Bruffee sets the scene for this set of readings, and Trimbur critiquing and developing the ideas he introduces further. Myers is the reading for leftist crit of the practice. Trimbur the reading that places Bruffee in the larger frame of pedagogy. And in keeping with the idea of conversation, we can see the four readings as part of a larger ongoing conversation - which we should each join.

- Start the week by declaring a position on conversation / collaboration / and learning writing.

Common themes are
And the idea of dissensus is enacted in Lu's article -

Bruffee, Collaboration and Conversation

Collaboration was aways present. Its just that we started to notice it in early 1980s.

As a start, help looked like more work. Collab was offered as an alternative rather than extension of the same. Peer tutoring and critique.

Indirect teaching orchestrated by teacher.

More consideration brings up an alternative conception of what's going on. P 398. A case for deeper understanding of collaboration.

good articulation of the social-epistemic rhetorical position

discussion of classroom practice in collaborative learning
- sometimes it works - sometimes it doesn't. so bruffee looks into the history of collab learning to get a sense of the ideas. that is, it's an argument for theory.

in us, peer tutoring falls under this
gets cast as an alternative to traditional classroom models

indirect teaching in which the teacher sets the problem and organizes the students to work it out collaboratively 418

first thinking
did not change what students learned - only the social setting of learning - that's now questionable

rest of the article outlines a conceptual model - a theory - of collaborative learning - especially as a challenge to traditional pedagogy.

conversation and the nature of thought and knowledge

the features of reflective thought is causally and functionally related to social conversation. many of the social forms of conversation - grammatical, rhetorical structures (critical thinking) and range and impetus and goals are sources and structures of thought.

this makes thought an artifact of conversation - not an essence or the source of conversation. mental operations have their source in an interpretive community - of conversation

this conversation is not the same as that we engage in in the bar - not casual conversation, it's embedded within a DC that challenges positions, evidence, observations, and interpretations.

- I wonder how this position challenges students's understanding of thought and knowledge - whether they accept it and the implications, or not. whether they find the argument culturally bound or something else - Creativity in this model becomes social - not the bastion of the individual talent or genius.

eg interpretive communities are the source of what we call self - or the other way around. feelings and intuitions are the product of social relations 421

educational implications
- Bruffee aligns DCs with "knowledge communities."

writing - of all kinds - lit or argument - is internal conversation re-externalized
so the task is to engage students in a conversation that is similar to the ways we want them to write
- seems a little too easy - too pat.

Collaborative learning provides a social context to practice the kind of conversation valued by college teachers
- and that sounds dangerously assimilative

normal discourse - a discourse used to inform and persuade people in their community and at roughly the same status and assumptions. 423 discourse among knowledgeable peers. what counts as an argument, as evidence, as explanatory ... and this is what we could be teaching -
- but even this varies within a dept, and even more between disciplines.
- lib ed's mission - although they don/t know it - is to assimilate students into a more generalized normal discourse of the academy - a community that isn't jus local but international.
- and much academic normal discourse is, frankly, pretty pathetic when it comes to clarity, openness.

Argues that normal discourse of the academy is shared by business and industry, and governmennt - that business et al are actually part of the academic DC.
- the idea here is that business et al see themselves as apart from this normal DC - that causes the problem.

- another q: to what extent does Bruffee's concept fit into integrative learning? Sara.

practice: entry might be helped by structuring conversation by the task -
- crit thinking, or erhetoric - or my insistence of how I want abstract and crit organized. that isn't set out of idiosyncratic. it's part of how we hold our conversation: abstract > crit.

Seems all so easy - Why is it so difficult in practice?

the authority of knowledge
- this is to give "The Two Cultures" the boot and bring in Kuhn. "Cultures" is near-sighted in seeing humanities and sciences as different, and based on Cartesian model of knowledge as impressed on minds by others who know. They are so only superficially. Our knowledge is a social artifact, then we start to see the academic community as a larger more inclusive, but no less nasty, scene. p 427.
- if nothing else, take that paragraph on 427 away with you.
seen as Bruffee argues in this section, learning is not assimilation but establishing and maintaining knowledge among a community
- to engage in this is to assimilate, however.
- and this overlooks how close conversation is to thought, and who's going to be part of the community.
Bruffee would answer that these are all negotiated and done by assent - not by assimilation

and new knowledgeable - abnormal discourse
creativity is social, collaborative
move into abnormal discourse - that discourse between coherent communities or when consensus can no longer hold. abnormal questions in various ways rule, assumptions, goals. values, mores -
text - context - > re-forming the context
to encourage abnormal discourse, we teach our discipline but not as universals so much as normal practices.

collaborative learning does not teach authoritative knowledge but reveals that authoritative knowledge is a social artifact. and it will involve a crises of identity and authority, which demands that students generate a transitional language to bridge the new gap. 430

the largest community: the community of liberally educated people
- which is often under threat from other communities -

collaborative learning, in the end, serves the cultural purpose of conserving knowledge AND challenging it to be remade.

for the student, it involves loosening ties to some knowledge communities and joining another.

Does it feel like these things are happening in undergrad classes? In grad classes? In offices? Bars?

Do we need to provide more spaces and opportunity for normal conversation?

How do we do this on line?

cMOOCs are good model for how this conversation proceeds.

Requires far more commitment than just Doing the Work.

Trimbur, Consensus and Difference in Collaborative Learning

gives a synopsis of collaborative learning and the increasing authority of student language in creating consensus

Crit of consensus
- from the individualist camp: it stifles difference and promotes conformity
addressing the fear of conformity: T. rehearses the pragmatist argument that collaboration gives the group a stake in collective projects and that it doesn't inhibit individualism because there's nowhere else for the individual to be but in a discourse community. individual can't break from normative community or social language.

the critique of individualism is baseless. consensus does't violate individuality but empowers students to take on projects through social activity.

further, pedagogies that place individual at center construct the student as a social atom under the teacher's universal gaze. 463 - 4. this approach keeps the students from forming a powerful group, from transforming themselves, locks them into a one to one relation with the teacher.

from the left: it overlooks wider social workings such as class, power, ethnicity, gender

left wing crit deals with the status of the exchange among the individuals. Reviews Bruffee's contribution: lets us read the classroom as a socially constructed text of historical practices and power.

Trimbur's position: Consensus can be an instrument for generating and organizing differences and transform power relations. with this at root:

look at collaborative learning as a process of identifying differences and locating these differences in relation to one another.

consensus in the classroom will be collective explanations of how people (and ideas) differ, where those differences come from, and whether we can live and work together with those differences.


The major term is conversation: social constructivist code word - as understood in Bruffee's conversation of you know who. Learning cannot be understood strictly on cognitive grounds because learning means joining and acting in new communities and taking part in new conversations. Learning entails creating transitional communities.

unpacking the metaphor of conversation - turns conversation into an act of assimilation, of non-foudationalism w/o tears - 467. trimbur works with Rorty's model, and returns to normal and abnormal discourse. Abnormal discourse becomes the romantic discourse of the rebel - which functions to keep the discourse moving.

trimbur places his development about here: to see this movement with abnormal discourse as a place of creating difference -

Redefining consensus - by looking at consensus in terms of conflict rather than agreement. Abnormal discourse is the discourse of discensus, marginalized voices, resistance and contestation. It offers a way of analyzing the strategic moves used by the groups in legitimizing the groups conversations and marginalizing that of others. 469

[I would add the language that calls the mechanism of consensus to the fore - a critical language that points out, "look how you're attempting to shape the consensus to your own interests by X." That makes the language of rhetorical analysis and criticism an abnormal language.]

with non-foundationalism, persuasion comes into play - (recall the Crit Thinking anxiety about sophism?)

So -
p 470 look at collaborative learning as a process of identifying differences and locating these differences in relation to one another. consensus in the classroom will be collective explanations of how people (and ideas) differ, where those differences come from, and whether we can live and work together with those differences.

He goes on 472ff to pose this conception of collaborative learning against Bruffee's version which is typically defended as pertaining in "real world" interactions - hence naturalizing the practice uncritically. Better, says T, to see consensus not as an acculturative practice but as an oppositional one that challenges prevailing conditions 473.

this leads to distinguishing between spurious and genuine consensus

genuine consensus as more a wish and practice than a state of conversation at any moment. take a utopian view of consensus to make it work

In T's example, this kind of conversation sets up a space to question conventions and values of interpretive communities from the start - which opens a space for students to change their own ideas about interpretive communities. 474 - 5. This is a matter of students not reaching consensus but using a drive towards consensus (that will not happen) to investigate practices and ideologies of those practices.

That is, conversation becomes a collective investigation of differences that allow students ways to imagine ways to change the relations of power and production 476.

From 2011

Myers, Reality, Consensus, and Reform

lays out purpose and method and rationale up front - orients us

looking back to remind us of where we came from- -
refer again to Berlin: What else do we teach when we teach writing?
we teach an ideology - and so act as reproducers of the ideology -

Myers's crit is going to be that the conversation model sidesteps its sense of being a function of ideology - which continues to oppress. Consensus and reality as they are taught are used as a means of reproducing ideology.

Bruffee and Elbow have put themselves forward as education reformers, and Myers wants to critique their reforms - fair game.

but mainly critiques Bruffee's idea of appeals to consensus, and reality - two bases the Bruffee builds into his sense of conversation - he links them with ideology - to explain why the oppressed seem to go along with their oppressors -
because the way the reality is structured in the system appears natural, unchangeable -
in consensus, some viewpoints must be excluded or suppressed. one can create consensus by eliminating or concealing diversity and conflict -

stars with Leonard as historically distant, which makes the ideology easier to see - and argue.

real projects - real world - both defined by circumstances outside of learning/academy -

groups and consensus becomes enforces of conformity. eg: Leonard's crit of prescriptive texts i;n favor of common (consensus) usage. Base correctness on conformity to usage in reality - not academic environs.
and Myers raises the idea of usage covers for class and struggles of usage for struggles of class/power
- a position which continues outside of academy and into business

reality for Leonard et al is what is given. for soc-constructionist, as a Marxist, reality is a process, an ongoing construction by a group or class - and so we have conflicting realities.

emphasis on real world - and we do this now with drive for community writing, community service, etc makes us more subservient to the dominant ideology - and makes our students the same. that is what we're being asked to do: make the students subservient to the dominant ideology -

Myers and reform: not top down and uncritical but more understanding of the conditions of teaching and the ideological frameworks within which we think. oppose not teacher but the system in which repressive teaching is appropriate 448

Elbow and Bruffee
- This should start cutting close to the creative writing bone -
Elbow - power over audiences, power in writing, comes of a connection with reality by breaking down conventions (sound familiar? this is often a claim made by authors). unmediated realism of perception and voice authenticity of expression. So, which reality? Which authenticity?? Problem is that Elbow is unaware of his ideology, and that the text is written in such a way that makes self-critique impossible.

his appeal to consensus is very like Leonard's, with an emphasis on real writing, real audiences - which should ring alarm bells. Bruffee acknowledges that writing is socially constructed. but does not give a way to critique this social construction.

Uses consensus w/o any consideration of what it is, how it comes about, where it's used - and for what. Problem, too, with easily shedding one's economic status and class etc when moving into a classroom of peers.

Makes know;edge exist outside of the realm of differences; that is, knowledge exists in those differences, too. Knowledge is not equally distributed - even among peers. Consider how knowledge collides in the opposition of groups - teacher and students, for instance.. to reach consensus, something gets surpressed or eliminated.

Does not acknowledge social factors in DCs. Even seeks to remove them as constraints, for the "mankind" aspect.

We see the oversimplifying of DCs when we see them as reducted to normal / abnormal prose - all conflicts in consensus become reduced to those.

In his reform, Bruffee leaves out the conflict between the economic interests of the employer and that of the student et al. That is, in creating a conversation he removes conflict - which is vital to creating knowledge.

Myers: a stance towards teaching
stance means being aware of the ideological structures that keeps us from critiquing our position, and a belief that we can resist the structure and help students critique it - interrogate and critique. we are alienated from our work - that much is apparent in the kinds of complaints we make towards it: too many students, too many classes, too few hours. No educational reform is going to change that. Educational reform is structured to suit the interests of economics -

In the end, wrestle with your ideology -

Professing Multiculturalism, Lu

At root, this is an essay on the politics of "You have to learn the rules before you can break them," or

Even though we acknowledge and value the position of "real writers" to develop some stylistic moves, we still cling to the belief that that right doesn't extend to students. 491

Or, put another way, this is the position we are placed in as teachers of English and comp: get rid of those errors first - then you can teach "style."

- problem: Lu's use of "style" here is almost entirely idiosyncratic style - unique voice rather than adaptive rhetorical practice. She acknowledges this by using scare quotes - She uses the term idiosyncratic euphemistically for "patterned error."

Lu's also focussing on relieving anxiety and frustration more than writing practices directly.

Q: How does this one by Lu comment on or connect with or disconnect from the other three in this section of the text?

I might argue that this is the conversation in practice - what it looks like, even as conversation with a teacher guiding it.

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