Saturday, September 16, 2006

Writing, etc.

I'm giving a lecture to 'English Education' pre-service teachers at Monash Uni on Tuesday. I've been thinking about it for weeks and I have all this 'stuff' that I want to talk about... my year 11 Lit students' hypertexts... a recording of a rap song that a group of my year 10 boys wrote... my 10 Lit students' discussion board.. my own 'teacher writing'... but I'm currently lacking the vision of how to put it all together.

I know what I would like it to be. I would like it to take the form of a kind of 'performative narrative', which is how I found myself describing my Year 11 Lit students' poetry presentations just over a week ago. They had worked in pairs to construct hypertext versions of poems from Blake's Songs, and then presented their work to the rest of the class. I was excited by the form that these presentations took. The non-linear hypertexts meant that the students were not bound/constrained by successive powerpoint slides flicking across the screen. The presentations became conversational, informal, directed by student voices as they used their hypertexts to build their discussions and readings of the poems. They made spontaneous connections to past class discussions and other student presentations. The presentations became part of the 'meaning making' process, rather than a 'report' or 'record' of this process. The presentations did not feel 'end-stopped', to use a poetic term, but meandered into each other, and past each other, and back to alternative beginnings. In many ways, the hypertext writing that my students produced stood on its own, but it was brought to life by my students' voices, and not just the voices of students who were presenting.

This was the first time that I had attempted something like this with students, and it was a rich experience, even though there is so much that I would do differently next time.

Anyway, that is what I want this 'lecture' to be like. A performative, hypertext narrative, that could go in different directions. I've had a go at constructing a hypertext to reflect on my teaching experiences before. I'd like to try something like this again, and turn it into a 'lecture' or 'perform' it. Of course, I also want it to be participatory, and I'm going to have to think of ways to do that. But this is the sort of writing that I want to keep exploring this kind of writing, on my own, and with my students.

Whenever I am poised to create something new, to 'teach' something, to 'write' something, to 'produce' something for 'others', I often find myself looking for ways to use it as an opportunity to explore my current preoccupations and interests. I'm not just thinking of my 'audience' even when it's my students. Is this wrong?


I'm not sure.

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