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CASLL-L  December 2006

CASLL-L December 2006

Subject:

Re: future of Inkshed

From:

Betsy Sargent <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CASLL/Inkshed <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 17 Dec 2006 19:21:45 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (159 lines)

As Russ mentioned, this fascinating discussion has taken off just 
when most of us teacher-types are buried with end of term 
responsibilities--so I've been paying attention but waiting for a 
moment to gather my wits in order to contribute my 2 cents.  I love 
hearing about the new locations of inkshedding (as in Natasha and 
Michael and Charlotte's recent postings).

One quick thought for Charlotte-- I find that my Asian students like 
inkshedding precisely *because* it does give them time to collect 
their thoughts and get those thoughts sketched out on the page (that 
is, they can join the discussion without having to compete orally 
with other quick-talking students).  There is lots of discussion 
going on in my classes that is not spoken because students regularly 
bring inksheds to class based on what we've read or what we're 
working on and then exchange and comment on them (often one person in 
a group will take all the inksheds home, comment on them, and bring 
them back to the next class).  I've always found compelling Russ's 
point (in "What is Inkshedding") that inkshedding is one way to allow 
every single person in the room to participate in a discussion--and 
they can all do so at once (they couldn't all talk at once--well, 
they could, but it wouldn't foster much communication). Often the 
students you never hear from in oral discussions reveal themsevles in 
written discussions to be more thoughtful and attentive and creative 
than their chattier companions. It's one reason I could never go back 
to teaching without inkshedding--when I think of all the smart and 
insightful and surprising things I would never have heard from my 
students if I hadn't asked them to inkshed, I get the shudders!

So, one big Inkshed community for me consists of all my past students 
(well, since 1989), with whom I share a history of intense 
inkshedding and reading each other's writing.  A big part of the 
value of inkshedding for me is the way that it allows blocked and 
unhappy student writers to find their voices in the academic 
community through a fairly risk-free, low-stakes form of public 
writing practice (the "public" part of that equation is so important 
for their growing confidence as writers). I think that, like 
meditation or daily exercise, inkshedding is discipline that one does 
even when one doesn't particularly feel like it, in the faith that 
the cumulative impact will do one nothing but good.  So I guess, on 
those grounds, I would disagree with Russ's elimination of some of 
Doug's practices from the category of inkshedding--Russ felt that 
ungraded assignments and peer-reviewed writing weren't really 
inkshedding because the reader was expected "to evaluate and help 
rather than to engage."  Not only would I argue that those things 
aren't mutually exclusive, I'd argue that one can *only* truly be of 
any help if one *engages* seriously with a piece of writing first, 
with what it says.  When my students are inkshedding, they're aware 
that it's an ungraded assignment, but they're not reading each 
other's inksheds in order to help improve the writing as writing--as 
Russ describes what he thinks qualifies as an inkshed-- "it's read 
for what it says and is written with the knowledge that that's going 
to happen."  They read and comment on each other's inksheds to engage 
with the content (maybe I'm wrong to call this peer review, but it 
seems the most important form of peer review to me).

As Russ puts it, "the crucial thing about inkshedding is its social 
embeddedness -- that is, that the writing carries immediate, felt 
rhetorical force"--so I share his view that completely private 
freewriting is something quite different.  The challenge for me is 
working hard to create situations in which the assigned inkshedding 
is felt to have that "immediate rhetorical force," where the 
community of learners in the classroom feel that the work we're doing 
together is important and that the inkshedding is contributing to 
that work.  But I'm committed enough to the practice of inkshedding 
and certain enough of its value that I do require it (so it's 
definitely an ungraded assignment).

I guess I'd define the inkshed community as being pretty huge--it 
would include for me everyone who had ever attended an Inkshed 
conference or paid dues to receive the newsletter, everyone who had 
ever been on the listserv, and then every student of anyone in those 
preceding categories who had incorporated inkshedding into their 
teaching practices.  And we should probably include as well people 
who don't use the term "inkshed" but who practice public, focused 
freewriting as a form of writing-to-learn or exploratory writing in 
their teaching (because even if Elbow defines pure freewriting as 
private, lots of people have students share rough freewritten bits of 
writing-to-learn in their classrooms, as long as the students know 
ahead of time that the writing isn't going to be private).  Once you 
include that last group, you probably have to include almost everyone 
who has gone through the National Writing Project in the states and 
all of their students. . .

So I'm not worried about the future of inkshedding at all, whatever 
someone may call it, in any of its myriad forms.  How dues-paying 
members of Inkshed (I'm probably late with my dues, I'm suddenly 
realizing, writing that!) and the practice of inkshedding 
inter-relate at this point (more than 2 decades after the first 
Inkshed conference)  is something I'm hoping Miriam's thesis will 
shed light on.  Meanwhile, even in spite of the huge community I've 
described aove, I just want to say how lonely and isolated I would 
feel in my work without this particular Inkshed community--as an 
online presence especially.  Betsy






At 12:39 PM 12/16/2006, you wrote:
>I used inkshedding this fall with my Management students, having them
>freewite to a quote and then pass their texts on for others to inkshed on.
>They loved it!  They begged me to let them do it again...
>
>Something I have been thinking about as concerns inkshedding and freewriting
>is how they look from other cultural perspectives. Recently, one of my
>mainland Chinese students did an oral on communication in China. Britton's
>"shaping at the point of utterance" was not what he was talking about.
>Instead, he said that often we think Asians are too quiet in the classroom.
>This, he said, was because in Canada we rush into communication and talk at
>a fast clip. In China, apparently, the rhythm is much slower in that
>somebody will say a couple of sentences followed by a pause to think. Then
>somebody else will say a couple of sentence followed by another pause to
>think.
>
>Interestingly he said that in Canada silence is embarrassing, but in China
>it is polite and shows that some one is taking your communication seriously.
>
>Our freewriting seems to approximate how we communicate verbally in the
>West, thinking on the fly. We are used to our fast repartee, and it does
>seem to work, at least most of the time, provided the foot doesn't land in
>the mouth too often. But what about the Chinese-are-thinking approach? And
>where does inkshedding fit in to all of this?  Bye, Charlotte
>
>
>On 12/14/06 10:03 AM, "Russ Hunt" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> > One further thing from me, about "editing" . . .
> >
> >> I'm intrigued that you felt the need to edit before sending.
> >
> > I _always_ edit.  I even edit pen-and-paper inksheds, on the
> > fly. I'm amazed that anybody can separate composing from editing
> > (I believe I edit as I speak, and I think in fact everybody
> > does: that that's what Jimmy Britton meant by "shaping at the
> > point of utterance").  I certainly always edit email as it gets
> > composed.
> >
> >
>
>                 -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
>   To leave the list, send a SIGNOFF CASLL command to
>   [log in to unmask] or, if you experience difficulties,
>          write to Russ Hunt at [log in to unmask]
>
>For the list archives and information about the organization,
>     its newsletter, and the annual conference, go to
>               http://www.stu.ca/inkshed/
>                  -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

                -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
  To leave the list, send a SIGNOFF CASLL command to
  [log in to unmask] or, if you experience difficulties,
         write to Russ Hunt at [log in to unmask]

For the list archives and information about the organization,
    its newsletter, and the annual conference, go to
              http://www.stu.ca/inkshed/
                 -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

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