Revolution Lullabye

August 14, 2012

Lamos, Credentialing College Writing Teachers

Lamos, Steve. “Credentialing College Writing Teachers: WPAs and Labor Reform.” WPA 35.1 (Fall/Winter 2011): 45-72. Print.

Lamos argues for a national credentialing system for college writing teachers as a way both to define and value the specific knowledges and skills of college writing teachers and to create “occupational closure” to help improve the labor conditions of non-tenure-track writing instructors (47). Lamos argues that writing program administrators, as “middle managers,” should lead the case for a national credentialing system, one that models (in part) the system already in place for K-12 educators. He contends that credentialing writing instructors is beneficial to the research-centered university, which has traditionally marginalized the work of teaching, because it addresses the current pressures the reseach-centered univeristy faces, including accountability to undergraduate teaching, competition for undergraduate tuition dollars, and the need for local community engagement. Lamos sees credentialing as complementary to unionization – it can strengthen collective bargaining. Lamos draws on Adler-Kassner’s concept of “story-changing” as a tool for WPAs to use to advocate for writing teacher credentialing. He calls for a CWPA task force to look into the ways a national credentialing system might be put into place and also encourages WPAs to try developing localized systems of peer-review and education in the meantime.

Notable Notes

need to define what writing teachers should know, how to assess that, and how to develop hiring and re-credentialing systems

writing teacher education should include coursework, practical experience (better than current TA training at many institutions), on-going mentoring, assessment and evaluation, and professional development

assessment could be a combination of K-12-like credentialing tests and teacher portfolios

need for both a national and a local plan

the economics of labor: credentialling can make college writing teachers more scarce, thus helping WPAs make the argument for better working conditions

credentialing already is there for teachers, OTs, PTs, nurses, etc….many professions have credentialing systems

credentialing can open up the opportunity for more graduate programs that are not solely focused on producing PhDs and give MAs a certification that is marketable.

what is lost when we make a credential?

assessment based in peer-review: writing teachers should participate in cross-institutional peer review



June 1, 2009

Bourdieu, The Forms of Capital

Bourdieu, Pierre. “The Forms of Capital.” Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. Ed. John G. Richardson. New York: Greenwood Press, 1986. 241-258.

Society’s structures and unequal power distribution are systematically maintained and reproduced through educational institutions, which confer degrees and distinctions on members of the dominant class. This granting of what seems to be merit-based achievement actually authorizes the dominant class to maintain power. An educational degree is a form of cultural capital, and those who achieve it only could because of the cultural capital they had from birth, which gave them the opportunity to delay entrance into the workforce and continue their education. In this essay, Bourdieu shows the importance of cultural and social capital to maintaining power structure and explains the difference betweeen economic, cultural, and social capital, showing that the latter two, though less obvious, are how power is transferred and transmitted into economic capital.

Quotable Quotes

“the cultural capital academically sanctioned by legally guaranteed qualifications” – institutionalized cultural capital, education

“the transmission of cultural capital is no doubt the best hidden form of hereditary transmission of capital”

“it is what makes the games of society – not least, the economic game – something other than simple games of chance offering at every moment the possibility of a miracle.”

Notable Notes

social capital – the multiplier effect

3 forms of cultural capital: embodied (knowledge, values, cultivation from birth); objectified (books, paintings, machines, instruments); institutionalized (schools, degrees, education) It’s not transferrable

social capital – the group membership nad networks you get through family, school, social classes. These take time and effort to maintain. The group can choose to exclude or excommunicate members who don’t tow the line

Blog at