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.

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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.