My colleagues and I gave this presentation at a recent conference, and also at our faculty development day at MCTC. We’re going to continue taking it on the road, to get the word out.
MnCUEW (Minnesota Colleges and Universities English and Writing) Conference
April 3-4, 2009
Calling up a Tsunami: Arresting White Privilege with Critical Literacy and Arts Activism in the Basic Writing Classroom
Participants: Kathleen DeVore, Valerie Deus, and Shannon Gibney
Urban Basic Writing classrooms are increasingly predominantly students of color, while English faculties remain largely if not exclusively white. This should serve to heighten our awareness of BW as work that does not address cognitive deficits, but cultural divides within Higher Ed. and the broader community. Our work is not mere error correction to the standard, but cultural brokerage – making the cultures and genres valued in academic discourse intelligible to those coming from far outside that culture: usually people from across racial, ethnic, and class cultural divides from their BW teachers.
This panel of BW instructors from one urban Two Year College in a large Midwestern city have been exploring the use of critical literacy, which Shor defines as: “Critical literacy begins in questioning power relations, discourses, and identities in a world not yet finished, just, or humane” (What is Critical Literacy, 1999). Exposing some of the “power lines” in academic discourse allows us to work through with students the systemic privileging of dominant discourse, which they then can begin to strategically adopt, while continuing to hold tight to home discourses that have and will continue to sustain them.
One sentence description: This session will explore strategies for engaging basic writing communities of color through critical literacy and arts activism.