Tag Archives: technology

Voice Now and Then

When I first started this blog I was thinking of voice in a highly individualistic way. I saw voice as a very specific term, so narrow that I thought it might be difficult to explore, but one that I was interested in nonetheless. Although I strongly believe in a holistic approach in the classroom, I have leanings toward expressivist teaching. I feel that my expressivist tint might have been the lens for my “authentic voices of the individual” perspective. Now I see voice as a more abstract, far-reaching idea: voice is what our students want to communicate, and the style, mode and community in which they do it. That is more condensed than I intended. These feel like big categories. This feels like a big leap to me.  Especially because I also see
that voice collaborates within itself as well as with others, and that I think was one of my most important realizations.

At first, when I thought about voice, I thought about it mainly from the perspective of a creative writer. It seemed that creative writing doesn’t involve collaboration or a tremendous amount of technology. Or so I thought. As the class and the readings progressed and I traced my key term in relation to this progression, I realized how much collaboration and technology influence voice, provide a vehicle for voice, and enhance voice. I saw that what I do as a teacher affects the voice of my students. Their peer review groups and sessions at the writing center are times of collaborative learning, which shapes their voices. Technology allows students a different way to communicate, through publication, multi-media, remediation, and community. I began seeing that the voice of the student is, in part, the voice of the student’s environment. I see this as a creative writer too– workshops are collaborative spaces where voice is influenced, modified, and expanded. Television writing is a collaborative effort, as are improvised productions and many other forms of published, performed, influential writing.

The whole way through the blog project, I felt that the readings were more of a jumping-off point. I didn’t see a lot of point in rehashing articles that we had already discussed in class from the very specific lens of my key term. I didn’t think that was what was expected of us. So the articles served as inspiration, and I applied my understanding of my key term’s relationship with the articles to contexts that were closer to my world, closer to my future classroom, and closer to my life. Writing that way gave me a lot to consider, and forced me to think very carefully about voice and the theories we covered in a way that shapes me as a teacher.

So how does this shape me as a teacher? It has made me considerably more interested in writing exercises that encourage students to use their voices and say what they want to say, sure. It has also made me think about ways to introduce logic and rhetoric through discussion and study. I plan to talk about audience through in class writing exercises and analysis. I will give them opportunities to use different types of technologies through a remediation project, and spaces and assignments that are computer-friendly. I hope to foster an environment of peer review and collaboration through workshop, in-class activities, and journals. Voice does not make sense when it’s separated from logic or the community. Voices are heard easier when they communicate their message through technology, whether that’s a printing press or a computer. And voices are multi-faceted. Voices are met with an audience of other voices. I feel hyper-aware of voice now and its place in the classroom. I have also learned that the best way for me to teach is to become a good listener. Each class is made up of individuals. If I don’t listen to them, or don’t know anything about them, I won’t know what they need, nor how to reach them with my voice.


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The Humans are Just a Little Dead

When I was reading Yancy’s article, “Made Not Only in Words: Composition in a New Key” I happily remembered Flight of the Conchord’s music video “The Humans are Dead” 

Yancy quotes Elizabeth Daley on the idea that students now need a third kind of literacy because technology is such an enormous part of our lives now. Screen metaphors have made their way into everyday terms, “close up, flash back, frame, cut to the chase, segue.” That’s true– our language reflects our time, and I would argue, also reflects our medium. There is a certain amount of techno-jargon that has filtered into the language of people who actually use it. People tend to construct metaphors out of what is familiar to them. For instance, in the Richard Matheson story “Born of Man and Woman” the main character refers to other children he spies through the window as “little mothers and fathers” because he has no experiences of people other than his mother and father. Many people in the university setting would have enough experiences of technology for it to rub off.

To be honest, I am not sure how many of my students will be more comfortable with technology than I am. (That’s not a steep slope to climb, I might add). I do know that writing online changes tone and voice. When I write online I am automatically more relaxed in tone, but at the same time hyper-aware that I have an audience. I also tend to reference popular culture a little more than usual because I can so easily link to videos, websites, etc. It’s easier to let everyone in on the joke. It’s easier to speak in a lingo that everyone understands through hyperlinks and other techno-language phenomena. Perhaps in the distant future “flashback” and “segue” will just be “00000101010111” and “affirmative.” No, I don’t think so. The humans aren’t really dead yet.

But I do think that if we encourage our students to write in a variety of mediums, in papers, poems, blogs, discussions on Bb, etc., we will give them an opportunity to use their many voices that Royster writes about in “When the First Voice You Hear is Not Your Own.” Her experiences of finding places for all her voices to fit reminded me the multifunctionality of technology: it is a great place for voices. In Talking back: thinking feminist, thinking black, bell hooks writes, “our sense of self, and by definition, our voice [is] not unilateral, monologist, or static but rather multidimensional…. [it’s] a necessary aspect of self-affirmation not to feel compelled to choose one voice over another, not to claim one as more authentic, but rather to construct social realities that celebrate, acknowledge and affirm differences, variety.” I think this goal can be approached by writing confidently in all these authentic voices, and that the space, or “realities” for the voices can be constructed through journals, publication, blog space, forums, etc. There are a lot of places for our voices to live with complementary voices. And I think the ultimate goal of the classroom is to become one of those spaces– the classroom should be a place for learning and invention, and also a place to use all of one’s authentic voices and experiment with different technologies that are a part of our lives. Writing authentically in these realities can bring voices to life.

Our voices, like the bumblebee, need spaces where they can be validated by like bees. The field’s technology was a lot more suited to her voice than the auditorium. Right? Aren’t all music videos about discourse?

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