Discourse Defeated

If someone struggles to to combine the languages and beliefs of a community then they cannot truly speak for a community.  Without the understanding of how a communities language you don’t truly know what is being discussed.  Language not being a specific language like english or spanish, rather it would be the way words are used and ideas are put into beliefs in the community.  But, if an individual doesn’t understand that aspect of the community then the beliefs will never follow to make sense in their mind.  So if this is the case you may easily speak what you think of a discourse community but not truly be apart of it.  The idea by Harris that students have trouble with the language and beliefs of a community and cannot speak authoritatively in their writing due to such troubles defeats the entire idea of having “discourse communities.” If you don’t have the true knowledge of a subject are you really able to add input to the discussion? This would be the same thing as saying you’re in a community when you don’t understand what’s going on.

Technology and Education

If you look back at your life in school technology has always been there.  Unless you were outside learning how to write with a stick in the dirt, then you have been using technology in your classes.  From being inside and writing with a pencil all the way to typing on a brand new laptop.  We generally don’t look at a pencil as a piece of technology but stop and think,  was the pencil not an advancement from writing with a  feather and ink?  Was the pencil not an advancement from writing in non erasable pen? We never really realize but everything we use in school today and have been using for the past 12 years of our educational lives are pieces of technology.  From overheads turning to smart boards, pencils and paper to typing on a laptop or tablet,  even learning out of a textbook to learning from a powerpoint slide.  All are new advancement in technology and plays some roll in technology in schools.  Due to these advancement technology now plays a huge role in our education especially at the university level where most of our work is online rather out of a book or from a lesson plan.

How do you view technology now though?  You see students using laptops, phones, and tablets on a daily basis.  My impression on these forms of technology are that they take away from us truly learning the material in our classes.  The newest forms of technology being used as much as we use them in class takes away from us truly learning what we need to know.  At first people looked at technology in schools as a productive idea but is it really?  Grades are shown to drop the more you try to learn off a computer screen rather than reading and writing notes and lessons on pencil and paper.  Over time individuals may realize that they don’t take in information as well off of their laptops like they did off of a piece of paper they wrote everything down on.  When you write you have to focus and keep your eyes on the paper otherwise it may end up sloppy.  I can look anywhere and everywhere and still type perfectly fine especially seen as my laptop will correct something if i spell it wrong.  So when you look at the first impression that technology in class and using it in education would be productive is that really true? Should we use technology to the extent we do or should we rely more towards writing notes and reading out of a book still too?  While it is easier to get information down into a document on your laptop faster than copying it to a piece of paper which is more productive and helpful?  While technology does play a huge role in schooling today especially at higher levels of education maybe the deciding factor will fall more towards an individuals decision to primarily use technology rather than what everyone else thinks is the best for learning.

Influences Come From Everywhere

Bartholomae and Harris state, “we write not as isolated individuals but as members of communities whose beliefs, concerns, and practices both instigate and constrain, at least in part of the things we say.”  When first looking at this statement it probably won’t make sense to someone who hasn’t read the entire article about the Idea of Community and study of writing.  The way one interprets this statement will not be exactly the same as the way someone else will interpret it either.  Why is this though? Well honestly you could ask yourself so many different “why” questions when it comes to a matter of writing.  Why do I write like this? Why do I write in this language?  Why is the way I write different from others? Well the list could go on and on.

When looking at who you are and why you do what you do there are thousands of factors that play a role into that answer.  Everything you have ever experienced has shaped you into the person you are today.  Even the littlest things that you think mean absolutely nothing have influenced you in some way even if it was only the slightest thing.  The way language and way you speak, the way you write, even the way you start and carry a conversation is all a product of the communities you are involved in.  You are not involved in just one community, you are involved in hundreds.  A community can come from so many things such as; a class you’re in, the sports you play, the job you have, even the car you drive can put you into a specific community.

This leading up to the idea of discourse communities.  Discourse communities are the communities that I just referred too.  Every community like this comes with its own groups, opinions, and even its own kind of literacy.  The way you view things and act will change depending on the community you are in at that specific moment. These communities and experiences in them influence who you will become in the future and who you “evolve” into day by day.  The influences that take place in your life won’t always be for the better just like they won’t always be for the worse.  All these influences that come into your life will make you into who you will be for the rest of your life and as the continue to come they will change you into who you will become.

Discourse and Literacy

When discussing discourse we discussed two things that really caught my interest.  Like how discourse and knowing about certain aspects of the community can help you understand what’s going on and your value in that community.  While we talked someone brought up the idea of knowing what students on campus mean when they say “I’m going to the sac”,”what’s happening at the sac”  or anything similar to this.  If you don’t go here then you probably don’t know what someone is referring to.  When the sac is brought up on campus usually people are referring to the gym or the courts.  Sac, standing for student athletic center.  If you don’t know this it becomes obvious you either are never on that part of campus or don’t go here.

Then we discussed value in the community.  Not meaning what you’re worth, rather meaning what you are capable of doing in this community.  if you don’t know much throughout a certain discourse community are you going to be able to get around or help anyone?  Generally thinking no you won’t be able to help much.  However, if are constantly in that environment and know what other people are talking about and understand the literacy of that community you can easily get around and get through a day or help someone who is new to that specific discourse community.  A primary example I can think of would be if a student joined a class late because they had to wait for someone to drop that class.  That student clearly is coming in behind everyone else.  If you have been focused and a strong participant you will know what is going on and be able to help them without any struggle.

Swales reading and discussion in our class today has connected to the past discussions about understanding of literacy in many ways.  Every discourse community is different just like literacy is different in various aspects of life such as; gaming, texting, classrooms, at work, etc.  Where you are and what type of community you are in determines the way you will talk and act.  If you are out with friends you are more likely to be laid back and less worried about being proper, where as if you’re going into a job interview or at work you are more likely to portray a professional and acceptable appearance to your coworkers and clients around you.  This being the same idea as being in different discourse communities.  Discourse communities change depending on what is going on just like how literacy will change depending on where you are or what you’re doing.

Importance of Discourse

So we just read the article by Swales about discourse communities and their importance.  When reading that article I caught myself thinking about my schedule at school and in my life.  While being a full time student and working I constantly experience multiple different environments.  At UNC Charlotte most full time students are enrolled in four or five classes maybe even six.  I currently am taking six classes for 17 credit hours.  This is a large consumption of my time and I have to focus on many different sides of the learning spectrums.  From taking URWT 1103 to taking Chemistry 1200 I have many different topics going through my head on a daily basis.  While some classes will be similar while taking general education courses you are guaranteed to have a class that completely opposes one of your other courses.  Mine would be science technology and society and URWT 1103.

In science, technology, and society we discuss how technology and society interact together.  When I’m in this class I feel restricted to factual knowledge and not my own freedom to voice my thoughts.  When we have to write there is always a length requirement and a direct idea we have to choose.  There is no open ended questions we are allowed to leave for others to evaluate and think about.  We constantly discuss how things work, advancements in modern day society, and things to come in the future.  We have to do research on topics, constantly read articles well known scientist have written or their ideas are what the article is based upon.  It is acceptable to say what you think in discussion in the actual class but there is always a wrong or right answer and getting the answer wrong tends to be embarrassing.

While on the opposite end of my discourse spectrum there is my URWT 1103 course.  Where I am allowed to clearly voice my opinion and thoughts in class discussions and in my actual writings.  Every student is given the chance to leave an open ended question that gives their peers a chance to evaluate the topic.  With this opportunity we are forced to think more and put more focus and effort into the actual process of writing about these topics.  There is no right or wrong in the discussion because what you have to say on a topic is generally accepted amongst the class.  However, what you say may be objected against by another student which makes the discussions more interactive and enjoyable.

The way discourse communities can be associated to academics is by knowing when and where certain things are acceptable. Freely speaking is accepted in some classes where as in others teachers value their time to speak and hate when students speak out to object the topic and matter at hand.  Many professors I have in my first semester and a half of college are usually strongly set on their side of a topic and don’t give the other side a chance.  Certain languages and literacy are accepted in different classrooms.  By this I mean you need to know how to speak up in a class and when to voice your opinion in the class.

Discourse communities are seen in academics, professional and social environments throughout our lives.  Their will always be various languages and ways of communications that are appropriate at and in certain situations.  The various amounts of classes we enroll in while at UNC Charlotte tend to help students learn when these languages and methods will be appropriate in their future lives after graduation.  So personally I feel that the discourse communities we experience now are here to help benefit us in our near and distant futures.

Technology in School

As technology has rapidly advanced in the last decade society has been trying to adjust.  Schools have tried to incorporate the use of technology into the learning system which can be seen as good or bad.  In the last two years of high school my school had a BYOT policy, or Bring Your Own Technology.  Meaning that you could bring in a laptop or tablet to takes notes if your teacher said it was okay.  Now this worked in some classes however some teachers did not like the idea and did not allow it in their class. Now where this comes to interest me is that most of my work thus far in college has all been online. From reading online, to doing math and science, to writing our papers.  Is all of this online work better for us than learning out of a textbook and from a true hard copied source.

In first semester I realized something about trying to use technology to take notes rather than a pencil and paper.  What I realized was that I didn’t take in the information as well.  As I continued to use my computer in class I also became easily distracted.  Having an iPhone and macbook air my phone and computer pair to one another.  I can receive iMessages on my computer and text people back without even having to have my phone out, this being my first distraction.  Then I would catch myself not focusing on the lecture of the class rather I would be searching the web or on social media. This wasn’t so simple to do when we had to learn out of a book and takes notes directly off the board onto paper.

So while this new and advanced technology does have its purpose and great functions that we could use in some aspects of education does it really help us as much as we think it does?  Last semester I saw my grades drop along with my study habits as I used my computer as much as I did.  Which it is shown that students retain information better when writing it down rather than typing it onto a computer.  I believe students should be influenced and encouraged to continue to take notes on paper and still do some problems out of a textbook just to have a hard copy source of notes rather than doing everything online.

Literacy’s change by age

Literacy is constantly changing through the ages.  Literacy is more than just writing and reading in your english class.  It is now spread out through everyday activities like driving, video games, texting, even the way you get around certain places is like having a literacy for that area.  As you look at how literacy started with the great writers of the past and compare it to present day you see a dramatic change, but there is also a change from the literacy between our generation and our parents and grandparents.  As technology advanced the idea of how our language is used has changed.

The way people understand sayings has also changed.  Thinking about the way our grandparents talk no longer works in todays society because no one understands what the meaning of their phrases are.  So looking at it I feel like the age we are has influenced the way we will communicate with our peers around us.  The new forms of literacy we use came from the advancements in our society.  With the increase in technology and the constant use of technology we had to adjust.  As we adjusted we found it easier to have our form of literacy rather than try to continue what was once used.  Henceforth, why we understand what is abbreviated and shortened in text or what people are saying over the internet a lot faster than our parents or elders will.  We tend to keep up with what is going on in our communities a lot easier now to thanks to social media.  So all in all our literacy has made a more free flowing environment towards our peers and community of people our age.