Adam Banks is a really smooth speaker, and we had a great discussion about community work, critically discussing race in the classroom, integrating useful technological practices, and how to make class spaces accessible.
Here are some quick highlights:
I see my main responsibility as helping my students to claim roles for themselves as intellectuals. To see themselves as doing intellectual work right here right now, not waiting until someone busts them with a piece of parchment, or a degree, that they can only access those conversations once they’ve graduated, but to take the responsibility that intellectual work requires now.
This says a lot about both Banks’ role as an instructor and as a community leader. As someone who does community work and values the intersections between academic and activist work, Banks’ emphasis on his students as intellectuals is very telling for how he sees them as agents of change.
We get the sense that access means we embrace everything. NO. We have to consciously ask the question, “What makes sense and why?”
In response to how he tries to use technology to create the “transformative access” promoted in Race, Rhetoric, and Technologies, Banks told us that the main point to remember with bringing technology into the classroom is that we have to think critically about those choices. That is, we can’t just bring in technology because something’s shiny and new; it has to be relevant and useful for students.
These different language varieties are strengths rather than something that somehow has to be accounted for, dealt with, something that’s just a challenge.
One of the texts we have discussed throughout this course is Students’ Rights to Their Own Language. Banks spoke against taking a viewpoint that encourages students to embrace their own voices throughout the writing process yet penalizes them on the final drafts. He argued that we are not in charge of employing a “linguistic poll tax”; rather, we are in charge of teaching students how to be rhetorically agile and flexible.
If there is any area of the academy that is severely tokenized and placed into its own space, disability studies would be it.
I want to on this note because it’s part of the response to the question that I posed before: What intersections are there between African American rhetoric and the rhetorics of other students who are often cast in liminal spaces within the classroom? Banks spoke about looking at the intersections of different rhetorics as they relate to our particular interests–in his case, African American rhetorics. Banks explained his work as an attempt to move black rhetorical traditions away from the tokenized inclusion where they usually fall, which is where he saw the connection with dis/ability.
We covered a lot of ground with this discussion, and speaking with Banks was a great experience. Next week? Jonathan Alexander!