ah yes – genres… this is a topic to which I have already given a lot of thought; in fact, it is what enticed me into the WID program from the beginning!
I had read this chapter from Bean before we started, and I have already mentioned some of these my ideas, based on my own experience and Bean’s chapter, in our discussions (blog and meeting), so I will try to not repeat myself.
obviously, it is a topic near and dear to me. I have always played around with genres to some extents, but it was when I actually started writing fiction that many of these ideas came together. My colleague Susan Palmer and I had conceived of a religion-based mystery series as a retirement plan (we were of course going to become best-selling authors!), a way to put our education and expertise to practical use. But I hadn’t realized just how freeing it would be to write this way, and how much fun! So I started thinking about how it would be possible to bring that to my students, to start out with something that was actually fun to do, and transform it into what the academy requires.
The studies referred to by both Bean and Bazerman encourage me to pursue this, not the least of which is Zull’s brain research that suggests how beneficial it can be of a physical, neurological level, to use different forms.
I also think this will go some way towards changing the power dynamic that we read about in Chapter 5 (and that Bean refers to in this chapter as well – the “Western or patriarchal form that silences other ways of knowing” (56)) – by changing the rules of engagement, we allow different students’ strengths to emerge. By encouraging them to find their own voices, we help them find self-confidence. and, in the end, it certainly makes the marking less of a blindingly boring chore!!!! I have begun to use some of the suggestions we’ve already encountered – I note some of their grammar errors, but not too many of them and I don’t take off marks for them. I am focusing on WHAT they are saying, rather than HOW. As we have seen in previous chapters, the how can come later, the papers can be fixed up, if necessary. But when these are shorter assignments, rather than formal papers, I want to encourage them to explore their ideas, not to cut them off before they’ve even started….
time to come down from my soap box!!!
I especially liked Bazerman’s example of students who did NOT respond as expected to a different kind of genre, that there is no one type that fits all.
So my question to you is: can we incorporate this idea of different genres into all subjects and courses? or is it limited to particular ones? do you see ways to bring in different genres (not necessarily fiction) into every subject you teach? or do you think it would be a waste of time, perhaps the students would have more fun but it would not really be a pedagogical help?