Tuesday, September 12, 2006

nudity, community art, and composition

My students recently posted freewrites about lies in response to the epigraph from Mary Karr's memoir The Liar's Club. After looking at what some of them chose to expose in this particular genre/medium, Dave reminded me of this community art project--postsecret. Today I opted to show them this website as a lead-in to having them write about what it means to write in a particular rhetorical situation and what that means for what they decide to include and/or exclude in their writing. In other words, I wanted them to reflect upon the context(s) in which people choose to share secrets and lies in writing and why these choices are made.

So I explain to them the concept of this postsecret project (which has also resulted in a couple of books, not just the blog site) and I scroll through a few of the online "secrets." Of course the first one turns out to be about having cyber sex with dad. I don't know what to do and consider not actually looking at the posts--just leaving it at the concept, but I want to show them a little about the types of secrets that come out in this venue, so I carry on. I see a picture of a woman's naked breasts coming, and I abruptly stop (though I know they too saw what was coming) and have them freewrite. It's fine and all, but I wonder at myself. I mean most of these students have probably seen full frontal nudity (at least of women) in movies. They should be old enough to handle looking at art, and yet I stop before showing them this part of a community art project. I feel like I just encouraged a double-standard somehow. Or I acted like a naked woman is an image we should not view.
---
As far as the blogging goes: One section has a particularly HUGE computer literacy gap that--today--has become very difficult to manage. While some students don't know how to copy and paste (for example how to copy a URL to create a link to it within their blogs), others have already completed the assignment at hand. This is a tough classroom situation to navigate. I can't really move ahead when there are some who are behind and frantically trying to catch up. But, at the same time, those who understand are sitting there bored, half asleep--in short, feelingl like they are not getting their money's worth. The situation gets much more complicated when you take into account that fact that maybe only a portion of the "bored" contingency truly understand, while others have simply shut down.

Today I was talking with a colleague who likened it to her experience teaching in classes that had large population of ESL students. It comes down to a language/literacy gap.

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