Sunday, January 6, 2013

Muddled and Muddling

How is it that I am on vacation, and I don't seem to have enough time? No stacks of papers to grade. No class announcements or essay cycle assignment sheets to put together. Yet no time. Time, clearly, is relative.

I'm working now on trying to revise an article submission that I got a "revise and resubmit" on, and right now I seem to be spinning my wheels. Muddling, I call it. I think the deeper I feel muddled the better the overall end product (I hope) will be. The root of this muddling is questioning my thinking and evaluating what I have written, and most importantly sitting like a chess player staring at the chess board imagining fifteen possible moves and the trajectory for each. The danger in this muddle business is paralysis.

The foundation for revision, as I articulated for my students this semester, is rethinking. Changing your thinking, deepening, rounding out, adding to, recasting, clarifying your thinking becomes the basis for revision. To accomplish this rethinking, I've been reading a number of Fall 2012 Composition Forum articles on transfer, Kelly Pender's article on invention in The Changing of Knowledge in Composition, and Bryon Hawk's Counter-History of Composition which has led to numerous references to other work. Hence, the muddle.

My reading has been focused on deepening the "So What?" answer I might have to rhetorical reflection by linking it to contemporary notions of invention as tying into complex systems. I've also been looking for more anchors to my statements that reflection is predominantly a retrospective practice in our pedagogy. I've found some additional ammunition in the literature on transfer, but I've also found some support for the idea of in-context, in-task reflection and its connection to transfer.

My biggest challenges for revision so far are my desire to restructure the piece. I believe I start down a path with the concept of "frameworks" and then sets up a binary that is not useful. However, I want to provide some picture, some perspective, some recognition of our current commonplace for reflection. I am struggling as well with the term of "curricular reflection." I think I need to let it go because it has detracting and confusing connotations. I'm thinking "retrospective reflection" will work better, but I am still staring at the chess board on that one and thinking of alternate moves (and not really coming up with any).

So the big challenge is to create this "thinking" section which is intended to reveal our current practice and provide some recognition. Then set up the rethinking section which presents the framework of rhetorical reflection.

I think currently the Dewey/Schon section needs tightening, and I need to highlight the connections between Schon's reflection in action and the dialogic conversation of rhetorical reflection. Then I need to position this pedagogical activity more clearly as an act of invention, as a heuristic designed to promote invention or re-invention within the writing process.

One last point, Yancey poses an interesting question in her discussion about transfer by observing that we are not clear about the difference between awareness and knowledge. This question made me immediately think of my conceptual code related to "coming to know" that "to see is to know." Recognition, which we could say is a form of awareness, represents knowledge. I don't know. I have to think more about it.

This muddle still is confused, but I am staring at the chess board and soon to move.