Takin’ my show on the road!

This January, I’ll be teaching Introduction to Rhetoric and Writing Studies in Italy.

I know, right!?!?

We are currently in Siracusa in Sicily, where we will be studying the Greeks and their contributions to rhetoric, and visiting the Museo and Parco Archaeologico to see the Greek presence on the island.

Then, we will travel to Rome, learn about Cicero, Quintilian, and the boys, and see as much as we can see in Rome. In class, we will then talk about writing, communication, language, literacy, technology, and rhetoric (always rhetoric!) and/or whatever we can talk about in the 15 remaining days.

My students will be writing and learning, learning and writing, all on this blog. Follow along! They’re going to be growing as thinkers and as people in the next three weeks, and I, for one, am excited to watch the process.

Knowledge v. Application

One question that really stuck out to me during our class on Monday was the idea of which is more important for teachers to teacher their students, knowledge or application.  Well, funny thing is, this was exactly what was talked about at my Professional Learning Community (PLC) at Appoquinimink High School, where I do my student teaching observation, so it was interesting to see what professionals in the education community thought about what we talked about in the classroom.

I was given a handout, from the leader of the PLC about the four levels of learning.  The goal of teaching is therefore to get students to the fourth stage of learning, which was under discussion because apparently very few teachers get students there.  The steps in order from lowest to highest are:

1. Recall

2. Represent

3. Analyze/Reason

4. Apply

To break that down even further, recall is simply students being able to remember and recall information.  Represent is that students can recall the information but also represent it in their own words or ways.  Analyze and Reason means that students can make new insights about the content that they are learning, and finally the final step is application.

Professionals do think that application is the most important things that they can teach their students, but this seminar also admitted that this is not typically done by the teachers.  With respect to knowledge, it definitely wasn’t underestimated.  It was said many times that knowledge is absolutely necessary for students to move on.  Application cannot be achieved if students do not have the knowledge to apply it.

It was very interesting to have teachers in the field own up to not doing their job perfectly.  We talked about ways that teachers in each field can try to get all the students in the classroom doing application level assignments at least once in each unit.  I just thought it was very interesting to get a professional insight into what we were talking about.

The Value of Feedback

For this week’s reading by Rose, I think I was most struck by his encouragement for students to seek out feedback in order to develop their papers and fight writer’s block. I have always been the kind of student that asks my professor to read my paper when it’s  halfway completed in order to figure out what I’m doing right and what I could improve upon. From our recent class discussions about writing and its rules and our predisposition to focus more on grades than the papers themselves, I was beginning to think that this might be something I should stop so that I could focus more on my own voice. Rose’s encouragement to do this pointed me in a new direction, though. I was happy to hear that this practice of seeking feedback is something that should be valued, since I find it exceptionally helpful when writing.

I’m currently taking a class on professional writing and we often talk about the value of feedback but that discussion is usually centered around professional documents like memos and pamphlets and instructions. Although I certainly realize the importance of seeking feedback for documents like this, I was starting to think that these discussions were not really applicable to the other aspects of my life. I love when I’m taking classes that overlap in some ways and was happy to realize that what I’m learning in professional writing is applicable to my other writing classes as well.

Further, I began to think of feedback in a more general sense; isn’t feedback almost always a valuable tool? I ask questions constantly throughout my day, whether its asking the barista at Starbucks which type of coffee is better or asking my mom what kind of mascara she likes the best. So, I wonder, why did I need two classes and an academic article to show me the value of feedback when its something I use everyday!? This class is really teaching me that I need to stop second guessing my habits and practices when it comes to writing and just trust my instincts; it seems that, though I don’t realize it, I have some kind of subconscious motivation for most of my writing practices. From our discussions I’m learning that I should really just embrace that and do what I feel is best for me!


-Kendall Manning