My Position as Teacher

   The Shifting Roll of Writing

Because the landscape of education in constantly in flux, I find it difficult to define my position as a writing teacher with certainty. The political climate of the day and the introduction of new technologies make it impossible to place oneself into a particular camp and declare "This is where I stand, and this is how I'm going to do it." Of course I have motivations that have influenced my teaching philosophy, but I can't even say that those are not prone to some kind of change in the future. Maybe my position is to not have a position. To always be ready and willing to roll with the changes. The following is excerpted from a journal entry from earlier this semester in which the class was asked to address our place in the world of English studies.

With all of the functional needs and approaches to English put to the side, the “know how” that reigns most important is the ability to think critically about issues and subjects and be able to push ideas and insights forward through writing. While I am willing to deal with the reality that the goal of teaching writing may be simply to teach a computer programmer how to write software manuals, I want that person to know why the demand for that kind of position exists- to understand the historical and economic factors that have created this demand. Writing courses at the cc level are increasingly being forced to answer the demand of the entry-level job market. Consequently, the role of the writing teacher and the breadth of materials that a class can cover are becoming limited. I’d like my students to realize why and carry that knowledge with them back to the workplace. What they do with that knowledge is up to them.

Writing, or as we are framing the discussion, English studies, can take up the position of cultural facilitators. If English studies can create discourse that is analytical and critically responsive, then these become the discussions that guide where society is going to move next. Such a practice ensures that intellectual development continues, and invites the participation of all.

Creating an environment that is open to change is going to demand that I am flexible in my own position.