“They Say, I Say” templates and “inventing the university”

So I was just trying out my blog in the garb of other templates. WordPress makes it easy to see what your blog would look like in another dress, another template, without actually activating or applying that template. So, for the second night in a row, I spent a good ten minutes playing with other templates. None of them I like. And I KNOW that none them I like better than this one. But I keep playing with them. Sometimes I think it’s a stress-reliever for me to sit and play with my blog appearance that way. Either that or I get the urge to re-arrange this tiny room-apartment. It’s relaxing to me, both those things. It’s probably a form of nesting, and obviously nesting is a relaxation-thing for me. Anyway, so… not to worry: I’m sticking with this template.  I like the three columns and customizable header (gotta have a personalizable header).

Long day on campus today. And during practicum tonight there were at least three times when someone said something and I thought, “ooh, I need to make a note of that, or think about that.” But my memory has already lost two of them. The only one I remember right now is something that came up in Peter’s discussion — or in Peter’s leading us in discussion — of Bartholomae’s “Inventing the University.” Peter showed the first page of one of his student’s papers and pointed out how the student was trying to use one of the templates from They Say, I Say, but, as Peter suggested (rightly, I think), the student… well, the template represented for the student a kind of cognitive move that the student wasn’t ready or able to make.

Very interesting, I thought. It brings up the issue of how much the They Say, I Say templates will function for some students like the “Inventing the University” phenomenon — in other words, how often students will stretch to use them, but will use them very clumsily, and how often students will almost be impeded by these templates? in the sense that they are over-extending their understanding of their own thesis? (if that makes sense).

I mean — the advantage of these templates is that they simply inform the student as to what academic moves should look like. And they may also, I think, help students to expand their cognitive abilities. In other words, in the same way that a larger vocabulary can help expand a student’s cognitive abilities, so a larger repertoire of academic moves can help expand a student’s cognitive abilities. But Peter’s example makes me also wonder how much these templates may impede a student who has to reach TOO far, too hard, too clumsily to use these templates, and whether sometimes, in these cases, the student would be better off to simplify her introduction, her thesis, in order to make it more manageable for her, more clearer to the reader, etc.

Anyway, it was interesting — they way stretching to use TSIS templates can function similarily to stretching to use academic diction and commonplaces.


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