Note: Sorry for the disruption, folks. I was missing in action because of an unintended hospital stay. Today, I resume my blog. RayS.
10-second review: Relates the teaching of composition to preparing for civic discourse in local community meetings.
Title: “Preparing Students for Active and Informed Civic Discourse.” KRH Barkas. Teaching English in the Two-Year College (September 2010), 35-46.
Summary: The majority of his classes were taken up with projects in which students attended local community meetings and discussed the opportunities and restrictions provided in these meetings. The author gives as an example what occurred over a five-year period in a community in Ohio:
Quote: “The longitudinal case study of civic discourse that I conducted occurred over a five-year period during which I observed over seventy city council meetings of a northeast Ohio city government….”
Quote: “Not only was citizen participation in the discourse of the council meetings restricted, but it was also rather ineffectual because the council meetings typically occurred after decisions by council members had already been made.”
Comment: Sounds like every school board meeting I ever attended. The author is less helpful in talking about how to use a composition class to prepare students for participating in these meetings. At the least the students need to learn how to prepare what they have written for presentation to the meetings’ audiences—either preparation for reading aloud or as a formal, rehearsed oral presentation. Reading aloud is one of the forgotten skills in the English curriculum. Students need to be shown how to practice reading aloud effectively. And preparation of a formal oral presentation is like any formal speech. RayS.