Showing posts from 2021

The Benefits of Labor Logs for Writing Courses

I woke up the other night unable to sleep, so I thought about why a student, or teacher, should keep a labor log in a writing course. I know, that's probably not what you think about when you lie awake at night, but I feel there are some not-so-obvious benefits that are worth explaining to students and teachers, but really, this post is for students.  Now, if you are new to labor-based grading or labor logs and you want to learn more about both, which I use together in my courses, you can check out my book on the subject, Labor-Based Grading Contracts: Building Equity and Inclusion in the Compassionate Writing Classroom (2019). It's free online. I've also made a labor-based grading resource page on my website ( ) with  resources geared for both teachers and students from all over the internet.  So what are the benefits of keeping a labor log. In short, there are at least two important benefits for those who keep them, particularly stud

Bout to Be MORE Racist: The Philly Magnet School Decision

Recently, I got this email from my dear friend Eli Goldblatt (at Temple U). He put me in contact with a committed and engaged pair of teachers who are concerned about the changes to admissions for magnet schools in the Philadelphia area , and more specifically they were concerned about a 90-minute, timed writing exam that students would now have to take for several of the magnet schools admissions processes. The exam would be scored by a computer, an automated scoring technology . The move is meant to centralize decisions and eliminate local decisions that were understood before as racist, or having too much bias that led to racist outcomes in some of the magnet schools. So the changes are meant to " increase diversity " (that's good), but as far as I can tell, they mean by this to "eliminate bias" in decisions by people for admission, which opens a host of other racist problems that it seems clear they've not thought through.  These two Philly teachers wan

Blogbook -- Logocentric Languaging Next to Kisceral-centric Languaging

Entry 37 From one angle, the focus on logocentric arguments in the CCSS for high school students and the OS for college students seems reasonable. Note the value-heavy adjective, “reasonable,” in my statement. Why is “reason” and “logical-ness” so highly valued in determining a standard for most writing in schools and colleges? We could say, as Davis does for the CCSS (see post 36 ), that this is what colleges and universities ask of students. And that wouldn’t be completely wrong. But that dodges the institutionally-created “need” for this kind of orientation in our students’ languaging. It also dodges where all disciplines and educational institutions get their ideas for what “logical” and “reason” mean. Colleges have wanted students to take SATs and ACTs, but those standardized tests have been shown to be culturally biased, white supremacist, and produce racial scoring gaps that help create racial inequity ( note 251 ). So what colleges want from students has often been fallible,

blogbook -- Assuming White Arguments and False Binaries

Entry 36 Over the last five posts, we’ve been looking at the CCSS language standards, but what about the CCSS’s writing standards? In the writing standard group ( CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.9-10.1 ), the first anchor standard is broken up into five standards for ninth and tenth graders (standards A-E). The first broad anchor standard states: “Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.” It seems straightforward enough. The key element in this anchor standard is “argument” as opposed to persuasion. The key contexts that students are to orient themselves toward are “discipline-specific.” It is a decidedly textual standard, but then it is a “writing” standard. I’m gonna avoid a deep discussion of the obvious problem with this standard, that is the eurocentric and white supremacist assumptions of what counts as “arguments” and “discipline-specific.” This is similar to what  LuMing Mao has discussed as a problem with many comparative rhetorics, that of “euroamerican-centrism.” This

Blogbook -- The Circular Logic of Standardized English

Entry 35 In posts 30 , 32 , 33 , and 34 , I discussed the CCSS L.11-12.1 anchor standard and the first of the standards underneath it (L.11-12.1.A). Now, consider the second standard, L.11-12.1.B. It is equally problematic as the first. And it works to maintain the white language supremacy, or a single standard that is dominant in all schools and colleges. It also exemplifies a problem that such standards tend to have when used in classrooms. It’s a problem of circularity, of being one’s own judge.  L.11-12.1.B states, “Resolve issues of complex or contested usage, consulting references (e.g., Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage , Garner's Modern American Usage ) as needed.” This standard reinforces white habits of English language in classrooms by using as a yardstick the very standard being contested. So according to this standard, the way you resolve a contested usage is to consult references that point back to the standard. Do you see the problem? This is overdet

Blogbook -- Be Changing Our Standards

Entry 34 My examples of Faulkner, Walker, and MF DOOM ( post 33 ) show change in language over time as well as variation -- that is, language contesting -- even if such changes are unacknowledged. And, it should be pointed out that Strunk and White agree on this point (see post 25 ). They explain, “language is perpetually in flux: it is a living stream, shifting, changing, receiving new strength from a thousand tributaries, losing old forms in the backwaters of time” ( note 236 ). What do you think those “thousand tributaries” are? They are various English languagings that are not at that time considered by those in power to be standardized. They are Black Englishes, and multilingual Englishes, Southern Englishes, and Midwestern Englishes, not to mention other languages, Spanishes, Frenches, etc. (picture from USGS Twitter account ) Language ain’t never been static nor still. The Russian linguist Valentin Nikolaevich Voloshinov explains this dynamic of language as the “ceaseless genera