Sunday, February 28, 2016

The blog post in which I realize how married I am to MLA-- Blog #2

Predictor Variables: The Future of Composition Research

 This So far, this has been the first article that I have read that has truly gripped me from the first page, and perhaps because of how eloquently Johanek explains the difference between APA and MLA, calling MLA a "'living' object of study" (190). I never thought of it this way! The literature lover in me came alive upon reading:
"The novel, the poem, the short story-- works of literature-- can always be interpreted, reinterpreted, criticized, but the work itself will not change. Once it is published, it's published. It's 'there.' Forever. Thus, present tense treats the text adequately-- the work 'is.'" (191)

This introduction also made me curious as to how Johanek was about to juxtapose composition next to literature, and she proceeds to do so in the next paragraph. Her proposal that composition focuses on process rather than product struck me as a pretty valid argument for separating composition from literature. As someone who always argues the importance of composition across all disciplines, this struck me as being a good point. I'm not yet sure that I agree with this assertion, but it brings up an interesting argument.

Moving forward, I found that I don't quite agree with her arguments for APA over MLA. Her discussion that the MLA present tense locks the authors into what they said in the past as being forever true does not seem to be a valid point. For example, if I were writing a paper on Hamlet, and I found an article from 1999 from a certain critic proposing one argument, and another article from the same critic written in 2010 refuting his former claim, both points would be worth noting in my paper for the sake of discussion. If I were to only use his old argument, my paper would not be up-to-date and reliable. If I were to use only his new argument, my paper would probably be fine, but both arguments would make for a more interesting discussion. If I were to write the paper and somehow manage to find the old argument and not the new argument, then I have not done enough research.
What I am saying, in short, is that research should always be up to the present. We work with what we have.

Further into the article, Johanek loses me. Like, 100%. I could be reading this wrong, but her arguments begin to sound petty to me. For example, "We all have stories, of course, but not everyone is allowed to tell one at a convention in front of everybody" or "Storytellers emerge when our field has granted them the privilege to do so" or "if I earn a 'name,' can I, too tell stories?" (195)  Her tone just rubs me the wrong way. I make a note of this in one of my annotations, but in terms of storytellings vs. the traditional research method, I think that the people who become known for storytelling are the ones who fought hard enough to make it work against the tide of the traditional. That being said, maybe I am not well immersed in the research world, but it seems to me that it is natural that you do what you have to do and you study whom you must in order to one say break away and be your own kind of researcher. One day, students will complain about having to cite you in their research papers.

I also, honestly, completely lost track of what the article originally seemed to be about. I was totally following the whole "APA for composition" idea, when suddenly I got lost in the sea of "why can't I tell my story?" Where did that idea get off to? When she went off to talk about Boyer (and I did like his four points of scholarship!), I had to continually reread and refocus, because I felt completely lost. The end of this article seemed to veer off into the world of statistics that we discussed last week, and I am grateful we had that discussion because it gave me some insight into the area the article dipped into. I think she made good points in the latter part of the article regarding research and statistics, and the inclusion of the students in the teachers work, but there was a lot of weird stuff going on in the middle.

I enjoyed reading this article because, as much as I disagree and will probably rant about it in class tomorrow, it was something I can relate to. I am certainly looking forward to hearing everyone else's opinions on the latter part of the article, because I began to struggle to apply it to what came before.

Writing in High School/Writing in College: Research Trends and Future Decisions

I found this report to be well compiled and a compelling look at the education systems of both high school and college. I was immediately drawn in by the the statistics that brought the important differences between high school and college teaching practices to light. I enjoyed reading through Tables 2 and 3, which presented the teaching practice data of high school vs. college faculty, and I found that the article led me to reflect upon my own academic history. 

When I was in high school, we had every class every day. We had time to work in partners or groups, the teacher was more readily available to meet with us and give us feedback, let us submit drafts, and gave us time to  freewrite and evaluate before the paper was due. In college, the opposite was true. Whenever a paper was due, even in my English classes, if I needed a professor's opinion I needed to schedule an appointment for office hours. If classmates wanted to peer review their work, they needed to meet on their own time. The writing center was rarely utilized but for the freshmen who were required to go there, and we next to never considered it as a resource. It was my opinion that this is just the way college is considered to be. Classes have less time together, two or three class periods a week depending on the day, and a lot of information to cover. I'd be surprised to hear that it was different anywhere else. 

However, I'm beginning to think that less class time might just be an excuse. So far, even though these graduate classes only meet once a week, we stay in contact through the website, our blogs, Twitter, email, and Hypothesis. Could it be, perhaps, that not enough college professors engage on all platforms? Perhaps the classes do not meet every day, but this might be averted through utilization of resources we now have on hand. Free writing, drafts, peer reviews, and the professor's comments might not be easily done during class time, but perhaps these statistics would be different if more people were open to the world of resources we have.

Further into the article, the line "Many faculty resist workplace genres on philosophical grounds, often arguing that their role is to help prepare citizens of the world, not train workers" (164). Look...I get it. I left college wanting to forever live in the world of scholarship and research papers, always having deep philosophical conversations. However, that is not what life is always like. And, for the majority of students, I would argue that practical application trumps the research paper. How many students get through college by learning the fine art of bullshitting a research paper, and cannot type a simple email? I know far too many. 

I like that the article included the college survey in its appendix. I plan on saving that survey for use in my own classroom one day, because I think it would a useful resource to start the semester. It's best to know what you are in for!

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