Posts Tagged ‘Appiah’

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TED Talk Teaching: Part III

posted: 5.20.15 by Barclay Barrios

TED Talks are great teaching tools.  Each is visual, engaging, focused, and contemporary.  I think they make excellent supplements to the readings in Emerging, particularly because many of the text’s authors have been TED speakers.  And the interactive transcript is a bonus feature, letting students work with the text of each talk.

In this series of posts I want to highlight some particularly useful TED Talks and suggest some of the ways to use them in the classroom.

The Talk: Kwame Anthony Appiah: Is Religion Good or Bad (This Is a Trick Question) [read more]

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Barclay Barrios, Critical Reading, Emerging, Teaching with Technology
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The Shadow of the Chuckle Patch: Teaching Students Who Will Never Be English Majors

posted: 4.16.14 by Barclay Barrios

Today’s guest blogger is Anthony Lioi—an ecocritic, Americanist, and compositionist who works at the Juilliard School, where he also directs the Writing Center. He earned the BA at Brown University and the MA and Ph.D. at Rutgers University and held positions at Rutgers and MIT before taking his current position. [read more]

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DOMA Down

posted: 8.1.13 by Barclay Barrios

As a gay man living in a state that constitutionally bans gay marriage and partnered to a man living in a state that does allow it, I am of course rather pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Not everyone is, nor should they be.  I’ve been thinking about how to teach this issue in a way that allows everyone—no matter their political views—to come to the table. [read more]

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Thinking Gray

posted: 12.9.09 by Barclay Barrios

I recently chatted with a group of teachers at a nearby institution who were going to test the readings in Emerging, Appiah’s “Making Conversation” and “The Primacy of Practice.”  One of the things we talked about is that students always want to flatten what they read, a particular problem when it comes to essays with subtle and complex ideas like Appiah’s.  After reading these selections, students will want to say, “We should all just get along,” or “We just need to talk more and that will solve things.”  And, yes, those reflect Appiah’s ideas.  But things are not so simple, so black and white.  Sometimes the challenge of teaching writing is getting students to think gray—to deal with the messiness of complexity, and to think their own way through it.

I shared with those teachers some of the techniques I use to get students thinking gray.  For example, the class will gravitate to certain sections of an essay or certain quotations; these will probably be the key sections of the reading, but they will also probably be the ones students “get.”  I try to direct students to the ignored parts of an essay.  If a section feels unimportant, then why is it there?  What does it do for the argument?  Along these lines, I ask peer editors to find quotations from the essay that challenge a student author’s argument.

But sometimes the best way to think gray is to pay very close attention to the text.  That was my suggestion for Appiah.  Students will want to dismiss him as all “kumbaya” and “Let’s all get along.”  But then I direct them to a small but crucial quotation from Appiah’s text: “Cosmopolitanism is the name not of the solution but of the challenge.”  Asking students to explain what Appiah means, to account for this quotation within his larger argument, to see cosmopolitanism as both a challenge and a solution… that is the stuff of thinking gray.

What are your methods for engaging students in a “messy” reading?

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Categories: Argument, Critical Reading, Critical Thinking, Emerging, Rhetorical Situation, Working with Sources
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