We shared some of our posters in class today. This was the first time we’ve met in a month. On a side note, it was wonderful to finally see everyone in person again and not in blogs! The posters were fantastic. There were some really great ideas! On top of that, I’m really inspired by all of you guys’ (and gals’) work. My own project is finally falling together thanks to discussion I had with the wonderful people in class. And on that note, I’m copying your ideas. I’m using some ideas for courses brought up by various people. I hope you’ll take the side of Girl Talk and not sue me. :p
In all seriousness though, I just wanted to say that you people are fantastic and (as much as we’ve all been struggling) I think it’s really all coming together so well! We made a learning community, and we’re taking it with us. Isn’t that wonderful? 😀
Recently this summer I talked to a friend, who is enrolled in a math course. He was talking about the kinds of group work they do in class. This struck me as odd; I know I never did group work when I was taking math classes (though that was many moons ago in this English major’s life). What the professor did was go over a particular kind of problem to explain it. Then he would put the class in groups and let them work through an example problem together. Afterward, he polled the class to see how the different groups did the problems and the students could comment on each others’ work and offer how to better work the problem, or just talk their way through it together.
This was so cool! If you stretch your brain and consider math problems as a kind of sentence writing for math, then these students were doing group writing and revision. In a math class! How cool is that? I’ve never considered that peer revision could be used outside of a writing class certainly not math. WAC and WID are everywhere even when we don’t know it. This professor was having his students collaboratively learn their way through the problems and in the process also made it fun for them because they were in groups and could try to outdo the other groups. Things I’ve always considered as “englishy” things being used to effectively teach a math course. I was shocked and awed.
A fellow classmate of mine (wacrant2011) made an intriguing post a few days ago. He was shining some light on plagiarism, the dreaded enemy of academia it seems. We in academia have preached about plagiarism for years. “You will fail if you plagiarize”, “Do not copy others works without citing”, and “Plagiarism will result in an immediate ‘F’ or a ‘0’ ” are all common things heard on campuses. Here’s the problem though: most great poets are plagiarists. For example, many of Shakespeare’s plays are based on other authors works or older legends For example, have a look at the plot sections of these articles on Romeo and Juliet, Othello, and King Leer. They’re all based on someone’s work. That’s right people. If William Shakespeare were in college today, he would fail Creative Writing for plagiarizing.
However, we don’t discredit Shakespeare for this. We herald him for the way he took older texts and revamped them; he made them true masterpieces. So, if Shakespeare took older works and added to them, he remixed them. Much the way music artists today remix music. Though I don’t think any of the Italian poets Shakespeare copied would have been ready to sue him into submission. You see, traditional poetry has a history of copying, adding to, and recycling texts. Traditional poets were expected to write their own version of classical stories. How well the poet remixed it displayed his skill. We’ve lost that kind of sharing in our culture today. We make a song and it is ours. No one elses. Not even the song notes. RiP: A Remix Manifesto discusses this issue of copyrighting and legal rights among the movie/music industry. Have a look at the film (you can watch it for free) and see what you think. I think Shakespeare had the right idea. If William Shakespeare can remix a story into a time-honored masterpiece then why can’t musicians. It’s the same thing. I’m going to leave you all with some songs to listen to and consider if it’s plagiarism or creating anew from old.
Plagiarism? Reinvention? Rock and Hiphop!?
To make a long, and personal story, short: I’ve really been feeling overwhelmed and battered this week (battered in an emotional/spiritual way, not in the “my wife beats me” way :P). My friend, colleague, and mentor (WACATTACKAUM) said something in her blog that I’d like to hit on. She says the following in her blog post about Cool Hand Luke and writing courses:
- “You know this: you have to want to write. I can’t make students do it; you can’t make other people do it; if you teach, you can’t make your students do it. You can assign it, but students may or may not do it. Sure, they might do it, but they might not put their hearts into it. That’s the like the subtle difference between heartbreak and defeat. “
I’ve been heartbroken lately, but I haven’t been defeated. And that part about having to want to write: absolutely true. I’m a creative writer (that’s been on a looooong dry spell admittedly) and let me tell you, there are days when you don’t feel like it. You just don’t want to worry with it. But when there’s a story in your heart or your head that wants to get out: you just write. It sucks. You want to go walking, or jogging, or just surfing youtube. But when it’s all said and done and there’s some text in front of you, something you created, you’re proud.
I’m not saying everyone can sympathize with that; I know some of you, heck, most of you, aren’t creative writers. But, it’s the idea of just having to have dogged determination and stubbornness that gets me. When negativity and bad things get you down, you dust yourself off and keep going.
Writing makes me feel like that sometimes My soul has been sore lately and maybe I just needed to get off my woe-is-me horse and get back onto the saddle of my life-won’t-keep-me-down horse. 🙂
Isn’t Roy Wood Jr. a comedian? And isn’t Sir Ken Robinson some author/speaker guy?
Yes. And yes. I know they don’t exactly sound like the best comparison in the world but hear me out. As usual, I do have a conclusion that I’m getting to. Though I’ll ramble a bit. 😛 Let’s start here:in class we’ve been watching videos about various things like creativity, educational reform, and open-source resources. Sir Ken’s TED.com talk was among one of those videos. Here’s the video to watch if you’d like:
The entire talk is fantastic, but if you’re like me and just want to get to the meat of the thing listen to 9:08-10:59 of the video. Sir Ken states at the end of this section, “Human communities depend upon a diversity of talent.” That’s very true. Societies need people from the bottom of the job market all the way to the top. Sir Ken was speaking about not everyone being meant for college. This made me think of a dear Alabama-born comedian, Roy Wood Jr., and a comment he made in one of his skits. Watch the video below (you’ll thank me).
Now, obviously, I’m not advocating stripping or anything. But Roy’s satire makes a point: you have to do what you like. If you watched all of Sir Ken’s talk then you’ll know he also mentioned that people should do what they love. Not everyone is supposed to go to college and be a business man. My cousin is a firefighter and he loves it. He also had people in his highschool life tell him “he could do more with his life” but if he enjoys it, isn’t that as much as he can do with his life? Sure, firefighters might not be international superstars, but they’re important. And so are mechanics, garbage men, and custodians. I always say, “Might as well do what you love, you’ll probably do it for the rest of your life” (Job changes aside. You know what I mean here). Our educational model needs a reform. We need to stop trying to standardize-test people into college and enable people’s talents and dreams. I would much rather see a world of happy people doing what makes them happy and do OK than a world of bored, depressed white-collar workers.