Big D Discourse and Me

Use some of Gee’s or Delpit’s language and describe moments from your literacy history as you consider how your work on the concept of Discourse and literacy shapes your view of your own literacy experiences, and write about these questions:

  • What aspects of your story would Gee or Delpit be most interested in?
  • How would Gee or Delpit write about events in your literacy history?
  • How does your literacy history both fit and not fit Gee’s theory (or Delpit’s revised version of it)?
  • What lessons would Gee or Delpit derive from your history as viewed through the lens of Big D Discourse theory?
  • What changes or additions could you make to your literacy narrative to reflect what you’ve learned about Discourses and literacies since you finished the last draft of your literacy narrative?

Big D Discourse Debate

22 thoughts on “Big D Discourse and Me”

  1. The aspects of my story that Gee and Delpit would most be interested in is where I claim them both right in there own ways. When I claimed Gee to be right I was saying that the main characters need to have an identity kit in order to achieve their discourse. But I also agreed with Delpit on her saying that not all discourses can be set from birth, that they can be obtained later in life, for a completely different discourse then the set one. They would be interested to know that I saw the larger picture in seeing that yes, you need to have that identity kit but you can also choose to have whichever identity kit you would like.

    Gee and Delpit would write about events in my literacy history as if they were to analyze every piece of work I did. They would look at all of the aspects I have written and how each of them progresses , then later go on to write their views on how they saw my topic. I don’t think they would start from the very beginning of all of my literacy work, seeing as how all of that work can’t compare to the ones I have now, but I believe they would start on one where they found most reasonable to what they would like to write about.

    My literacy history both fits and does not fit into Gee’s theory that everyone must have a set mind and a set discourse that they were born into that they have to stick with. My literacy fits into Gee’s theory because when I first started school we were taught to read and write, and that writing was training us with the “ instructions on how to act, talk, and often write, so as to take on the particular role that others will recognize” (Gee, 7). The schools were training us to become writers. They were training us to have an identity kit in a writer’s discourse. My Literacy history does not fit into Gee’s theory because I did not grow up in a writer’s environment, no one in my primary discourse was a writer. My primary discourse was a family of workers. I, unlike Gee, am agreeing with Delpit in saying “ [I disagree with Gee that ] people who have not been born into dominant discourses will find it exceedingly difficult to [ transition into a new one]” (Delpit, 546). The reason I agree with her is that I am living proof that you can have a different discourse and transition into a new one. My primary discourse is a worker’s family, yet I am succeeding in carrying out my own secondary discourse by attending college and achieving what I most desire, therefore I am going against Gee.

    The lessons that Gee can get out of my history when viewing it through my Big D Discourse theory is that since 1989 times have changed and his views toward writing may not be as relevant to what the writing style is now. He can also learn that writers like Delpit, who is a more recent writer from 2001 would be a better source to look at in order to see the real change in literacy. My theory states that all that Gee said about Secondary discourse may be achievable but is not exactly how the world will see it today.

    The changes I could make to my own literacy narrative to reflect what I learned about discourses and literacies after reading their two pieces is by adding more personal issues to it. I could possibly add my very thoughts about reading both their pieces and continue to write about how I see the essay, and how I see their thoughts.

    1. Hi Ally, this looks like a plan to revise your Discourse paper. I’m also interested in how you intend to add to your own literacy narrative (about preparing to go to court) in light of what you’ve learned about Discourse.

  2. Gee and Delpit’s interest both revolve around discourse. Gee believes that once you are in a discourse than you will always be apart of it and if you try to break away from it than you will let apart of you go. Meanwhile Delpit has a slightly different belief. Delpit believes that you can gain a new discourse through hard work, but you must find a way to add these additional values to who you already are if you truly want to succeed. When I first started learning about the concept of discourse I was a bit confused by it as it was something I never took into consideration, but is so important. Since I started learning about the concept of discourse I have been able to see the bigger picture of things. It has almost been my guide through the start of college. Being an undeclared major you have to a lot of figuring out to do your first semester or two of college. You have to figure out what career path is going to be the best fit for you. Some people know from the start, but people like me tend to go back and forth due to the endless amount of possibilities. Growing up in a very successful family, I of course want to continue that tradition and follow that discourse. Both my brother and father have been lucky enough to start their own business. Not only that, but both businesses have been extremely successful. When I was younger I dreamed of being just like them, but as I got older I noticed I became to drift away from wanting to be like them and start my own business. But, once I started to learn the concept of discourse it made me rethink about following their footsteps. It made me see that I do want to continue that tradition on even if it doesn’t involve opening the same kind of business. I am simply going to add additional values to what they have done, which in the end will allow to add to the tradition discourse and make it my own.
    I would say that Delpit would be the person to find my story the most interesting. I believe that part of my story that would really stand out to her would be the part I realized that I can not only follow in my families footsteps, but I can add my own addition values to what they have already created and make it my own. If Delpit was to every take my story and put it in her own words I believe she would say I stood by her main idea and took a discourse and worked hard to add values to it, to create an even greater discourse. My story somewhat fits both of the discourse concepts we have been learning about in class. It fits Gee’s concept by wanted following the discourse I was raised in, but it also relates to Delpit because I want to add on to my original discourse and create something even greater.

    1. This is an interesting set of insights Hannah. I like how you’re applying what you’re learning about Discourses to your present and future. How will it shape what you think of your past literacy experiences as they show up in the piece you wrote about your teachers’ responses to your college essay?

  3. Gee and delpit would be most interested in my story about the first time I read a book. This is a good example of a primary discourse. I was about 5 years old and I was learning from my dad, a master at reading, was teaching me through apprenticeship. Gee and delpit would both talk about this apprenticeship and how it was essential in learning a new primary discourse. Gee could also talk about mush fakes because most of my life I have pretended to read.
    My story fits into Gee’s theory of acquiring a primary Discourse. To acquire such discourse you have to have gone through an apprenticeship with a master, he also says that this is something you learn from home at an early. My learning to read with my dad goes perfectly with this theory, as well as the theory that a discourse is not overtly taught in a classroom.
    Before exploring about Discourses through the reading of Gee and Delpit I didn’t really have a connection between Discourse and my literacy narrative. After learning about Discourse, I can change some of my essay to better reflect what I have learned. For example I can add a paragraph about mush fakes and how I could be considered one. Also I can talk about my identity kit of being a writer. Lastly I can open the piece by defining a discourse and explain the “saying-doing-being-believing-valuing” aspect of a discourse. In the end I can wrap up my whole story with a summary of what Discourses are, the theories of both Gee and Delpit and how they connect to my story, and how my literacy narrative shows that I acquired a discourse.

    1. Sounds like a plan, Ciara. But as you think about reworking your literacy narrative a bit, I’d recommend maintaining it’s story-quality. So I don’t think you need to introduce Gee or Delpit, or their language, as you would in an academic essay. Just add the events you think they would be interested in and draw your conclusions or make your point in your own language.

  4. The aspect of my story that Gee would be most interested in would be when I focus on discussing primary Discourse. I used a very specific quote from Gee that underlines the main idea of primary Discourse. Gee would write about events in my literacy history that would go on shape my attitudes of future phases. To help me become more prepared for the future. Lessons and mistakes to learn from, and what those lessons did to help me along the way. My literacy history does not fit Gee or Delpit’s theory of Discourse, growing up having divorced parents I had two different home discourses. My mother’s home discourse was much different than my father’s home discourse. One lesson that Gee or Delpit would focus on is to never give up, and to use your discourses to help you. Never giving up and using your home discourse is two different ideas, but when used together the idea can help me through anything. I could have made a lot of changes in my literacy narrative talking about my experiences in an extremely diverse classroom and what types of personalities/outlooks each individual has from their one international family discourse. Each individual has different experiences they remember more vividly to shape their personal discourse. While one student from one side of the world may connect best with another student from the opposite side of the world. Having two extremely different primary discourses, may help them connect the best.

    1. That’s an interesting point you make at the end of this comment, Myles. How will you weave that into your literacy narrative?

  5. Over the years my literacy discourse has done quite a bit of changing. It would always go through the biggest change whenever I got a new teacher or professor. Delpit would more so agree with my literacy discourse because it changed and grew based on my experiences and who was teaching me. Gee would most likely write that the way that my discourse worked wasn’t possible because I didn’t simply stay in the discourse that I started in. Delpit would show the most interest in how I change so quickly to fit a teacher writing style while still keeping mine in some aspects. Over the past month the only ways that my literacy has grown is the way that I look at how everyone has a different discourse when it comes to his or her writing.

    1. Hi Meg, what will you change about your literacy narrative about writing your college application essay as a result of what you’ve learned about Discourse from Gee and Delpit?

  6. In my paper I talk about and give examples from both Gee and Delpit. In some parts people may start to think I’m contradicting my own argument. That is what I think they would find interesting. I focus a lot on teachers and how they help to shape us as well. Gee says that discourses cannot be taught in a classroom setting, instead it would take years of an apprenticeship. While Delpit argues that teachers most definitely can teach it in the classroom. I think they would be interested in that because I use Gee’s words to play and challenge my point farther.
    I think Delpit would have the most fun in my literacy history and that Gee would probably try to contradict everything. I have more than one discourse and am a female. I didn’t need an apprenticeship to get to where I am today. Many of my teachers did help me along the way. They would stay after class and help with homework or help go over your test so that you could retake it. They put so much time and effort into every student no matter what because they saw potential in us all. In one of Delpit’s stories she writes, “Trent says, “They held visions of us that we could not imagine for ourselves. And they held those visions even when they themselves were denied entry into the larger white world”” (549).
    My literacy history would not fit well with Gee’s theory at all. He says that women and minorities will struggle gaining any extra discourse. “True acquisition of many mainstream [dominant] Discourses involves… active complicity with values that conflict with one’s home- and community-based Discourses, especially for many women and minorities” (13). I have proven him wrong on this statement. I am a women with several different dominant discourses. Although I am not a minority I did grow up in what some people would call the lower income side of town. But look where I am now. In college 23 hours away from home pursuing yet another discourse. I fit in way better in Delpit’s revision of Gee’s theory. She believes no matter who you are you can achieve as many discourses as you want. “Acquiring the ability to function in a dominant discourse need not mean that one must reject one’s home identity and values, for discourses are not static, but shaped, however reluctantly, by those who participate within them and the form of their participation” (552). In my views I have several discourses and the majority of them have the same if not very similar ideas and views as the one I have at home.
    Gee would take the fact that I came from a poorer side of town and went to a high school that had the reputation of being black and dirty to where I am now. I ended high school in the top 10 of my class (which is an amazing accomplishment for me when I graduated with 400 other students), with a 3.6 GPA, and several scholarships to go along with it. I was on the varsity cheer team and captain. I balanced my home life with school and extracurricular activities. I did have some conflict in a few ways but it wasn’t anything major and it worked well for me in the end.
    One addition I would make is talking about myself a little more. I think it would help strengthen my arguments and give the reader a clearer idea of how it works out. I would talk more about my home school and the area I grew up in and the people I grew up with. We are all proof that low class and minorities and women can make it somewhere. Almost all of the kids I graduated with are in college pursuing dreams. Another addition I might make is adding more of my movie examples in.

    1. Hi Michaela, it looks like you’ve sketched a revision plan for your Discourse paper. I’m interested, as well, in how what Gee and Delpit says sheds light on your literacy narrative. What will you add to the story of your Poppy?

      I think Gee might say to you that much of what you describe here about your teachers and in your literacy narrative about your Poppy amounts to an apprenticeship. You seem as if you reject that statement. Is it possible for someone to learn a Discourse without an apprenticeship?

  7. Looking at the literacy narrative you can see that I have gone through so much in my life to get where I am today. I had to overcome dyslexia, illnesses, and other reading challenges. Delpit would be interested in the fact of my story that even though I wasn’t born with the discourse to understand reading. It still doesn’t mean that I gave up and never learned how to do. The reason she’d be most interested in this part of my life is because it follows what she believes when it comes to discourse and how you learn it. If Delpit was writing about my life she was probably start by using her words to explain how discourse was and then explain why Gee’s way of learning a discourse is all wrong. With her explaining why Gee is wrong she would use me as an example to support her cause. Looking at Gee’s theory of how discourse is learned my learning history completely goes in the opposite direction of what he’s saying. Gee argues that if you aren’t born with a discourse then it’s impossible for you to learn that discourse. Easily looking back at history that’s not my case I overcame challenge after challenge after challenge. Starting off with the fact that I didn’t know how to read still I was in the third grade. Something that Gee could learn from my paper and my history is the fact that if you aren’t born with something it doesn’t mean that you’ll never learn to do it. And I think I proved that point countless times in my literacy narrative. Looking back at my literacy narrative the one main thing that I might be able to change is adding a bit more on the fact that I never gave up on anything in my life and that I that I always work hard for everything in my life. Also I could add the fact that if you aren’t born with the ability to do something in your life but you know that you love it never give up on that and work as hard as possible to be able to do it and to be able to do it at the best of your ability.

    1. Hi Kenny, I think the “never giving up” part is really important. Gee might think that that’s a key value in your Primary Discourse, one that makes acquisition of all others possible. As you think about reworking your literacy narrative a bit, I’d recommend maintaining it’s story-quality. So I don’t think you need to introduce Gee or Delpit, or their language, as you would in an academic essay. Just add the events you think they would be interested in and draw your conclusions or make your point in your own language.

  8. English has never really been my best subject; Science has always been my area of choice and expertise. I think Gee would be interested in my literary history because I always struggled with acquiring the Discourse of someone who was a good writer, or an avid reader. While I can do both of these things, I do not think of myself of someone who has acquired the full Discourse. I think Delpit would think that if I worked and worked at it, one day I would be able to say I have fully acquired the Discourse.
    Gee could probably use me as an example of someone who went through 13 years of school and never fully acquired the Discourse of a writer. I’m not sure how Delpit would respond to this.
    I think my literary history fits Gee’s theory that you can basically fake it until you make it. My teachers were always great at helping me revise and edit any papers I had. I think once again, Delpit would say that if I work hard enough I can acquire the Discourse.
    What I would like to add to my literacy narrative is to go into more detail and relate how I was feeling back in second grade to how I am feeling now. While I have defiantly gained more expertise in the writing field now than I would have had in the second grade, I still feel like there is more to learn.

    1. Hi Blake, I’m interested in this line: “I always struggled with acquiring the Discourse of someone who was a good writer, or an avid reader. While I can do both of these things, I do not think of myself of someone who has acquired the full Discourse. ” I wonder what part of the Discourse is most challenging for you, compared to science. Is it the valuing part? The doing part? The saying/writing part? The being part? The believing part?

  9. In my literacy history, both Gee and Delpit would likely focus on the latter half of my paper. They would likely dissect my interactions with him and name him my literacy mentor. Or at least, one of my mentors. Gee and Delpit, if they were writing my story, they would likely focus on the relationships and interactions that I had going on between both my aunt and my teacher.
    My literacy history fits into Gee’s writing because in it, there are moments of mentoring and assembling an identity kit. But it would have trouble accepting his ideas that revolved around being taught a discourse. Literacy is just a small piece of discourse, so the focus of literacy would end up being an overkill. After learning about Gee’s thoughts of discourse, it’s easy to change the focus in my paper from literacy to discourse.
    Discourses are learned from experience alone. All of the textbook work and study can only work to produce knowledge, but like wisdom, one must try it out and walk around with it.
    I could probably provide a deeper connection throughout the text. Or give more detail between the stages of mentoring and where that had me today. There are alot of changes that I could try to writ in on my paper. I could try again to find the best combination of discourses so that it might appease all discourses who come across it.

    1. Hi Cali,

      I think your literacy narrative should try to please only yourself at this point. I don’t think it needs to turn into an analytical piece. Instead, just add the events you think Gee or Delpit would be interested in and draw your conclusions or make your point in your own language.

  10. I think in my literacy narrative Gee and delpit would be most interested in the Discourse conflict between my home Discourse of reading and writing and the secondary Discourse I was trying to acquire as a writer in school. With my primary Discourse I looked at reading a writing differently than how I was to look at it in school. In my literacy narrative I talked about school and how it never lived up to the standards to make me a better writer, but I think Gee would say I just did not fit into the Discourse as a writer in school. He would say that throughout the narrative I did not show the same valuing, saying, doing, being, and believing. Valuing and believing I think he would really emphasize on as two key characteristics that I missed out on and why I could not acquire the Discourse. Gee would also talk about the times I was able to mushfake the Discourse especially when I talk about my experience as a writer in high school saying I did what I had to do to get by in english classes. My paper would most likely benefit Gee with his theory over delpit’s revised version because there was a conflict between my primary Discourse at home and the secondary Discourse at school. Now with my knowledge on Discourse it is easy for me to see why I struggled with writing in school. If I were to rewrite the paper I would talk about the conflict between my primary and secondary Discourse at school, Which of the five characteristics of the Discourse I was missing, the times I mushfake the Discourse, and the missed apprenticeship with some of my teacher that I could have had.

    1. Hi Ian,

      It looks to me as if Gee has helped clear up some mysteries for you. As you think about reworking your literacy narrative a bit, I’d recommend maintaining it’s story-quality. So I don’t think you need to introduce Gee or Delpit, or their language, as you would in an academic essay. Just add the events you think they would be interested in and draw your conclusions or make your point in your own language.

  11. Delpit would be most interested in the fact that I acquired a secondary discourse (when learning to read) and still incorporating my primary discourse within it. My teachers taught and practiced with me until I could read just as well as the other children my age. Delpit would say how when I went to school I was trying to acquire a school secondary discourse. When I learned that I was struggling and needed to take steps into being a better reader and speller it was my teachers who taught me that secondary discourse. Delpit uses examples like that within her article. I incorporated my primary discourse with my secondary discourse by practicing my reading and spelling at home with my parents.

    Gee says that when acquiring new secondary discourses that you experience conflict. I can agree with that because it was very hard for me to struggle with reading and spelling skills when all my friends were good at it. However, he says that to acquire a secondary discourse one must leave behind the primary. I don’t believe that because without the help of my parents and working on those skills at home I would have never been able to read or spell the way everyone else did.

    I would say that Delpit would believe that discourses can be acquired in the classroom, and that you can incorporate secondary and primary discourses when acquiring. Gee would say I was the apprentice when I was trying to learn how to read and spell. The changes I would make would be introducing discourse and then add in the fact that I was an apprentice when I was trying to acquire how to read and spell. That my primary discourse was my at home life and my secondary was trying to be like the other students intellectual level.

    1. Hi Chelsey,

      As you think about reworking your literacy narrative a bit, I’d recommend maintaining it’s story-quality. So I don’t think you need to introduce Gee or Delpit, or their language, as you would in an academic essay. Just add the events you think they would be interested in and draw your conclusions or make your point in your own language.

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