On Nancy Earle's "Beyond Getting Students Talking: The Search for Meaningful Class Discussion"
Nancy's questions are good ones about which we spent far too little time thinking. One issue, which we didn't address in our discussion, was that of gender and/or gender balance in the group discussion and how this affects participation and response.
The session had caused me to question my assumptions regarding benefits of general class discussion.
What kind of community do you want to encourage through discussion? The approach to ground rules is perhaps more complex then it might appear - if we create an authoritarian ethos we may work against ourselves.
Setting large-order ground rules is of course important, but as Andrea pointed out, many students don't know how to engage in effective discussion at the micro-level either and we don't know, I think, enough about good discussion when it works in order to guide them. Do we need more observation and study?
One crucial issue that came out in the course of the short interaction was that of teaching students how to discuss. We cannot assume that students can just do it. Nancy's ground rules were important in that regard.
On Anne Hungerford's "Have You Ever Wondered . . . "
I especially appreciated the comment at the end by the woman who recognized interrelations between discourse and gender esp. pertaining to women's relative lack of power in certain organizations.
How many of us are aware about which ideas and things we have learnt are informing our actions and habits.
I particularly liked the sad complaint of how tired and unimaginative one respondent found his or her corporation's news release & correspondence.
Would our regular 2nd and 3rd year students be so influenced over the longer term by what they learn in our writing classes? I suspect not - at least not to the same degree.
I suspect often many of the texts we have students write bear little resemblance to the texts they will be required to produce when they leave academia. More of this research needs to be done in this area.
It seems that an increase in workers' literacy may lead to an increase in insubordination and ability to critique the organization as well as an ability to serve it better.