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Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Values

What I was trying to get at in the last post was my effort to get my work to reflect, in a much stronger way, my values and my vision, to eliminate the dissonance between the two.

In other words, if you asked me why I am in the profession that I am in, what motivates me most deeply, I might have a certain set of answers. Then, if you asked me what I did in my research and teaching, I might have another set of answers. The overlap cannot be complete, of course, but I want to aim for an 80% overlap rather than a 30% overlap between the two.

So to eliminate this discrepancy, what would I have to do? Breaking this down, there are parts of the job that cannot be changed, that reflect institutional realities I cannot alter. For those portions of my work-week, the answer is to perform those duties responsibly and well. For example, if I have to do a peer-review of an article, I could see this as a negative because I am tired of being a gate-keeper. That function is one I perform very well, but it is antithetical in some ways to my core values. If I do it well enough, and make sure I help the scholar being reviewed, then I can recuperate some of my vision even while performing an institutional task.

The second category might be things that I can change. For example, I don't have to do certain things in the classroom whose only function is "academic" in the most formulaic sense. I don't have to do things a certain way because I have always done them that way.

A third category is things that I am not doing now that I can add to my practice as scholar and professor if I am more mindful of what I am doing.

3 comments:

profacero said...

Good for you!

Thomas said...

I think the institutions themselves need to wake up to the dissonance you're talking about. Often, they needlessly amplify it by pulling scholars in different directions (and away from themselves).

"...if you asked me why I am in the profession that I am in, what motivates me most deeply, I might have a certain set of answers. Then, if you asked me what I did in my research and teaching, I might have another set of answers. "

I'm not sure if you mean this too, but there are many scholars who would say, "If you asked me what I did in my research and what I did in my teaching I'd have two different sets of answers". This is a manifestation of your Cordon Sanitaire (my reflections here).

Jonathan said...

I don't feel the dissonance between teaching and scholarship so acutely. Teaching pulls me out of myself in ways that scholarship cannot. When you spend so much time in your own mind, you need a release for that. So on a personal level I need both of those things. Yet the conflict I refer to persists in both.