Syllabi Stories?

4 November 2015/11:30 AM
Last week, I woke up in the middle of the night with a fragment of an idea about how to structure the second volume of my Undisciplined stories: Syllabus. What does that mean? I’m still trying to figure that out. What I do recall from my 1 am, or was it 2 am?, musings was that I like/d the process of crafting the course syllabus. I imagined it as a form of storytelling. A form in which I provided a guide for exploring ideas/theories/authors, where students didn’t just passively consume a Narrative about the course topic, but engaged with my story and challenged it, built upon it and transformed it through assignments, in-class activities, readings and discussions.

In my new book project, I’m not interested in offering up any straightforward account of my experiences as a teacher. Instead, I want to explore and experiment with how I might be able to continue being a teacher beside and besides the academy. What do I do with all of the stories (in papers, blog posts, syllabi) that I crafted within the academy? What do those stories mean to me? Who do I share them with and how? I think incorporating syllabi and/or using the syllabus as a way to structure this project could be key.

Does this make any sense? I’m struggling to make my thoughts coherent. That’s okay because this struggle is a huge part of the writing, thinking, feeling and troublemaking process for me. 

To help with my struggle, I’m researching other people’s stories that involve a syllabus, or things found on a syllabus, like a reading list or workbook/writing assignments. I’m hoping this research will inspire me, providing examples of creative (and effective) ways of using the syllabus to structure my story.

This morning I started reading Lynda Barry’s Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor. Wow. I’ve just read the first three pages and it inspired me to write this post and provided me with another interesting source, Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice.

I just requested this book from the public library. At one point in the video, he suggests that his book, which was originally a course syllabus, is a how-to manual. I do not envision my current book to be a how-to manual. I want to offer some guidance about life beside/s, but I don’t want to frame it as how to do this, or how to be this. I’m reminded of the first part of the title of my presentation with KCF years ago: This is not a how-to manual, but an invitation to engage. What might that look like?

My Undisciplined Story

A few years ago, I wrote a book documenting and exploring the “thinking, feeling, writing and troublemaking life of a student.” It was called Unofficial Student Transcripts. I’ve imagined writing a follow-up to that book in which I explore my life as a teacher/educator/mother. Fragments of ideas have been simmering in the back of my mind for over a year (or more). Now I seem to be ready to take this project more seriously with some research. Here are a few things I’m reading to get me thinking about how to structure/format this second book:

Brandon Schrand's Work Cited
Brandon R. Schrand’s Work Cited
Lynda Barry's Syllabus
Lynda Barry’s Syllabus

Archiving, part one

Step Two: Researching

Yesterday I began reflecting on how I need a more thoughtful and careful methodology for my online storytelling process. Today, after spending some time exporting photos and videos from 2012, 2013, 2014, I’ve decided that I should do some research on the best ways to archive the digital content on my MacBook Air. File Folders? Tags? Multiple copies of each item? A database? Minimal or extensive descriptions of each item?

As I try to answer these questions (and more), here are two sources that I’ve found so far:

While the information found here is pretty basic, I did appreciate the recommendation for creating specific titles, tags and a description of the item and where it’s located. Which tags should I use? Should the summary document be an excel spreadsheet? What other formats could it be in?

Personal Digital Archiving Conference 2015

[Here’s an article about the conference.] Cool! I’m looking forward to reading many of these presentations and maybe watching a video or two. The information from this conference could be useful for my digital archive, Scraps of Memory, on my The Farm project.

Uh oh. I just started skimming through the program and I’m falling down a rabbit hole. So many interesting things to think about in relation to technology, digital archiving, family history. Wow. I find this stuff fascinating and a very important part of the storytelling process.

While reading through one of the talks, I found a link to this Tumblr: Photos die unless we talk about them. Love this project.


Work Flow and Archiving

I just returned from a wonderful 10 day vacation with my family. As I hiked through Utah at Zion National Park, I started thinking about my difficulties with managing my creative process/work flow for creating digital stories while using the iPhone. I’ve decided that a useful and necessary project for me would be to research and think about: 1. how to archive photos/videos from iPhoto and 2. how to manage my creative process as I create new stories using my iPhone as my exclusive (or at least primary) camera.  As I do my research, I will add links and information on this blog and on my resource page.