Walking Stick Blogger

A Learning Space for Literacy and English Language Learners


High-Stakes Reflection as Performance Blogging

Path-Finding Activity:
I was reviewing Lilia Efimova’s mathemagenic blog, and came across Jen Ross’ blog.

Her ideas resonated with me in that I had summarized a crucial issue for student bloggers that needs to be addressed, and found many of her ideas are aligned to mine.

I seek to encourage student bloggers to see the larger picture, and go beyond the institutional practice network. Yet Jen Ross has pointed out some issues I had not considered before, that learners do need to consent to having their identities shaped by the activities required of them. This tends to become acutely felt when students are required to use blogs and other network tools to perform within a practice network.

We need to make the emotional shift from showing and acting upon our reluctance over voicing our opinions, to possessing what can be only described as impervious optimism, to be courageous enough to “connect-for-oneself” despite the real possibilities of ridicule and indifference, from oneself and from others.

We need to make the emotional shift from reticence and fear over voicing our views, and bolster our resolve and strengthen ourselves, so that we can confidently write for ourselves even in the absence of any guarantees of reciprocity, of feedback, or of acknowledgement from others.


the convergence of surveillance, authentication, assessment and reflection exposes students and teachers to a new intensity of gaze and to increased demands for confession as performance.


Source: Traces of self: online reflective practices and performances in higher education (Ross, J., 2008). URL: http://jenrossity.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/ross_tracesofself_aoir08.pdf
Retrieved July 17, 2010

Significant Concepts:

1.categorizing reflection into four types: informal, non-academic, low-stakes, and high-stakes
2. reflection as performance: map, mirror and mask metaphors
3. six genres of mask: disguise, performance, protection, transformation, discipline, and trace
4. “metaphor of the subject as palimpsest (a manuscript where previous writing has been scraped off so that the paper can be reused, but traces remain)” (Ross, pg. 7).

Relevant Quotes:

“Hargreaves (2004) argues that compulsory reflective practices are essentially narrative in character. She claims that: “in producing narratives for assessment students are being asked to produce a story, and… in nursing (and possibly other professional settings) only three ‘stories’ are legitimate” (199). She identifies these as ‘valedictory’, ‘condemnatory’ and ‘redemptive’ narratives (200).”

“In constructing a narrative for the purposes of assessment the successful student understands which kinds of stories are legitimate, and shapes her words accordingly.”

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  1. Jen July 20, 2010 - 5:56 AM

    hi Glenn, I’ve just read your post with interest – thanks a lot for taking time to blog about my paper! Some of how you’re framing this issue is unfamiliar to me, because my research focuses on compulsory reflection rather than (what I imagine is) quite a different context for adult literacy learners – the issues of choice and power would be more subtle in your case I think.

    I love the idea of ‘impervious optimism’ (great phrase), but from my point of view the danger isn’t so much ridicule and indifference as a construction of a writing self that ‘hides its own mechanisms’ – that pretends there is no audience and no strategic choices being made for the benefit of that audience. I’d rather see writers in online environments (whether there by choice or not) embrace and explore addressivity than buy into the idea that they can, in this medium, truly ‘write for themselves’ only.

    Anyway, thanks again – I look forward to reading more of your blog!


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