some things I didn’t say

Theory: voice is a theoretical construct from discourse analysis that articulates power. Power is always present in discourse. While thinking well is the most important skill to be gained from writing well, learning how to negotiate authority is the most important task of all teaching. “Negotiating authority” means learning when it is necessary to self-authorize and when it is prudent to acquiesce in order to accomplish longer term goals. Self-authorization includes a range of actions from resistance to collaboration; above all, it means exercising voice in the practical tasks of everyday life.
Being unfamiliar with a particular department means I would approach the material fresh, bringing the challenges and questions of an outsider. Additionally, a certain “lack of knowing” can balance the knowledge bases among students and myself: we would all bring content, I would facilitate our engagement with it. The art of teaching is enabling the balance of labor – it is less that I am there “to teach” as students are there “to learn”. I have to find a way, with each new group of students, to create an environment in which students want to learn. Under such conditions I can stop policing and be less concerned with discipline because the goal is no longer coercion but growth.
I probably relaxed overmuch in the interview for junior writing teacher. I blended with the mood and vibe of the interviewing team. I provided anecdotes as illustrations without explaining why or how the example served as an answer to the question. I assumed transparency of ontology: I am not afraid to live on the edge of intellectual, emotional, and professional risk. If there is a primary task of liberal arts education, I believe it is to cultivate the capacity to engage vigorously yet sensitively in discourses of disagreement. We must learn to recognize and embrace difference as difference, and from that basis, without needing to change it, co-construct commonality.
Meanwhile, we have to hone our perceptive acuity to recognize ways that structures, systems, practices, and taken-for-granted elements of daily interactions move us toward homogeneity, the same dull tones of consumerist and survivalist so-called individuality.
Ah well. I had hoped to “turn” some of the questions critically back on their sources. I may have succeeded in some instances but certainly not in others. Theory is static: nonetheless, theory has heuristic value and can be extremely useful for structuring and deconstructing perceptions and knowledges. I definitely could have prepped better for responding to the elements in the job description that privilege theory.
We laughed often; that made the interview an hour well-spent. 🙂
(And, even if the evidence of their learning didn’t carry me over the top, my current students are still the rockin’ best.)

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