Note to readers

This is a blog that I'm required to keep that's full of unedited, near stream-of-consciousness reactions to similarly required and related readings in a graduate course in N.C. State University's Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media program. The way these posts are written help me interrogate and understand what's going on in our readings. I'm identifying what's troublesome so that I can give it more thought, but the posts aren't written in a style that's productive for audiences outside of our class to read. That's by design. I start with contestation, then spend heavens only knows how long researching, recutting, and reevaluating so that I can try and see what potentially productive readings I can extract from these source for use in my own work's contributions back to the field. Comments encouraged, but please, you'll likely need a thick skin if your work is quoted here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sustained Silent Viewing is not Scholarship, nor Instruction

As I walk through the halls on campus, I'm surprised how many classes, ostensibly covering any number of disparate subjects, are watching videos. Perhaps this has something to do with the percentage of lecturer positions in the sorts of classes taught here (often service based classes, like first year writing and public speaking), but time watching seems to me to be time away from expert interaction. As an undergraduate student, I paid not to watch a video in class, no matter how expertly selected, but to hear or interact with a recognized expert in a field of study.

How often do we read aloud in class? In literature courses, quoting is common. We want to, *ahem*, get onto the same page as a class in order to lean more forcefully onto a section of words, which allows us to see what readings those words will support. But we don't typically read something for the first time in class, beyond perhaps a few poems or quick portions of related readings we tracked down during our time alone. Reading aloud in class usually serve as quick refreshers before we attack something that's already, now freshly, in context.

Watching sustained videos in class reminds me, ultimately, of Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) in grammar school. I vaguely recall SSR was a new concept when I was in school, but have it on very good authority it's still in vogue today. But when I only have three hours to spend with a teacher instead of thirty, that time should probably not be filled with modeling and practicing good behaviors for when I'm outside of those classroom doors.

I show YouTube in class, but do so, as a rule, only for spur of the moment clarifications. SSV (Sustained Silent Viewing) is not a skill that must be taught. Find videos, assign them as any other "reading", and be prepared to discuss with your class in class. Supplement if you'd like, but if you're finding you must teach by using videos made by someone else, you should ask yourself if you're the expert that the class pays you (with their time, attention, and, yes, cash that'll be repaid with 7% interest over the next 30 years of their life) to be.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fish: The Crisis of the Humanities Officially Arrives -

The Crisis of the Humanities Officially Arrives -

And indeed, if your criteria are productivity, efficiency and consumer satisfaction, it makes perfect sense to withdraw funds and material support from the humanities — which do not earn their keep and often draw the ire of a public suspicious of what humanities teachers do in the classroom — and leave standing programs that have a more obvious relationship to a state’s economic prosperity and produce results the man or woman in the street can recognize and appreciate. (What can you say to the tax-payer who asks, “What good does a program in Byzantine art do me?” Nothing.)

It's hard not to enjoy some of what Fish writes, but he also often seems primed to provoke more than evoke. I may have to go read more Eco to clean the Fish from my palate.

(Honestly, I didn't plan the pun. I swearz.)