Revolution Lullabye

June 23, 2015

Kinney, Fellowship for the Ring: A Defense of Critical Administration in the Corporate University

Kinney, Kelly. “Fellowship for the Ring: A Defense of Critical Administration in the Corporate University.” WPA: Writing Program Administration 32.3 (Spring 2009): 37-48. Print.

Kinney enters the debate about creating full-time non-tenure-track lines in composition and argues that in writing programs throughout the U.S., these full-time lines, though not on the “faculty ladder,” do result in less exploitation of composition faculty. She uses her own experience as an ABD fellow in the Grand Valley State University’s Department of Writing (an independent writing program) to argue that these kinds of positions can not only give composition instructors greater stability and better wages and benefits but also can help create institutional environments that support and value the teaching of writing.

Kinney resists arguments made by Sledd, Bousquet, and others, who saw WPAs who created non-tenure-track composition lines as either complacent with the larger corporate university structure or as eroding the possibility of more tenure-lines. Kinney is pragmatic in her analysis, arguing that WPAs have the power to negotiate for better models for employing composition faculty.

Notable Notes

Discusses the debate about creating full-time non-tenure-track lines in composition: is it creating “boss compositionists,” with just a few tenured WPAs overseeing large masses of teachers, or is it a way that WPAs are trying to rectify the poor wages and working conditions of part-time, adjunct contingent labor?

Cites the major debate between James Sledd and Joseph Harris in CCC (September 2001), uses it to frame the discussion around non-tenure-track composition appointments. In this essay Kinney is responding to Sledd, who saw WPAs as complacent in higher administration’s plans to exploit composition labor.

Her admin work as a doctoral student slowed down her progress toward degree, ran out of her stipend. At the end of her 4th year she became a fellow at GVSU

Discusses the problem of putting pressure on grad students to professionalize, diversify, which slows down their progress (and many never finish). She argues though that her fellowship helped her on the job market and gave her a decent wage as she finished her PhD.

Defines “situated leadership” (a term coined by Sullivan et al), “a concept which reinterprets the ethic of service and helps theorize active ways of applying institutional critique.” WPAs should be rhetorical in how they administrate (40) Kinney argues that he WPAs at GVSU practiced “situated leadership” – reflective, critical analysis of situations, understanding the local context and situatedness.

The Department of Writing at GVSU had 2 kinds of FT NTT positions that had good wages and benefits: “the real improvements in work life for composition instructors are not to be underestimated” (41). One kind was a fellow for ABDs, MFAs, and PhDs. Fellows had conference support and had schedules to allow for scholarship, no service obligations. The second line was Affiliate Faculty positions – again, good wages, renewable 3-year contracts

This Department of Writing is independent of the English Department, and so was able to hire instructors who wanted to teach writing.

Key concept to her argument: the commitment to writing and composition, both the teaching and the field

Argues that FT NTT lines are a step up for composition instructors, who historically have been some of the most marginalized and vulnerable contingent faculty, rejects the “preoccupation with tenure lines,” saying that this position does not help these faculty.

Quotable Quotes

“Although always influenced by institutional constraints, WPAs can be powerful advocates for traditionally exploited writing instructors” (38).

“I found administrative work politically empowering. It gave me a sneak peak into the mechanisms of university bureaucracy, allowed me to see how incremental change was possible, and taught me how I might become an agent in institutional reform” (39).

“Critique is slow to effect change, and often neglects institution-specific exigencies.” (40).

“Through their commitment to the teaching of writing as a legitimate academic pursuit—a commitment that necessitated creating quality working conditions for all writing instructors—Grand Valley’s WPAs were able to attract and maintain a stable, experienced, and well-credentialed staff of composition faculty, committed pedagogues eager to engage in innovative practices such as directed self-placement, multi-grader portfolio assessment, and the development of an undergraduate writing major” (43).

“When ladder faculty ignore their non-tenure-track colleagues by single-mindedly campaigning for tenure-track positions, exploitation ensues.” (44)

makes the point that negotiation is necessary, utopia is not possible with academic labor unions. Compromise is the name of the game:

“Although some equate all forms of administration with a dance with the devil—and of course there’s an undeniably romantic appeal to such an equation and dismissal—most people involved with the labor movement understand that negotiation is at the heart of collective struggle. As we move toward better working conditions for composition instructors, we must continue to negotiate with the corporate university” (45)

“Perhaps the biggest professional compensation I received at Grand Valley, then, was not the solid wages and scholarly status I earned as a Composition Fellow, but the administrative imagination to envision better working conditions for all writing instructors, but particularly adjunct workers. Because of the time I’ve spent in a department that fosters equitable working conditions, I have recognized the power of administrative agency, and the empowering potential of WPA work” (45) – the real gift of her position as fellow at GVSU

Wants to “work together to realize alternative labor possibilities” (46).

May 23, 2011

Ignatian Pedagogy A Practical Approach

International Commission on the Apostolate of Jesuit Education. “Ignatian Pedagogy: A Practical Approach.”

The goal of this whitepaper is to make the 1986 document The Characteristics of Jesuit Education more usable for teachers,  more attuned to daily pedagogical practices. It is meant to be a flexible document, one that should be adopted to local cultures and constraints and infused into existing curriculum. The paper defines Ignatian pedagogy and explains the goals of Jesuit education, the role of the student-teacher relationship, the Ignatian pedagogical paradigm, and the challenges of implementing Ignatian pedagogy.

The Ignatian pedagogical paradigm includes these five activities, which, in a Jesuit education, are constantly happening: context (or understanding where the student, the institution is coming from and is located in the larger world), experience (acquiring facts, knowledge, and experience), reflection (seeing the connections between one set of experiences and another – academic or otherwise), action (feeling compelled to move that knowledge towards action), and evaluation (seeing where the student has come and how the students needs to develop further – both in an academic and “whole person” idea.)

Notes and Quotes

The goal of Jesuit education: to form men and women for others, men and women who are challenged to grow as whole persons who will be called to actively serve and lead others. Jesuit education pursues excellence, a commitment to justice, a discerning mind, a belief in the dignity and holiness in all life.

The model in Jesuit education is Christ himself – finding and working towards God’s love in communion with others. Students educated in the Jesuit tradtion are encouraged to move beyond ordinary ways to express their love for each other and their neighbor.

The academic disciplines in Jesuit education have a human centerness: they relate to what it means to be human.

Education that is both intellectual and moral: creating “competent, conscious, and compassionate commitment” (5)

Education in faith and for justice “means helping [students] to understand and appreciate that other people are their richest treasure” (7)

Students in the Ignatian tradition need to be actively pursuing knowledge – need to have the freedom and the drive to acquire knowledge and reflect on it. Teachers are the guides to help students do that, giving them opportunities to engage in all of the activities on the Ignatian pedagogical paradigm, with clear, scaffolded objectives that meet students where they are and lead them to become more. Also the importance of repetition (37-38)

Ignatian pedagogy depends on a close student-teacher relationship, where the teacher forges personal connections with the students.

Has a central concern for the human being in all things.

“To be successful in bringing the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm into regular use in Jesuit schools, members of the International Commission are convinced that staff development programs in each province and school are essential. Teachers need much more than a cognitive introduction to the Paradigm. They require practical training that engages and enables them to reflect on the experience of using these new methods confidently and effectively.” – ongoing professional development that emphasizes reflective practice is key for implementing Ignatian pedagogy.

“And I am personally greatly encouraged by what I sense as a growing desire on the part of many in countries around the globe to pursue more vigorously the ends of Jesuit education which, if properly understood, will lead our students to unity, not fragmentation; to faith, not cynicism; to respect for life, not the raping of our planet; to responsible action based on moral judgement, not to timorous retreat or reckless attack.” (40, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, “Ignatian Pedagogy Today” 1993).

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