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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rhetoric and Tech....You're kidding, right?

In the spirit of full disclosure, let me confess that I am as excited as a kid in a candy store to be at college. Being a full time mommy of five has dominated every moment of my life for a long time. At the beginning of my motherhood,with the exception of a few months here and there, I was either pregnant or nursing a baby for nine consecutive years. While I have no regrets, those years were hard, selfless work. My husband and I used to keep track of who had acquired the most "P's" on their clothing that week (poop, puke or pee.) If I had only known then that those problems of infancy and toddlerhood would be replaced by the three "G's" of the teenage years, (girlfriends, gaming and grades ) I would have been a little more thankful!
Mom's support groups such as MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and my close group of friends have kept me sane, and through all of this I have even managed to hold on to the small and fragile seedling that is "self". While I continue my role as "mommy", I am ready to water and feed that well rooted seedling into a strong and fruitful tree. A tree that I hope can provide shelter and shade to those in need of direction and support after times of trauma.
That process of growth is beginning now, in the typical freshman courses, English, Biology, Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, and Political Science. ( I am holding off on the Math as long as humanly possible.) I spent hours choosing these courses. I visited the campus at least six times before school started, finding my classrooms, the best places to eat lunch, park, and of course, of utmost importance, locating Starbucks. I purchased my texbooks early and started my first week of classes having read and oulined the first two chapters of each of the texts. No one, and I mean NO ONE was going to throw me a curve ball. I was armed, loaded, and ready to learn.
Enter into the scene a very young, (I could be his mother and I am only 41), energetic English teacher. I am assuming he is a teacher and not a professor, unless PhD's are now awarded to minors. That being said, he is bright and seems to be passionate about rhetoric. Fantastic! I love to write, am familiar with Aristotle's theories on persuasion and am open to critique. This should be a wonderful class. Let me emphasize should. Upon reading the syllabus on the computer, (there is one at every desk in his classroom) I broke into a cold sweat. The title of the syllabus is Technology and Online Rhetoric. That was NOT the title of this course as outlined by the English department in the University catalog. Further reading of the future assignments revealed not only the typical papers (Rhetorical Analysis, Cultural Analysis, Definition Essay, Proposals) but also technology related projects. (Blogs, Xtranormal, texting verbiage, gaming language etc.) Xtranormal?? I had to google this just to see what the heck he was talking about. Gaming Language?? The only gaming language that comes out of my mouth is "shut off the X-box and do your homework NOW or you are grounded and I am throwing the damn thing in the trash." Somehow, I don't think this is the "gaming language" my teacher is referring to. Aristotle and Black Ops?? He's kidding, right?
This morning at breakfast I told my kids about my English class. Up until now, the kids have approached the whole "mommy going to college" bit with restrained enthusiasm. Their major concerns are that I will still be there to help them with their homework, that their baseball uniforms will still be washed and ready to wear at game time, and that there still will be a dinner made. Until now. Gaming language? Texting verbiage? They think it sounds awesome. My fourteen year old wants a copy of the syllabus to show his 7th grade English teacher, whom he refers to as "Dinosaur Woman". "Wow mom," said my 11 year old. "You are going to make a movie with Xtranormal?" "I want to help!" Sigh. He knew what Xtranormal was. I guess maybe it is time that I do, too.


  1. Hahaha, Amy! So funny! Can't wait to hear what gaming language and Xtranormal are...I'm not even going to look it up - I'll wait to hear it from you.

  2. Have to tell you that the technology challenge is already on in our house. You should hear Jim and me just trying to figure out how to "follow" a blog. Pitiful! Thanks for the education.:-)

  3. So awesome!!! Great for you and what an amazing husband and family for supporting you! I will have to stop by and see you guys when I make it back to GP. So proud of you and can't wait to read more! Big Hug for you and the family.

  4. Amy, there is one consolation, even if you don't know what Xtranormal is yet. Once you get past blogs and Powerpoint, and you start to create movie vignettes, the great news is that digital movie software is finally easy enough for the lay person to muddle through a semi-realistic DVD production. I've done two movies in the last two months and figured out how to do soundtracks, transitions, still images, movie segments, title pages, and DVD burning. I know you've done slideshows for baseball, so you already have most of the skills you need. Your strengths as a writer will help you foremost, because no tech in the world will replace human thought and emotion.

    PS If you really want to fall asleep at night quickly, just bounce over to my blog (linked URL). Works better than Nytol. Keep up the good work!

  5. And by the time you graduate all those things will be past, and something new will have popped up to replace it. The pace of technology and fad is dizzying!

  6. Fantastic post.
    Don't worry too much about the course theme either. MattSchuetze is dead on, your ability to write will be the most valuable tool this semester!
    If you are familiar with (dare I say, intrigued by?) Aristotle/Greek notions of rhetoric, then you may find some of our discussions on how "techne" and "logos" are related. Remember, the goal of the course is to figure out how "writing" is influenced by technology (and vice-versa). Plus, your fears with Xtranormal should be allayed as soon as you start working with the platform - it's quite simple! Maybe you and your kids can work on a video together at some point too :)

  7. Go Amy! before you now it you will surpass those teens on this worldly knowledge!

  8. I admire you. I could not have stayed home through a succession of kids, let alone go back to school in my 40's.
    As for keeping up with technology -- I can't even figure out to what the "Comment as" button is referring.