Learning - Amherst College

Learning - Amherst College

English 2 Reading, Writing and Teaching/Learning Professor Benigno Sánchez-Eppler Morgan Hall 112; phone (413) 687 5049 [email protected] Off...

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English 2

Reading, Writing and Teaching/Learning

Professor Benigno Sánchez-Eppler Morgan Hall 112; phone (413) 687 5049 [email protected] Office hours: Thursday 10-11:30 Writing supervisions in Frost A-31

Spring 2008

Class Time: Tu & Th 8:30-9:50 am Course Asst.: Megan Zapanta [email protected] Phone:619-322-1696

In this somewhat unusual course you will write intensively in conversation with a good deal of reading. In addition, each student will work one afternoon each week either as a classroom assistant at Holyoke High School or as a tutor at an Adult Basic Education Center in Holyoke. We will discuss and evaluate your writing in individual 20-25 minute weekly meetings with me. We will consider from many perspectives what it means to read and write and learn and teach both for ourselves and for others. We will meet some of these learners and teachers through the readings in the course, others through our weekly work in the community. Although we hope you will reflect a great deal about teaching, this course does not teach how to teach. It leads the group through an exploration about education, its contexts and processes of learning—both yours and others’. The writing in the course ranges across many genres. You will be asked to draw upon aspects of your own experience, and to engage someone else’s experience. You will read and write poems, closely observed descriptions, critical analyses, and a few somewhat extended essays. You will develop your writer’s voice in the ongoing conversation about learning. In considering whether you wish to take the course it will be helpful to know the commitments involved. We will meet twice a week as a class to discuss the reading and the writing assigned for the course. In these discussions we expect that each of you will draw on your own experiences as students, as readers, as writers, and on what you are doing as a classroom assistant or tutor. Furthermore, each student will be required to spend time each week at Holyoke High School or offering GED tutoring through the Juntos Holyoke Tutor/Mentor Program, a commitment of approximately four hours each week including transportation. In addition, there will be a number of extra activities to support your work in Holyoke: a tour of the city including visits to a number of community organizations, an orientation in the high school, a tutor training, etc.. Your writing will be evaluated and discussed in a weekly individual session with the professor. In effect this will be a humanities course with the equivalent of a lab section – the time committed to teaching. Once you have a teaching assignment this should be treated as an obligation so important that only serious illness can be an excuse. Please remember that many of the students have had too many experiences of adults letting them down; don’t add to this history. As soon as you have a classroom assignment get the phone number of the teacher or contact person so you can let him/her know if something unavoidable has come up that prevents you from meeting your responsibility. Doreen Kelly is our liaison at Holyoke High, the general phone number at HHS is 534-2020. Emily Fox coordinates the Holyoke Tutor/Mentor Program her phone number there is 534-3376. Do contact me, or Megan Zapanta about any problems you are having with your placement.

Reading, Writing and Teaching/Learning — Sánchez-Eppler


Book List Roberto Santiago ed. Boricuas Miguel Algarin and Bob Holman eds. Aloud Jonathan Kozol The Shame of the Nation Patrick Chamoiseau School Days David Mamet Oleanna Sylvia Ashton-Warner Teacher John Stuart Mill The Autobiography Keri Hulme The Bone People The books required for the course are available at Amherst Books. Because we will be working so closely with these books it is important, whenever possible, that each student has her or his own copy. This course is taught often, so you may well be able to find used copies at The Option. There is also a Course Reader to be obtained in the English Office. Each student in the course will have $9 charged to their term bill to cover the cost of this volume and other photocopying costs for the course. Five College students will be billed by the College. Writing: expect a weekly writing assignment. These will vary in length but none will be longer than 5 pages. Essays are generally due on Friday afternoons by 2pm but occasionally other due times are marked on the syllabus. Please e-mail clearly identified WORD attachment to [email protected] Since you write every week, and since writing to a deadline is an important discipline, I will evaluate only what I receive by the posted deadline.

Course Readings, Writing and Activities Week One Tuesday, Jan. 29 Introduction to the course— Teaching/Learning Reading/Writing If we have it – why not them? If they don’t – why do we…? The uselessness of guilt. Woolman’s twist

Writing 0: In class. First just read these questions: If my life is a journey, why and how have I ended up enrolling in this course? Where am I headed that I have stopped over here? Do I trust my writing to say what I mean and what I am becoming? Do I trust my reading to help me listen to the voices I need to hear, and talk to? Do I trust my education to make me what I want to become? Is this too much to ask? Why? Then write legibly, but without stopping for 20 minutes on whatever you have to say to these provocations. Respond to the provocation, more than dutifully answer the questions. This piece will not be graded, but it will set down a base line of how much you can say in 20 minutes of writing, and with how much energy.

Reading, Writing and Teaching/Learning — Sánchez-Eppler

Thursday, Jan. 31 Literacy Workshop with Emily Fox  Jonathan Kozol, The Shame of the Nation, 1-37; 327-332.  Michael Jacobsen-Hardy, Facing Education: Portraits of Holyoke School Children in the Reading Notebook.


Writing I: Talking with your reading in writing While you read Kozol, react in writing. Call it a reader’s journal, a response log – but most of all write. Record what you are discovering that is changing your world, what you disagree with, what burns you up. We will discuss this writing first in conference, and use them later in class discussion. Due for your first conference: _______ at _______. Frost A-31 Group Study Room

Week Two Tour of Holyoke High School (either Monday or Tuesday leaving Amherst College by 2:00pm TBA) Bring government issued photo Id for CORY paperwork. Tuesday, Feb. 5  Abraham Rodríguez, “The Boy Without a Flag” in Boricuas 30-46.  Esmeralda Santiago, “The American Invasion of Macún,” in Boricuas 159-177. Thursday, Feb. 7 Literacy Workshop -- Evelyn Fox ***First Tutoring evening at Adult Basic Education Center  Jonathan Kozol, Shame of the Nation, 39-135.

Week Three High School Placement Begins Tuesday, Feb. 12  Sara Lightfoot, “Highland Park High School” from The Good Highschool; &  Laurie Olsen, “Maps of Madison High” from Made in America: Immigrant Students in Our Public Schools in the Reading Notebook.

Writing II: 2-3 pages, & haiku Write an essay about a school experience (it may be anything, from in or outside of the classroom). Then use one element of the same experience and create a 17 syllable haiku about it (review definition). In both exercises, make the experience as detailed and vivid as possible for someone else, within the constraints of three lines or three pages. Due 8:30 am Friday Feb. 8.

Writing III: 2-3 pages, plus 1 page 1) After reviewing Lightfoot's, Olsen’s and Kozol's descriptions of schools write a description of your high school that focuses on objective information, emphasizing its socio-economic profile and the relationship of its curricular offerings (class size, kinds of subjects, which students are in what grouping or track, etc.) to the demographic characteristics of the student body. You may add a map of the school if you like. Thursday, Feb. 14  Jonathan Kozol, Shame of the Nation, 2) When you have finished the writing above, on a separate page, discuss the 135-317; ¡321-324!. difference for you between writing in this INDIVIDUAL CONFERENCES TO fashion about your school and the way EVALUATE THIS PAPER WILL you wrote and what you chose to write BE POSTPONED TO 2/22, 25, 26 about in the essay and haiku versions of your previous assignment. Due Friday Feb 15 at 8:30am

Reading, Writing and Teaching/Learning — Sánchez-Eppler

Week Four Tuesday, Feb. 19 Literacy Workshop with Evelyn Fox  Browse through the poems in Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café, then pick 10 to read carefully, prepare one of these to perform "aloud" in class, and be ready to talk about what you find interesting in this poem. Thursday, Feb. 21 Poetry Reading

Saturday, Feb. 23

Tour of Holyoke

Week Five Tuesday, Feb. 26 Working with a partner pick 10-15 poems in Aloud that “talk to one another” (perhaps they share a theme, or certain formal characteristics, or a quality of voice) and read them carefully. Together you should prepare to perform two of these poems (or a collage of fragments) "aloud" in class in a way that lets us see them in dialogue (3 minutes). Be ready to discuss the rationale for your grouping. Thursday, Feb. 28 10 presentations of Writings V & VI

Week Six Tuesday, March 4 10 presentations of Writings V & VI


Assignment IV: Poetry in Performance. Bring your poem from Aloud in an enlarged photocopy. Develop your own markings or color highlighting patterns of stage directions for reading with emphasis, pauses, speed changes, etc. This is your first chance to reconstitute the voice in the page. Rehearse your reading so it fits in 3 minutes—about the length of a song. Due IN CLASS, Thursday Feb. 21

11 am – 5 pm.

Due IN CLASS, Thursday Feb. 28 Writing V: Your poem. Write a poem of your own about a memory, a place, childhood, parents, a teacher, a school friend--using a poem in the book as your model. Writing VI: Lesson plan Then pick a piece from Aloud or Boricuas that you think would be useful or interesting to your Holyoke students and prepare a lesson plan laying out your goals for teaching this piece and how you would implement them. What are the problems with which your students might wrestle? You may want to look at the Educational Resource Information Center www.eric.ed.gov or at the somewhat more user-friendly The Educator’s Reference Desk www.eduref.org for model lesson plans. You don’t have to follow their forms, but you can get ideas about the things you should be attending to. Due IN CLASS, Thursday Feb. 28

Reading, Writing and Teaching/Learning — Sánchez-Eppler

Thursday, March 6  Lisa Delpit, The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other Peoples' Children” from Harvard Educational Review (1998) &  Sonia Nieto, “Who Does the Accommodating? Institutional Transformations to Promote Learning” from The Light in their Eyes in the Reading Notebook. Week Seven Tuesday, March 11  Beverly Tatum, “Identity Development in Adolescence,” and “The Development of White Identity” from Why Are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? in the Reading Notebook  Jan Dizard, “Achieving Place: Teaching Social Stratification to Tomorrow's Elite,” from Teaching: What We Do in the Reading Notebook Thursday, March 13  David Mamet, Oleanna


Writing VII: 3 pages Kozol, Delpit, Nieto and Tatum all write about the ways in which racism pervades and structures American education. Dizard & Kozol talk explicitly about class. In a 3 page essay explore the commonalities and the tensions between their positions. What does Tatum’s psychological analysis understand that Kozol and Delpit miss, and what does Kozol’s economic and political account reveal that the others ignore? How do Nieto’s and Delpit’s attention to pedagogy complicate these psychological and economic understandings? What does Dizard’s discussion of “social reproduction” add to this mix? Due Friday, March 14 at 8:30am CONFERENCES FOR THIS ASSIGNMENT WILL TAKE PLACE ON 3/14; 3/24 & 25. AS SCHEDULED .

If you have problems meeting your Friday conference slot make a deal with a Monday or Tuesday writer.

Spring Break March 15-23 Don’t forget to remind your students!

Week Eight Tuesday, March 25  Patrick Chamoiseau, “Longing,” School Days Thursday, March 27  Patrick Chamoiseau, “Survival,” School Days

Writing VIII: Imitation re-writing. 1) Pick a passage you find powerful, of no more than a page, from School Days. Copy your passage so that you have to pay attention to every word and comma and write down all the observations you can about its (English) style. 2) Then, rewrite your first essay (Longing? Survival?) in Chamoiseau’s style. If you need to embellish or fictionalize or head in a slightly different direction, go ahead and do so. 3) Finally, write 1-2 pages about how imitating his style affected the meaning of your experience. The more general question here: what impact does style have upon meaning, and what might this have to do with the little boy’s, or any child’s, experience of school. —E-mail your imitation, and observations. Bring your copied passage to conference. Due 8:30 am Friday, March 28

Reading, Writing and Teaching/Learning — Sánchez-Eppler

Week Nine Tuesday, April 1  Sylvia Ashton Warner’s Teacher. —discussion NO CONFERENCES Thursday, April 3 4/4,7,8. Class Postponed until Monday


Keywords IX: Take a list of your own “keywords.” --20 or so words that come to your mind quickly as being especially powerful or important to you, including those generated in class-and make something out of them in any way you like. Due AFTER DESSERT, Monday April 7.

Monday, April 7, 7:30pm Dessert @ the Sánchez-Eppler (317 South Pleasant Street) Week Ten Tuesday, April 8  John Stuart Mill, The Autobiography, chapters 1-3 Thursday, April 10  Mill, The Autobiography chapters 4-6 and pages 181-185

No-Writing X: Pay attention to how it feels to not have a writing assignment for this course during this week. Just reflect, without having to write, on the effect of this course and your tutoring experience on your other courses

Week Eleven Tuesday, April 15  Patricia Williams, "Crimes without Passion" from the Reading Notebook. Thursday, April 17  James Baldwin, “Congo Square” from The Devil Finds Work in the Reading Notebook

Writing XI: 3 pages. John Stuart Mill, Patricia Williams and James Baldwin construct accounts of becoming “educated.” Neither of these writers thinks of the process as a matter of formal learning. They portray what they learn from books and instruction as essential, and yet each describes periods of uncertainty, and each makes vivid the importance of certain experiences to dramatize what proved most valuable in their formal instruction and what had to be revised or reformulated. Address this simple question: How and what do they learn? You will not do justice to Mill, Williams and Baldwin in just 3 pages, so you should focus primarily on any one of these authors, but feel encouraged to draw on the others as their ideas or ways of writing help you to think about learning. Due 8:30 am. Friday April 18

Reading, Writing and Teaching/Learning — Sánchez-Eppler

Week Twelve Tuesday, April 22  Shoshana Felman, “Psychoanalysis and Education: Teaching Terminable and Interminable” &  Herbert Kohl “I Won’t Learn from You” in the Reading Notebook


Writing XII: 3-page With these past few weeks of reading and your previous essay in mind, write about an instance of resistance to learning: either your own resistance or that of one of your students at Holyoke. This essay can be as narrative or as analytical as you'd like, but either way, it should be richly detailed. Due 8:30 am Friday April 25.

Thursday, April 24  Dione Brand “Madame Alaird’s Breasts” in the Reading Notebook  Henry James, “The Pupil” Writing XIII: 3 pages in the Reading Notebook The verbs “seduce” and “educate” both have their  View On-line: roots in the Latin verb, duco/ducare, meaning “to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie lead,” and in the classroom, the distinctions between the actions they define can become blurred. These films and stories use that blurring to help us re-evaluate what both activities share. Think about the different strategies that the writers and film-makers use to make their cases and draw upon these to write 3 pages about a situation you have experienced as a teacher or a Week Thirteen student in which the distinction between Tuesday, April 29 seduction and education became blurred. Keep in  Keri Hulme, mind that the best situations to write about are The Bone People, unlikely to be those in which a student or a Prologue and Part I teacher definitely “crosses the line” but, rather, those in which the ambiguities remain unresolved. Thursday, May 1 Due 8:30 am Friday, May 2.  Keri Hulme, The Bone People, Part II Writing XIV: 5 pages Week Fourteen Write a new 5-page essay in which you reflect on Tuesday, May 6 your experience in and through the course this  Keri Hulme, term. Focus on one or more of the texts that we The Bone People, have read as a way of organizing the essay. Do Part III bring insights from your own educational autobiography and from your experiences in Thursday, May 8 Holyoke to your discussion of these texts. Feel Endings free to use whatever materials and whatever written form will make this essay as searching and meaningful as possible both for you and for whatever audience your writing addresses. Due Friday May 9 at 8:30 am Individual conferences at usual times during Reading/Examination Period