Note: I am excited to have a guest contribution from Perla Luna, an undergraduate at Santa Clara University who attended CCCC on June 9-10 at San Jośe State University. Luna is double major in English and Sociology, the incoming Managing Editor of The Santa Clara and the outgoing Opinions Editor. A version of this will appear in the SCU English department newsletter.
Behind the Curtain Our Opinions Are Valued: 2017 CCCC San Jose State University
by Perla Luna
(Nalukas, Luna and Medina)
On June 10, Isabella Nalukas and I accompanied Dr. Cruz Medina to San Jose State University for the regional College Composition and Communication Conference (CCCC). The conference was a great opportunity to hear about what’s happening in the field of writing for the panelists and attendee interested in education and the teaching pedagogy.
A stand-out panel was one which challenged the compositional work educators do for diverse readers and writers. The lecturers modeled curriculum and learning strategies, but one of the most interesting aspects of that panel was the debate on class discussions. Since high school, class discussions have been the cornerstone of any great English class in my experience. What could compare to the collective excitement of unpacking the themes of James Baldwin’s Another Country or discovering (yet another) layer to Hamlet’s madness? However, the presenters of the panel explicitly challenged this notion of class discussions as the golden standard for stretch learners.
(Writing Center Workshop Presenters
Michelle Hagar, Maria Judnick and Denise Krane)
One panel member discussed the ways in which class discussion can be punitive, shutting out readers from the learning process before they even get a chance to dig into the material. This is because professors assume their students have the foundational skills required to understand the reading. With stretch and multilingual students especially, this is not always the case. It was an important moment for me that made me reconsider how I can incorporate these types of considerations when I teach at Breakthrough Silicon Valley this summer, a program that serves underserved communities.
Getting to sit down with a table of professors for the workshop on writing centers was also a unique, thought-provoking experience. This past quarter I’ve been taking a class at SCU geared at writing center studies, so it’s a topic I was already pretty familiar with. But brainstorming alongside Prof. Krane, Prof. Judnick and Prof. Hagel was an extra benefit of the workshop. It opened up the possibility of collaboration between students and faculty, a process at the heart of writing centers and something not utilized often enough elsewhere. I would definitely recommend this type of one-on-one experience to other students—and professors! We’re happy to have our brain picked for ideas and feel like our opinions are valued.
(With Presenters from Dr. Lueck's Archival History Course)
In general, I was pleasantly surprised to learn how many ethical considerations educators consider when designing their courses—whether it’s considering the liminality of writing centers, confronting power through rhetoric or challenging the ethics of hip-hop literature and service learning. Students don’t often get to peek behind the curtains, but I walked away from the conference with a deeper understanding of how the way we learn is arrived at carefully and purposefully.
Even though the conference was aimed at others in composition studies, I was still able to connect to the information presented. The conference has even inspired me to do research on study locations for first generation students. I hope that in the future these types of conferences see the benefit in opening it up to students on a larger scale, so that we can create a truly collaborative environment.
To read more from Perla, see her work on The Santa Clara newspaper's website: http://thesantaclara.org/about-us/#.WUneElPysWo