Creating Spaces for Strategic Contemplation:
A Collaborative Webtext
By David Maynard and Christine Denecker
Designed by Megan Adams
Selfe (2009) reminds instructors, “We need to better understand the importance that students attach to composing, exchanging, and interpreting new and different kinds of texts that help them make sense of their experiences and their lives . . . “ (p. 642). Maybe this was what I was meant to learn most intimately from my own and from my witness of David’s scholarly meditation via our collaborative endeavor. I also learned that Selfe’s (1999) call for a “collective strength” in working toward the ends of technological literacy derives not only from our colleagues within the profession but also from our students. We need to listen to their voices.
I learned, too, that as an instructor I am charged, at the very least, to give all students the space and the support needed to engage in the types of strategic contemplation and thus, intentional reflection, that may (or may not) result in unexpected leads worth pursuing. And while feminist rhetorical practices, theories of multimodal composition, and educational training can result in strong assignment design, I am obligated to remember that the power of strategic contemplation outreaches the boundaries of any course, or classroom, or individual assignment. It occurs collectively, as well as individually. It emerges in after-class discussions, over coffee shop tables and the copy machine, in doorways and hallways, through email exchanges and drafts shared in GoogleDocs. It lingers both inside and outside our research tasks, and in the best cases, moves us toward a sharper understanding of ourselves and others. As instructors, we would be wise to linger with our students in the spaces beyond their projects to witness and assist in the untangling of thoughts or in the gleaning of emerging ideas. Who knows what we, ourselves, might learn?