Memoir: The New Homeroom


In my first year of junior high, grade eight, I decided that I could dispense with attending homeroom period. Being the first period of the day, this afforded me a little more time at the start of the day to focus on myself. It afforded, among other things, a more gentle wake-up to become conscious and begin engaging with the world.                      

Particularly, it gave a little extra room for me to take stock of myself and become better equipped to meet the experiences waiting to unfold before me in a fresh new day; a few more moments of solitude to refresh and retool my disposition as needed to grasp hold of the connections that will inform and develop my personhood during this singular day. The mode I usually chose for this self-enquiry was a leisurely reflective and contemplative walking tour towards the school grounds nurturing my senses with nature's display in anticipation of the first instructional period of the school day. Now my little experiment lasted about thirty days before I was hauled into the vice-principal's office to explain my absences from homeroom. I pleaded, "yes, I missed homeroom period but I attended all my classes!" The vice-principal threatened me with a two day suspension but he never carried it out. Nonetheless, on my report card for this autumn quarter, the number 30 was registered under the column 'times late.'                                          

In this workshop, I wish to facilitate an enquiry into how modes of self-enquiry can be incorporated into school curriculum. I suggest in the foregoing that a distinct period of fifteen or twenty minutes be set aside for reflective and contemplative activities at the start of the school day. I speak of the homeroom which traditionally took stock of students through calling roll and other administrivia. However, I am speaking of a period where students can take stock of themselves before they set off to experience their various academic engagements. I suggest rather a period not of homeroom but of what I may call headroom; a period of time given away to students where they may selfishly indulge in a mustering of their somatic and mental forces through-- in this particular pedagogical case--the process of writing; writing about oneself, taking stock, accounting for and interpreting one's daily experiences to better inform and form their unfolding personhood.               

In this workshop, I wish to facilitate a discussion of the different modes of writing which, in my view, best serve this task. For me, top of this list is memoir. Different practitioners of this genre, autobiographical manner of expression, have come to it through different methodologies, that is, by applying different strategies toward narrative, story-telling from the less to more structured; amongst these, life- writing being an example of the least structured or rule-bound methodology and autoethnography being an example of an academically purposed methodology overwrought with structure and rules. What mode or methodology shall serve the student's experiential and expressive interests the best?                 

In addition, I wish to facilitate a discussion of the complementary elements of this writing. What media or materials can be incorporated into this writing to enhance its author's expressive capacities and augment the meanings they attempt to convey. What media or materials can provide their audience with a latticework of meanings enriching their experience of what comes from the author's pen or keyboard? And ultimately and most importantly, what media or materials are self-serving for the student as they exercise their authorship. What media or materials might enhance their insight into their self-expression? Thus, how does mixed-media enhance the story-telling from both introspective and extrospective views vis-a-vis the student and those they might wish to offer their stories to?







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Friday 10:50 AM - 12:20 PM
Room EDB 8620.1

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  • Independent Scholar
    Timothy Newman

    Within the genre of memoir and by way of the autobiographical mode, life-writing and by further applying a mixed-media presentation, Timothy Newman defended his doctoral dissertation, "All About Timmerman: an autobiographical mapping of benchmarks of artistic exploration, intellectual awareness and evolving identity from early childhood through to senior adulthood," in March 2021.  Later that year, he received his PhD in the Arts Education stream within the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University.  This was Dr. Newman's retirement project.  Previously, he worked in student and social services culminating in a nearly nineteen year career as Case Manager at the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia.  In addition, in earlier adult years, Dr. Newman was a self-taught and published artist who worked primarily with printmaking media.  As well as his PhD, he holds a M.A. in Film Studies from York University, Toronto and a B.A. in English Literature and Political Science from Simon Fraser University.