Post Script is a way for me to signal post-class reflections after teaching. It serves as a tag would in archival system, a grouping so that both the writer and reader can trace developments and connections between entries. I have as of late, been more and more interested in the archival process and how data become available for future generations. Currently, I teach English 102 at the University of Kansas and have titled the course Inquiry-Based Writing & Thinking. My question thread for Post Script is: How would a weekly record of post-class reflections be used and useful for audiences to come?
My hope is to explore that questions through “doing” the question, through writing it. When I start a project, I am painfully inductive--meaning I have to touch the work to know it. To think about teaching, I have to teach. I do as well all do, carry preconceived notions about what it means to be a teacher, what it means to be a student and what it means to be “learning.” Yet, as a matter of practice, I try to keep those things in my back pocket. I am aware of them, seek to be aware of any that has landed there unbeknownst to me. Does that stop those preconceived notions from showing up front and center? Not always. Nonetheless, I still keep trying to hold as much uncharted space before me such that I can offer that starting place for student to present what is uncharted for them. In this way, we break new ground.
For today’s class we read from Deborah Tannen’s “How Male and Female Students Use Language Differently.” Admittedly, I am not a fan of touting absolute ways of bodies are supposed to behave in a gendered fashion, particularly when speaking with young people. I feel it stunts their abilities to experiment with ways of being that are not gendered but human ways of knowing and learning. For example, the idea that men learn outdoors and women learn indoors flies in the face of healthy engagement with our world which occurs in both private and public spaces.
So, instead of having students recount various gender-based stereotypes in response to the reading, I began class with discussing Durkheim's Division of Labor in Society and the ways that arguments about a respective place for boys and girls, men and women are based in supposedly evident biological terms. Then student did a free write, which allowed them to quietly reflect on the ways in which they notice gender differences in the classroom and school environment. This way, the verbal space could be reserved for new ways to rethink gender and learning.
One of the exciting discoveries we made together was what I call finding the lioness in arguments about gender. So, if the premises for the conclusion that men belong in the field and women belong at home is based on women’s ability to incubate fetuses and men’s ability to inseminate, then, I asked me students, how would you make sense of the a pride of lions? For, the females hunt as well as incubate, and the men, inseminate as well as protecting the homefront. Thus, one way to challenge any conclusion, particularly about gender, is to present an additional material example.
With only 50 minutes of class time, the questions has to go unanswered. Yet, where left off was understanding that in holding the space for the question about the lioness hunter, we are able to in future classes, download the discussion--pick it up again.