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"Learning to Read": Notes Towards Day 9 (Thurs, Feb. 3)

Anne Dalke's picture

[note to selves: copy out two passages from Branch]

I. (2:25-2:40, Anne): coursekeeping

* names?

* talk about
prisoners took 4 staff members hostage @ Delaware's largest prison Wednesday morning,
prompting a lockdown of all Delaware prisons

reached out to volunteer services to find out if we might have trouble getting in tomorrow
(whether there might be lockdowns in Philly, too);
just heard back that all programs are being held as scheduled
from the philly inquirer: "education for prisoners was the inmates' priority"

* RCF folks--> need someone to be in charge of materials tomorrow
(box of copies of Kindred; paper, pens, nametags, markers--
leave in English Dept office?)

* all: your second posting due by midnight tonight, reflecting back on this week's reading/discussing

* Sunday night: your second posting about this week's praxis experience
our discussion about how to write reflectively and respectfully has just begun;
we'll pick it up next Wednesday, but one thing became clear to us:
the tension that Branch described teachers being in--
between being complicit and resisitant in school--
is also central to the process of writing about praxis:
there will always be a tension between our intent in relationship
and any kind of representation; want to keep attending to this

* for next Tuesday, please read first 1/2 of
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself
--that's the Preface through Chapter 7 [we'll read the second 1/2 for Thursday]

Morrell explained to us, in Tuesday's assignment, one reason we're reading this text:
the genre of the slave narrative is exemplary both as a vehicle for "self-care"
(helping enslaved ppl make sense of their experiences) and as a means of  "Wider
Communication," documenting and sharing those narratives with others

another reason we hadn't anticipated was that President Trump kicked off
Black History Month by saying, " Frederick Douglass is an example of
somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more"
[wierd temporality here--who knows what he was thinking?]

it's a thin book--this isn't much reading--and very accessible (no "Branch-like" sentences)
but--trigger warning: it is a slave narrative, and filled with abuse, torture, murder;
give yourself some time and space to take this in (or protect yourself from it).

has anyone read this before, or other slave narratives? how familiar w/ the genre?

you'll note here a convention used in all slave narratives: the story of the
person who was enslaved is "surrounded"/introduced by a white abolitionist,
who testifies to their good character and the authenticity of their story;
we can talk about this; for now, i invite you to think about the prefaces
to the text--one by Wm Lloyd Garrison (a very prominent social reformer,
who worked first for abolition, then for women's suffrage), and one by
Wendell Phillips (also an abolitionist, who worked for the rights of
Native Americans, too) as allies/accomplices: how do you read the
tone of their remarks?

II. (2:40-2:55) Picking up on Morrell, whom you first read for Tuesday,
but whom we've only gestured toward (twice!)--
take some time to review on your own then...
turn to a partner--> then open discussion?

what is he saying about literacy in school?
breaking down the bifurcation of personal and public writing
question about assessment?

III. (2:55-3:05, Jody): the very different
"break it down" perspective
of Goodman and Goodman, whose
"“Learning to Read: A Comprehensive Model"
we selected to help us break down what happens
"when we read" (remember first day: we didn't have
the details of first learning this)

G&G give us specific ways to understand what we do when we read,
some contra-indicated by how reading is actually taught

we're going to read and talk about this in
a very different way than we handled Morrell
do you recognize yourself, or somebody you've seen reading, in this text?
what things resonated here in how you read/what you do when you read?
turn to someone else you haven't worked w/ much before to answer these questions

(3:05-3:15) get in pairs and do a "think-aloud,"
to one another how you "break down" a single passage in Branch
when you are listening, take notes about what you are noticing
try not to be self-conscious; will get in the way
exercise is about what you are doing in the way to understanding

In all these cases, anxiety about or valorization of literacy practices entails a particular conception of the social order, a conception that becomes inscribed in the the curricula and its instructional practices.Thus, Hill's lament about the literacy impairment of incoming freshmen, while superfically focused on errors, also plays directly into, among other htings, a debate about the proper goals of langauge education in secondary schools and university, being specifically an attack on classical curriculum that doesn't prepare students for facility in their native langauge. At stake in Hill's discussion are the very principles of higher education, which become threatened by the need to teach what should have been taught elsewhere. There is always something at stake in educational discussions of literacy practices, thus, there will always be a conflict within them. To state otherwise, to claim literacy as a neutral set of skills that can be taught in value-free ways, is more than simply naive, it is itself a strong and even dominant ideological argument within current debates about literacy (p. 37).

Read the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) and you'll likely be struck by the constant repetition of the phrases "scientifically based research" and "scientifically based reading instruction."  These phrases point to the field of production, and research engaged in there becomes legitimized to the degree that it meets the demands of "science" as defined in NCLB.  The legitimization of pedagogical methods and teaching directives through science proclaims them as neutral and objective, but it also serves to control what is acceptable and unacceptable within the fields of recontextualization and reproduction.  If it passes muster as science, it is acceptable.  I interpret this as a fairly transparent attempt to assert official control over how reading gets taught in individual clssrooms (pp. 49-50).

(3:15-3:45, Anne): Bringing it back to the full group:
what are we learning about how we read?