Re: hittin' the road

Bob King (
Fri, 27 Sep 1996 00:04:05 -0400

On Thu, 26 Sep 1996, Albert Rouzie wrote:

> Constitutional guarantees of free speech have never
> and still don't apply to the workplace. That's why a corporation can fire
> anyone for saying anything.

Albert makes some good and important points, ones which I think Eric has
already responded to, so I'm focusing on the above one, but not as a way
of denying other points. . .

I think the above point about free speech not being guaranteed in the
workplace is why there are unions. I still think unionization is a
better way to protect academic freedom than tenure is. Tenure protects
the already tenured exclusively. Unionization -- as the term implies --
provides a forum in which tenured and non-tenured can "stand together" in
looking at issues and engage in dialogue. One of the real stories in
American higher education is the preponderance of "looking the other way"
on the part of tenured faculty as more and more of their doctoral
students are not finding teaching positions, let alone tenure track ones,
rather than engaging in dialogue and initiating change from their
positions of relative power.

In any case, and in dovetail with the recent discussion on grading,
tenure is almost completely informed by competition as a core value.
Unions are about unity and dialogue, from a position of strength,
informed by the dignity of every human being as a core value.

> Also, it seems to me that
> corporations and maybe even those in between spaces you suggest would share
> the need to make its employees prove themselves over and over again.

Again, unions are for the purpose of establishing a condition wherein each
party -- the employer and the employee -- has to "prove" themselves in
dialogue and negotiation -- the stuff of rhetoric, if I'm not mistaken!
Tenure is a process by which a person places themselves beyond having to
dialogue -- it's a monologist's heaven (in dovetail with prior
conversations on this list about the essay, since all of the discursive
practices which define an institution are interconnected).

So tenure goes, the essay goes, the big comprehensive university (where
students who already know how to write but don't know how to get fired up
about anything enough to *want* to write) goes -- all by way of the
effects of a new technological paradigm coming to prominence.

We don't need to blame each other, instead we might could spend our time
marveling at how we miss the importance of technological paradigm when we
assess what changes institutions seem to just "go through" every so often!

When Eric mentioned how netiquette itself argues against writing
non-reflectively, he points out how a piece of technology -- the Internet
-- can do what John Dewey could envision but only talk about, and
practice on a small-scale at his "laboratory" school (which is still in
existence, btw); namely, what he called "reflective" education. Dewey was
seeing beyond the paradigm he was in. What Eric is seeing is happening
right in front of our eyes, on these here screens, and in major shifts in
funding patterns towards supporting electronic education media and
protocols, in k-12 and higher ed. . .