Oh Fff…

Popular Culture Friday

I know you think you know what that title meant, but actually it means “focus for fun.” A high school teacher from Brownsville introduced it in her talk on how to get students writing.

Ethos, Pathos, Logos and Developing Motivated Characters in Fiction and Film: A Little Greek Goes a Long Way
Lawrence Clark, Houston Baptist University

All Teens Love to Write – Some Just Don’t Know It, Yet

Lisa Castellano, Porter High School, Brownsville, Texas

Toward A Kinder Gentler Undergraduate Writing Workshop: Ego-Friendly
Laurie MacDiarmid, St. Norbert College

“Implementing the Teachings of Logos, Pathos and Ethos in Verbal and Written Communication”Deborah Bailey, Elkins High School, Fort Bend, Texas

Get them writing.

What I appreciated most about Lisa Castellano’s talk was that I got a very useful idea from it. I am thinking about modifying and adopting her “get them writing exercise.”

Hand out pencils and typing paper, so everyone’s paper looks the same.
Have them write a question, any question, so long as it is appropriate to the classroom. It does not have to be about the class.
Then take up the papers.
Pick them back up.
Then pass them out again.
Have the students answer the question. They get two minutes. Lisa found that the students want to write more. These are their peers questions and they are what is relevant in their life too, perhaps.
Then take up the papers again.
Pick them back up. Pass them out again.
This time the students can either answer the question again, add their two cents, or they can ask a new question.
Pick them back up. Pass them out again.
Do this for five movements through the room (or longer for a TTh class) and then read them.

I am wondering if these could act as a catalyst for good writing on the blog and I am going to try it. Thanks, Lisa!

Bad side effects of writing workshops

Laurie talked about running a writing workshop. She had way too many good things to say! She has them do a lot of writing (duh!) and they also do response times as a group to a certain person’s work. She gives her students an A at the beginning, as long as they are present, participatory, and do the assignments.

The funniest part of her talk was her list of disadvantages to her technique. I think they will tell you almost as much about her classes as her talk did.

Bad side effects list:

  • Challenge to my authority
  • They talk back.
  • Students who don’t do assignment as assigned.
  • Slackers- people who take my class because it is safe.
  • Disorder- lots of chatter
  • Always goofing around
  • Think they can say anything they want, even when it is off topic and it is hard to get them back on topic.
  • Often go overtime
  • Workload is heavy
  • Get to like me reading their work, then they want me to read it all the time.
  • Mediocre writing (Or, as she added, “writing-like objects”)
  • Students with little talent want lots of attention
  • Good writers are often short changed
  • Reputation among colleagues as “not vigorous”
  • Too many narcissists who need a “come to Jesus” moment- They want everyone to critique their work, but don’t prepare for others’ feedback.
  • People who ignore others
  • Competition creeps in
  • Codependency creeps in
  • Creative writing as therapy, TMI.

Deborah is from my parents’ town. She’s looking at possibly adjuncting at one of my colleges. (It will be a lot closer for her than for me.)

She did an introduction to logos, ethos, and pathos. Very good job. She had funny stories, too. I love stories. She told one about a student who decided to bring a picture of a naked woman for his advertisement to class the day her principal was evaluating her. She cut out a little skirt and top for the woman and brought it back to him. So calm!

I got some personally relevant things out of her talk. (Thanks, Deborah.)

First, she talked about post hoc ergo propter hoc. That is what has been bothering me about some of the talks given here. Too many people are assuming things happened because the speaker, writer, academic, character was a woman. Why must everything that happens to a woman be because she is a woman and not because she is a therapist, doctor, captain? I know sometimes it is because she is a woman, but not every freaking time.

Then she was talking about the ethics of the speaker (not a new topic for a rhetorician) and I wondered if I should put my curriculum vitae up on my blog.
Plus: stronger premise and credibility
Minus: outed myself to everyone

That led into thoughts about how to represent my scholarship and I’m searching the web for good tools now.

Aristotle in film
Lawrence’s talk was shorter, since Deborah had done the introduction for his talk with logos, ethos, and pathos. He had great slides for those points.

He had predicated his talk on having a speaker with the audiovisual equipment and there was not one, so he could not show most of his film clips because we couldn’t hear them. I think it is a great way to introduce the concepts, though, and I made a note of what he used, because I am not a big film person.

School for Scoundrels– scene where he attempts to use credibility and loses his money and his clothes
An Ideal Husband– scene in the library where she blackmails him, threatening his ethos

School for Scoundrels– scene where he faints when asking the girl out for a date
Far and Away– scene where she climbs in the window and says they should run away to America

Annie Hall– scene where they use facts and figures to try to get him to go back to school

Argument from authority:
Lillies of the Field– scene where the nuns and the handyman are using scripture to try and convince each other to either work for free or pay his wages (depending on the speaker)
Annie Hall- appeal to authority that works, scene where he pulls out Marshall McLuhan

I am going to have to incorporate that into my classes. It was so good an introduction.

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