Social Class Reproduction

Four Rules for Teaching Writing:
Image result for image: joy of writing
Always give writing assignments that

1. you will enjoy reading;
2. students will enjoy writing;
3. students will enjoy reading what others in the class have written
4. you will enjoy writing.

If any one of these conditions were not true, then it probably wasn't a very good assignment.

Advice I give to my students: When your words surprise you, you know you are writing.

Student Comments on Writing

Dr. Peckam,
I want to let you know what's going on so you know why I've been missing class. I am overwhelmed more this semester than I have yet in my college career. Today I am meeting with a counselor to discuss dropping my 3015 course to help alleviate some of this stress, which is why I'm missing today, and discuss how to balance my schooling. I have been trying to manage it all but sometimes I just don't know how to. This reflects in my autobiography. I have been trying to finish my autobiography and add the parts about college, but it's hard because I have been feeling so negative about college lately that my writing reflects that negativity. I hate that. Remember in class when we talked about how we were nervous how our autobiographies were portraying us? Right now mine would portray me as a miserable human. I'm not. I'm the farthest thing from that. But with all this stress I can't think of what to write about in college. The difficulty? The amount of pressure I receive constantly from my parents, my sorority, my friends? How angry I am that my teachers have made me question my passion for writing? It's just a lot to realize that is what I want to say when I used to be happy-go-lucky Gabrielle. When your colleagues try to tell you that writing an autobiography is too easy, it makes no sense to me. This autobiography is not easy. It has made me reflect upon where I've been, where I am now, and realize that I am not where I thought I would be. I know that one of the beauties of life is that it will always turn out how the way you didn't expect, but writing this has made me question if I've done anything in college worth writing about yet. This can be terrifying, especially since I'm already a junior.
There really isn't any other teacher or adult I have talked to about this, I just thought you would understand. I really do love your class dearly and WILL be there next week.
I will finish my autobiography with name changes by tonight and send it to you.
Thank you for all you do,

I had my students read a chapter on voice from a book my students wrote last semester.  It's called Writiing Ourselves into Each Other's Lives.  It's available on Amazon--warning: I need to work on the pictures a bit; they kind of jumped out of place when I put the book up on Amazon.

After reading that chapter, my students in Life Writing wrote their responses.  Here are their responses, if anyone is interested (and I think we should all be) in what students think about writing.

10.1.13 Vulnerability, Voice, Our Writing
by Irvin Peckham - Tuesday, October 1, 2013, 11:23 AM
This would be a good place to write out our thoughts about that chapter on voice--on your voices and the connections with voice, vulnerability, and writing (and I think I mean writing that really means something to the writer).  I just want your thoughts here (Gretchen already gave us an example on her blog).  Let's see what we come up with in about ten minutes of writing.  I'm going to be looking for something that you will want to post on your blog.

Re: 10.1.13 Vulnerability, Voice, Our Writing
by Gretchen Goodman - Wednesday, October 2, 2013, 5:23 PM
What really stood out to me about the chapter on voice, was how personal writing was compared to academic writing. I liked how the writers of this chapter included a piece of their classmates' personal writing with a piece of their academic writing so that the reader would really be able to see the differences in the two. They were expressing how in personal writing, the writers voice can be heard while in an academic essay it cannot.
I think that a way for our voices to be heard in our personal writing is to be vulnerable with it. If we do not truly express our thoughts and feelings, then our writing is missing something. The reader will not be able to get a true sense of who we are, and they will not be able to "hear" us. I think that is an important part for personal writing (for our voices to be heard), and in order to do that, we must dig deep, open up, and be vulnerable with writing.

Re: 10.1.13 Vulnerability, Voice, Our Writing
by Elissa Underwood - Thursday, October 3, 2013, 11:59 AM
The chapter on voice really hit home for me. I think this is because that is what makes writing and reading enjoyable in my opinion. I think that it is extremely difficult to find and accurately write in a personal voice. For that reason, I gawk at people that say that personal writing is hard. I guess if you don't care about what you are saying or how others are reading it, it would be easy. But, if you didn't care about the information being accurate in academic writing then that would be easy also. Voice is so important it writing. I believe that it will be something that I will constantly be trying to conquer for the rest of my life. 

Re: 10.1.13 Vulnerability, Voice, Our Writing
by Elizabeth Coldiron - Thursday, October 3, 2013, 12:05 PM
I am wondering if there is a way to somehow incorporate voice into strictly academic writing. All of the entries I read on voice were more personal, and I enjoyed reading all of them. I think there needs to be voice in every piece of writing my students will write. It may be very hard or even impossible to do this in strictly academic writing, but the challenge is what makes it interesting. Finding one's voice early on is important for the growth of the individual, but one's voice will more than likely change over the course of his or her life, and that would be interesting to read.

Re: 10.1.13 Vulnerability, Voice, Our Writing
by Sha'Myra Williams - Thursday, October 3, 2013, 12:12 PM
I like the section where the writers compare voice in the academic setting and the personal setting. Sometimes I wish I could just be myself in my academic writing. It's as if you have to earn a right of passage by going to graduate school and completing a program before you can be taken seriously. To me, it's like one cannot be taken seriously until he/she is capable of writing academically ( offense). I like to stay true myself when I write. Hence, the story that I wrote that found its a way into the voice chapter. I was shocked to see it there. One, because I didn't think the whole of it would be in there. Two, it was so...candid. But I like that about it. I don't regret it.

Re: 10.1.13 Vulnerability, Voice, Our Writing
by Laura Blouin - Thursday, October 3, 2013, 12:14 PM
I really enjoyed reading this chapter on voice. I liked how it said that voice "gives value to the individual and also authorize's the writer's knowledge." I think that really applies to writing, especially the personal writing that we're doing in this class. This is true because we can all learn so much from each other's writing especially when the writer has a strong voice that describes their experiences. I also thought it was interesting that it said that voices can come and go. I can relate to that because I feel like I lose my voice sometimes, and it takes awhile for me to get it back.

Re: 10.1.13 Vulnerability, Voice, Our Writing
by Gabrielle Swindle - Thursday, October 3, 2013, 1:11 PM
I am a huge believer of voice in writing. I know that voice is a controversial subject because It can be more informal, but I think voice is what makes a strong paper. When you open up in your writing, you are able to do more than write words on paper. Voice adds imagery, a persona to your paper. If you think about what language is, it's a way for us to express to each other our feelings, who we are. By using voice you can show people exactly that. I feel that when I become a teacher, I'll be that teacher that focuses more on the quality and style of a paper than the grammatical things.

Re: 10.1.13 Vulnerability, Voice, Our Writing
by Caila Cleary - Monday, October 7, 2013, 10:40 PM
Now that I've finally found where I am supposed to post this:
This chapter was beautifully written. I love the emphasis that they put on voice as the unique aspect of our writing, and how they made the distinction between writing that allows students to put themselves into their work and writing that does not allow this. Although personal writing is simply our voices, saying whatever it is that they feet they need to say, but I think it is also important to realize that voice can be incorporated into our academic writing as well. Though all of the examples of a more distant, cold writing were of an academic variety, but I truly believe that there is a way to incorporate that voice, to incorporate that sense of self into academic spheres. The only question that remains is how? And how does the use of voice in academic writing change the vulnerability of the writing? 

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