I am struck by Marvin Diogenes essay on his Honor’s Course in Roen, et. al., Strategies for Teaching 1st Year Comp. As a former student of Corder, and as someone who is always awestruck by his essays, I have used his work on Rhetoric and Love often, especially in History and Theory of Rhetoric. I love what Diogenes does with Corder. He is so very accessible, and to imagine students having their own discussion after a semester of learning about rhetorical discourse and then writing about it, is truly exciting to me.
I wonder about this strategy in any course–a course about film and literature, for example. The key seems to be to find something in the heart of what the course is about, which means of course that the teacher and students need to be living in that core all semester. The reading or watching needs also to be using language that now the students understand so that they can move from comprehension to interpretation quickly. And the reading needs to both connect with the learning from the class and move them out of it.
Finally, I think Jim would have loved this exercise as much as he loved asking students to write a whole page describing the side of the building they saw outside the window of his classroom, then reveling in the differences in the observations. I can see that amazing twinkle which came often to his eyes, the same twinkle I imagine that he had when he read the new prohibition against smoking in the building, knowing the letter he would write about not giving up his pipe–not in his twilight years.
I can think of no better writer for students to engage that this master teacher. I will be trying this in the future.