Nothin’ fancy here, just making myself public. I’ve been revising my syllabus for the first semester of FYC (Composition & Rhetoric) today. I’ve decided to take a very different direction from what I usually do–instead of the usual “subject free-for-all” that my class usually entails (under the auspices of theories stating that letting students choose their own subjects is the first step to better writing; I don’t think it necessarily is), I’m taking a “topical” direction for my class’s writing assignments this semester. From the syllabus:
This semester, I’ve chosen a central topic around with all of our writing will be themed—this gives us a core set of texts and issues to talk and write about. You’ll find, however, that there will be a great deal of latitude in the particular subjects you choose to write about as they relate to our central topic: digital literacy, culture, and networks as well as technological anxiety.
Detailed assignment sheets will be provided throughout the semester, but here’s an overview of the semester’s writing projects:
- WA#1: Personal Narrative – tell a story about yourself as a member of our digital culture. (we’ll read about the characterization of “digital natives” and students will do some self-analysis on those points, telling a personal narrative in the process.)
- WA#2: Concept Explanation – learn about and explain an important concept related to digital culture and networks. (could be anything from crowdsourcing, folksonomies, tagging, and open source to “the long tail,” netocracy, and collective action)
- WA#3: Theory Evaluation – evaluate a group of theories about the effects of the Internet and digital culture on humans. (i.e. are Google and FB making us stupider, smarter, etcetera)
- WA#4: Problem Analysis – research and analyze key problems (real or imagined) surrounding networked society.
- WA#5: Literary Interpretation – analyze and interpret a literary text about technology, connecting it to issues previously discussed in the course.
Why the topical route? I’m tired of having utterly arbitrary readings that only badly model the assignments we’re working on. I’d much rather have a set of readings that allows us to explore a central topic area and let that become a vehicle for student expression for the rest of the semester; texts to write about rather than just analyze for the sake of analysis. It’ll allow me to get into much more contextual rhetorical analysis of readings (rather than the arbitrary, “let’s just pull this essay out and look at it just for the heck of it”).
I know, nothing earth-shattering, here, but it’s what I’m working on. And that, in the end, is the purpose of this blog. Transparency, publication, feedback.