Article List | Musings

RSS feed for this section

Learning the Game: Individuality and Advancement in the Composition Classroom

Tyler Sheldon
Baton Rouge, LA, USA
tyrsheldon@gmail.com 

Practices in English Composition are undergoing a gradual and seemingly inexorable shift. Comp, seen by some enterprising students as a forum for exploring creative thought and for bettering oneself as a writer and as a student, has in recent years become plagued by students full of doubt rather than hope. To put it more plainly, some students seem to have acclimated to an educational system that provides reward (in the form of grades) regardless of commensurate effort. In some ways this seems a validating practice—likely many of us, as teachers, enjoy lauding our students for their sheer potential to achieve.  However, in my own composition classroom, I hold firmly to two tenets. I do not regularly give extra credit (lest it lose its value as reward for academic effort), and I do not provide answers to any student questions without first witnessing effort on the part of the student to arrive at an answer themselves. Both principles stem from my unwillingness to “spoon-feed” solutions to my students. If they are to better themselves as students and as writers, they must learn how to conduct independent research, and to venture on their own into the dark forest of databases and decks of the university library. They must learn that curricular and extracurricular life alike can be enjoyed without the lure of extra credit, and that “extra credit” as a concept is like dessert at the end of a meal: it is earned once all regular credit is complete. Furthermore, by allowing students to reflect on a question rather than blurting the answer to them right away, I am fostering the independent thought that students deny themselves when they expect their teachers to open their mouths immediately like pedagogical Pez dispensers. Continue Reading →

Are Nuclear Families the Only People That Count?

Craig Wynne
University of the District of Columbia
Washington, D.C., USA
craig.wynne@udc.edu

According to a 2016 United States Census report, 45.2 percent of Americans age 18 and older were unmarried. Projections from the Pew Research Center also indicate that by 2030, 28% of men will have not married before the age of fifty-four. Similar projections also show 23% of women also will have not wed by that same age. These statistics are important because they show that marriage does not hold the same level of importance in people’s minds as it once did, as many people are marrying later, or in some cases, finding happiness in a life outside of marriage. Yet single people are still marginalized in various cultures. Continue Reading →

When the Crisis Hits Home: Helping Students Cope with Illness and Death

Bridget Goodman
Nazarbayev University
Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan
bridget.goodman@nu.edu.kz

In the previous three columns, I highlighted ways in which social media is providing resources, platforms, and inspiration to continue to educate our students and/or our children during this pandemic.  The presentation of these offerings has been driven by my view, influenced in part by early positive reports out of China, that continuing to teach online can provide structure and a sense of “normalcy” to students and teachers who are forced to remain at home. Continue Reading →

The Coronavirus Crisis Highlights our Vulnerabilities

Bridget Goodman
Nazarbayev University
Astana, Kazakhstan
bridget.goodman@nu.edu.kz

Image 1: A flyer from the New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education thanks participants and shares links to resourcesdeveloped for parents and educators as they transition to online teaching.  https://twitter.com/NJCIE/status/1243652229388697600?s=20

In my previous column, I twice referred to “vulnerable” populations—the medically vulnerable, and small businesses, each of which in their own way may be at risk for succumbing to this pernicious virus. The reality is that these are just two examples of needs that are made more visible by this epidemic. Continue Reading →

Coronavirus, Social Media, and Pedagogical Possibilities

Bridget Goodman
Nazarbayev University
Astana, Kazakhstan
bridget.goodman@nu.edu.kz

There is a saying “may you live in interesting times”, which is intended as a curse. This curse has seemingly come to pass as all around the world many educators like myself sit at home, 6 feet apart from another, trying to plan or adapt lessons for online consumption while outside the classroom where we once taught, a pandemic spreads and a war rages against it. As I scroll through Twitter and Facebook and read links to online news articles through both platforms, I, as an applied linguist, find myself analyzing all the different ways people are talking about this disease. Continue Reading →

Teaching High School Students to Recognize Problematic Narratives

B Mann
Léman Manhattan Preparatory School
Manhattan, NYC, United States
b.mann@lemanmanhattan.org

Meg Greenberg Sandeman
Léman Manhattan Preparatory School
Manhattan, NYC, United States
m.greenberg@lemanmanhattan.org

During the 2018-2019 academic year, racist incidents at three New York City private schools garnered mainstream media attention. The New York Times published a series of articles including “Blackface Video Has Elite New York Private School in an Uproar” (Jan. 20, 2019) and “Video with ‘Racist and Homophobic’ Language Surfaces at Elite Private School” (Feb. 25, 2019). The following month, “Racial Controversy Engulfs a Third Elite NYC Private School” appeared in the New York Daily News (March 3, 2019). The authors of each of the three headlines seem to suggest that racist and homophobic incidents are a surprising phenomenon in an urban independent school setting. Herein lies the problem.   Continue Reading →

A Pedagogy of Embodiment: The Life and Work of Queer Playwright Maria Irene Fornés

Tabitha Parry Collins
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, NM
tepc@nmsu.edu

Memran, M. (Producer), & Memran, M. (Director). (2018). The rest I make up [Motion Picture]. United States: Women Make Movies.

Abstract

The Rest I Make Up is a documentary about the life and work of Maria Irene Fornés, known to her friends as Irene, who changed the world of playwriting and directing as well as the ways that playwriting instructors teach the craft. This film follows Fornés on a physical journey from New York to Cuba, Miami, and Seattle while simultaneously documenting her memory loss after the onset of Alzheimer’s. Michelle Memran, filmmaker and friend to Fornés, offers viewers an intimate look into the life of a queer, brown playwright whose works continue to be overshadowed by more mainstream voices. 

Key Words: Maria Irene Fornés, Michelle Memran, embodied pedagogy, playwriting Continue Reading →

Making Your Teaching a Little Sweeter: Pedagogical Implications of Nailed It!

Richard L. Mehrenberg, PhD
Millersville University
Millersville, Pennsylvania, USA
rmehrenberg@gmail.com

Inspiration sometimes comes from the unlikeliest of places. Educators often look to traditional resources such as in-services, graduate classes, and professional journals to improve their pedagogy. However, sometimes great teaching ideas can be found embedded in popular culture. One such example of a T.V. show that has three strong take-aways for teachers is the Netflix Original Series, Nailed It! Continue Reading →

YouTube and Linguistic Variation Analysis

Bridget Goodman
Nazarbayev University
Astana, Kazakhstan
bridget.goodman@nu.edu.kz

The Study of Language Variation

In the field of sociolinguistics and language education, one of the key subfields is the investigation of language variation and style shifting (e.g. Jaspers, 2010). Variationists take the point of view that groups of speakers may exhibit unique phonological, lexical, or grammatical features. These patterns of mixing languages are shown to be systemic and rule-based. Continue Reading →