Understanding Genre

In Deans, Expanding Gene theory, she talks about what genre really is and what is means in context to writing. She addresses many different writers and theorists in this work while comparing different standpoints and opinions on genre. As young people, students especially, we don’t look at genre in this way. Most of the time we view genre as a short of term in relation to movies or music or style of writing but I is so much more than that. Dean helps to expand our knowledge on the real complexity of genre.

One aspect of genre dean talking about is the social aspect of genre. This was a little confusing for me to understand because it forced me to think about genre itself as social not that there is a social genre. Then it goes on to say that there are parts of social genre that are obvious and not obvious which lead to the term intertexuality. This raises a lot of questions for me simply because we as students aren’t really trained to look for these things, so even if there are some “obvious” social aspects, how would we be able to be confident in identifying them.

As Dean discusses the seven different aspects of genre social, rhetorical, dynamic, historical, cultural, situated, ideological, the one that confused me the most was historical. It was especially difficult for me to understand how genres are historical because I was thinking about it in the sense that genres have been around for a number of years rather than the fact that genres build on the previous ones. I don’t even know if that is even the right way to summarize “historical genre”. I still am having trouble following what really makes them historical. I guess for me I understand what Dean says makes them historical but I would probably use a different word to describe this.

Overall, my understanding of genre has definitely expanded since reading Deans work about genre, I believe that it will really aid in my writing processes from here on out and I will be able to more accurately articulate appropriate writing through genre.

“Community” and Our Writing

The word “community” typically has a sense of togetherness or sameness to it. This term becomes challenged and evaluated through the writing of Joseph Harris, Bartholomae, and Bathes. When it comes to community in writing, many people are confused about what exactly this means. After reading the article The Idea of Community in the Study of Writing, I now better understand the meaning of what it means in relation to writing and education, but also how it contradicts many preconceived notions most people have about writing. Something that is typically misinterpreted about the word “community” is that it reflects upon multiple people. I have come to the understanding that “community” actually leans more towards the word “individual” in terms of community in writing.

Harris agrees with Bartholomae when he says that we “write not as isolated individuals but as members of communities whose beliefs, concerns, and practices both instigate and constrain, at least in part, the sorts of things we say” (p. 3). In addition, he also agrees with Bathes statement, “We do not write simply as individuals, but we do not write simply as members of a community either” (p. 10). I believe what they are saying is that, when we write, we begin based off of our own individual ideas but what actually ends up happening is that a sense of community is developed in our writing by the similarities it has to others similar thoughts and ideas. We write as individuals with our own opinions, but somewhere along the way, we accumulate a sameness to others through our writing, thus creating a community. My conclusion of community in writing is that, individual writings of similar minded people, create community, rather than a community influencing an individuals writing. One example being, a group of 50 people from different areas of the globe may not even know they have the same views of opinions in their writing, being unaware of the “community” in their writing. However, without knowing each other’s ideas or views, they write very similarly thus creating their own community.

One word that could be closely related to “community” is “discourse”. Swales’ observations of discourse community could be somewhat attributed to what Harris writes in The Idea of Community in the Study of Writing. Swales’ talks about the key factors that define a discourse community and that everyone in such community works towards a common goal. I believe this to be somewhat true with community in writing, however most of the time I don’t believe it to be intentional. Maybe once people have become aware or are in contact with others in their community of writing, they might openly work amongst each other towards a particular common goal. Most of the time however, it is my opinion, that unless it is a required sort of academic writing community, many people are unaware and just speak and think freely towards what message or goal their writing persuades.

In conclusion, I can say that I agree with much of what Harris, Bartholomea, and Bathes say about “community” in writing. It is something that is individually driven but group resolved. Many times people feel confined to a certain way of writing, but writing communities can help to individualize and expand ones true way of writing. It is important in academics to have a certain type of community in writing, however one that does not fully take away from an individuals true self in their writing. The importance is in the balance between the academic community and the individuals preferred community.

My Life and Discourse Communities

How Discourse Communities Relate to My Life
In reading Swales’ The Concept of Discourse Communities, I have learned about the differences between a language community and a discourse community and just how easily I can relate what a discourse community is to my life. Swales talk about six specific factors that define a discourse community and that lead the way for the terms and conditions of such a group. It terms of my life at the University here at Charlotte, there are two of these communities I feel I fit into.

The first community I feel I fit into would be the pre-medical department. Whether or not everyone who is a part of this community is actually a “pre-med” major is irrelevant. There are many majors who fall into this community, such as: pre-kinesiology, pre-medical, pre-nursing, exercise science, physical training. All of these majors can relate on many different levels making them their own discourse community. Some of the six characteristics that Swales addresses that I can relate to this specific community are that we all have similar course studies. Most students in this community are required to take most, if not all of the same “major” courses. Another thing is the clubs that most of us participate in that prepare us for our particular major. In addition to these things, most of us are sent mass e-mails about up coming events for opportunities to get more involved in various medical programs. In a sense, we all kind of have our own lexis, or specific level of communication when we talk about the things we learn in our intensive chemistry, biology, math, or major related classes, that other people such as art, or music majors don’t understand. Another way that this particular community could be categorized as a discourse community is buy its common public goals. In being part of this community we all have the common goals of wanting to help others, get involved in the medical field, become health and wellness educated, and work in an intense but thrilling field. The writing style of this community is very analytical, educational, precise, and well articulated. A lot of the time because of the lack of writing in comparison to calculations in this field, most of the writing is fact based or procedure based.

The other community I feel that I fall into would be the music discourse community. This fits into the six characteristics of Swales discourse communities because of its common goals of wanting to explore music and expose more people to it through performance, compose new ideas for ways to expand the musical influence in our society and university, along with pushing ourselves to become better musicians and vocalists. This community definitely has its own lexis, and or way of communicating. It terms of music, there are various terms and acts that people who have not been exposed to music or music theory, would not be able to comprehend. Many times, I have found myself talking to someone about my chorus experience and describing to them what qualities one must poses to be considered good musicians or vocalists, and the person will be staring at my blankly because of their inability to understand my particular terminology. Within the community itself, we are free to use our lexis to quickly and effectively communicate our demands or critiques using terms specific to our performance or skills. Also within this community there are specific experts of professionals of the community. A choir director or conductor would be considered a novice member of the community. When talking about the writing style of this community it is music based or evaluation based which definitely requires skills such as recognizing context and proper review techniques. Many times there are people in this field who are required to leave extensive reviews for people looking to advance in this community and good literacy and writing skills are a must if that is something you are required to do.

When evaluating these two particular communities, it is clear to me and most likely to anyone else, that the writing styles and requirements of these communities are extremely different. They each have their own specific lexis, various differing common goals, and many different inner genres that divide and categorize the groups within the communities. Overall, I believe that both of these communities fit very well into the specifications of Swales’ discourse communities. I enjoy both of these communities equally and am proud to be involved in such different types of groups which both have a heavy positive influence on our society as a whole.

Understanding of Schooled Literacy and Gatekeepers

At the start of this blog prompt, we were given a definition of a gatekeeper. A gatekeeper is defined as something or someone “used to signify either a person or force that creates protocols for entry into physical or abstract space.” To me, I was a bit confused by this definition especially because I have never heard this term used in context of writing. I have come to find that often in this course we are relating terms not typically thought to be related to writing, to our writing and inquiry pieces. After Addressing the chapter of The Elements of Literacy and evaluating the different perspectives on literacy and how it is used in context of education and schooling, It is clear that literacy can mean many more things than most people may think. When left open to interpretation and context, there really is no exact definition. This is something that can be used to address the five paragraph essay. After reading he Five-Paragraph Essay and the Deficit Model of Education by Lil Brannon, I felt enlightened that there has actually been something of renowned and legitimate writing that supports the negative impact of writing curriculum based off of the five paragraph essay. In this she talks about how this style of writing is hardly a style at all and hurts more than helps anyone who is originally taught this way. One main reason for this is because is real life no one actually writes this way or is able to properly articulate a good piece of writing while being limited to this format. Due to the fact that this is unnecessary and incorrect, we as our own gatekeepers must take matters into our own hands my gate keeping our minds from this wrong information.

It is important to keep in mind that we have the ultimate control over ourselves even if we are forced to write in this manner. We must allow ourselves to fulfill this task because of its appropriateness in context of requirement for our class but then we must do away with the understanding that this is the “proper” way to write. Another article, Teaching as Un-teaching backs this opinion of the five paragraph essay and also addresses the important point that students are literally having to work harder and undo what has been done in their minds and understandings of writing because of misgiven information about how they should write. They are being taught one set way to write and like said in the article Teaching as Un-teaching, this will not always be the type of writing needed in the future.Schooled literacy overlooks the fact that writing is limitless, or at least it should be. Limits may need to be put in place in context of providing a specific or more narrowed point in your piece of writing. However, though there are limits, what the limits are will most likely be different for every bit of writing you do throughout your life, and that is what the five paragraph essay lacks to inform.

Two more articles that can be addressed in this new understanding of literacy and gatekeepers are Deficit Model of Education, and Blaze’s Experience. After reading through both of these articles, I found many other supporting point of the negativity impact of the five paragraph essay and how it relates to the struggle of teaching as un-teaching. To bring all of what I have come to learn through these reading and my personal experience in this class I have come to raise the question, how can we become better gatekeepers of our own minds, and how do we become as literate as we can when the schooled literacy we are being taught from such a young age could actually be considered illiterate? This is something I hope is addressed and further looked into in hopes to change the government regulated state-wide writing curriculums.

My Interpretation of Writing

When it comes to being literate, most people in our culture are. For years now our government has required children to attend school up to at least an eighth grade level. I think this is a great thing because in today’s society it would be impossible to function normally and obtain a career if someone were illiterate. Being able to simply read and write is so important to our society today. To me, being literate more so means to have a good interpretation of reading and writing. I believe you shouldn’t just be able to read and write but you should be able to read and interpret well and write in a way that clearly communicates and portrays an intended message. Good writing is so important in today’s society.

How does one describe good writing? There are many different forms of writing and every writer has their own individual style of writing. What I interpret as good writing is writing that can not only spark my interest, and hold my attention, but that can make me understand why and what the person is writing about. Along with this, good writing should paint a picture in the reader’s head of what they are reading on the page. One thing that I have always found in good writing is personalization. As a reader I don’t just want words on a page telling me about something, I want to be able to make some relation between the writing and the writer. One annoying thing that I have never found in good quality writing but that I notice in really bad writing is unnecessary repetition. I hate reading something once and then reading that exact same general idea explained in a different way a few lines later, it’s just fluff.

One element of good writing is good grammar. I myself am a bit of a grammar freak and hate it when people make common and very obvious grammar mistakes. Its one thing to personalize writing with intentional misuses of words, grammar or spelling, but besides that, people seriously need to review what they learned in their middle school language arts classes. I mean really, with the simple misuse of the words “their”, “there” or “they’re”… whoever is reading that completely loses context of the sentence or the subject of the sentence. If more people improved upon THEIR grammar, the world would be a better place. And learn how to use their turn signals… just saying.

When it comes to being literate and being a good writer, one has to have been taught well. A lot of times I find myself realizing that what I have been taught in high school about writing and what “good” writing actually is, is wrong. After reading “Teaching as Unteaching” it’s safe to say I more than agree with the fact that teachers end up “unteaching” first semester college students, most of what they learned about writing from high school. It is truly unfortunate that we are taught such things about writing in high school because I feel that for most, the reason people see writing as such a chore is because of the common misconception of the “right” way to write. Teachers in high school have a general curriculum and way they are supposed to teach writing based off of the standardized tests and writing exams given by the state. However, the way they teach us to write to prepare us for those tests and exams isn’t the way that writing is taught to prepare you for writing in the real world.


Inquiry: Progressive Learning

Inquiry is “an act of asking for information” (http://www.google.com/#q=what+is+inquiry). In simpler terms you could just call it a question. When someone inquires something they are makings a formal investigation about what ever it is they are curious about. People inquire about things or people or places every day. “Inquiry is a dynamic process of being open to wonder and puzzlement and coming to know and understand the world” (http://galileo.org/teachers/designing-learning/articles/what-is-inquiry/). A common misconception is that Inquiry is thought of in terms of isolated situation or individual, when really it’s a broader concept.

Inquiry based learning is a way of learning or path to learning that starts with questions and concepts and is followed by facts and known information, rather than the other way around. Inquiry based learning was developed in the 1960s to go against stereotypical learning which involved memorization. Instead, inquiry based learning was proposed as a type or pedagogical method that would work as a type of constructive learning during the discovery learning movement, and there after.

Inquiry based learning is said to be education at its best. IBL is a concept that is used by elite teachers and educational programs all around the world. This is used by teachers, professors, students, math scholars, engineers, scientists, theorists, and by many other people in different fields of work. IBL is a progressive way of learning and an be used in almost any field of work since learning itself is progressive. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquiry-based_learning).

A lot of times when people think about the word inquiry, or what inquiry based learning is, they have many common misconceptions. People do not always agree upon what these things really are. What some people think is that its just questioned learning and a different approach to looking into something. Others believe its to be conceptual and an act that requires some kind of administration or facilitation. From what I have come to understand inquiry and inquiry based learning reflect mostly upon the person using them. However, the general way I would explain inquiry is that it’s simply an act of questioning and curiosity beyond the normal consensus. In addition, inquiry based learning is a progressive learning technique that can be used by almost anyone in any field around the world. People use inquiry based learning every day without even realizing it (http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/CBS_InquiryBased.pdf).