broadcloth and no wig. … At a time when the “natural man” of Rousseau was the philosophical rage, Franklin played the role of the New World “natural man” and inspired a coterie of groupies.

In 1783, at the time the peace treated that ended the American War for Independence was signed, Benjamin Franklin sported his slightly tattered brown Manchester greatcoat that buttoned from the neck to the knees. Fellow peace commissioner John Adams berated him for wearing such attire on this glorious day for Americans. Franklin replied:
Adams, I wore this coat on that day of the “Cockpit Trial,” prosecuted by that British Attorney General Wedderburn about ten years ago, and I want to give my old brown coat a little revenge.(Humes 15)

Methods of Work

I was reading Peter Drucker’s Managing Oneself, wherein he gives three things you need to know: your strengths, your method of work and your values.

The methods of work were interesting.

Are you a reader or a listener?

Some people respond well to extemporaneous situations, while others need time to prepare. The prepare-people are readers.

As a teacher, I am often asked to be a listener. I joined Toastmasters to help me become better at answering unexpected questions.

How do you learn?

His options were
writing,
doing,
self-talk.

I think I learn best when I prepare to teach others, but I know that I write to learn (among other options). I am not sure that I totally agree with his options here.

Do you work better alone per with others?

If you work better with others, do you work better as a subordinate or a leader? Or as an equal member of the team? Or as a coach or mentor?

Are you a decision maker or an advisor?

In companies, decision makers are often CEOs and the #2 position is an advisor. That person often won’t make a good CEO, because they aren’t strong in decision making.

Do you work well under stress or do you need a predictable, stable environment?

Good test takers work well under stress.

Do you do better in a big or a small organization?

This one is causing me to reflect quite a bit. I am not completely sure of my answer to that yet.

I plan on using some of this with my business writing students.

CCTE 2016: Carmen Tafoya

Carmen Tafoya spoke on the exclusion of students from learning from her own experience.

Teacher couldn’t say her name. Finally, “Carmen Tortilla”

didn’t fit what standard textbooks
didn’t include us
We were invisible.
Cops were scared to go into. City Council said we didn’t need a library, because we didn’t even read English.
We were searched everyday—and at lunch—for knives.

Loved literature. Loved books. Loved reading. Loved anything that had to do with story.
Where was I going to get books to read?
Finally got a library on our side of town. (Buena Vista Street)
My mom said she’d take me once a week. 2 mile walk both ways.
Got my five books. Read them all. Couldn’t go back till the next Tuesday.
Learned (by reading the boring pages) that all books come from New York.

Wanted to be a writer. If books are from NY, I need to write about NY.
So I wrote about New York… I had no clue what it looked like or what you could do there. I was stuck.

I had nothing to write about, because our stories weren’t published.

When students say “have to read for class,” they haven’t read the right book yet.

We were hungry for our culture, for a reflection that looked like us.
Mirror of society—don’t see themselves on television or in books.
We grew up so hungry for something that had to do with us.

I made good use of the library. Looked for Mexican-American. Nothing. Looked for stuff on Mexico. Haciendas… Read about Spain. Then France, because next door to Spain. Took French, because it was related.
I kept reading and reading and searching and searching until I found it.

The traditional canon was not made for us.
… made for a very small percentage of the world’s people.
… lied. It told us that we were all separate.

Poem that people can see themselves joining in it.
“This River Here”
full of me and mine, you and yours
right here, or maybe a little farther down
my great-grandmother washed the dirt
my grampa washed the sins out of his congregation’s souls
“I see Indians! I see Indians!” he threw pebbles at her. One day she got mad and threw them back. … After they got married…
right here we pour out picnics
weeping lady haunting the river—“I need my children.” ??
stories haunt us… scrapes in different places… married you and I …
It was right here and right here we stand. …or maybe a little farther down.

All from one skin
All from one little country
95% male
women props to be added when needed

Women have been keeping us alive.
Even the act of feeding someone becomes a statement of culture and civilization.

What is the canon?

Canon = teaching people how to stay alive
Survival instructions
How to deal with depression and loss
How to saunter sassy

Traditional canon beautiful.

Tell the stories of men in difficult situations.
Rich. Brilliant.
Excluded works.
World literature in our canon.

Her writings include
“Feeding You”
“Tortilleria”

I purchased one of her books and enjoy it immensely.

What College Students are Reading

Quartz has an article about the Open Syllabus Project that uses online syllabi to examine what we are assigning in university.

Plato, Hobbes, Machiavelli, and Aristotle overwhelmingly dominate lists in the US, particularly at the top schools.

In the US, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein is the most taught work of fiction, with Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales a close second. In history titles, George Brown Tindall and David Emory Shi’s textbook, America: A Narrative History, is No. 1, with Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi, a memoir about life as an African-American woman in Jim Crow America, at No. 2. The Communist Manifesto is the third most taught in history, and is the top title in sociology.

News on Writing and Reading

“Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Love to Write”

No matter the quality of your prose, the act of writing itself leads to strong physical and mental health benefits, like long-term improvements in mood, stress levels and depressive symptoms. In a 2005 study on the emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing, researchers found that just 15 to 20 minutes of writing three to five times over the course of the four-month study was enough to make a difference.

By writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events, participants were significantly more likely to have fewer illnesses and be less affected by trauma. Participants ultimately spent less time in the hospital, enjoyed lower blood pressure and had better liver functionality than their counterparts.

It turns out writing can make physical wounds heal faster as well. In 2013, New Zealand researchers monitored the recovery of wounds from medically necessary biopsies on 49 healthy adults. The adults wrote about their thoughts and feelings for just 20 minutes, three days in a row, two weeks before the biopsy. Eleven days later, 76% of the group that wrote had fully healed. Fifty-eight percent of the control group had not recovered. The study concluded that writing about distressing events helped participants make sense of the events and reduce distress.

I’m not sure I am totally surprised, but I do wonder what kind of shape I would be in if I didn’t write.

Great News for Those Who Read Actual Books
The following is a fairly serious issue, especially for someone–like me–who created iBooks for my literature course.

While e-readers try to recreate the sensation of turning pages and pagination, the screen is limited to one ephemeral virtual page. Surveys about the use of e-readers suggest that this affects a reader’s serendipity and sense of control. The inability to flip back to previous pages or control the text physically, either through making written notes or bending pages, limits one’s sensory experience and thus reduces long-term memory of the text.

This is also interesting:

Slow-reading advocates recommend at least 30 to 45 minutes of daily reading away from the distractions of modern technology. By doing so, the brain can reengage with linear reading. The benefits of making slow reading a regular habit are numerous, reducing stress and improving your ability to concentrate.

Regular reading also increases empathy, especially when reading a print book. One study discovered that individuals who read an upsetting short story on an iPad were less empathetic and experienced less transportation and immersion than those who read on paper.