Voices In Writing & The Importance of Civic Writing.

Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries. – Its no surprise to me that the article begins by talking about the resurgence of voice in writing in the 1960’s. This was a time of great change and waves of rebellion. Proponents of a voice in writing said some inspiring things that I 100% agree with: Writing with a strong voice is good writing. Sincere writing is good writing. And my personal favorite: Everyone has a real voice and can write with power. But of course with all the supporters there has to be the defectors. (Can you hear my voice in that last sentence?) Just checking! 😉 Some of their thoughts on voice: Voice is a misleading metaphor. We don’t write with a “voice” that is ours. We do not write, we are written by our culture. Sincerity is not a useful goal for writing. OUCH! I must say I completely disagree with these sentiments about voice in writing. I believe what makes each writer, regardless of the level of writing they are in special and unique IS VOICE! How can anyone deny the significance of voice in writing? I just can’t comprehend it and will never understand it. I like how Elbow stays neutral on the topic. He says we all have a choice about how to think about written language through the lens of text or that of voice. He goes on to say how there is no problem with either. It only becomes a problem when people try to block one idea or the other and label it as wrong. Why can’t we embrace both perspectives? Elbow believes if we start to practice doing this and taking a neutral stance, then it releases us from these dead-end, nonsense arguments and debates that lead us nowhere productive. Instead we can try to understand both sides of the argument and find some common ground. So that we can continue to foster amazing and bright emerging writers rather then focus on the negatives and potentially stifle their development and talents. All voices deserved to be heard!

The conflict about voice in writing can be traced back to ancient Greek times. Aristotle and Plato had some insights on the matter. Plato believed that the power of language comes from the person speaking the words. He also took this a bit deeper by saying he believes the writer must work on bettering themselves as a person. Aristotle on the other hand disagrees. But he also takes a pragmatic approach to it where he kind of sees both sides of the issue. He says that it helps to be a good, trustworthy person but if your a skilled writer, you can fake it. The article also talks about the impact voice has in politics (don’t get me started on Trump’s voice it won’t be pretty…ugh!) And of course lets not forget the internet and influx of electronic communication. Now that we have become accustomed to the use of electronics and social media, we have developed new ways of communicating with each other and of using our voices to convey our thoughts, feelings and opinions to the world. This definitely has showed the importance of using our voice and what that means in how we write and communicate. Each and every one of our blogs for this class are unique and distinctive, that’s what makes reading them each week so exciting! We are all reading the same exact articles but reacting and writing to our own personal thoughts on the content. Each and every one of us has our own special take on what we are reading. Listening to and reading each others voices in these blog posts gives us all new insights and invaluable information that we would never have gained from just our own reading of these articles. If none of us possessed our own voices in our writings, then how boring and blah would these assignments be? How would we ever get through these readings (some have been a tough read, no!?) Also we wouldn’t have these amazingly lively conversations each class period that I look forward to every Monday evening. I also strongly believe that each and every voice that I read and hear in my fellow classmates writings and then in their language when we engage in discussions, is what makes me feel so connected to them. Its what has bonded some of us together as more then just classmates. I feel like because of their special voices, I got to know some of my classmates on a deeper level and consider them to be my friends. I look forward to reading and hearing more of their unique voices in their future works, and learning more about each of them on a deeper level. Xo

On Students Rights to Their Own Texts: A Model of Teacher Response. – I enjoyed this article. I felt like both authors Brannon and Knoblauch did a good job of showing respect for and a deeper understanding of what student writers go through. Which I believe is absent from a lot of articles that deal with writing topics and issues. In the opening they discuss how the student vs teacher role plays a big part in how students write, and revise and most importantly how they emotionally feel about their work and what that means to them personally. What effects does teachers comments have on a student writer? Once again this shows how all of the articles we have read so far as a class are all inter connected. Each week we read different articles but they all have relevance to each other. Which I like and makes me feel like I have a stronger grasp on the material each week! Reading further in the article we discover that a writers authority is important. Especially for the reader to take them seriously. But things get tricky when teacher or teacher-readers as they are referred to in the article, assume that a student hasn’t earned the right or authority to judge their own quality of work. Teacher-readers now see themselves as the ultimate authority figure and experts on what and how students write. They feel like they have all the power to comment as they please and to make judgements on the students writing. But what happens to a student when they receive their papers back graded and filled with comments? Again the dreaded red inky pen of doom makes an appearance and the page is full of comments and cross outs, what does this mean? The students end up feeling dejected, and stifled as writers. For those students who are not strong in their writing skills and may already be dealing with low self confidence due to it, this means they can get sidetracked and feel less incentive to write.

That takes the joy out of writing, which is the real tragedy. I think this idea of incentive and what that means for a student is really insightful. Another important point that was made was about how the student feels their writing becomes less relevant due to the critique of their teacher. Students feel devalued. I think what gets lost in the shuffle of teaching at times, is that teachers are quick to make comments and revisions about what the student did wrong without giving the student a break and really trying to see the value in whatever it is the student was trying to say. Instead of focusing on what the student ought to say, lets try to work together to make what’s already on the paper even better! I love this idea! I think peer review is important, and one on one conferences with students is key! That personal interaction is invaluable and students will immediately feel more comfortable and connected to their teacher. Body language, tone of voice and facial expressions all go a long way! That’s such a great alternative to just quickly and coldly writing comments that the students may perceive as negative. I know first hand the stresses and struggles of teaching, but its certainly not impossible to take a few minutes out of a hectic schedule to meet personally with a student, FIND THE TIME! NO EXCUSES! This act will improve incentive and give students more confidence to try their best to improve in their writing and make meaningful changes. Then lastly this idea of negotiating is also CRUCIAL! By negotiating those changes rather then directing and pulling the authority teacher-reader card, teachers return the control of writing back to the students and empower them to make better writing choices. The students also begin to feel more comfortable with the teacher and sees them as being on the same team! It creates a level playing field! They now speak the same language! Which will ultimately ease anxiety and fear and help to produce the best and brightest future writers. Xo

My thoughts on Civic Writing.- This is amazing! I mean having students write about important issues that society is facing, or that they have a personal connection to is really something that should be nurtured and cultivated. Writing has always been a powerful tool in spreading awareness and bringing to light important issues we face in our own communities and as a nation. Especially now in these trying times its even more important to foster students interests in civic writing. Writing with a purpose is always the goal and being able to do this while putting the spotlight on important issues is tremendous. This promotes advocacy, community service and provides a tool for making arguments about issues that matter to youth and their communities. This also allows room for EMPATHY to grow! There is both a personal and civic dimension involved and while they write to fight for change, their also writing their way through their own pain. Another important dimension to this is doing extensive research into the problem, and finding potential solutions. Also important to gain a clear understanding of the institutions involved and how individuals have the power to impact and facilitate real change. This can be empowering for our youth! Not only do they have to write about the complicated issues we face, but they must thoroughly do research which adds another important dimension to their writing and research skills. Learning about Civic Writing makes me want to research and learn even more myself! I want to write about the changes I want to see being made, I wish I would have been exposed to this years ago but I guess its never to late to get involved and make a change! Some topics I would consider is mental health issues, the cost of mental health care and writing to promote equal pay for women in the work place! So many more topics to conquer but that’s a good start! Hope you enjoy this short video on voice in writing I thought it was really neat! Xo

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