My Position as Scholar

    Joining the Conversation

Faced with the reality, or the feeling of some kind of moral obligation, that I may need to someday publish, I think it will have to be from a more pedagogical approach. I consider myself to be a teacher first and a scholar second. Richard Gebhardt, in his essay “Scholarship and Teaching: Motives and Strategies for Writing Articles in Composition Studies,” actually provides discerning guidance on how to be a “teacher-scholar” and share classroom experiences with other teachers in the profession. Gebhardt points out that teachers should “stay alert for ‘contact’ points” that could lead to article ideas (38). He suggests using “Your experiences teaching writing classes” and “The writing practices, frustrations, and successes of students in your classes” (39). I appreciate this kind of advice because it lends itself towards the kind of practical direction I would want to follow in my scholarly writing. His advice reflects some of the thoughts I posted in a class forum after reading Joseph Harris’ “Person, Position, Style.”

I think it is highly unlikely that I will be working at an institution that will require me to publish. In the event that I do acquire such a position or find myself with time to publish, I will have to align myself with the camp that fosters the use of personal narrative in scholarly writing. The reason is simple: I will use personal classroom experiences as both student and teacher to discuss pedagogical (and andragogical?) strategies in the writing classroom. Granted, I could present the same strategies in a strictly formal academic paper that presents empirical evidence, but my writing will probably find better audience and success with a personal edge. Plus, such an article would more than likely appear in a publication that has wide distribution and a diverse readership, as opposed to a more obscure and scholarly journal. (Mannix)

Here’s the irony. My writing as an undergraduate was always composed in a very scholarly and academic manner. I joined conversations that were already in  progress and was limited in power and ability to steer the conversation in any meaningful way. Writing in a more narrative form, as I am now, is something still rather new to me, and I am struggling mightily with it. However, i recognize that this approach to writing allows me to enter the conversations of my profession on my terms. It also allows me to bring my students to the dialogue and expose their thoughts and voices to the conversation. Maybe it has been my years of public high school teaching that has embittered me towards the academic elite. Why would I want to join their conversation when I can begin one of my own?

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