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Notes Towards Day 2 (Thurs, Sept. 1): "Moving" Educational Autobiographies

Anne Dalke's picture

Notes Towards Day Two

I. Coursekeeping
1. welcome back! (
did everyone come back??)
first things first: (continuing to) get to know one another,
and learning to look @ the world from others' points of view:
introduce someone else, with one of her "classifications,"
then take her place @ the table
(& try to look @ the world from her point of view??)

2. checking in re: the mechanics:

let's see how we've done @ finding our way to the course forum:
creating an account, logging in, making a posting
(w/ some tips on making your links active, using other icons on the toolbar)

talk about the experience of negotiating the site, speaking to the world?

3. two sign-up sheets:
one to write down your name and user-name (for my use only);
one to schedule writing conferences w/ me, to begin next week:
on board first, for public revising & negotiating

4. next week's writing-and-reading assignments:
by 5 p.m. Friday night (Sept. 2): writing assignment #1, 3 pp. telling the (most important or interesting part!) of the story of your education. Type it in 12-pt, in one of the plain fonts like Times New Roman, double-spaced, w/ your name, date, paper # in upper right-hand corner, AND E-MAIL IT AS A Microsoft Word ATTACHMENT (doc or docx) to

by 8 p.m. Sunday night (Sept. 4): i
n our on-line course forum, post a paragraph reflecting on the educational autobiography you've just written. What insights and/or questions did writing it raise for you?

The paper will come just to me; your reflections on the paper will be available for everyone to read.

But write the paper as if for your classmates—>
imagine you are telling us a story:
what needs explaining?
What point of view works best, for doing that explaining?
(Following our brief discussion of Kincaid's "Girl":
what strategy will you choose for telling your story,
and what values will that strategy suggest?)

In the weeks to come, you’ll get to re-write this story,
to dig beneath it, perform an archeology of it,
add to its architecture, figure out where it is located.
But for now: just tell the story of your education,
and make it as good a story as you can.

Today we're going to discuss several educational autobiographies,
which might give you some ideas about how to frame your own;
then, for our next class, Tues, Sept. 6,
please read several selections from a book
about schooling for working class women,
based on and generalized from individual stories:

Wendy Luttrell's Preface, “Becoming Somebody,” "Stories from the Field,” “Schoolsmart and Motherwise.” Schoolsmart and Motherwise: Working-Class Women’s Identity and Schooling. New York: Routledge, 1997. xiii-xv, 1-35, 118-121 (in our password-protected file: /~adalke/esemf11/ ).

Luttrell is a sociologist who conducted a study
of two groups of women in adult basic-ed classes,
one in Fishtown (working-class Philly neighborhood) ,
the other a workplace literacy program Duke U offers its employees

the autobiographical pieces we're looking @ today
model the autobiographical writing you'll be doing;
this sociological study that theorizes
about storytelling models the next step in the process:
how to be reflective/theoretical, about what you've written
(that's what we're asking you to do in Sunday's post,
and of course that's what Richard Rodriguez is doing,
when he "reads" his own autobiography w/ the help of Hoggart)

Questions, about homework, or
anything else we talked about on Tuesday....?

II. Second thoughts
on our discussion of classification??
here are some from Foucault--
look @ the first paragraph from his text: can we draw a
site map of these categories, as we did of our own classes?

III. So, Kincaid's "Girl":
--what did we say about this on Tuesday?
--what else did you notice?
a Marxian reading of the tale: no plot! no cause-and-effect!
instead: moral precepts--> social role --> market value/reproduction of labor/no deviation
(= self perpetuation of ideology that keeps working class in place?)

IV. and now, three MORE educational autobiographies:
Rodriguez, Cisneros, Minatoya...
break out into 3 groups, each to focus on one of these texts:
what does it have to say to Kincaid? to Foucault?
in what ways does it speak to the questions of "classification,"
"class" and "education" that we put on the table on Tuesday?

coming back together:
what is the relation between the cultures of school and home, for each of these texts?
what is the relation of education and class?
what happens when we "rub up" these three texts next one another?
what might these authors say to one another?

V. last 15 minutes: reflective writing-->
what has come up for you, in this discussion,
in relation to your own education?
write for 5 minutes...
then choose one line to read aloud….

(this might be a line in the educational autobiography you'll be writing
this afternoon, evening, Friday...think also:
what will be the "center" of your story?
what strategies will you choose for telling it,
what values will that strategy suggest?
how will you organize it? what "arc" will it trace?
what sort of "site map" about class might your tale
begin to draw for us, implicitly or explicitly?