Errors in Judgment
Descent Into Violence
Read all about it.
What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts, which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilisation: we might even say, to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. These values are identified as requiring the reproduction of norms of conduct that students are themselves failing to reproduce. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located.
The entire article is well worth reading. Related: I want to think about sexual assault policies again.
In somewhat related news I have become fascinated by the series Call the Midwife which is, for one thing, feminist and for another, a fascinating document on the advent of the National Health and the transformation it brought. Electricity, running water, a bathroom in each apartment, and birth control as well as safe abortion are such new things, and they have so changed the contours of life for those with access to them.
When I lived in Europe in the seventies — not the thirties, the seventies — there were still many apartment buildings with toilets on the landings (only) and showers in the courtyards (only). But it was the social democracy that had changed the lives of the majority. “There were so many ugly girls,” I was told of life before the war; after the war better nutrition had made many beautiful. (I saw echoes of that, of course, later on in the third and fourth worlds, realizing that in fairy stories the princesses are always beautiful not for some symbolic reason but because they have had literally had the chance to grow straight bones.)
I will cure myself with research today. It really does change your perspective and return your dignity.
Here. My feminist education is lacking. I am very often called unnaturally or unfairly rational, and also bossy. In fact I am neither, only competent. If my feminist education were better I would have realized before now that these were discriminatory terms based on gender stereotypes.
I went to Puerto Rico expecting to relax and concentrate, but mostly listened to people and was fragmented by newness. Now I have to go to Louisville, and then here, and then to Alexandria (LA), and here, and Angola (LA), and here, and I want to go to New Orleans. Then I go to Denver, and then I come here; I turn around and immediately go to Europe.
In all of these endeavors, and starting now, I will only do one thing at a time and I will be in the center of it. Even when I am working for someone else and on something else, as in Louisville, or on something of my own that is secondary, as in Alexandria, Angola, and Denver. I will be sure to go to New Orleans because it will be for me.
I no longer have anything to escape from if I am now acting on my own behalf. I want to meditate.
All of these voyages are for work, and at home I must work, and when I get to Europe I will do work but I will also be on vacation, in a meditative rhythm, in Mediterranean tranquillity, yes; and I am hardly spending a thing so if I do not rush anything it will still be enough.
Close reading shapes how I teach in decisive ways. In order to help students find topics about which to write, I let them read texts closely. Not only do I teach the critical thinking skills discussed above, all of which rely on close reading, but students practise these skills regularly. Before most class meetings, students read at least one new text. I guide their reading in the form of worksheets uploaded to the IVLE workbin two to three days before class. Each sheet provides a clear outline of the aims and objectives for the class concerned, and situates the class in terms of the module while providing context to the readings for the day. The sheet further poses questions concerning the reading and requires students to pose their own questions on it. Thus students are constantly required to engage closely with the texts they read and justify their reading of the texts. This forms the basis of all class meetings, which in turn are linked to their paper assignments. Close reading of sources (whether texts or real-world phenomena being studied) is thus fundamental to my teaching. It serves not only to equip students with the ability to observe closely and ask critical questions, but to produce well-crafted and persuasively argued essays. Far from fetishising close reading, this is merely an acknowledgement of its centrality in the process of independent inquiry.
Here is the entire article. I am not always up on everything and it has come to my attention that close reading went out of fashion as “elitist” and is now coming back in. This is how I should teach the introduction to literature, but I might also want to have creative projects. Perhaps ONE creative project. I used to not believe in these, for various reasons I am sure you can guess at (ask if you are not sure), but I am starting to wonder whether they might not be a good idea.
“Always in history it is the pioneers who suffer for ultimate victory.”