15 february 2022: Asou Inoue
In class on Tuesday, we brought to an end our largely historical discussion of the field of Rhet/Comp. We t talked about the role deficit thinking plays in the field and how, in some ways, we can understand the field as in contrast to writing classrooms that focus on error rather than possibility. We talked about the centrality of teaching and of first year writing to the field, certainly in the beginning, but, also, how during the 80s and 90s there was backlash against the "school marm" idea of what the field was about (Crowley).
We Also read the introduction to Asao Inoue's Antiracist Writing Assessment Inoue is a strong example of the kind of scholarship that the field is concerned with now. Here we see legacy--the way he positions writing instruction against ideas of error and deficit, the way he is even talking about a classroom and about teaching and how to teach writing, a concern for representation and diverse students and their success (which really is just the obvious continuation of ideas that were present in Elbow, Murray, etc). We see what has lasted as an area for research (writing instruction) and what has changed (what that instruction looks like).
To really dig deep into current scholarship in the field, this week I've asked folks to read Chapter five and one other chapter. I am repeating the groups and the chapters everyone is reading here:
Chapter 1 & 5 Chapter 2 & 5 Chapter 3 & 5. Chapter 4 & 5
Brian, Maura, & Olivia Alyssa, Megan, & Sarah Ashley, Kayleigh, & Matt Melissa & Shauna
THE PROMPT: Check out the questions that we developed in class on Tuesday night based on discussion of the introduction to Inoue by clicking on this link (same one as I put in the chat on Tuesday and also available on our syllabus and class update page).
As you read your two assigned chapters, see what your chapters offer as answers to these questions. As you post, you might focus on one question you think he addresses a lot in your section or you might focus on a few questions. It's unlikely that any one chapter will answer all of the questions. Post a reading journal that explores how Inoue answers one or more of these questions.
In-class, you'll have time in these small groups to share notes about the most important ideas in your chapter. You should be prepared to share that information with the rest of the class. We'll have a discussion about the ways our questions are answered (and perhaps not answered) in the further chapters of Inoue's text.
2/13/2022 05:35:09 pm
The ever-present question on my mind as I read was: Is this a K12 initiative? First of all, some of the ideas are what K12 teachers already consider best practice (ie, individualized feedback, peer review and student revision, community mindedness), although he clarifies that “best practice” is not always antiracist unless the teacher explicitly identifies the white racial habitus in the lesson/activity (83). The other ideas seem to assume a baseline of ability. Students who can problematize their writing have thinking skills that are critical and reflective; they also have language tools that can be revised and manipulated. At one point, Inoue acknowledges that he uses the conventions and SEAE in this book that he challenges in the classroom (112). Does that imply that such tools are useful and effective in reaching a broad audience, even though “good writing” (what a class community settles on as good, 80) extends beyond these tools? He also mentions in his narrative that his shared story-telling experience with his twin brother grew out of his personal interest in reading and “rhetorical savvy… on the block” (294). The degree to which literacy is expected and understood would determine its application in K12 classrooms.
2/14/2022 02:25:40 pm
Inoue presents an admittedly complex and vast lens through which to view and theorize the writing classroom and his work of anti-racist practices in developing classroom ecologies. Much of his writing seems dedicated to making this ecology ebb and flow in not only a natural way, but also in a way that is highly productive. A lot of our work in looking at his research and theory will come from trying to organize and make sense of it without totally bastardizing the work he has already done (which is a lot). Much of Inoue’s work is about the assessment, but what does he mean by assessment? Inoue writes: “At its center, assessing is about reading and making judgments on artifacts from frameworks of value and expectations for particular purposes” (183). Throughout chapter four, Inoue dedicates to focusing on revealing methods that show and elaborate on the classroom ecology: “Doing so leads us to antiracist work. Let me be clear: An antiracist writing assessment ecology is a classroom that makes more visible the ecology since racist patterns are always less visible in real life” (177).
2/14/2022 05:52:13 pm
In Chapter Two, Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies, Inoue begins by addressing the various definitions of ecology. He goes through each of them to settle on his own definition, simply put as studying the connection between humans, other humans, and their environment. This set the precedent for the chapter’s central themes, which assist in answering some of our questions from last week’s class.
2/15/2022 01:27:02 am
The third and fifth chapters of Asao Inoue's Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies provide a comprehensive overview of how English educators can create equitable learning experiences for their students in the contemporary writing classroom. Inoue encourages them to contemplate a complex system of seven elements that comprise his heuristic for fostering fair pedagogical practices - power, parts, purposes, people, processes, products, and places (119). Through their awareness and application of these elements, teachers can accomplish what Inoue considers the central objective of antiracist ecologies: to “[engage] students in problematizing their existential writing assessment situations” (119). His concept of challenging and changing the colonizing conditions that confine student freedom in writing classrooms thus poses the two-part question, What are the steps to starting an antiracist writing assessment ecology and how realistic are those steps in relation to the reality of teaching today?
2/15/2022 11:50:05 am
Asao B. Inoue strategizes directly how to create an antiracist classroom: the writing assessment ecology must be visible to all, teacher, and student, because transparency is the only way to avoid the racist and colonial patterns and practices found within real life. He asserts that grades are caustic to a student’s ability to write texts that are cohesive and of value, to both themselves and the academic community. Inoue states that the production of grades teachers base on “quality” writing are subjective to the White racial habitus that the Eurocentric school system ingrains in students –– whether White or non-White. It is for this reason, that Inoue suggests utilizing grading contracts: agreements which teachers and students create using negotiations in the beginning of each course, and upon classroom succession, the contracts become revisable if students find them to be hegemonically unfair.
2/15/2022 01:16:56 pm
While reading chapter 3 I began to see answers forming to our class’s first question which was, "What exactly are the key components of assessment according to Inoue? Since assessment is such a broad term, what is he really talking about? In education we talk about so many ways–what gets assigned and collected versus what students are just writing?"
2/15/2022 01:44:21 pm
In Chapter 2 (Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies), I found myself being drawn back again and again to the concept of outside and inside influence of people within a writing classroom, or in any writing classroom. This is most directly related to one of our class-curated questions: How do outside spheres influence experience with the assessment in the classroom?
2/15/2022 02:11:51 pm
As a teacher at the K-12 grade levels something that, unfortunately, is on my mind often when planning a lesson is how I will be able to relate it back to the learning standards. In my district the standards that we are currently teaching to are posted on our boards and are meant to be updated daily to correspond to our given lesson. This is something that during observations people look for and make note of. As I began reading chapter three of Asou Inoue’s book, the driving question that I had in the back of my mind was how possible it would be to apply Inoue’s practices in the K-12 classroom, particularly in classrooms and districts where the curriculum is tightly controlled and “teaching to the standard” is sacrosanct.
2/15/2022 02:14:15 pm
In chapter one, Inoue discusses how we define race in our classroom and what its role is in classroom writing assessments. With this focus, he gives us the key to creating and grading antiracist writing assessments which begins to address questions numbers 1 and 10. After presenting a couple of essay examples, Inoue said, "If we assume that the prompt, a familiar kind of argumentative prompt, was free of structural racism- that is, we assume that such tasks are typical in the curricula of schools where this student comes from and are typical of the discourses that this student uses- and we assume that the expectations around the first four items on the rubric are not culturally or racially biased (we can more easily assume that the last two items are racially biased..." (p 40). With that being said, Inoue suggests that we first look at the prompt. It must be free of cultural or racial bias. But what does this mean really? I do not have this eye for the essays or prompts that I assign. Inoue provokes his readers to really think about the prompts and what might make them racist. He explains that if the prompt is biased toward or associated closely to a white body and a white discourse, then this would make it a racist writing prompt. When grading, Inoue suggests that we must take a step back to see if the reason the students score is low, is due to the prompt being inherently racist or biased towards a specific group. Therefore, we need to look at the writing assessment as a whole and not just grade errors for essay organization, run-on sentences, etc. So, to answer question number 1, one of the key components of the writing assessment is the criteria in the prompt. The other is the rubric and the way that we decide to grade the student based on the suitability of the prompt.
2/15/2022 02:24:53 pm
In Chapter One Inoue addresses how race functions in writing assessments and takes the time to unpack the terms and structures in connection with this. Inoue shows just how pervasive of an issue this is within the writing classroom as well as society in general. Chapter Five offers more specific steps that can be taken for designing antiracist writing ecologies, but both chapters acknowledge that this is a demanding task to take on since the issue is much larger and more complex than one individual teacher, assessment, or school. It’s both societal and historical and this then individually affects students.
2/15/2022 02:51:28 pm
In chapter 1, “The Function of Race in Writing Assignments,” Asoa Inoue gave some background knowledge and depth. He introduced and defined a number of terms that were used throughout his book. There were not many answers to our questions in that chapter, but perhaps there were two that were touched upon: “Since assessment is such a broad term, what is he really talking about?” and “Who is this for?”
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