Re: Reassessing our practices

Tue, 13 Feb 1996 08:05:13 -0500

On Mon, 12 Feb 1996, Michael Hamende wrote:

> >hierarchical chain of being which places them pretty low to the
> >bottom -- again making it a short step to "starting at the bottom" in
> >an industrial era job.
> But isn't the "essay" the rhetoric device by which knowledge gets
> forwarded in the academy? Don't those at the top of the chain, use it
> to make their reputations? Earn their bucks? Get tenure? Get to the
> top?

Yes, it is and we need to re-examine it. There's already a great deal
of change in the wind (and in material practice). Note how many
academics are now engaging in collaborative writing/publishing. I know
that it often happens that one who has engaged in such a venture is
called upon to explain collaborative works to hiring committees and
what not -- having to answer questions like "well, which one of you
really did most of this work" and what not. Still, most of the
collaborative work is presented as a monologue (univocal). A
good example of a dialogical work would be Freire and Faundez.

Just because that's how it's done (forwarding ideas, building reputations,
earning bucks, getting tenure), it's still a hierarchy that places
students near the bottom and from whence they much fight their
way "to the top." This is what we must re-examine all the way around.

> And then isn't it the thinking of those thinkers at the top (research)
> that business uses to develop the capital to control the system and
> retain the factory model?
This is shifting, too. Many businesses regard academic thinking as
useless and removed from "reality." The longer we in education fail
to change our practices, the further removed we are going to seem.

> So isn't the device useful to whomever might apply it?

All "devices" are used to whomever they might apply. I'm concerned
that essaying applies to so few!

> context they choose? If its good enough for [insert your favorite
> theorist here], isn't it valuable enough for the freshperson? And
> important enough for us to teach?

I don't think your general freshperson is headed for the status of any
particular theorist. Most freshpersons are headed for some kind of
social/civic life in the "real world" however where they will be
called upon to interact in relationship with others -- others, including
the grads of higher ed, who rarely use essaying/

I appreciate your thoughts on this issue and your sharing them in
*this* dialogue.

Beth Baldwin