Opening General Session

Opening General Session (CCCC 2006 Chicago — Day 2)

Two huge projection screens flank the dais here in the grand ballroom. One screen shows a video close-up of the program chair, Akua Duku Anoyke. The other screen shows a textual transcript of her words. There is a soft chuckle in the room when she mentions a name – Rosanne Cook – that appears on the screen as “roast Ann cook.”

As is always the case with conference liveblogging, these are the rough notes that I took while the presenters were speaking. I’ve lightly edited them, but please don’t consider them a professional transcription.

The announcement that there are 900 newbies led to applause.

The word “pedagogy” came across on the transcript as “pedestrian Gojy.”

(I should note that the transcripting is really working very well – just because I note the amusing glitches shouldn’t be taken as criticism. I just enjoy pointing out the limitations of the technology.)

Joyce Rain Anderson introduced the Scholars for the Dream awards, a program to bring under-represented groups to present at the CCCCs for the first time.

The 2006 Exemplar Award was presented to David Bartholomae, who got a standing ovation. Bartholomae says he told his brother, “It’s like a geezer award.” “I’m of that generation that says the 4Cs was our graduate school.” His graduate training offered no coursework in composition or pedagogy, and it did not take education of freshman seriously. Bartholome points to the successful growth of CCCCs, but worries that in the focus on creating graduate programs and rhetoric and composition theories, perhaps the central importance of freshman writing education has been lost. Why should freshman English remain an area of primary importance: By turning our energies to the upper divisions, and research, we are confirming the deans’ bias towards research, rather than teaching. Freshman comp asks us to ask, what is the place of reading and writing in a general sense, as they might be practiced outside the canons of advanced study? IF we turn away from freshman English, we lose the opportunity to think about the relationship of being accountable to the public. Bartholomae notes that one can make a successful career focusing on lower-division classes and freshman writing. (Another standing ovation.)

Rebecca Burnett presented the 4Cs Memorial Scholarship, honoring former CCCC chairs who have passed away, and supporting four graduate student conference presentation.

Joe Janangelo, the local arrangements chair, introduced and recognized some of the key people who worked to organize the conference. He spoke touchingly of mentors past, encouraging us to thank the mentors who surround us, including people we encounter in the elevators, the assistants who do our photocopying, the people who clean our offices, our partners, and children.

Kyoko Sato, NCTE president, recalled the “thin, white, diaphanous material wafting up from the concrete floor” that partitioned the convention hall last year. She spoke of the commonalities between secondary education and college teachers. She noted “slight edginess” of the CCCCs personality as opposed to the general NCTE personality (but quickly qualified that as a good thing), and expressed her interest in encountering theoretical terms. Her mention that NCTE has opened a satellite office in Washington, D.C. in order to make NCTE concerns more visible to the government. (There was a short burst of enthusiastic applause, which seemed to surprise her.) As part of the NCTE efforts, the states are being encouraged to look at Reading First, and to create a range of assessments, decreasing the testing burden. (Louder applause.) Sato invited us back to Chicago in 2011, to celebrate CCCC’s 100th birthday.

Sharon Mitchler, chair of the 2-year college commission, noted that community college “is where the action is.” (Applause.) She previewed panels of particular interest to 2-year college teachers. She also asked members who are currently teaching in 2-year colleges to stand, and then asked those who had taught there in the past, to stand. A small but significant number stood. Then, she invited everyone who has ever attended a 2-year college to stand – and by this time, half the room was on its feet.