Re: What are *your* politics?

Michael S. Allen (allen.181@OSU.EDU)
Mon, 14 Oct 1996 19:54:19 -0400

Is this public or private? (And isn't that a political question too?)


>The discussion of what language a theory dresses in has come to the
>observation that any theory carries a political point of view. Which
>makes me wonder. We all have political points of view, we all ascribe to
>some theory of composition, whether for pedagogy or as a way of reading
>or as, well, a matter of theoretical interest.
>So I wonder...
>Do you study a theoretical tradition because it confirms your politics?
>Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
>Did you find that exposure to a theory altered your politics?
>Yes; several times.
>Has theory altered your teaching?
>Yes, greatly
>Has teaching altered your politics?
>No; confirmed it.
>Is the theory you're inspired by lived out in your classroom?
>I think so; I hope so.
>Is it possible to appreciate a theoretical point of view, or line of
>reasoning, even though you find the politics implied or decreed by the
>theory unreasonable?
>Sure; like it's possible to read Pound without liking Mussolini.
>Do you teach politically? Are your politics known to your students and do
>you relate those to how you discuss what writing is, what discourse
>conventions are, how grading usually operates, what kind of language is
Since most of my students think *all* teachers are liberal-commies, I guess
it can't be avoided.
>Is your course taught more with an eye to what the instituition you teach
>in imagines its purpose is, perhaps even mandates what the course's
>mission is, and pays you based on the assumption that you accept that
>mandate? Do you accept either the assumption and/or mandate--say to teach
>students to write academic essays, or do you reject it, or subvert it?
>Try to do both.
>Do you feel guilty sometimes? Perhaps for not following what the
>institution assumes? Or perhaps for not being able to follow what you
>think should be done, or think should be taught?
>Sure, don't we all? (Is this question "rhetorica"l?)

>Do you think sometimes that it might be wrong to influence students with
>your politics, or your theory?
>Since politics is often an extension of identity, if it doesn't come up in
>class discussion, am I being honest with my students? And conversely, if I
>ask them to believe in something, to argue something, shouldn't I be willing
>to believe and argue too?

Mike Allen
>Nick Carbone, Writing Instructor
>Marlboro College
>Marlboro, VT 05344