Thought on the rhetorical and righteous mind

Alex Reid, after some discussion of the smaller-than-previously-thought role the conscious mind actually plays in human life, tells us that “teaching practices work fairly well for the most part, even though they are built on a likely faulty model of the mind.”

In part, that’s because writing relies on a lot of the subconscious functions built in to the human brian, Reid writes. So he asks what we can do to help students develop these subconscious processes and become better writers.

He writes that we might think of the mind itself as a rhetorical device “that allows us to construct relationships like author and audience for purposes of communication.” Basically, we model the behavior we want students to learn — acting like good writers in the hope that the students will emulate that behavior and become good writers themselves.

There seems to be a lot of responsibility there. I’m not a writing teacher anymore, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten what it was like or that I won’t become one again. Holding myself (or at least my mind) as a model for my students seems fraught with pressure. What if my mind isn’t of the right rhetorical shape? Will my students learn effectively?

Basically, if my mind is not of the right rhetoric, if I am just “acting” like a good writer when really I am not, will that artifice show through? Will the students get a deep educational experience if my mind is not of the right shape?

This lends itself, in my mind, to dedication. Perhaps as a struggling grad student, I was not as dedicated to teaching as someone hired for that purpose might be. Perhaps I was not pure of mind enough, not dedicated.

And yes, of course, this is all theory. Of course there’s no 1:1 transfer of thought patterns and subconscious neural formations. This isn’t Star Trek, after all. But it does get me thinking on the humanitarian, literature level.

If my heart, and apparently my mind, isn’t in the work, will those learning from me be shortchanged?


Journalist Bailout Program

TypePad, one of the biggest subscription-based blogging providers, has offered free pro-level accounts to journalists and ex-journalists. I’m serious. You can check it out for yourself if you want. I already sent them an e-mail asking for an account.

I’m pretty notorious for using WordPress on all of my sites, but I can’t pass up the chance at free stuff. You probably shouldn’t pass up the opportunity either.

New Trek trailer

I, like many people around the world, have now seen the trailer for J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, which is scheduled to be released in May 2009. Many people are up in arms about the trailer — the whole movie, in fact. That’s because it takes us back to the Original Series era with Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the gang. People are upset that J.J. Abrams is a professed Star Wars fan. People are upset because new actors have resumed the old roles. People are upset because William Shatner’s not making a cameo in the film. People are upset because the new Enterprise doesn’t appear to have enough space between the saucer section and the nacelles. Whatever.

Regardless of all that, the trailer is awesome. You can read descriptions of it all over the Web. I’m not going to describe it for you. I’m sure you intrepid souls who surf the wild ‘Net can find it on your own, or you can read a review of it. All I can say is that’s it’s got shades of Top Gun and other movies in it, and it just looks cool. There are some very large buildings way off in the distance behind Kirk as he rides along a rural highway on his motorbike that… intrigue me.

Small-town paper lambasted for NOT publishing news of Obama victory

Correction: The title should have read that the paper was criticized for NOT publishing news of Obama’s win.

CNN reports about the 5,000-circulation Daily Herald in Salpulpa, Okla., which did not carry news of Barack Obama’s win in its Wednesday edition.

Embedded video from CNN Video

Some townspeople, many of them African American, picketed outside the newspaper’s offices and told CNN cameras that they thought it was “poor journalism” and a major oversight. Some interviewed even accused the newspaper and its publisher of racism for not carrying the news. Continue reading “Small-town paper lambasted for NOT publishing news of Obama victory”

The Great Twitter Experiment of Late 2008

As followers of this blog — you few, proud people — already know, I have restarted my Twitter account and am attempting to make some use out of it. This little experiment of mine has been going on for two days now, and I’m finding it much more enjoyable than the first time, mostly because other people I know are actually using Twitter now.

This has been my problem for some time now. I’m an early adopter. I read the tech blogs, find the next cool thing that just went into beta, sign up for an account and explore. Usually, I don’t spend much time with these startups because they are in beta and no one else is really using them yet. (This happened for me and Twine, for example.)

Yet this time is different. Twitter has “matured,” just as Facebook has. And by matured, I mean that millions and millions of people have started using it, most importantly, people I know personally. That adds a lot to the social networking experience — you know, actually connecting with people you have met in real life.

So the Twitter experiment goes on. Perhaps this time it will last.

Test post from Web site

I have rejoined the Twitterpated masses and reinstated my Twitter account. Now I’m in the process of linking everything I do online into Twitter somehow. This post, for those of you who see it, should show up on my Twitter status and on my Facebook page before filtering through to Friendfeed and my Tumblr blog.

One of these days, I’m going to have to draw some flow charts to figure out just where all my online posts go.