Narratives, Netflix, and Newsweek

Field Notes headerTwo of our articles this week focus on teaching writing.  In different ways, the pieces advocate for more complex and challenging goals as a teacher — problematizing the role of a writing teacher and refusing to settle for simple solutions.  We’ve also found a lighter read:  The Atlantic’s roundup of new apps that hope to become the “Netflix of reading”.  Enjoy!

Flattening Effects:  Composition’s Multicultural Imperative and the Problem of Narrative Coherence

Jonathan Alexander and Jacqueline Rhodes, published in the February 2014 issue of CCC, consider the effect of multicultural pedagogies on writing classrooms.  Although the article is longer and filled with more academic jargon than our other picks, it’s well worth a read for aspiring teachers.  Alexander and Rhodes argue that emphasizing “shared humanity” in the writing classroom can subtly flatten narratives and erase important differences.  Instead of relying simply on “inclusion narratives”, Alexander and Rhodes advocate for a more complex vision of narrative in the classroom by also asking students to analyze the limits of their understanding.

A Netflix for Books?

Good news for bibliophiles everywhere!  The sharing economy of Netflix has begun to permeate the reading world with a range of new apps.  Like Netflix, these book subscription services offer a certain number of downloads for one monthly fee.  Although Amazon Prime, which offers 1 free book/month, currently controls the largest market share, other fledgling services have arisen which aim to offer more flexibility and more downloads.  The rise of book subscription services hopes to make books easier (and cheaper) to obtain, but only time will tell how it affects the reading habits of the American public.  Will it, like Netflix, change the social habits of reading Americans?  Will it change their reading frequency by lowering barriers to access?

America Hates Its Gifted Kids

Needlessly provocative title aside, this Newsweek article explores a common teachers’ conundrum — scaffolding lesson plans to challenge and motivate a wide range of students.  Studies of No Child Left Behind have found that the legislation helped lower-level students, perhaps at the expense of gifted kids.  With a continuing educational focus on helping students who struggle, how can writing teachers  challenge gifted students?

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