First, I think it’s important to articulate that the activities illustrated for us here are very helpful in looking at our own Cookbook presentations, because they give us insight, perspectives, and results that we might otherwise not see in the beginning phases of the project. So, Kudos to Professor Mueller for the advocacy!

Next, I want to talk about something mentioned on page 71 that has been simmering for sometime now. It is the very last paragraph on the page that begins, “Finally, I would suggest, many English composition teachers have downplayed the importance of visual literacy and texts that depend primarily on visual elements because they confront us with the prospect of updating our literacies at the expense of considerable work, precious time, and a certain amount of status. Teachers continue to privilege alphabetic literacy over visual literacy, in other words, because they have already invested so heavily in writing, writing instruction and writing programs–and because we have achieved some status as practitioners and specialists of writing” In the margin of the page, I have a sticky note that I wrote this on, “So, it seems the inconsistency in alphabetic vs visual composition is less about what/how students learn and more about what/how teachers demonstrate what we know?” I’m still not certain how much of that I believe, but it seems to be the case, in a sense.

How can we, as professionals, be so certain with what we think we know about writing, learning to write, or teaching it, when even a scholar such as Cynthia L. Selfe states, “we have achieved some status as practitioners and specialists”? If we look at this from another professions’ stand point, maybe the wider perspective is a little bit easier to see. Physicians attend post-secondary institutions for a good while, in order to receive their credentials and skill base to practice medicine. Then, they are responsible for interning for another stipulated amount of time to put these practices to work. They are not masters of a skill set, they are practitioners who are mastering their skill set. Thus, although physicians carry a good amount of status and entitlement with their chosen profession, they are in fact practicing medicine, or else when patients are given a diagnosis that they question, the practitioner would not suggest a second/third opinion to confirm or deny the diagnosis. With this viewpoint in mind, are we not practitioners ourselves? Is it not possible that we, as professionals learn as much about a subject, familiar or unknown, as our students do? Is this not why we teach….to continue to develop what we know? I think it is. So, why is it so difficult for some instructors to teach with this in mind? I’m not implying that all instructors are narrow-minded about what they profess to know. I am suggesting that we need to incorporate a more inclusive stand with regard to curriculum: a wider base for our students to work with and a little more humility for our teachers to practice with.

As professionals, we study in order to “specialize” in one area of the field or another, it has been this way for many years now. However, I believe our students get much more out of their work, when instructors are instructing as student as well. The more variety we teach, the wider the scope of the learning, because as instructors, we widen our own literary perspective. This is the key to maintaining job security in our field: knowing that the more we learn, the less we truly know.

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