Friday, September 18, 2009

Who let the doxa out?

I may have the beginnings of some empathy for Casie's irritation at the festering sore that is the negotiation of definition. As the NMAP has stated elsewhere, "The more you start digging, the harder it gets to answer questions with much cohesiveness".

The more I align my theoretical lens with sociocultural and activity theory à la Lantolf and Thorne, the harder I find it as a researcher to conceptualize Platonic epistemology or even Platonic nomenclature (although a conversation I had with Dr. Barb this week showed me that one can espouse a rabid relativism and still believe in the Allegory of the Cave…I hope to blog about this sometime soon). I've found it harder to just bracket the classical rhetoric lately since I'm expposed to it in a Cultural Studies course, so I actually had to squint a bit at Casie's post.

While the binaries seem reasonable to what's left of my understanding of classical rhetoric, my SCT and Foucauldian ids were unsettled…Thorne is constantly reminding us that EVERYTHING is culturally mediated, even our "invisible" doxa attached to some cultural artefacts, which resonates with Foucault's desire to resist the epistemes in covert loci of power…the fundamental and pervasive assumptions that are "invisible to people operating within" a given society.

Then it hit me…I had read (a loooong time ago) Bourdieu's Esquisse d'une théorie de la pratique, and it was there that I saw a "repurposing" of doxa to position it in relation to discourse. The figure from the English translation is below:






To Bourdieu, doxa connote a society's taken-for-granted, unquestioned "truths". It reminds me a bit of the Wells article...on p. 111, the Matusov observations that "without some disagreement there would be no need to communicate", and therefore no discourse. Bourdieu describes it as what “goes without saying because it comes without saying”. Once the doxa are questioned, you have an "orthodoxy" or "dogma" which is resisted by one or several "heterodoxies" or "iconoclasms", which enters the universe of discourse.

So, I would arrange the binaries like this (today at least):

doxa (episteme) :: discourse

orthodoxy (dogma) :: heterodoxy (iconoclasm) ...[but it's all discourse]

I would bracket unfounded/founded and fact as valuations.

I'm not sure what to do with techne. As techne has more to do classically with performance and production than knowledge per se (like episteme), I'm not sure doxa is a good fit, because while there are some pervasive assumptions that "go without saying" in any techne, at some point those assumptions were challenged and were part of discourse. Aristotle uses the term endoxa to describe a "more stable" doxa because it was at one point challenged and discussed in the polis. So I guess I'd go with that (appropriated into Bourdieu's taxonomy, of course).

Yes, you can have techne without the Platonic episteme (let us hearken back to the NMAP's mental furniture argument....there is no "there" there). Techne seems to me a social construct that is negotiated like anything else.

[side note to the NMAP: how you can espouse the "no mental furniture" argument and not take "The Matrix" leap into free-fall relativism is beyond me...you are, IMHO, about as close to Sartre's "Roquentin" stance as you can get...let me know when the coffee starts discoursing with you...]

But I will admit to being troubled by episteme, because Foucault (being French, after all) seems to want the word to mean both doxa and what could perhaps be best expressed as "gestalt" or even "spiritus mundi". He seems to use the word to describe both a wider range of Discourse and the invisible assumptions held by the people within that wider range of Discourse.

I think my head is telling me it's time to stop blogging and start eating my lunch...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

From "Discourse in Activity and Activity as Discourse"

"[L]ook at the following transcript from a science classroom taken from Lemke (1990):"


Transcript 1: Carbon


  1. Teacher: Ron?
  2. Ron: Boron?
  3. Teacher: That would be—That’d have uh . . . seven electrons. So you’d have to have one here, one here, one here, one here, one here . . . one here—Who said it? You?
  4. Student: Carbon.
  5. Teacher: What’s—
  6. Students: Carbon! Carbon!
  7.  Teacher: Carbon. Carbon. Here. Six electrons. And they can be anywhere within those—confining—orbitals. This is also from the notes from before. The term orbital refers to the average region transversed [sic] by an electron. Electrons occupy orbitals that may differ in size, shape, or orientation. That’s—that’s from the other class, we might as well use it for review. (pp. 17–18, 20)


"Lemke explained that this is a conversation between a teacher standing at the blackboard on which a chalk Atomic Orbital Diagram is drawn. As the teacher talks, he gestures at the diagram and a periodic table hung on the wall. The drawing and table are more than mere props of the teacher’s and students’ dialogue, and they are more than mnemonic devices for the students. At the least, they serve as part of preparing contexts (Lemke, 1990) within which particular questions and statements make sense. When students miss these preparations, they might not even understand what is expected of them as interlocutors, much less the science content of the talk (Lemke, 1990). In terms of our discussion, the students are expected not only to learn to talk about atoms and their orbitals in the correct way, but also to recognize and use such diagrams and tables in the correct ways as well to perform adequate identities as science students. Because science talk is a gateway to further education as well as career choices, such simple routines as this one are important as apprenticeship activities. When we employ turn taking as the unit of analysis and fail to include any description of the activity that co-occurs with the talk and contextualizes it as part of the transcript, some parts of the talk become virtually meaningless to the analyst (i.e., pointing out electrons—“one here” or referring to the diagram “that’s from the other class”). If we are interested in how the mediational means (like diagrams), talk, and activity work together as a distributed system, with how both talk and action shape each other over the course of an activity, and thus with how people learn to use the linguistic and nonlinguistic stuff that makes up Discourse, then we need a different kind of transcript."




Rowe, S. (2001). Discourse in activity and activity as discourse. An introduction to critical discourse analysis in education / edited by Rebecca Rogers.

Unimportant and Unimpressive? Really?!?

"...So what? Big fat deal. What's so great about long-held and politically powerful communities of practice anyway?..."

Brava. Spoken like a true humanities scholar.

Having had a true "near miss" (at times regrettably so à la Paul Simon) as a scholar of Old French Literature (with a postmodern lens, no less) and working in technology-enhanced language learning as a discipline, I feel at times like a humanities scholar trapped in a social sciences degree program, at times a social scientist trapped in the humanities. (cliché)Some of my best friends are humanities scholars(/cliché), others are social scientists. So when posts like this arise, I am truly torn. I don't know whether to cheer "w00t!" or shove a spoon down my throat à la Frank Zappa. I feel like I need to defend the humanities to my social science friends, and make my humanities friends aware of the plight some social scientists face as they strive to achieve the sugar-plum-fairy-and-gumdrops world the humanities scholars will for them…now.

Social science / Ed. folks (of which I consider myself an adoptee): 


Humanities scholars really do love you. They're not "normally combative" or "obnoxious" (well, within their own ranks, they might be, but that's another post). You have taken philosophy and critical theory from which "their disciplines" are the "fount" and you have crafted qualitative tools to rival the quantitative tools of some of your colleagues, tools that both ask and answer questions that those quantitative tools cannot. 


Never forget this one thing, though: try as they might, most humanities scholars are never fully able to escape the discourse of hubris in which they marinate, lodged within those ivory-tower disciplines...in fact, one might say that "the system" encourages it...the longer you are steeped in it, the more likely it is to become reified in your own scholarly activity, and the more likely you are to have your name memorialized on some obscure page of the MLA Website. Or perhaps to roam the halls of some ivy-covered building, with a throng of young acolytes hailing you as the next Stanley Fish. All I'm saying is "don't hate the speaker, hate the discourse!"

The discourse (at least our localized permutation of it) goes something like this (I've "unproblematized" it some to hasten this along): 





We are Guardians (think Republic Book VII).Your "long-held and politically powerful communities of practice" are irrelevant. "Disciplinary quibbling" is futile. We wish to restructure your discipline(s) in a way that "refigures both educational practices and scholarly research". We will add our "more complicated relations" to your "reductive and/or incomplete methods and concepts". "Clamoring for disciplinary credibility" is futile. Your "rarefied and hegemonic" discourses are over. From this time forward, you will "assume that DA is a Science in its own right, as defined by practitioners in 'the field'".

Humanities folks (from which I consider myself an on-again, off-again expat): 



Social scientists envy you at times. What other discipline could pull off a session at  a medieval conference, perchance a dissertation, and a "shout out" in a popular biography around the topic of theorizing the male nipple? (we could argue about which discipline is really rarified, but to what end?). 


Some of us want to move in interesting and new directions, but are hampered by the hegemonic (or at least problematic) position that quantitative methods hold in many of our disciplines. We learn how to explain what we "do" in qualitative research in terms that quantitative methodologists (dare I say...science) can understand, because we like graduating and we like tenure. We envy the wide-eyed counter-hegemonic abandon of your manifesto, but if we actually went about "deconstructing received boundaries" and castigating the "incompatible systems" under which we are often compelled to operate, we would get our dissertations (or worse, our tenure dossiers) placed firmly back in our laps. These discussions are important to us, because they will take place over and over again and the friction between the boundaries helps us to understand how to position ourselves. We're glad you don't have this burden. We do.

Some of us want to move in interesting and new directions, but are not convinced that your privileged discourse isn't just trading one hegemony for another:

  •  We've been "quibbling" about what discourse is, what constitutes a legitimate "mode" of inquiry. We thought your vision was Gee's vision (that it is not enough to get just the words “right,” but also one’s body, clothes, gestures, actions, interactions,ways with things, symbols, tools, technologies and values, attitudes, beliefs, and emotions as well). Then we see this desire to conflate DA with Composition Studies, which, unmodified or undeveloped (or unexplained), invokes in most of us a discourse of privileging writing, which seems even more restrictive than rjmr at his most extreme moments. Not sure we're all interested in this avenue.
  • One of your own has been quite critical of the lens used here to position Composition Studies, which he characterizes as having "a lockstep, scholastic uniformity and, far from being comprehensible to the masses of teachers and students... seems calculated mainly to win prestige for composition theory by elevating it to the level of the most arcane (and now outmoded) literary theory; 'doing theory' now often has become a substitute for teaching writing, as it earlier became one for teaching literature."  We get privileging your own discourse (don't agree, just "get it") but reject the desire to maintain or expand a certain theoretical hegemony to the exclusion of our praxiological concerns in general, or to something that we get hung up on, like foundational nomenclature.
  • You speak of DA as if it were a monolith ("DA as a method and product of inquiry", "DA is a Science...based on its...adherence to common method") with "disciplinary best-practices establishment". So, which DA are we talking about? DASP? CDA? Foucauldian DA? CA? The various flavors of linguistic DA? Emerging subdisciplines? What is the common method? Is there even a "common" method in DASP (the one we are ostensibly focusing on), and will I ever use it in my discipline? Which discipline(s) get to establish this "common method" and these "best practices"? Why can't every discipline use every flavor of DA, develop their own common methods and best practices as they evolve? What happened to the interdisciplinarity you were espousing? Or better, are these the kinds of questions you were hoping to get to rather than the ones that are, apparently, not a "big fat deal"?

I couldn't agree more with the desideratum for the speedy arrival of the sugar-plum-fairy-and-gumdrops world...but the praxis of academe is not one of speed. Forced to live in and with the shadows of Plato's Cave,  I, for one, have considered our exchanges (both in class and online) to be anything but unimportant or unimpressive...quite the contrary. If there are some that wish to make that discussion a leitmotif for the course, who am I to say no?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

χρηστομάθεια or ἀνθολογία?

"It seems to me that the real task in a society such as ours is to criticize the workings of institutions which appear to be both neutral and independent; to criticize and attack them in such a manner that the political violence which has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them." - Michel Foucault


Now, I'm not going to say that rjmr's reasoning is "faulty", but rather that it is "informed, or should I say misinformed, by the conventionalized positivist paradigms that center on such outmoded empirical notions as…" (OK, now even I'm getting sick of the "Deconstruction Breakfast Food Product." No more…I PROMISE…)


Shall we take a trip into the RTB "retrospective-stream-of-consciousness" rabbit-hole?


rjmr: "Within a discourse community if we are speaking of something of value which we need to define (for example we are both stakeholders), the opinions we have should not be flights of fancy."


RTB: Ummm…we all come into conversations adhering to discourses that inform our perceptions, none of those perceptions being the same (tot sententiae quot homines). Social construction of reality within a discourse community has less to do with defining meaning and more to do with negotiating meaning. And lest we forget, Wegerif (2006) posits that the source of meaning "is to be found not in the figures or in their backgrounds but in the difference between the two because it is the boundary around a figure that makes it exist as a thinkable thing." (p. 145) . Are you remembering this, kiddies? There _will_ be a quiz later….


rjmr: "We would hope that each contributing member of the community has done their part to be thoughtful and can back up their opinion using reason to the fullest extent possible."


RTB: Ahhh…nothing like the smell of fresh logocentrism in the morning! Could you please define reason for us?


rjmr "I heart the scientific method" medley:

  • Within the discourse community the definition (i.e. description of reality) that finally becomes accepted should be that which can best be defended by supporting scientific information
  • As a condition of membership into the category science, DA must reach its conclusions in a certain way: it must have its own social-scientific method.
  • I would now define science using your phraseology: a field of inquiry whose claims exist in terms of reasonable support.
  • any two claims may be judged against one another by comparing their supporting evidence.
  • (In response to “Requiring your version of scientific, empirical evidence, without acknowledging other viewpoints, shuts down communication.") "No, it simply limits communication to that which can be supported. As noted by Casie, this happens all the time in academia. If you write a paper filled with unsupported ideas, it is unlikely to get published. Hence, communication is shut down.



RTB: OK, I think we get that you profess an objective epistemology, and that is certainly one way of looking at the world...can I share another with you?:



  • "Myths can be produced by the same sorts of methods and held for the same sorts of reasons that now lead to scientific knowledge"
  • "Competition between segments of the scientific community is the only historical process that ever actually results in the rejection of one previously accepted theory or in the adoption of another"                          -Thomas Kuhn



Let me elaborate…


On the level of [D]iscourse, the scientific method depends upon a negotiated set of skills within a community of practice and rests on agreement within those communities, so not only is the social determination of scientific knowledge possible in spite of the scientific method…the scientific method itself is a social construct, and the output from the scientific method is constructed knowledge, not discovered truth. The "truth" gets to be told by the "champions"… those who find themselves within the "dominant discourse" of the age. 


Recent example: is Pluto a planet? It was 10 years ago…..


On the level of [d]iscourse, scientific experiments depend upon framing the terms of the argument, the kinds of questions one asks, and the hypotheses that are proposed which depend in large part upon one's relation to the object[s] of study. Seems pretty "squishy" to me (as opposed to Educational Research: The Hardest Science of All…).


So, in the end, the scientific method is just one discourse among many. You of course want to privilege your discourse, which is easy to do…science is a huge cash cow, and where there is money there is power. You have to know that there are other discourses that live to resist the one you want to privilege…that criticize the workings of the scientific community as neither neutral nor independent; that attempt to unmask the political violence which has always exercised itself obscurely through science in order to fight it…(before you think it, five names: Oppenheimer, Nobel, Kevorkian, Mengele, Rascher).


rjmr (in imagined response): "How do you compare two arguments before you? Or are they above comparison?"


RTB: This is a perfectly valid question for someone coming from an epistemology of objectivism to ask…but it is a question that rings false in the ears of someone coming from an epistemology of relativism, which may explain the lack of response.


Let's use your blog title as an object lesson.....


Chrestomathia is a fitting title for an objectivist: from the Greek χρηστός (better) and μανθάνω (learn or understand). It is used in philology to describe a book with a sequence of texts used as exempla, to demonstrate the "development" or "perfection" of a language over time. This fits in nicely, IMHO, with a scientific view of the evolution of scientific thought.


If I had created a blog from scratch for this course, I would likely have named it Anthologiai from the Greek ἀνθολογία from ἄνθος (anthos, “flower”) + λέγω (legō, “I gather, pick up, collect”). These were originally collections of small Greek poems and epigrams, because in Greek culture flowers symbolize the finer sentiments that only poetry can express. There need not be an overarching rhyme or reason to the inclusions, arrangement, etc...and if there was intent in any of these, it is of no matter...what matters is how the discursive community of practice receives and perceives them...how the scent of each flower adds to the bouquet, how they interact and resonate with each other and with the researcher.  Bakhtin held that the meaning of discourse is not "reducible to the intentions of the speaker or to the response of the addressee but emerges between these two." (Holquist, 1981, pp. 429–430) Wegerif explains that "the way in which each generation of scholars re-visits and re-interprets textual fragments from ancient Greece is used by Bakhtin to illustrate his claim that there can be no final or fixed interpretation of an utterance."


Having had what I'll call a "near-miss" with a career in the hard sciences, I think I can empathize with the sentiment that this kind of investigation is not for everyone. One must be comfortable with loose ends, with ambiguity, with participation and the “holistic” view of things. Those who come from disciplines that have their roots in the traditional scientific method feel uneasy with research that relies on the personal factor in which the main form is socializing and the main instrument is the researcher. Hopefully, I've done my part to demonstrate that all research instruments are culturally mediated and that what social scientists do (my world view) presents a “picture of reality, of life as it exists in time and space” (Neisser, 1976, p. 2). 


Postscript: On a completely different note (the note that sounds something like "I don't heart discourse that ain't talkin' or writin'), might I recommend Chapter 4 (entitled "Discourse in Activity and Activity as Discourse" by Shawn Rowe) in Rebecca Rogers' An Introduction to Critical Discourse Analysis in Education (2004).......




BTW, the answer to the question in the post title is "yes".

Friday, September 4, 2009

"Is there any way out?"

NMAP: "I like the idea of various factions "resisting" whatever is dominant - but, of course, then the oppressed become the oppressor and before you know it we have myriad "disciplines" all screaming for relevance, making claims of importance, and proceeding to shove their own view of what is "important" and "true" down the next generations' throats. Is there any way out?"

...Not according to this  clip (especially the Foucault part):

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How Discourse Made the NMAP a Colonialist

Everything is political, as "Pictures at a Conversation" illustrated quite well. And any discussion of how education "should" be necessarily ends in aporia.


Case in point: the NMAP seems to advocate for teaching education as a monolith (I'm guessing the NMAP would call it "utopian interdisciplinarity") while I advocate for a more granular application of general principles, or even that general principles don't often contextualize as well as the NMAP would like us to believe (which I'm sure the NMAP could call something totally different). Disciplinary relationships are tenuous...take CALL, for example. Even though ESL and FL CALL have been happily "married" for decades, at its foundation it is still a power struggle.


I'm reminded of a book by Adrian Holliday entitled The Struggle to Teach English as an International Language that shows that, if anything, disciplines tend towards becoming even more granular, not less. Holliday uses a discourse of colonialism to challenge "native-speakerism" and advocates for the divestiture in the ESL profession of what has increasingly become an outdated perception of language "ownership" by native speakers, and this as a way to include NNS as not only worthy lecturers of the profession, but a subset worthy of disciplinarity themselves.


It occurs to me that it would be easy (perhaps facile) to take the NMAP's "we are all educators" paragraph, which seems quite interdisciplinary/collaborative, and make it seem quite nefarious and even nativist by hijacking Holliday's discourse and applying it to "education". It could be argued that the NMAP espouses an "essentialist" view of education, a historical force rooted in colonialism, pressuring us into a kind of mindset that colleges of eduation have a monopoly on the proper characteristics of pedagogy, critical thinking, and so on, that reduces 'non-native' education colleagues to suit its own structures...devalues their realities; and ignores the way in which these realities resist the 'dominant' educational dialogue.

Yes/no?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pictures at a Conversation

Written on an LCD wall...Observed by RTB:

Concerned Student:

I’m torn.
I appreciate the chance to interact with people in other disciplines over things we discuss in class, but I’m concerned about the research in small groups, not only because people like to see how praxis plays out in their _own_ research field, but because there seems to be a lot of polarity about appropriate modes for research. ...I don’t see how that plays out to everyone’s satisfaction if the disciplines are so different that not only is there a gulf of transferability that could likely not be bridged ...but even basic assumptions of what constitutes “discourse” and “research modes” are diametrically opposed.

...I’m not sure whether the history of this proposal is simply the previous impossibility of creating disciplinary teams under the guise of disciplinary diversity or whether there really is a true belief and personal confirmation that this is for our own good. I’m willing to go on some faith, but I’m worried that I’ll end up dreading this research project (or worse, that my group will) especially when I know that there is a chance for some real synergy with some like-minded folks from a “3rd cousin twice removed” discipline...
If it were discussing / dialoguing / debating / anything but researching, you could put me with anyone and I’d be perfectly happy. I’m skittish about the research, because in the “real” world, you get to choose your research colleagues......
 
NMAP:
 
Here are a few clarifications/my take on the group assignment.


1. Calling this a "research study/project" was probably an overstatement on my part. I do want you to get practice analyzing data from a DASP perspective, but it is by no means a full study...I am also going to be somewhat prescriptive with how you approach the assignment (even though I haven't spelled that out yet.)

2. No one has IRB approval to conduct a study in this class, so it isn't like you are working on a "real" study in which the stakes may be higher regarding your concerns.
3. As far as I'm concerned, everyone in the class IS from the same discipline - education. Everyone is concerned with teaching and learning. Counter to how colleges of education tend to be organized, I believe that a lot of teaching and learning is teaching and learning, regardless of the discipline.
4. However, I completely agree that there are likely varying epistemologies in the class - and that's precisely why I wanted to group you with people OTHER than whom you are used to working with or with whom you share beliefs. This is particularly important when doing analysis from a DASP perspective - you want to identify all the possible angles, assumptions, beliefs going on in a particular conversation segment, and working with people you don't share a lot in common with can help with this.
5. You seem to be anticipating or creating problems where none may exist. You are assuming no one else will have an interest in multimodal data. It could be that everyone in your group will be quite interested in this, but of course it's up to you to pitch that to your group by enacting your best collaborative skills - building relationships, honoring each other's perspectives, listening to their ideas, being willing to be influenced by someone who may have an even better idea than yours. I will certainly encourage this kind of exploration.
6. I really wish the statement "in the real world you get to choose your research partners" was true. It's not. At all, actually, especially in this very interdisciplinary, collaborative research world that we live in. Even if you THINK you know what you are getting when you start to work with someone, you don't.

Concerned Student:



As an aside, can I just say that you rock! I know of very few NMAPs willing to engage in the dialogic process to the extent that you do...validating, responding to and challenging our positions when your "id" would most likely rather have a Steven Seagal moment with us.

Now, to some thoughts/reactions to your response:

1. The devil is always in the details...."somewhat prescriptive". And here I thought the DASP/constructionist definition was prescriptive enough. I realize of course that there is method in the perceived madness (just like we all did qual. a certain way to begin with, even if we wanted to "go boutique")...I'm just eager to jump off of the "one-size-fits-all" (was that not a leitmotif of the your response?) bandwagon and research how DA can fit/complement other research orientations I'm likely to have:

Vine, E.W. (2008). "CA and SCT: strange bedfellows or useful partners for understanding classroom interactions?" Discourse Studies, Vol. 10, No. 5, 673-693.

Levine, P. & Scollon, R., Eds. (2004). Discourse and technology: Multimodal discourse analysis. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

2. I'm not sure that (for me at least) it was a question of stakes. My position was that it would be more helpful (in my current understanding) to see how the praxis of DA plays out in one's_own_ research field. I understand the exercise in Intro. to Qual. of going outside the field to gain an experience free of some of the engrained notions one has about things, but I'm not sure that makes as much sense here, but I could see that rationale being valid.

3. I realize that you are coming at this from the instructional designer / subject matter expert POV, but I would argue that this is only working (and increasingly so) in the business world. You espouse a centralized view of instruction and pedagogy that is not only diametrically opposed to my point of view, but to the overwhelming view of higher education. Pedagogical and research environments in most institutions of higher education are decentralized to some degree, with greater decentralization in large research universities. Larger institutions with a significant research mission (such as ours) tend to emphasize disciplinary academic efforts in both instruction and research and place a great deal of authority at the department level. If we extend your argument, then we should have a universal methods course to teach pedagogy as a monolith, and cast off entire subdisciplines that have been devoted to the idiosyncracies of teaching and researching certain subjects. While I believe that there is room for interdisciplinarity to some degree (you have programs like film studies or Latin American studies, etc. that administratively codify this idea), even your own college is structured to reflect the reality that there are content areas, and that content areas have their own discourses and vocabularies and idiosyncracies that no centrality is going to fully comprehend or effectively provide for praxiologically. An excellent math teacher...even if they were fluent in French, would likely make an awful French teacher were they not trained how to teach in a second-language acquisition context, and I would argue that a "one-size-fits-all" class would not do that.
4. This actually makes sense to me!
5. It would appear that I’m fine…my group seems at least open to the idea of multimodal, and we can likely find enough in common to come upon a topic. Others, on the other hand, are being flat-out rejected. I didn’t want to end up in that situation…it would have made this course miserable...
OK…maybe the “you get to choose your research partners” is over-reaching…but you get to choose your research focus…I’m not going to ever be compelled to study the intersections of CALL and Engineering., even if I might in five years get roped into research with some moon-bat I’m not thrilled with because the research takes a wicked curve into psycholinguistics…or…heaven forbid…Ed. Psych. ;-)


NMAP:
 
This is AWESOME (snippet below) and I would love to have a whole class on the nature of academia and why things are structured as they are. How did we create these "realities" about what academic departments are and how they are organized and what is "real" about a discipline? These decisions are made not because there is a "truth" about the existence of a field, but because we CREATE it. Excellent, excellent example that maybe I'll use in class. (It's fine by me if you want to blog this stuff.)
(And I've seen lots of excellent language teachers who never had classes in pedagogy or SLA. Also seen lots of awful ones who have..go figure. IT's the class "is teaching an art or a science? argument. )
I realize that you are coming at this from the instructional designer / subject matter expert POV, but I would argue that this is only working (and increasingly so) in the business world. You espouse a centralized view of instruction and pedagogy that is not only diametrically opposed to my point of view, but to the overwhelming view of higher education. Pedagogical and research environments in most institutions of higher education are decentralized to some degree, with greater decentralization in large research universities. Larger institutions with a significant research mission (such as ours) tend to emphasize disciplinary academic efforts in both instruction and research and place a great deal of authority at the department level. If we extend your argument, then we should have a universal methods course to teach pedagogy as a monolith, and cast off entire subdisciplines that have been devoted to the idiosyncracies of teaching and researching certain subjects. While I believe that there is room for interdisciplinarity to some degree (you have programs like film studies or Latin American studies, etc. that administratively codify this idea), even your own college is structured to reflect the reality that there are content areas, and that content areas have their own discourses and vocabularies and idiosyncracies that no centrality is going to fully comprehend or effectively provide for praxiologically. An excellent math teacher...even if they were fluent in French, would likely make an awful French teacher were they not trained how to teach in a second-language acquisition context, and I would argue that a "one-size-fits-all" class would not do that.



Concerned Student:


And I've always been of the opinion that methods courses largely give you the vocabulary you need to articulate what you do in praxis. I taught for a while before I hit a methods course. It simply gave me the "jargon" to explain in a "meta" way what I was already doing.


Still, I think I would be a terrible math teacher....

And I agree that we have created the reality in which we live. You just strike me as the Don Quixote here...tilting at windmills....

[etc. etc. etc.]