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ERIC Number: EJ1097345
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0007-8034
Disrupting Fairy Tales and Unsettling Students
Thelin, William; Carse, Wendy
CEA Forum, v36 n1 Win-Spr 2007
This article describes a research project in which William "Bill" Thelin, who directs the writing program at the University of Akron, was looking to uncover student reaction to English courses in which the professor carried through with a political agenda. Through the participant-observation method, Bill hoped to glean information that would not contain the bias of the instructor, but avoid the detachment present in an outside observer. He approached the other author of this article (Wendy Carse, an Associate Professor of English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania), and explained that he was looking to study a teacher who used political readings to create uncertainty in student convictions. He wanted to see how this uncertainty manifested itself in student texts and classroom decorum. Wendy's pedagogy contained many political elements, as one of her goals was to try to disrupt complacency in her students through her writing assignments. She agreed to allow Bill to conduct a semester-long participant observation in one section of her writing course. The class assignment involved in this study required that students write an essay in which they argued that the fairy tale "Cinderella," in the forms we are most familiar with, contains elements that demonstrate either (1) acculturation of children in terms of gender roles, or (2) acculturation of children in terms of American values. Unexpectedly, the authors ended up engaged in more resistance than they had encountered in any of the other assignments for the course. Conclusions on the issue of resistance to the "Cinderella" assignment are derived mostly from Bill's data, including notes from all the class sessions, interviews with the students, analyses of their essays, and end-of-semester student evaluations. The authors focused on the atmosphere of the classroom during this essay assignment, the students' opinions as expressed during the interviews, the implicit and explicit attitudes towards the topic as forwarded in their essays, and references to the topic in their evaluation of the course. Despite the students' resistance, the authors saw great value in assignments that, in essence, cut to the core, as a critical pedagogy cannot function if it must restrict itself from the very ideological terrain professors and students must explore in order to pursue a democratic and just society.
College English Association. Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A