Dissensus and Consensus

I want to discuss dissensus. Trimbur brings up how consensus will, at its best, orchestrate dissensus in the classroom. Create an environment of multiple voices. In a writing classroom, rather than there being some single mind, some Cartesian model of existence, we get many voices from different power structures and different values, coming together to converse–a real conversation of conflict and struggle.

What was most interesting to me in reading the Trimbur and Bruffee was their use of philosophy and philosophers, which helped me understand their work more easily. As someone from a philosophy major, collaboration was the name of the game. Every class was based in discussion. It’s strange–nine people can read the same text and form nine different opinions about it based on our previous biases and value structures. In the end we come away understanding the dialogue, the work itself and our interpretation of it, better, even through the disagreements.

I can especially see where Dewey comes into play with Trimbur. Collaboration and pragmatism in the classroom is crucial in understanding how we can learn–grow and change. Rather than entering an established law and way of thinking, entering the classroom to learn the single-mind, digest it and regurgitate it, the classroom is always changing, as the conversation is always changing, as there is dissensus–useful conflict–and consensus–a certain coming to terms. To put it in perspective, before Dewey much of philosophy was bent on the established order. From Descartes to Kant to Hume to Spinoza, all came into the conversation from the basis of metaphysics–what was in the air, the question of ultimate experience, itself in terms of religion, ideals, the universe versus the self. And Dewey argues they all were really going back to the church in certain respects. The established order of biblical order. For Dewey, he wanted philosophy to ground itself into the practical. How can we use our reasoning capability to consider what a a specific thing, like the classroom, should function. Rather than asking, “What is education?” Dewey asked, “How should we teach the given class, the given students, the given society?”

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