Not sure how to explain what happened last week at the NCTE/CCCC panel I chaired on “Progressive Approaches to Grammar, Punctuation, and Usage.” Not only was it a well-attended, lively session, but a superstar, nay, a ROCK star in the field of writing pedagogy attended and participated in my workshop. He was sitting in the back of the room. I had seen him come in and quietly take a seat (and fairly freaked out), but no one else knew he was there until I had them introduce themselves. And he said, “My name is Peter Elbow and I’ve been teaching writing for over 30 years, have written a few books on the subject; and I am quite interested in progressive approaches to grammar.” The entire room turned around, and I kid you not, audible gasps and whispers and even some exclamations erupted. An awesome Writing Center Administrator, a young professor named Tom, stood up and said, “No way!” But by the end of the workshop, Elbow had become just one of the group, albeit a very wise and experienced and generous member, but a member nonetheless. Some folks asked if they could take an “Oscar selfie” with him. He graciously agreed. One of those students sent me this photo. I can’t adequately describe what an experience it was to share my insights about language and writing with a group that included Peter Elbow. One of the true highlights of my teaching career.
Rachel Heiman said:
wow, VERY cool! how’d it go with the board?
Joseph Salvatore said:
Thanks! The meeting went as well as I could have hoped: The days I need will most likely work. At least I had the whole board there, along with property management, hearing me out.