Friday, March 18, 2005

On Seriousness

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People tend to say serious things, and then add the caveat that they shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Recent misunderstandings on this subject reminded me of a comment (non-blog) that a professor made about me in an all-purpose reference letter he wrote when I was finishing university. These things are always full of hyperbolic praise, so I guess the caveat is supremely applicable in this instance (or, as some guy I know might say, it should be taken with a ton of salt), but I’m going to risk further self-immolation by copying an excerpt from it here:

In the subsequent seminar… [her] aptitude for theory-based, practice-oriented teaching was established beyond any doubt. In an essay with a title that itself says something about her ability to engage in instructive, entertaining, serious play… she addressed the central problem with pedagogies that focus on academic discourse: “The challenges and genuine opportunities for critical thinking offered by Ways of Reading are both rigorous and provocative… However… the contrary feelings of satisfaction and panic, solidarity and isolation, ‘love’ and ‘hate,’ define for me a ‘pedagogy of ambivalence’ that carries over from the pages of the textbook to the dynamics of the classroom.”… In the course of this analysis, she makes it clear why she insists that teachers “relinquish the definable in favor of the problematic, joining students in a genuine endeavor of critical co-investigation.”

I was clever then (i.e. full of myself and full of baloney), but so was my professor. I was trying to undermine him and his fascist authority to impose an unteachable textbook on us and all our poor Comp 101 students, and he turned it around by presenting my (in)sincere vacillation as a virtue. That’s how the game was played -- and is still (being) played now.

One of us thinks it’s all about sex. The other has yet to make her platform known. Somebody else thought of it first, of course, but for me, it’s all about serious play.

4 Comments:

Blogger De(e)lumina said...

Goodness! (as the Brits would exclaim). You are clever but that kind of reference letter? - this is the kind of language that would get you shot in this country! I guess our friends across the Atlantic do have a tendency to be verbose, succinctness and λακωνίζειν has not really made it big to the US, has it? [note to self: go over references you've written lately and burn them, just in case they are used against you in future]

As for my own 'platform', ba-by, give it time, give it time... (Even though one can find more than one clues in my posts!) ;-)

11:51 am EET  
Blogger mezizany said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:40 pm EET  
Blogger dystropoppygus said...

In case you (dear reader) have not noticed, zizany's comment has been "promoted" to guest-post status in this blog. If you feel like commenting on his comment, may we recommend you do so at the post's comments area? You are of course most welcome to comment on sissoula's post here.

6:39 pm EET  
Blogger sissoula said...

De(e), my prof was born in North Hykeham, Lincolnshire. I think his ref was exactly the kind of thing that could have opened doors to a great academic career in my field at the time, but, one way or the other, I never had occasion to use it (until I blogged it, of course).

8:21 am EET  

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