On the Structure of Classroom Activities and “Invention”


Jolife’s suggestion for structuring class discussions (253) through have a schedule a rotating cast of student speakers, sits especially well with my plan for a the 181 course. Beginning the presentations after the first section of the class—which the students are gathering the background necessary to the deconstruct, identify, analyze, respond to, and offer salient alternatives or cost-benefit analyses the status quo as opposed to advocated action— and give the ideal transition into the pragmatic applications of all the tools and terms they just learned regarding arguments. Given these tools, these presentations will require that one student sign up each session to present one of the articles assigned as required reading. By offering a distilled argument shell for the article as well as suggestions for attacking the advocacy therein—in the form of an outline, an argument tree, and vulnerable links for a potential 1NC (first negative constructive).

The other students in the class will be flowing the breakdown of the article, identified link structures and their viability, as well as negative case counter plans as the presenter speaks. They will then be asked to flesh out the suggested negative case that was outlined by the speaker.

Following this detailed outline coming to fruition, the class may suggest alternative arguments or different positions from class’s analysis. This will conclude with my tagging arguments I saw working particularly well; problematic/tenuous link structures, impact scenarios, and potential counter plans; and compile a research outline based upon what was generated during the class session for any students to reference if looking for analysis in their final projects or 1NC outlines.

I will tweak Julie Robinson’s In class presentation form (258) to include a required meeting, pre-presentation, and a reflective response write up the week following the presentation. In this reflective assignment I will be asking for personal, blunt reflections, both on how a student feels the audience received her information and how generative the extensions of the presenter’s argument were—with regards to developing a nuanced case for their final research project.

Additionally, reflection on the benefits of presenting orally one’s findings and analysis of an argument as compared to submitting a written summary of the same as well as assessing the potential costs for such a shift in medium. Finally, I will ask whether the student has a preference for either the write-up or oral presentation/workshop after completing this assignment.

Furthermore, I will require a conference during my office hours for each student the week prior to their presentation at which time we will go over their argument analysis, frontlining responses to potential questions, address any fears or uncertainties and assure the student that since I know where they are going with their analysis I will not hesitate to jump in on their behest if need be, furthermore I will at this time give feedback on the progress, quality, and work that goes into developing such a presentation as well as coach the student on responding to the peer-suggestions in the brainstorming session and how to best use this moment for developing arguments they may tag for having significant traction and further use.

During these conferences, I will point out that 80% of the work needing to be done for the term paper is contained within this assignment and, if the student wants to, they are encouraged to use this topic for their term paper as they will have the benefit of the entire class’s insight into providing research ideas. Also, there analysis of vulnerabilities in the argument of the article one can link in to disadvantages, as well as solvency turns, or potential counter planning will inherently serve as sources of invention for all participating while leaving the onus upon each student whether to adopt, negate and thus use as grounding for further critique, or ignore as irrelevant or pursuing an alternative conclusion when the student wishes to reach and argue for.

Considering the suggestions, by Teresa Enos’s “Invention Activity” (234-36) and Roberta Bentley’s “Invention as a Strategy of Revision” (236-39), for classroom and homework activities facilitating invention as entailing both generative and regenerative processes, I feel – at least theoretically – considerations are incorporated into my 181 course—as a matter of topical necessity. The presentation and brainstorming activity as well as the fundamental process for crafting, developing, prevaricating, refuting and critiquing arguments necessitates constant invention and revision. A disadvantage to policy plan that relies on the link to Iranian sanctions for its impact scenario, for example, generates new pathways to explore inherently. Revising plans in the face of negative impacts from unintended disadvantageous situations or her mutating alternative scenarios into planks of the policy plan itself incorporates in spirit the constant process of invention as revision and how by moving component parts of an argument (or paper) into a different relationship illustrates the generative element in what was meant to be finite in the definitive analysis in what was meant to merely incite contemplation.

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