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On failure

In this Free Thinking Festival lecture, Frank Cotrell Boyce talks about the importance of failure in culture and particularly for writers  (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00wbnxq).   We as respondents to writers see students everyday who are paralyzed by a fear of failure.  I rather like how Boyce in the lecture digs into the notion that fearing failure keeps a writer (or any one for that matter) from taking chances or from fully exploring the possibilities.

Sure no one likes to fail, but part of the problem is that we've made failure tantamount to the need to be expelled from a community.  If we are to succeed as writers or, I think Boyce would argue, we need to allow for and expect failures and allow ourselves to learn lessons rather than just fearing failure and casting out those who fail among us.

Cheering on failure, of course, is easier said than done, but I think if we focus on the positive and figure out what our failures have taught us then we are in better shape than i…

NCPTW/IWCA 2010 Conference Report

Brandon Alva, Rachel Meads-Jardine, Andrea Malouf and I attended and presented at the 2010 National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing/International Writing Centers Association joint conference this past weekend.  Andrea and Rachel presented “Teaching Writing in Communities” about the excellent work going on in the Community Writing Center.  Brandon presented “From Peer Tutor to Writing Instructor:  Taking a Collaborative Learning Approach” about how he uses his writing center background to influence his teaching. Brandon won an IWCA Travel Scholarship for this presentation and was recognized during the Thursday keynote address.  I presented “The Effects of Working in a Community College Writing Center on Peer Writing Tutors” which is fairly self-explanatory.  It is a presentation I've done at other conferences, but each time I prep for it, I learn something more and revise it to better reflect my evolving thoughts on the topic. Brandon & I also participated in a “Scholar …

English 1810: Writing Center Theory & Practice/Writing Centers as Agents of Social Change

English 1810 is a service learning course in which students engage in service in a writing center context.  Right now our writing centers are limited to the SLCC Student and Community Writing Centers (q.v.) but I suppose that could change in the future if enough student were involved.  I have a feeling, however, that most students will chose to work on-campus, given the convenience of that.  This assumption is borne out by the students taking the class this term have opted to do their service in the Student Writing Center.

The nature of their service is fairly broad.  Initially, when fellow co-planners Tiffany Rousculp & Melissa Helquist were working on this class, we assumed that most students would want to work with writers one-to-one.  This year's students, however, are about 60/40 split with 60% doing projects other than one-to-one work.  These projects include conducting workshops ranging from orientations for new or high school students to those on specific aspects of wr…

Plans or an addendum to busyness

Excuses, excuses! 

Actually I have tons of stuff I should have been blogging about.

To quote Bugs Bunny, "I've been sick."  Ok, I was ill for 2 days.

Anyway, I promise to blog harder from now on out.

Upcoming topics:

English 1810:  "Writing Center Theory & Practice!" Writing Centers as places of social change! TYCA Midwest & TYCA Pacific Northwest report! The great work of community college students! How SLCC English Department faculty members Lisa Bickmore & Jen Courtney kick ass! The contradictions and complications of a Writing & Social Justice *Conference when your guest speaker charges mondo (i.g. $KKs) cash to speak. How to actually keep a blog going when everything seems to be falling apart by promising way too much on facebook. NCPTW(IWCA) 2011 report! How to beg-off writing/creating an article/web-thing even though you should be writing it really, but you are gasping for air. NCTE 2010 report! Big old shout out to Across the Disciplin…

Busy Days!

Well, I will be the first to admit that being busy does not for consistent blogging make, but not blogging since summer?  That's scandalous.  Scandalous, I tell you.

To wit, I give you an image of the SLCC Student Writing Center running on all cylinders:

Using the Garden to Promote Reflective Writing

Squash 1
Originally uploaded by Clint Gardner As I mentioned in the previous post, during the initial sessions of the Thayne Center for Service & Learning Garden Parties (held every Tuesday at 9:00 am at the SLCC Community Garden and open to all), I distributed "gardening journals" to those who were present. The purpose of these journals is to allow space for Community Garden participants to reflect on not only gardening, but also what involvement in the garden means to them, or the impact that work in the garden is having on them.

My own journal has charted a growing commitment to the garden and its purpose: "I am really stunned at how involved/committed I've become to this project. I think it is because the garden so clearly shows the fruits of our labors, and how working as a group we've done something so significant," I recently wrote.

I am excited to get more students involved in the project once they return in the fall. I am currently planning…

How does our garden grow?

Bell pepper
Originally uploaded by Clint Gardner At Salt Lake Community College, where I teach, I've had the honor of first volunteering with our new Community Garden, and now being the advisor for the Slow Food/Community Garden student group. For a few years now, I've wanted to do something like this, but kept putting it off because of professional commitments. I'm happy that SLCC students got on the stick and pushed this project forward.

The Community Garden involves various departments and clubs on campus such as the Thayne Center for Service & Learning, the Disability Resource Center, the Nursing Department, the Environment Club, and Distance Education (to name the groups I know of.) There are other groups involved, so forgive me for skipping your group.

The ultimate purpose of the Community Garden is to educate SLCC students and community members about where our food comes from, learn about our mutual environmental impact, and to provide some of our produce to …

Notes on "We Compositionists" and Class Conciousness

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Chris Gallagher, in a 2005 article in JAC titled "We Compositionists:  Toward Engaged Professionalism" offers various suggestions on how the field of composition can, for wont of better terms, remain relevant.  The term relevant appears to bother Gallagher, however, given that he throws relevant in (mildly ironic) quotation marks in his discussion that compositionists seem to be bereft of an audience other than themselves and seem to be constantly worrying that what they are doing is irrelevant:  "And it's consisten with a whole range of efforts to make composition and rehtoric more 'relevant,' including various calls for 'public intellectuals'...the study of 'everday literacies...' and service learning....What is behind this fear of not mattering?" (76)

All of this worry about relevance seems to come from a certain worry that what we are doing as compositionists just doesn't matter; that it is unimportant; that it is a waste of …

All of our yesterdays

Here's what I wrote over on the old College server I've been using for my WordPress blog for years now:  
While my academic blog has not been the most active creature in the sea, I still wish to maintain it. The server on which the blog currently sits is getting fairly old, however, and there are no plans to replace it with a new one. Given that it holds our record-keeping database for the SLCC Student Writing Center, I think I would prefer to free up some space on the server and move my blog off site to a blogger.com blog. At least in moving to blogger, I won’t be forced into upgrading WordPress ever week or so (I’m not kidding.) Maintaining PeerCentered on blogger.com has been relatively worry-free, after all.
The new spot is clintgardner.blogspot.com. Eventually I will auto-forward from this page to it. I’m still contemplating being all ego-maniacal and buying up clintgardner.org while it is up for grabs. Long may she wave.


And yes, I do notice there is som…

Writing Center Mission Statement Wordle

I am curious to have community comments on this Wordle constructed from approximately 33 mission statements freely provided to me by WC administrators from various institutions. If you aren't familiar with Wordle (http://www.wordle.net), it crunches texts and represents the most prevalent terms appearing in the text by size. I don't believe color or position has any statistical significance, and is mostly chosen by the person who creates the Wordle based on her or his aesthetic sensibilities. In the following Worldle, I have removed "writing" and "center" as terms. I did this simply because those terms, quite expectantly, were ubiquitous in all the mission statements and, therefore, took up a lot of Wordle screen real estate:

Available from http://www.wordle.net. (Corrected version.)



While I am drawing my own nefarious conclusions from this smash-up for my CCCC presentation, I just wanted to hear what the WC community thinks; that is why I haven't …

"Sapping the Strength of the State" or notes on reading Berube

While I was away attending the TYCA Southeast Conference in Chattanooga, the faculty/staff discussion group for the 2010 Writing and Social Justice Conference met to discuss Michael Berube's Life As We Know It: A Father, a Family, and an Exceptional Child. I've been told that the discussion went quite well, and I had a few moments this morning to discuss Berube's ideas with one of the Student Writing Center tutors, Lori. As she is a person with a disability herself, I found her insights into the book profound, and useful in helping me to understand the broader cultural ramifications that Berube discusses in the book in the context of individual experience.

1) It would seem that many of the things that become so problematic about the treatment of the mentally disabled since the late 19th century is that such treatment were often "for the best" or had "good intentions" and were based on progressive thinking. In other words, the manner in which all di…

2010 Writing & Social Justice Conference: (Dis)ability

This year's Writing & Social Justice Conference's theme is (Dis)ability. Sponsored by the Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) English Department in partnership with the SLCC Disability Resrouce Center, Family & Human Studies Department, The Thayne Center for Service & Learning, the SLCC Community Writing Center, SLCC Student Services Art & Cultural Events Committee, Art Access Utah, and the SLCC Student Writing Center, the Conference is open to all undergraduates in the state of Utah (USA). The deadline for submissions is March 12, 2010. The conference will be held on April 10, 2010.

WSJC2010DisabilityverSPRING

Visitors

This morning as I was reading my morning email and settling into the Student Writing Center, I heard quite the squawking outside my office window:



The geese would call out to their friends as they flew by, but decided to stay put and disturb the class that is in the publication center next door where a class was going on:


I am not certain if there is a moral to this story or not, but generally we just have geese fly over campus. They, however, like the 5,000 or so thousand new students this semester decided to drop in and stay awhile.