Keeping an Open Mind

I usually like to think that I am open minded to different religious views, financial backgrounds, and cultural heritages. However, I admit that I have not implemented a lot of queer theory into my writing.  I have also not seen much of the theory implemented in writing at Stanford and high school. This does not imply that the student body is not open to ideas that are different from their own. I just feel that most students have not found the need or opportunity to include such differences in their writing.

I really enjoyed reading Jonathan Doucette’s “Composing Queers” because it exposed me to a topic I do not usually pay much attention to. In his piece, Doucette mentions, “Mitchell uses queerness as a way to engage her students actively and critically with pertinent political topics and ‘texts’ in both an academic and ‘public’ forum, challenging them to think of the ways reading and writing can produce ideas or mobilize action” (6).  I agree with this view. By exposing students to these ideas, they can rise to the challenge of mobilizing action rather than remaining indifferent towards the various issues.

As a writing tutor, I should be able to be open-minded and encourage my tutees to feel comfortable expressing themselves through their writing. I should also ensure that I do not convey any bias I may have on to the student. This includes the practice of not assuming that the dominant beliefs are the same ones my tutee has. By dong this, I can help ensure my tutee feels safe and comfortable in the tutoring environment.

Aziza Dawodu, Class of 2014

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4 Responses to Keeping an Open Mind

  1. Blog Response for May 15TH – Composing Queers: The Subversive Potential of the Writing Center

    The quote suggesting that queerness provides certain students a way of writing their stories into the bigger story of American society reminded me of many of the arguments that I have read and seen enacted by proponents of ethnic studies in my home community of Tucson, Arizona. In fact, many of the allusions to hegemony in academic discourse brought me back to thinking about the very real, pressing issue of allowing ethnic studies curriculum and writing in Arizona high schools. Just as this article argues that queer and non queer students seeking to explore sexuality and different approaches to gender in their writing should be able to do so freely and with the support of an academic institution or community, so too do proponents of ethnic studies argue that students (mainly those of Mexican descent in the case of Arizona) be able to learn and write alongside and from the perspective of their cultural background.

    This article also made me think about a student at Stanford who told me that he took a film class in which student essays were not allowed to use the universal “he” under and any circumstances and would actively be docked grade points for doing so. I was interested by the fact that the teacher stipulated that students could use the universal female rather than just generally gender ambiguous language. Going to what is (and I hope I speak for many of us Stanford students) a fairly “liberal” or “conscientious” school, I wonder if there are examples that someone from our class can provide of situations of academic hegemonic discourse or situations like the one that I just mentioned.

    This is an interesting little article I found about the use of the universal he:

  2. that comment was from Nina Foushee, by the way!

  3. Chan Hiu Ching says:

    Although nowadays modern societies are always called themselves ‘open-minded’ so as to claim to be civilized, it is inevitable that there are certain subtle limits and boundaries that constrain people’s thoughts. This has to do with the traditions and cultural influences that root deep in people’s mind. On one hand people try to force themselves to open to new ideas whereas on the other hand they are intuitively welcome ideas which favor them rather than those which challenge them. From the evolutionary perspective, this has its reasonable grounds. Afterall, who would dislike praises and agreements which boost one’s confidence? In such way, the world can only grow with the norms generally. In this sense, it is vital that we have pioneers to bring about innovations and revolutions so that the world can develop well. And this suggests that tutors are of great importance in nurturing the young generations!
    1155017287 Chan Hiu Ching

  4. Serena says:

    I believe an open and accepting learning environment is very important in the University. And this is also one of the things that make University different from our secondary/ primary school studies. Though an open atmosphere is not emphasized, the basic knowledge we learn in secondary and primary school prepare us for the deeper knowledge seeking when we enter University. Being as a tutor, it is understandable that it is hard to stay open and unbiased all the time. However, one should still try hard to be as open as possible. An open and welcoming environment can stimulates new ideas and encourages students to speak up instead of hiding their ideas. Because even if you are a tutor and you do not agree with certain viewpoint of a student, you never know if that student is true or wrong, who knows, if, one day that student’s “crazy” idea is found to be true? Just like the time when the Earth was proposed to be circulating around the Sun instead of the other way around, though many opposed the idea, it turned out to be the truth. Therefore, an open and accepting environment is very important for the growth of the academia.

    Serena Yu 1155004625

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