In New York Times article, “Taking Fares, and Writing in Between,” Rohter (2014) shows how Syrian poet-in-exile Osama Alomar does just that from the driver’s seat of his cab in Chicago. A pile of dictionaries ride along with him in the front seat, and a notebook at the ready. Writer Lydia Davis calls his work “very imaginative and vivid and exhilarating,” and I find his grit and dedication also an exhilarating reminder of what little moments can add up to.
In this article — which may be of specific interest to students in MCNY’s M.S. Ed. program — David Perrin, a high school English teacher in Illinois, imagines what Mark Twain, one of our country’s most important satirists, would have thought about the U.S.’s trend of standardized testing. Referencing a range of people from Louie C.K. to Glenn Beck to Helen Keller, the article also links to two of Twain’s original texts: a parody of a Brooklyn teacher’s misinformed students and an essay skewering public schools for rote teaching methods.
“I write in order to peruse myself” – Henri Michaux
“Writing can be an artificial arena where we mash the world into a shape we can stand to look at.” –Tim Kreider
From Approaches to What?
…In our haste to measure the historic, significant and revelatory, let’s not leave aside the essential: the truly intolerable, the truly inadmissible. What is scandalous isn’t the pit explosion, it’s working in coalmines. ‘Social problems’ aren’t ‘a matter of concern’ when there’s a strike, they are intolerable twenty-four hours out of twenty-four, three hundred and sixty-five days a year.
Tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, tower-blocks that collapse, forest fires, tunnels that cave in, the Drugstore des Champs-Elysees burns down. Awful! Terrible! Monstrous! Scandalous! But where’s the scandal? The true scandal? Has the newspaper told us anything except: not to worry, as you can see life exists, with its ups and its downs, things happen, as you can see.
The daily papers talk of everything except the daily. The papers annoy me, they teach me nothing. What they recount doesn’t concern me, doesn’t ask me questions and doesn’t answer the questions I ask or would like to ask.
What’s really goind on, what we’re experiencing, the rest, all the rest, where is it? How should we take account of, question, describe what happens every day and recus every day: the banal, the quotidian, the obvious, the common, the ordinary, the infraoridnary, the background noise, the habitual?
To question the habitual. But that’s just it, we habituated to it. We don’t question, it it doesn’t question us, it doesn’t seem to pose a probme, we live it without thinking, as if it carried within it neither questions nor answers, as if weren’t the bearer of any information…What we need to question is bricks, concrete, glass, our table manners, our utensils, our tools, the way we spend our time, our rhythms. To question that which seems to have ceased forever to astonish us…
Describe your street. Describe another street. Compare.
Make an inventory of your pockets, of your bag. Ask yourself about the provenance, the use, what will become of each of the objects you take out…
-Georges Perec from Species of Spaces and Other Pieces published by Penguin Books, 1999
This video, from the University of California, brings together three leaders in the field of writing research and instruction, to talk about teaching and reading and writing at all levels of education.
This short, light-hearted article, “The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do,” offers some real and humorous tips for how to produce your best writing. Topics covered include: dealing with writers block and procrastination, using punctuation confidently, and being patient with yourself. The article is a great reminder that writing can be hard, but that the first step to good writing (especially in the early stages of free-writing and drafting) is to laugh and not take ourselves too seriously.
These bubbles are real . . . so fill them with thoughts!
Here at The Specialist, we have quick links to every Student Lingo webinar offered through the LEC. Webinars (website + seminar) are innovative and interactive tools to enhance, or help you brush up on, your skills in various areas and subjects. They last 20-30 minutes and are taught by living, breathing professionals who patiently guide you through the topic. The best part? You can take them on any device, at any time.
In this webinar, Pre-Writing Techniques: Planning And Idea Development, you will learn:
Strategies for generating ideas that employ a variety of learning styles
Ways to choose the best ideas
Ways to focus those ideas
To take Pre-Writing Techniques: Planning And Idea Development, click here. You will be asked to fill out a short form, and the webinar will pop up in another window.
As the new Coordinator of the Learning Enhancement Center (LEC) and Mentor & Leadership Development Program (MLDP), I am excited to welcome you to another edition of Luminaria. This edition seeks to unfold the MOOC phenomenon. Recently, I have found myself thinking about my past professional experiences in non-conventional environments, which have given me an array of perspectives on education and learning. As the Education Center Coordinator for an adult basic education center, I analyzed issues ranging from the residual effects of a flawed K-12 system to the impositions of family life on the adult learner. As the Coordinator of a CUNY access program charged with getting young minorities involved in biomedical research and the world of STEM, I worked with students at the top of their undergraduate classes—students who didn’t need remedial intervention but who needed to be introduced to, and guided through, research opportunities, internships, and summer programs. And as Associate Director of Diversity and Inclusion at a premier city high school, I promoted diversity within an intelligent and articulate but, from the perch of interpersonal engagement, socially and culturally uninformed student body.
In each of these situations—and in many more like them—MOOCs have the potential to fill an education gap by giving students the time and space to step in and out of the classroom experience without interrupting their work flow. Having seen early college students selflessly offer up their naivety in exchange for an introduction to different cultures, I imagine students will bring that same innocence and yearning to the global, virtual MOOC classroom. I like to think that, in the same ways my former students strung their life experiences outside the classroom into an applicable learning device when they worked with their tutors, students enrolled in MOOCs will use their experience to enhance the experience for all. And I also believe that the communal MOOC environment will foster an opportunity for students to chime in on topics they never imagined they could have anything of substance to offer.
I am not concerned, and do not think, that MOOCs will replace the traditional classroom. More likely, they will supplement the brick-and-mortar education system richly and robustly . . . with many hiccups along the way. And that brings me full circle, to my role with the LEC and MLDP here at MCNY. As online classes and MOOCs continue to expand throughout higher education, support services—where confused and introspective students converse with real, live human tutors and mentors—will become all the more vital. As you survey the perspectives of this issue, I hope you take a moment to consider how the digital MOOC model might add to the analog nature of your education and your life. Happy reading.
When I was growing up, there was no Dora the Explorer and no Ni-Hao Kai-Lan.
The cartoons of my childhood communicated solely in English. Ren and Stimpy, Doug, and the Rugrats were not bilingual. I, on the other hand, had to jump between two languages and two cultures.