Notable Notes: Exploring Identity with/in #CLMOOC

All, CLMOOC, Notable

Writing about identity and building community are particularly fraught enterprises – at least if done right and taken seriously. Every year as we embark on this challenge with CLMOOC I am struck anew by how we treat this so lightly in the classroom (often) and yet it is so important and for so many groups of our students asking them the “simple” question of “who are you” can be an incredibly loaded question. It can be a superficial throwaway exercise or it can be so much more: A learning experience for the creator as well as the audience. This Notable Notes collection is my attempt at cultivating our community by exploring and connecting (however haphazardly) the people I’m meeting and the introductions and ideas they chose to share as we create the 2016 CLMOOC Cohort.

I am in the midst of reconfiguring my own web presence as well as struggling with important career questions and so Helen DeWaard’s The True You: Iterations of a Bio really struck a chord with me – especially because she asks us to think about when we created our best-ever bio and I’m not sure that I have yet. I, and my bio, continue to be a work in progress. I also really enjoyed her biography by the numbers although just thinking about doing something similar for myself makes my head hurt.

I was interested by Christina Hendricks’ choice of creating a venn diagram approach to her introduction – perhaps simply because I don’t have any clear separation between my work and my life either…

I love collaborative pieces. Some of my favorite works were choral readings performed during Morehead Writing Project events. That may be why I continue to think about Susan Angel’s artwork created collaboratively with her students. I know my students always enjoy creating something together and I will always cherish the Praise Poems we collaborated on together this year. In some ways this is what we do with our introductions as our ideas and creations interconnect and inspire.

Kim Douillard shared a really interesting article about portraiture that focused on captured the essence of what we are struggling with here:

personal identity is far more nuanced and complex than one’s appearance could ever reveal

Jeffrey Keefer’s introduction used a mindmap to not only introduce himself but to explain how/why he made his choices about what to include in the introduction/description/biography. How could I not love this kind of meta thinking/writing?

Kevin Hodgson points out in his introduction of his introduction that picking a choosing which identity we will introduce (or how to balance our various identities) is often a very troublesome activity – although interesting and instructive. And he used comic maker so how could I not love it?

But perhaps my favorite introduction was Raymond Maxwell’s poetic introduction because I wish I had thought of creating something so beautiful and simple yet perfect. I was writing so much poetry last month that I cannot believe I have already stopped thinking like a poet and switched into digital mode so fast.

Jennifer M. Niester-Mika’s introductory/reflective blog post reminded me of my own struggles with this topic – very meta or maybe it was simply her sense of humor that attracted me to this post!

Apostolos Koutropoulos went very simple and handcrafted with his hand-drawn mindmap(?) that was simple and perfect – and slyly funny.

Aldon Hynes reflected on the connections between mysticism and digital identity (by way of Pokemon Go) which reminded me of another conversation I had with some of my Morehead WP friends about how we could harness the game craze for writing purposes via the Writing Walkabout and an article another friend shared “Pokémon Go Has Created a New Kind of Flâneur.” And of course Joe Dillon has this wonderful contribution to the conversation: 14 reasons #PokemonGO has a future in education; or, Why #PokemonGO deserves the thoughtful, creative, attention of schools and teachers

I love that Donna Goetz chose to use an infographic to introduce herself as this a wonderful two-fer assignment for me – as I often assign infographics.

I am not sure what I am going for here, can’t really come to any overarching message, except that our struggle with identity is real and confused and no matter how we try to map or organize our various identities it is not simple and neat – and probably our conception or description would vary by day, hour, or minute depending on our context and influences. And that’s OK. Perhaps if we can convey that to our partners in life, whether they be co-workers, students, family, friends, or fellow adventurers, that identity is always a work in progress as I reflected in my own introduction:

I believe quite emphatically that exploring who we are is an important exercise for humans and it is a really helpful place to begin any learning journey

What are your thoughts about the value of reflecting on and exploring identity? Do you periodically explore your identity to think about who you are and where you are going?

Artwork created using Tagul

6 comments

  • Falling back on a web presence (blog, web page, etc) can lull us into thinking that our introductions are easy. However, those to whom we offer our introduction post may read only that, not taking time to explore beyond it. That makes each attempt to say hello important all on its own.

    That is not to say it is something to fear. CLMooc is intentionally a tolerant exercise, welcoming, encouraging, “open” in all the right ways.

  • Oh Deanna what a joyful collection of insights from the CLMOOC community. Thanks for collecting the voices here so we can reflect back and think forward. This will be a great place for Make Cycle 2 to begin since it honours the multitude of voices and generously shares their perspectives. Reciprocation is a form of connection and this is remixing in action! As Jennifer tweeted earlier this week ‘that’s what I’m talking about!’. ~ Helen

  • Thanks so much for doing the work to curate this post! I’ve been wanting to tweak my intro to the semester activities this semester and have just started processing what’s not working for me and why. Lots of food for thought here.

    • I just created a word cloud from the text of my blog post – mainly because I couldn’t think of a good image to attach by itself. The fact that so many people have been interested and inspired by this word cloud has made me really think about ways I could use word clouds to inspire my students…or the teachers I work with.

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