First Step for Sharing My Research

Even though I finished my main research essay, I am looking forward to completing my public writing portfolio.  This is mainly because I was disappointed with the way my research turned out.  I felt like I had so many topics that I did not get to touch on in order to not stray from my main question.  In my research essay, I mainly analyzed the effects of the non-racist rhetoric in the education system on the local DC community.  My next goal with this research project is to pitch my research to my professor so she will nominate me to present at the University Writing Panel Research and Writing Conference.

To find examples, I honestly just googled, “how to pitch your research for a panel,” because I wondered if Google would work better with a more blunt approach.  The results mainly led me to websites giving advice on how to pitch your book at a writing conference to get it published.  This is in the context of being an author pitching your book to editors with other esteemed authors being the competition.  I am not at that level yet, but most of the advice is applicable to my situation nonetheless.  I could not find specific examples of a pitch, just advice.

The author of a pitch is advertising his or her own writing, trying to convince a higher power to publish it.  In my case, I am trying to “publish” my research for the purpose of presenting to future University Writing students, so I must present a pitch to my professor, the superior.  The scene of the pitch is formal, but you can still use “I”.  My particular situation is less formal.  The advice from the websites I looked at said that the main thing is to “play up your credentials”, which I think I could tie into my pitch by relating how my research would benefit the GW community next semester.  The advice from this website is to write around one page, and no more than two, unless it is “brilliant” and there is “a lot to say”.  There was no specification on paragraph length, but I conclude that as long as the paragraphs are fully developed, any length is reasonable.  I personally, will not use abbreviations because I want to be clear in my writing.  Also, by using “insider” words, I would not be able to establish a genuine connection with the reader.  This website did not say anything about citations, but I read a reflection letter with citations; therefore, to rather be safe than sorry, I will cite in my pitch.  Nothing about pictures was mentioned, but to me it seems unnecessary and irrelevant to add pictures.  The only situation in which I could envision this being acceptable for my pitch is if my audience wants me to use a visual aid during the conference and they want me to show a preview of my visual aid.  Since the advice related to writing style, I do not know much about the writing format, but I will follow up with my professor on that.  Overall, I think the best advice is to know your audience beforehand so you can know how to catch their attention in a more effective manner.


Self-Growth in Writing: I Know Where I am Going

Writing for Social Change has been my all-time favorite class.  As the end draws closer, I am starting to become very sad because I have learned so much, and I do not want to stop that expansion of knowledge.  However, I know that there is always much to learn outside of the classroom; I just have to own up to the challenge of seeking the information for myself.  I would say that this class has helped me become a better writer because it has shown me the empowering side to writing and reading.  Before, all I had known of these skills had been associated with feeling like my creative spirits were trapped in a box.  Through this class, I was told to experiment outside of my comfort zone because if I did not, I would never learn anything from the experience.  If I were not empowered to follow my own writing dynamic, I probably would still be a very stagnant writer.

Visiting my first blog posts from earlier on in the semester brings me back to moments of pure excitement.  For the first time in my life, I had felt genuinely excited to put words down on paper – or in this case, a computer screen.  I always thought very deeply about what I would write down because I wanted my best work to public.  That being said, I do not think I would change the content with which I answered the blog prompts assigned to me through this class.  That may come across as if I think my writing was perfect, but that is not true.  I always included many different perspectives in my blog posts, especially the ones in which I talked about my role in my local DC organization, the LAYC.  Regarding the intellectual content of the class, I am in the same headspace that I was many weeks ago, but I have improved my understanding and employment of the rhetoric.  If I were to change anything, I think it would be to become even more transparent to my audience.  Throughout the duration of the class, I was paranoid that I might have been too blunt at certain points, but I realize now that that pure honesty is something valuable.  Now that I have improved my rhetoric, I could continue to be honest, but still keep it classy and tactful.

Visiting my blogs from when I first wrote about my involvement at the LAYC, I see my spirit start out as a flame, then later get put out and smashed to ashes.  Honestly, volunteering at the LAYC was more stressful than it was helpful I think.  Most people might take this as I was annoyed to travel there – which I was not.  I was just stressful because it led me to question everything.  I guess I could retract my statement of this experience not being helpful, as we can learn something from everything.  This experience forced me to confront my role in perpetuating the White Savior Complex.  Although this may have put a lot of worry into my daily life, I have to take it upon myself to make sure that I continue to educate myself and others about the potential negative consequences of something like this occurring.  I can not be too caught up on feeling guilty; I have to recognize what is happening and do something to change it.  In addition, considering I am not from the racially marginalized community, this stress is nothing I should complain about.

Concerning my research process, I look back and think to myself, “Wow you had such great ideas, Erin, but you could have done so much better.”  One thing that I know about myself is that I am terrible at managing my time.  This is something I have to consciously remind myself of to improve, but, combined with the research project in this class, it gave me insight into how procrastination can debilitate the research and writing process.  I also noticed that I changed my question a lot, so over the summer, I want to initiate my own research project to retouch on the question I initially wanted to research.  If I start disciplining myself this summer, I know that my writing abilities and time management will only improve as well.  Once again, it simply comes down to accountability of self.

What stands out about this Writing for Social Change class to me the most is the way we structured our research.  We used “Frameworks” and “Objects of Study”, which if I were to use those two terms in daily life, I do not know how many people would actually understand the meaning.  I have to admit, these terms left me confused for most of the semester until the day I turned in my research paper.  In that moment, I actually started to get a hang of how to employ each (I might not have done it right, but I still felt like I did).  This strategy was helpful to me because it was an “outside-of-the-box” technique.  Another thing I had to accustom myself to was the fact that I was adding to an educational conversation, not arguing my opinion.  At first I thought this was stupid because I am only 19 years old…how would I gather my own stance in a world where many other scholars already elaborated on what I wanted to say?  I realized that I could add my own flare by talking about the LAYC because I had not come across research from the LAYC concerning “diversity” rhetoric, and now I am much more confident in my researching skills and my ability to formulate an informative document.

For my final project, the Public Writing Portfolio, I want to elaborate on my concern about perpetuating the White Savior Complex.  I feel that in pursuit of a Revolution, and in order to uphold solidarity, this must be addressed.  The white community will only stall the Revolution if it feeds into this notion.  I want to start a dialogue about this notion in a letter to the Nashman Center for Civic Engagement so that they are aware that this is happening.  I am not going to attack them, I just want to work on finding a solution to this detriment.  I would be more than happy to work with the people there on this issue.  Furthermore, I really want to present at the UWP Writing and Research Conference.  I know my essay might not have been the perfect essay, but I know that what I have to say brings to light a new stance and will facilitate a necessary discussion about diversity on GWU’s campus.  Also, if I presented, other students would be able to ask me questions, which would help me to delve further into research and to continue challenging my way of thinking.  Overall, my mission would be to connect my research to my role at the LAYC throughout the semester.

I imagine myself having to create and revise a shorter paper accompanied by a powerpoint, but I want to also include my personal experience at the LAYC.  As of right now, I just want to know how I would be able to present at the next UWP Writing and Research Conference.  I was so inspired by the presentations I saw when I attended, and I honestly want to pass that inspiration along to at least one other student, who could eventually pass it on to more students.

Embarking on my Research

Research Question: “Has the definition of ‘diversity’ changed or been misconstrued between the Civil Rights Movement Era and the New Jim Crow Era?  What role does colorblindness play into that evolution?”

At first, I was hesitant to delve deeper into this question because I could not, for the life of me, find any resources for the evolution of the definition of “diversity”.  I thought to myself, “Do other people care about ‘diversity’ the same way I do?”  However, after receiving help in class, I realized I was simply not typing the information in the correct way to search the databases successfully.  After my second round of searching for sources, there was a plethora of resources.  I kept coming back to search the same database because there were to many articles that captured my attention.  My working bibliography now consists of (in APA style):

  1. Rostant, J. j. (2017). Diversity in Education: Initial Explorations of Ethnocentrism, Uncertainty Tolerance, and Phenomenological Perspectives. Antistasis, 7(1), 57-65.
  2. Atasay, E. e. (2014). Neoliberal Multiculturalism Embedded in Social Justice Education: Commodification of Multicultural Education for the 21st Century. Journal For Critical Education Policy Studies (JCEPS), 12(3), 171-204.
  3. Gibson, S. s., Baskerville, D., Berry, A., Black, A., Norris, K., & Symeonidou, S. (2016). ‘Diversity’ ‘Widening Participation’ and ‘Inclusion’ in Higher Education: An International study. Widening Participation & Lifelong Learning, 18(3), 7-33. doi:10.5456/WPLL.18.3.7
  4. Apple, M. W. (1980). Ideology and curriculum. 1979. Educational Theory, 30169-175.
  5. Apple, M. a. (2016). Challenging the epistemological fog: The roles of the scholar/activist in education. European Educational Research Journal, 15(5), 505-515. doi:10.1177/1474904116647732
  6. Meshulam, A., & Apple, M. W. (2014). Interrupting the interruption: neoliberalism and the challenges of an antiracist school. British Journal Of Sociology Of Education, 35(5), 650-669. doi:10.1080/01425692.2014.919847
  7. Apple, M. a. (2006). Understanding and Interrupting Neoliberalism and Neoconservatism in Education. Pedagogies, 1(1), 21-26. doi:10.1207/s15544818ped0101_4
  8. Apple, M. W. (2015). Understanding and interrupting hegemonic projects in education: learning from Stuart Hall. Discourse: Studies In The Cultural Politics Of Education, 36(2), 171-184. doi:10.1080/01596306.2015.1013245
  9. Mockler, N. N. (2013). Reporting the ‘education revolution’: in the print media. Discourse: Studies In The Cultural Politics Of Education, 34(1), 1-16. doi:10.1080/01596306.2012.698860

Hopefully these will give me insight I desire.  I expect my bibliography will continue to expand as I continue doing more “concept archaeologies”.


Research Proposals: Definitions of Diversity

  1. What does “diversity” mean to different organizations and institutions?

Anyone on this blog knows that diversity is one of my fundamental principles.  It is something that is constantly on my mind.  In every situation I find myself, I am always assessing the “diversity levels”.  However, I never really thought that there could be multiple different versions to the definition of diversity.  Growing up in the United States, one becomes accustomed to equating the word “diverse” with “racially diverse”.  However, in other cultures, “diverse” simply means “different”.  I first came across this in my first semester at university.  I asked my Italian professor how to say “diverse” in Italian because the word for “different” was “diverso”.  I questioned this meaning because in Spanish, “diverso” means “diverse” and “diferente” means “different”, and I thought it would be more similar in Italian.  My teacher looked at me for a second and could not think of a direct translation.  She then said to me, “Oh, I guess you would just have to say ‘étnicamente diverso’ [which translates to ‘ethnically diverse’] because in Italian we do not have a word for ‘diverse’.”  For the rest of the class I was zoned out trying to figure out why Italians did not have a specific word for “diverse” in Italian.

 I then realized that maybe it was not the Italians that had it weird…

…maybe in the United States, certain things just happen to be associated with each other due to specific culture of prejudice developed from the specific historic agenda that led to the formation of the country.

A potential framework of research for this specific question could be someone who has worked and done research on social constructs.  Clearly, the term “diversity” has to be a social construct considering it has different associations in different cultures.  A potential object of study could be the Latin American Youth Center because as I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, I have wondered how they define “diversity”.

I could probably reframe this question into, “In what ways is the term ‘diversity’ a social construct? How do different organizations in the local DC area define this term – in accordance to the social construct or not?”


2. How is “diversity” acknowledged and constructed among schools across the United               States?

I am deeply interested in education development, and after reading H. Richard Milner IV’s article, “Rethinking Achievement Talks in Urban Education”, I started to question even more whether diversity could be considered a social construct.  Being that he elaborated on changing the rhetoric of the achievement gap,

this made me think whether the education system in the United States manipulates the definition of “diversity”.

(Obviously, I had a preconceived notion that it does, but a true scholar must always questions himself or herself to evaluate the validity of his or her argument – see “The Doubting Game” in one of my previous blogs.)

I could use Milner’s article for a framework, but better yet, I could rely on his source.  He got the idea of the social construct of the achievement gap from someone else, so I could use that source as a framework.  Looking to Milner’s source as a source could lead me to finding other sources for frameworks.  For a potential object of study, I should probably narrow it down to a more specific area in the national school system.

I could probably reframe this question into, “How is ‘diversity’ acknowledged and constructed among schools in the local DC area? How does colorblindness combined with different teachings of diversity play into the varying constructions of the word ‘diversity’?”


3.  Has the passage of time changed the definition of “diversity”?

Being in the Writing for Social Change class, I have been studying the rhetoric of community organizations in reaction to the pressures at the moment.  Sixty or seventy years ago, during the Civil Rights Movement, the word “diversity” probably intensified in association with “racial diversity”.  (I do not know this for sure, but this is the purpose of initiating further research.)  However, realizing that in today’s society, we are faced with the rhetoric of the New Jim Crow and its consequences, maybe “diversity” means something different.  Actually, I do not think it means something different – it is still very much associated with “racial diversity”; I think because of the shift in the way racism is carried out – nowadays being more institutionalized through colorblindness – the way the word “diversity” is taught has changed.

 I believe that some organizations and institutions have misconstrued the way “diversity” is defined in order to not be held accountable to their colorblindness.

Potential frameworks for this could be studies done by key members of the revolutions during the Civil Rights Movement Era and the New Jim Crow Era.  Potential objecta of study could be archives from the Civil Rights Movements, works from the education systems from the Civil Rights Movement Era and the New Jim Crow Era.

I could probably reframe this question into, “Has the definition of ‘diversity’ changed or been misconstrued between the Civil Rights Movement Era and the New Jim Crow Era? What role does colorblindness play into that evolution?”