Tag: draft

TCOR (draft 1)

There are simple universal concepts and actions that span all cultures and discourses. Things that all people do no matter where they are from. In groups, people socialize. There is communication between individuals. But society has advanced on the communication front. Social groups have formed their own discourses. Special ways in communication that involve more than simply saying the right words. Discourses have several layers to them, the first being the primary discourse. This is the basis for someone’s beliefs and values. As relationships expand so do discourses. Following the primary discourse is the secondary discourse. This is further developed into non-dominant and dominant discourses. Dominant discourses provide monetary or status gain along with beneficial connections. Non-dominant discourses typically only provide social connections. All these concepts were first introduced by James Paul Gee. He is one of the foremost thinkers on discourse.

Another prominent figure to this discourse is Kara Poe Alexander. She is responsible for the ideas of the little and master narratives. Alexander also gathered data and analyzed the discourse of a few hundred applicants. There she was able to categorize them into a maximum of eight categories, which was how she was able to start drawing lines between all the narratives. Master narratives were stories that focused on the mainstream ideas such as literacy equaling success. They followed a by the book procedure while little narratives became more local, they would be stories that would focus on an individual rather than that actual literacy. Her categories branched from the ideas of master and little narrative. The categories included were: success, hero, child prodigy, literacy winner, victim, outsider, rebel and other (Alexander 615).

This past semester, a pool of students was asked to submit their own original literacy narrative. From there, students have been given the task of distilling the slough of words in an effort to further the conversation of discourse. While the selection was minute compared to Alexander’s seven hundred essays, this local pool offered the unique views of students who are all at a relatively similar time in their life. Instead of her diverse collection, the students have a uniform selection.

This essay hopes the further the discussion of discourse by looking at the relationships that form the discourse. The majority, if not all, of the students who submitted an essay included a close bond with someone. The story of their discourses all tended to revolve around an individual. That individual could be themselves or someone else. Kayla Farrell’s essay “Turn Around” focused on her struggling against a difficult teacher that pushed too much homework on all of the students displayed a strong influence on how relationships influenced someone’s view. For some students of her story, lost their affection for English. Others faced his difficult teacher head on. Kayla Farrell fell into the side of a fighting. Instead of giving up when presented with a negative influence, she struggled. Spending time after class, she would ask the teacher for help. And when that failed, she went somewhere else. A tutoring center at her high school. The teacher in this case was a mentor that rejected her. He was a member of a dominant discourse yet he was unwilling to positively guide her. Thankfully she’d had enough experience prior that she was able to mushfake her way through. Mushfake is a term coined by Gee that refers to a person substituting in a different discourse when they don’t have right one.

Another essay from the collection was “The Giving Tree and Me,” written by Abby. Her narrative spoke of herself as a young girl with her father. Together they would read stories every night. He was her mentor into literacy. And a positive one at that. Deborah Brandt, another thinker on discourse, would call him her sponsor. A sponsor is someone who offers their knowledge and credibility to the younger and more unaware person (Brandt 557). He introduced her passion for reading, he showed her the value and joy that it can bring. Gee calls their relationship that of a master and an apprentice. Brandt looks at it like a sponsorship. In the end, it is all the same. To be a full member in a discourse, one must first have a way to get in. The standing tradition is to have someone show the other in. There are cases where someone is able to mushfake their way to mastery. But it is a fake one, the only way to truly understand a discourse to become them. Lisa Delpit was another master of discourse. She also believed in the necessity for masters and exposure to the discourse.

Unlike Alexander, the students here seldom wrote about success. Instead, the majority of students focused on local and little stories that emphasized the individual rather than the literacy. This could be due to the initial essay question. Perhaps it was phrased in a way that urged the ideas of a local story. Or the sample size was smaller. It would not be completely out of the question that the majority crafted unique stories that avoided the idea of literacy means success. And maybe literacy does not anymore. Literacy is such an important piece but it is not the only piece. It is something that everyone learns in this culture. Its significance is not so meaningful anymore. The idea that literacy is a step in the right direction has downgraded to being only shifting someone’s eyes to the right direction. Success is still far away and only his or her eyes have moved.

Relationships are an important part of acquiring discourses. In the opinion of the essay, relationships are vital to discourse. Any discourse that involves language needs multiple people so that conversation may happen. Without practice or exposure to those who have already master the discourse, they will be unable to become masters. This is why the masters of language and discourse have a significant amount of responsibility for how individuals turn out. If they fail to accept anyone into a new discourse, then eventually there could be no one around to continue on the discourse. Theoretically if that happened, a new discourse would emerge of people who would value being more open for new members. This is why acceptance and guidance into a new discourse is important for everyone. Why teachers need to focus on having a positive impact on students. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the cases. Many teachers fail to inspire their kids to reach further than they thought to. Those are the teachers and people who help kids learn to hate reading. Their disinterest is the start of a downward spiral for a lot kids. They are forced to mushfake things instead of truly submersing themselves into the conversation.

Of the essays read, the students all clearly showed interactions of people. That there was either someone there to push them forward or someone there to hold them back. This influence of people is significant, especially those who reject them from a discourse. Gee and Brandt have their terms to define the positive influence, but what about the negative? People who discourage are classified only by their rejection. Those who reject however, often have an incredible amount of power towards the individual.

First Week Draft 1

School and learning are two separate entities. A school is a place, where occasionally, learning can be found. Learning, on the other hand, is not bound to a school yard. A person can learn anywhere. Be it through traveling, relationships, or a textbook. A higher education is the dedication of learning beyond government standards. Anyone who strives for higher education does it because of their own selfish desires. There is no third party force, it is simply one mind craving for more.

The ideology of Barnett’s The Idea of Higher Education, is accurate in the sense that it is a disturbing experience. A higher education isolates a person from the surrounding world. They know knowledge that the average body does not necessarily know. This then creates a system of power, because knowledge is power. Even in the very beginning, knowledge was revered. Those who knew what poisonous berries were, would survive. Or someone who used a cart with wheels rather than carrying items. Society advances based on knowledge and the capabilities to further educate themselves and the next generation. Barnett’s claim that there are no final answers, allows for the belief that there is always more that can be reached.

There are a few downsides to knowledge. The first being that, knowledge is not absolute. It’s fluid, it can always change. For hundreds of years, people assumed that the center of the universe was the Earth. Nowadays, that idea is laughable. The second thing is, it strips the individual of his or her’s innocence. Like a kid growing up too fast, knowledge forces a person to accept the hard facts that they encounter. Instead of living in a false happy world, people realize they are limited.

Barnett’s passage correlates to Nussbaum’s thoughts from “Education for Profit, Education for Democracy,” in the sense that higher education is the work of an individual. That one must actively reach for it on their own accord. Which is what most college students are doing. For the first time in their career, they are only ones that are responsible for collecting their knowledge. But that is why they are there. Because they want more knowledge and they are willing to work for it. Unlike high school, it is a challenge. Professors will not track a student down if they are missing work, or go out of their way unless the student makes the first move and shows the initiative.

Higher education is described as education that is beyond high school. That should not be limited to schooling solely in college or university. It should encompass any experience where the individual is the one who reaches out for the information and actively possesses it.

Higher education is essential to society because without it, society would stagnate. It would cease to advance and other cultures and civilizations would advance past us. Right now, the USA is a leading world power. But once higher education levels off, the country will decline. Knowledge gives the beholder superiority over others. As a result, knowledge is coveted throughout the world. The challenge is figuring out what would be the best thing to dedicate time and effort towards discovering.

Discourse Draft 1


There is an inherent quality that all humans possess. Something that spans all cultures, languages, and societies. This quality is Discourse; the way of how, when, what and why people say and communicate with each other. Discourse is the overall of communication, it is the role that society has categorized people into. These people are expected to be fit into it or fear rejection from the Discourse that they are trying to fit into. James Paul Gee, one of the foremost thinkers on the concepts of Discourse, offers a complex standing on what a Discourse is truly capable of. His paper on “Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics: Introduction,” explains and introduces his ideas of Discourse. His claim that people are limited by their primary Discourse; this is where many people begin to reject his ideas.

One of the people who reject his ideas on the limitations of Discourse is Lisa Delpit. Her ideas are not as grim as Gee’s; she believes that so long as an individual believes that it is possible, then mastery of a Second Discourse will be attainable. Her stance on Discourse’s limits are that they may be limited only by what the mind limits itself to. Delpit paints a pretty picture that leaves an individual with hope of achievement whereas Gee’s grim nature does not encourage accomplishment.

Other points of Gee, like the complexity of Discourse were more readily accepted. His idea that Discourses have two sides is something in hindsight that seems obvious. The idea that Discourse has many faces. The first and foremost, is Primary Discourse. This Discourse is learned in the home and influenced by peers. This one is easy to see how it might be difficult to overcome but could still be achieved. The other side of Discourse is Secondary Discourse, this can then be further broken down into dominant and non-dominant Discourses. These are the Discourses that are learned after the Primary, and are separated only by the majority of the room. Like a doctor, his Discourse would be recognized as the dominant in a hospital, but place him in a kindergartener’s room and suddenly his Discourse becomes the non-dominant.

Being the outcast or the non-dominant Discourse can sometimes be a beneficial thing, for it “often brings solidarity with a particular social network…” which would allow individuals to have the oddball connections that members of the dominant Discourse would be unable to obtain (Gee). The individual or outcast can offer views and opinions that the dominant members might not be able to express. In an office, many companies look for a diverse cast of people to work there. Especially with jobs that require creative thinking, those ‘oddball’ people, the ones that failed to meet society’s norm may be the ones who create the best solutions.

The benefits of having a non-dominant Discourse are brought to life in the film, “White Chicks.” This movie brings two male FBI agents who are black, and dresses them into two their complete opposite form of two white females that are both rich and white. The girls who Kevin and Marcus Copeland have to imitate are the true stereotypes of rich white girls. Those girls had fulfilled their gender roles completely and now so must the FBI agents. With only a brief preview of how the girls actually behaved, Kevin and Marcus must substitute their knowledge and mushfake their way through the weekend in the Hamptons and catch the bad guys. Mushfaking is a term coined by Gee, it is the idea of imitation or ‘faking it until you make it.’  

The first of their struggles comes from their meeting Brittany and Tiffany’s friends. Right after they enter the hotel, the two must use their abilities to overcome the barrier of this Discourse. Luckily for them, the friends accept them and become a mentor for them. Under their guidance, the men are more easily made aware of acceptable behaviors and actions. Without the aid of the friends, their mission to uncover the bad guys and save the true Brittany and Tiffany would have failed.

The next of their obstacles to overcome were Heather and Megan Vandergeld. These two girls were the ‘enemies’ of the film. They embodied the Discourse of rich girls and tried to square off with Marcus and Kevin at several different points of the movie. The first of their encounters was at the opening party where they had a verbal fight. At this point, Kevin and Marcus’s now non-dominant discourses came to life and allowed them to win the fight which had the effect of drawing the attention of society. Usually the idea of drawing attention would not be the idea for anyone undercover but in this scenario it was actually beneficial. The ‘winning’ of the verbal fight allowed the two to be better accepted and allowed their status to be raised. Their non-dominant Discourse was again proven to be beneficial when they were challenged to a dance off with the Vandergeld girls. When their friends who were the ones initially dancing failed, even though they were in their dominant discourse, Marcus and Kevin stepped in with some moves of their own. Their street style dancing brought an uproar that the Vandergeld girls could not compete with. This moment furthered their status and acceptance into society.

In the film, when they are leaving the mall, a bad guy comes and steals their purse. Due to Kevin and Marcus’s non-dominant Discourse they were able to catch the purse snatcher. An actual standard white rich girl would be unlikely to be able to accomplish more than a call to the police, but because of their Discourses they are able to pursue and apprehend the culprit. This moment exemplifies their abilities and brings further solidarity between them and their friends.

This is where Gee’s ideas of non-dominant Discourse begin to fall apart. He had claimed that non-dominant discourses would bring “solidarity with a particular social network, but not a wider status and social goods in the society at large,” but in the film their non-dominant discourses were improving their status. It is true the non-dominant Discourses can have a unifying effect but the idea of it not affecting status is farfetched. Connections are a fundamental part of status; therefore, they must have an effect on the grow of shrinkage of one’s status.

All throughout the film the men are also accomplishing something. They have begun to acquire the Discourse of a girl. Delpit would agree that “individuals can learn the “superficial features” of dominant discourses, as well as their more subtle aspects,” (Delpit 554). This is a major conflict between Delpit and Gee, the ability to acquire the dominant Discourse of the room. Gee has the idea that individuals are unable to overcome any of their primary Discourses that hold any conflict with new Discourses and as a result they will be unable to obtain new discourses whether they are dominant or not (8-9). The film choice tends to favor with Delpit’s views that “acquiring the ability to function in a dominant discourse need not mean that one must reject one’s home identity and values, for discourses are not static, but shaped” (Delpit 552). Her ideas are more realistic than Gees because all Discourses are learned. It is not an inherited gift that people understand when they are born. Discourses are learned through imitation and mentorship. They take a long time to perfect, in part because they are constantly shifting. The influence of society is overwhelming and unable to be ignored.

Under society’s influence a Discourse is subjected to change, when the friends of Marcus and Kevin give their “proper support, can “make it” in culturally alien environments” (550). Which is why the idea of Marcus and Kevin putting their careers on the line for this case, is not completely unfeasible. If they fail, they will not only be expelled but also be terminated and could face serious repercussions. They are also at risk of losing their relationships with their romantic partners. Gee’s article does not allow for their success; the odds are stacked against them. The two men have the support of their friends that their non-dominant Discourse allowed them to obtain and unify with. The idea of achievement is possible because they have the support and the belief that they will achieve (549). Their mindset of success, allows their possibility of success has already improved. When the option of failure is revoked and persistence is continuous, there is no reason that they would fail. In the movie, the odds are stacked against them. Their secret is even exposed but their belief and persistence in what they are doing sway the end in their favor. Much like success, Discourse is up to the individual to obtain. So long as their persistence lasts, people can and will overcome any obstacles and challenges that they may face.

Literacy Draft 1

It probably started in Treetops, VT. Or maybe it was somewhere else. Years ago, my sister, aunt, and I would pile into the car and head to this vacation spot. There were only a few cabins and only a few other families around. Usually there was no one around except for this one family that lived there year round. This place was special because, besides the lake and the rocky shore with the smell of smoke lingering in the air from the barbecue cooking, this was the place that we discovered Harry Potter. It might not seem like a big thing, but it was for us. The first night that we cracked open the book, owls sat there staring at us. They’d make their eerie noises and stare. The moonlight would filter through the trees and set the atmosphere. My aunt would read by the porch light, and I would listen to the soft murmur of her voice. There was nothing else but her voice, the night, and the owls. That’s all I remember now. I don’t remember one would of the book, except for parts from the movie. Back then, it wasn’t about the words. It was about being there with my sister and my aunt and having a good time. A place like that seemed to be magical. It was magical. But then years later, we were only half way through the 4th book of the series. My aunt got sick. Granted, she was never the healthiest. But cancer has a way of knocking anyone down. That’s when we stopped reading. And when her brain deteriorated, that’s when I stopped believing in magic.

I still cling to books. After she died, I started reading. And reading. I just couldn’t stop. The only series that I never could bring myself to touch was Harry Potter. To this day, it remains unfinished at halfway through book 4. But other stories get read every day, they get consumed. Looking back, I can see now how I took to reading to be closer with my aunt again. How I desperately searched for a way to find her again, to find the magic again. My sister was the opposite of me. She finished the series and never looked at another book. She has the entire series, in hardcover. And all the movies. But I can’t open up that one series. That’s uncharted territory that I want nothing to do with. But it’s what got me started on reading. And that lead me to being interested in writing.

Writing would be the way to create my own endings. To find the magic, the happy and exciting places. Throughout my early education, notebooks were filled with stories of faraway places. Of witches and vampires, or knights and dragons. It wasn’t until 9th grade English that my writing started to take a turn for the better. Because that was the year the I had Mr. Wolgemuth as a teacher. Any kid who wanted to do well in school would say that he was a great teacher. I think of him as the teacher would lifted us from the bindings of writing. The one who pointed out that the coveted 5 paragraph essay would be obsolete in the years after high school. That we were practiced enough already that it was time to start breaking the rules of writing. Of all my highs school teachers, he is the one that developed my writing the most. A large part of that was because he was the first teacher who ever told me off. For a long time before freshmen year, I was pessimistic. The glass was only ever half empty and I always searched for the unpleasant endings. He’s one of those teachers that just force you to respect them. That’s probably why even though he graded hard and his course was demanding, I took another two classes taught by him.

Now my writing takes influences from all three classes. And now I continue to look forward in my learning.  Because it’s my choice to. My writing and reading are primarily influenced by these two people in my earlier life. Thanks to them, I have a passion that pushes me forward to expand my views of the world and always keeps things interesting. There is a good chance that my future career won’t involve more than writing reports and stating the facts, but that doesn’t mean that I will cease writing and reading for my own creative purposes. Stories will always continue to be written, whether they are typed out or stored in my head.

There isn’t one moment that I can single out from the others. Who I am today as a writer and as a reader are impacted from countless events and people. These two events only make up a small portion of my experience. I write to remember and to forget. I write to find the motivation to keep going. I paint pictures and stories in my head to make things interesting or I find the creativity in the boring. Why do I write, I wonder? When I have so much to say about the world, why do I keep to myself for the majority of the time? Maybe one day I’ll write out the answer.