So, during my time in this class and in the TPC program, there have been many things that have surprised me, but hip hop pedagogy definitely tops the list. That said, after my initial shock and doubt, I must admit Del Heirro makes an incredible argument that not only supports the notion that hip hop pedagogy could be an asset to technical communication, but makes me genuinely wonder how I never considered it before? On page 255, he states “Hiphop pedagogies require a holistic approach to teaching that asks more from teachers and students. In order to create the kind of space where students of color are validated, the instructor must enact the kinds of pedagogical practices that decenter the teacher as the most important person in the classroom. S/he must also design a curriculum that is inclusive and aware of how power and privilege affect the classroom.” I absolutely 100% agree with this. Regardless of where it is practice and by whom, pedagogy must represent diversity in theory, methodology, and narrative. More importantly, pedagogy must be inclusive of all students. This can be incredibly difficult since you can never really predict what type of students you have, but if you create a curriculum that is inclusive and a pedagogy that represents the diversity seen in our present society well, then there is a better chance that students will connect to the material and take more away from their coursework.
Regarding Edwards’ chapter on race, I was excited to dive into reading TPC materials that discussed critical race theory so prominently. Race, which is considered socially constructed, plays an important role in the way each individual experiences life. The double standard minority races face when compared to their White counterparts has come under significant attention and scrutiny in recent times, especially regarding police brutality towards African Americans and the disproportionate number of African Americans being sent to jail when compared to their White counterparts guilty of the same offense. As Edwards mentioned on page 382, “the CRT movement is comprised of scholars and activists “interested in studying and transforming the relationship between race, racism, and power.” I certainly think the current relationship between race, racism, and power is in need of more attention and hope that the outcome of the CRT movement be that power is more equally distributed among the races. In this chapter, Edwards highlights five tenets: ordinariness, interest convergence, social construction, differential radicalization, and legal storytelling. Overall, a really interesting perspective on the role of race in writing and the TPC field.
Overall, I am really appreciative that I took this course and have been able to be part of the TPC program. I’m delighted by how extensively it has broken the many barriers and stereotypes I had of the topic. These last few weeks of focusing on highlighting diversity have really been awesome. I’m hopeful that progress in the field of technical and professional communication continues, because what progress has been accomplished so far has been enlightening and absolutely awesome.
I never thought that I would see hip hop pedagogy discussed within the context of technical communication, but Del Hierro offers solid reasoning for why hip hop offers technical communicators new insights “beyond the the traditional base of the field” (246). The rhetorical and cultural implications of hip hop as a technologically mediated genre is particularly interesting in that it serves to demonstrate how artists “make do” with what is available to them to express themselves and “create resistance and agency” (247). It also serves as its own means of social justice, especially for marginalized groups and youth culture. As a critical and pedagogical tool, hip hop offers teachers and students a new way into discussions about inclusivity and to build communities and alliances in a potentially radical transformative way, mostly because it acknowledges how traditional education “fails marginalized communities” (258). The digital booklet assignment proposed by Del Hierro is an interesting new take on a typical song analysis, which can be beneficial for students preparing to engage in a variety of disciplines, and I see this assignment as a valuable learning opportunity that fits neatly within the learning outcomes of FYC at ECU.
Edwards extends these ideas to race in the workplace by focusing more on language itself and its potentially injurious nature. She offers up Critical Race Theory (CRT) as a way of engaging with notions of race within the classroom and the field of professional writing by “interrupt[ing] the silences that exist with discussing, acknowledging, and dealing with the connections between race, racism, and power” (380-81). Using CRT as a lens in the classroom is valuable for discussions about language because “language use is never objective” and it can be used to critique and resist systems of oppression (385). Furthermore, emphasizing the kairotic nature of using such a lens can better serve teachers of professional writing to “disrupt trained ways of looking at race” in their course design and the documents used in the class (387), which I think is perhaps the most significant benefit of using CRT. As teachers of rhetoric, composition, and/or technical communication, we should constantly be seeking out alternative ways of breaking down an already broken education system and construct a space for students to participate in real life situations beyond the boundaries of the classroom.
Songs are a genre and a means of self-expression. Hiphop as a type of songs is also capable of serving as a means of self-expression. It is a revolution against privileging the White and an expression of the Black culture. Therefore, I agree with the idea that hiphop promotes social justice. Del Hierro argues that hiphop has been influential in the US society as evident by the spread of the hiphop style of dressing. However, the influence is not only on clothing, but hiphop’s theme of promoting social justice has spread to even non-English speaking countries. I have heard a couple of Arabic speakers who tried to create hiphop songs to deliver some sort of message and bring a social problem to the foreground through this type of art. The storytelling nature of hiphop, I believe, makes it accessible to non-English speakers who can employ it in their seek of social justice. Language is a tool of expression, along with music, rhythm and DJ technology, hiphop has achieved success as a means of communication and expression promoting social justice.
As Edwards argue, however, language can be a tool of oppression. Language reflects thinking. A person may unconsciously express racism in their language. Language can be employed to promote awareness about race and racism. Edwards, therefore, proposes the Critical Race Theory as a way of considering professional writing a means of recognizing race, racism and power through engaging critically with language in a professional writing classroom. Discussion of race in a classroom can be a sort of discomfort. CRT, Edwards argues, provides an atmosphere of discussing issues of race without creating this discomfort and tension. It can be employed in designing syllabus for a writing classroom to encourage awareness of the connection between action and language.
Language, whether it is used in academic, professional writing, or hiphop songs, is a powerful tool for promoting social justice and awareness of issues of race. Language, therefore, should be thought of critically in designing a writing classroom syllabus. creating activities that direct students attention to issues of race through language use and writing promotes their understanding of racism and social justice, and develop, therefore, as technical communicators who would be contributing to the spread of social justice and elimination of racism in language, and maybe social practices as well.
For this week’s readings, I finally felt like I could relate to technical spaces and how we want to learn or make meaning in those spaces. Before reading Del Hierro’s chapter I would have never thought that hip hop practices would be a valuable contributor to the field of technical communication. I enjoyed how Del Hierro look at the role of culture in technical workspaces and how hip hop complicates what counts as both technical and a workspace (237). A lot of my research for my other course deals with culture and how we as people embody previous experiences and how we apply this into a first year writing course. So it was great to see how Del Hierro examines how hip hop can be applied to the technical communication as well as the classroom.
On page 244, Del Hierro goes in depth how we shoud pay closer attention to culture within these spaces of technical communication. “Making the shift of paying more attention to culture invites more theory into the conversation, particularly theories paying attention to power, privilege, and difference. This may cause anxiety for some and add tension to the relationship between industry and scholarship” (244). He then relates culture with the genre of hip hop and how this particular genre uses different techniques to make meaning. For example, graffiti is used as an art in neighborhoods, gangs use their territories and different colors to represent identification, and rapping has always been a tool to create narratives of the black culture, which is most popular. I found that Edwards article relates to Del Hierro because she explores how language and race shapes who we are. It is an example of how we categorize people and commonly when we think of hip hop we automatically think of the black culture.
Another aspect of Del Hierro’s chapter explore how another scholar in the field applied hip hop pedagogy in the classroom. Here, I seen a connection with Erin Frost’s risk communication. The writer goes on to explain that, “The instructor must enact the kinds of pedagogical practices that decenter the teacher as the most important person in the classroom. S/he must also design a curriculum that is inclusive and aware of how power and privilege affect the classroom” (255). “Failure, mistakes, and errors should be valued as much as agreements, successes, and strong arguments. Everyone in the room must be committed to making the space a safe, fun experience” (256). I would agree that it is important to culturally situate these rhetorical activities so that students gain an understanding of how culture impacts the ways people communicate (259). I think if we were to look at some of these techniques and compare them to what is already being done in the classroom, I think we could make that connection between technical communication and first year writing courses.
This week’s readings on Hip Hop Pedagogy and Critical Race Theory gave insight to how technical communicators within learning spaces can further promote inclusivity and give a voice to people who are typically underrepresented and/or considered marginalized (this applies within the field as well as outside of it). I thought it was interesting how Del Hierro stated that “ignoring nonwestern contributions to technical communication reinforces systemic colonialism, racism, and white supremacy in both the field and the classroom” (240). He then follows up this statement by asserting that “departments, classrooms, and campuses still struggle and maintain power structures that marginalize students of color for the ways they look, speak, and think” (257). Interestingly enough, upon reading this I began to understand how the implementation of Hip Hop Pedagogy and an embrace of non-dominant cultures within the classroom settings both carefully and critically challenge notions of what is ‘standard’ and expected of students. Often times, people who are a part of minority groups are forced to change their speech and appearance because it is not understood or appreciated in unfamiliar spaces. By allowing students to share their personal experiences, their cultures, and their understandings of how the world works we gain insight into how they view themselves, how they tend to communicate ideas, and how they take away meaning from their experiences. In turn, this allows us the chance to amend belief systems, rules, and practices that rob others of self-expression and, even sometimes, basic rights. I believe that this pedagogy has the potential to provide those within technical and professional spaces greater understanding, appreciation, and insight into why it is so important to look outside of the ‘standard’ that tech comm is so commonly associated with.
One of the most insightful moments within Edwards piece was the section of writing that contained the student responses to the prompt on race, racism, and power within the workplace. I liked it because it was basically an example of what employing Critical Race Theory within a classroom of students might look like. The concept and practice of “connecting issues of race and racism…as a way to talk about, understand, and negotiate how students may…use knowledge to be more aware and conscious about race and systemic racism” is one that I feel is necessary in academic spaces, but (unfortunately) I can easily see instructors facing quite a bit of negative feedback in prompts and student participation. I suspect that the colorblindness Edwards speaks of is such a popular option for people nowadays because it both ‘solves’ the problem of race and racism without the full-blown confrontation of the topics themselves. My question to the class is how do we use CRT to both eradicate the notion that race ‘isn’t as big as people make it seem’ and address problems with race and power without students becoming overwhelmed at the topic? (Hope that makes sense!)
I must say that of both readings, I found Del Hierro’s article the most fascinating. Granted it provided a lot of reasons as to why Hip Hop Pedagogy would work great within classroom settings, I must say that I would have NEVER thought to compare the lyrics and style in which Biggie composed Ten Crack Commandments to a technical document, nor would I have ever used it to reflect business strategies employed by capitalist societies (that connection was pretty awesome). It made me wonder in what other ways we can use aspects/attributes of non-dominant culture to provide methods/examples of the creating and sharing of information. Interesting stuff!
In Chapter 7, Del Hierro discusses Hiphop practices as they relate to Technical Writing. He opens with this: “First, I will situate this essay among scholars who have been challenging the disciplines of technical communication and rhetoric to recognize why culture, social justice, and decolonality matter” (237). As a social justice issue, hiphop didn’t hit my radar, but he makes an excellent point by pointing out the origins of the genre in New York City. He expands it by saying it broadens the accepted notion of how technical communications work in a cultural setting. He goes on to say “the lack of scholarship paying attention to culture is doing a disservice to our students” (243). After illustrating a compelling example of a digital booklet and expanding his field of conversation to include how the school system marginalized everyone but the dominant white culture, he moves into hiphop pedagogies. In these, students are seen as active participants rather than willing (or unwilling) recipients. This is a way to demarginalize students of color. I will admit that, of all the chapters we’ve studied, this one turned my opinion. I’ve never been a fan of hiphop as a matter of personal taste, not in objection to the subject matter or subculture. By pointing out how it works within the space it occupies as a technical document/social justice ideal, Del Hierro opened my mind to new possibilities. His points are valid, even when he’s discussing the digital booklet about selling drugs. What amazed me most about it is how the content could be taken beyond the rather objectionable subject matter to have a true, realistic application. It’s just not something that ever entered my mind. I am duly impressed with Del Hierro’s reasoning though I doubt I’ll be creating a hiphop channel on my Pandora any time soon.
In Chapter 11, Edwards moves Del Hierro’s ideas forward in my mind. Edwards discusses race and the workplace. “Both language and action give us insight into what it means to be social and what it takes to communicate effectively” (376). Edwards puts forth an example of how language slants public opinion and reinforces racism with headlines focused on the differences between white aggressors, described in softer terms, and black victims, described in a harsh judgmental light. By framing that in a critical race theory, Edwards makes several valid points validating teaching race issues within the Technical Communications field to combat the myth of a non-racial world and expands it by discussing emerging scholarship on the subject. She goes on to say, “…if we do not consider race and racism in our field, we fall short in helping students to connect with the details associated with communicative process that are realities in American society” (379). After defining CRT, Edwards makes a case for application in the technical writing classroom. While I agree that CRT allows for connections to be made to uncomfortable conversations that need to be had, Edwards’ case didn’t persuade me as well as Del Hierro’s.
During week 12, we had the opportunity to learn more about non-dominant culture in the field of professional and technical communication. This unit was probably the most eye opening for me since it was a lot of intense and “real” talk type of information. Often times, non-dominant culture can be overlooked or not taken as highly into consideration since it is in the minority. So, naturally, I welcomed the opportunity to learn more.
During this week’s readings, chapter 8 by Kristen Moore was easily my favorite. In this chapter, she provides a rough but strong definition of black feminist theory, the terms and limits of its use, the applications of black feminist theory, using black feminist theory in the classroom, and the application of the four tenets.I was curious to learn more about black feminist epistemology and was surprised to read/learn that Moore was in fact White. Not to say that she could not research the approach and present it for this reason, but it left me taking her analysis with a grain of salt. Why? Well, I almost felt that it was difficult to take everything she said seriously since she had never experienced it before. That said, I do appreciate your openness in discussing her background and her dedication to bringing more attention to black feminist epistemology.
Chapter 9 by Marie Moeller discusses advocacy engagement, medical rhetoric, and expediency and how to teach technical communication in the age of altruism. Moeller opens the article by asking several questions related to the educator’s perspective. After doing so, she focuses on the role of technical communication in enacting, critiquing, and theorizing advocacy-based rhetoric dissemination. In order to accomplish this, Moeller utilizes the theoretical framework of Feminist Disability Studies. Moeller also makes the connection between technical communication and non-profits and how the field of technical communication can engage non-profit organizations. Later in the chapter, Moeller uses the Susan Komen race for the cure website to articulate the misuse/lack of proper technical communication. I was incredibly surprised to learn that such a reputable organization would be guilty of this, but was relieved and happy to know they made the necessary improvements to their website.
In Chapter 10, Jones and Walton use narratives to foster critical thinking and social justice. This is an incredibly relevant topic in our world- we hardly ever go by one day without hearing one of the following concepts: social justice, diversity, and inclusion. At least I know I certainly don’t in my world of student affairs. We live in a very diverse and challenging world and it’s becoming increasingly important for global citizens to be able to to think critically and to see the world through a perspective that promotes social justice, diversity, and inclusion. Although there is still work to be done, I am impressed with how the field of technical communication is making improvements in embracing non-dominant perspectives.
Sorry for posting this several weeks late. It’s been a very intense and overwhelming time for me life-wise and I have been struggling across the board. I also didn’t have the Critical Power Tools book so a huge thank you to Temp for letting me borrow her copy!
In evaluating the book overall, I was not surprised that the authors elected to discuss the “critical power tools” needed to be successful in the context of where technical communication and cultural studies meet. As other readings and class discussions have shown, we are now at a cultural crossroads due to expansive migration and continuous traveling across borders and regions. For this reason, we need technical communication more than ever before and we also need technical communication as a field to reflect the diversified cultures we come across each day.
In the introduction, the author discusses technical communication scholarship at the crossroads of cultural studies, introduces technical communication’s hyperpragmatist legacy, and acknowledges the limitations of hyperpragmatism and the contributions of cultural studies. As I was reading the section, particularly on the contributions of cultural studies, I found myself agreeing to the authors’ justification on cultural studies. At least it seemed and felt like justification? Or maybe just detailed explanation? Whatever, we want to call it, I was a little surprised by it. Yes, I agreed to it, but was the justification really all that needed? I mean it’s cultural studies. We live, breathe, eat in it every day. Food for thought.
In Chapter 1, Slack, Miller, & Doak discuss the relevance of communication theory, the changing conceptions of meaning and power through transmission, then through translation, and finally through articulation, and the implications for pedagogy and practice. I found this chapter to be really interesting, I had never considered the roles of transmission, translation, and articulation so thoroughly and what exactly the impact of those roles would be on pedagogy and practice.
In Chapter 2, Digler discusses extreme usability and technical communication by defining usability and extreme usability and articulating extreme usability in a variety of ways including as a quality possessed by technology and as a methodology. Digler concludes that the relationship between extreme usability and technical communication is complemented in a cultural studies approach.
Chapter 3 was by far my favorite. Any discussion regarding technology and it’s impact on technical communication and vice versa immediately raises my interest. Overall, I thought Moses and Katz did a great job articulating the role of email and how our way of communicating has been impacted by it. This is something I do struggle with often since there is a desire to be friendly and person, but also a need to be professional too. It’s a difficult balancing act and one I am still working on figuring out.
I had so much fun creating memes and a Prezi as a response to Del Hierro’s chapter, “Stayin’ on Our Grind: What Hiphop Pedagogies Offer to Technical Writing”, that I wrote the whole post on it. Oops. But connections to Edwards’s chapter are easily made.
I think it would be incredibly interesting to explore how the Critical Hiphop Pedagogy (CHHP; p. 254) and the five main elements of hiphop (p. 253) align with and/or could be made richer in conjunction with the five basic tenants of Critical Race Theory (CRT; p. 383-384). It could also be fruitful to compare how certain digital booklets and ciphers (that are create by others and examined by the class and/or those created by members of the class) socially construct different definitions of racism (p. 384) and how they are [not] examples of the crucial relationships between language and action (p. 384) and/or race, racism, and power (p. 382) from CRT. If I had more time, I would like to apply the various aspects of CRT to the Activity Theory framework I applied to CHHP. Good, nerdy fun. 🙂
Check out my Prezi to see how Questlove is a technical communicator, Beyonce embodies rhetorical velocity, and remix allows Biggie. Also see how Childish Gambino directly addresses the link between hiphop and technology and Activity Theory is used to think through CHHP.