Credentials, please.

Yesterday, Laura Blankenhip hosted a really fun podcast that I was fortunate enough to be a part of, along with Randy Thornton and Barbara Ganley. The discussion starts out talking about questions surrounding credentialing in higher ed, but soon becomes a free-range conversation about all kinds of topics, featuring everything from the over-credentialing of faculty to the taylorization of education to the Works Progress Administration (WPA). What was most enjoyable about the conversation, at least for me, was how it captured some candid thinking out loud about educational alternatives which nicely framed the uncertainty of our moment when it comes to the future of educational institutions more generally. If you want to have an enjoyable podcasting expereience, let Laura know a topic you might be interested in talking about, and I’m sure you wont regret the time you spend thinking with her.

Go here to listen to our conversation.

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4 Responses to Credentials, please.

  1. Looking forward to hearing this one. Wish I could say the same for reading the Graff article. I glanced at it and so far it strikes me the way Blackboard’s arrogant “inclusion” of Web 2.0 does. Even the stuff that’s right carries with it an odor of commodification, in this case the commodification that the Age Of High Theory (or at least its more advantaged practitioners) ushered into the discourse of teaching and learning and reading. If I took the end of Graff’s article seriously–assuming I could tease out with any precision what the “deconstruction” he celebrates means (sloppy use of the term at best, impossibly vague at worst)–I wouldn’t advocate for educational reform or anything at all, having had my “I” and my “advocacy” and my impulse to reform all “deconstructed” and everything.

    In short, when the MLA starts trumpeting ICT in education and educational reform generally, I smell co-optation and another dreary set of self-congratulatory, predictable academic set pieces.

    But at least I have the podcast to look forward to!

  2. Reverend says:


    B-r-a-v-o! I have to say that I felt much the same way with that article, and why we may disagree on a few particulars, there is some kind of disingenuous “ushering in” of a new era on Graff’s part that strikes me as opportunistic and ahistorical.

  3. I agree, I agree. “Opportunistic” and “ahistorical” are exactly right, in my view. Has he read any Engelbart? Is he paying attention to Cathy Davidson at HASTAC? Has he read Janet Murray or Alan Kay or Tim Berners-Lee? Jerome Bruner? Has he been in Second Life or watched Robbie Dingo’s beautiful machinima?

    I also fear this line of logic (sorry, I realize that word should be in scare quotes or at least preceded by the word “deconstructed”–poor Derrida to have spawned such an industry!) will lead directly to a kind of forced collectivism that will be as bad, perhaps worse, than the hermetically sealed classroom paradigm. When he starts advocating that college faculty adopt certain methods now current in the disastrous manipulation of high school faculty, I get the shakes. Has he talked to a smart, creative high school teacher lately about the dismal experiences of in-service days and all the other dreary, soul-numbing practices they’re forced to inhabit? Has he read Kozol’s “Letters to a Young Teacher”?

    The problems are not where Graff locates them, or tries to locate them, but I suspect that the locating is driven not so much by knowledge or imagination as by a familiar set of professional “moves” that drive much of what passes for discourse in the academy.

    So now Graff has moved beyond “teach the conflicts” (always struck me as empty not in principle but in the way he imagined it) to “let’s get together.” Get together around *what* exactly? And who will be included in the get together? Is there room for an instructional technologist at the faculty fair?

    Sometimes it just makes me want to weep with frustration. Graff’s right that our students see their education as a set of containers, pills to swallow, credits to earn. He’s largely blind to the way in which his own profession and its discourses and reward structures have contributed to this situation, and the ways in which his own essay perpetuates and indeed worsens the problem.

    By the way, I’m not indicting Theory, which has much to offer, so much as the Age of High Theory, rather a different matter…. Remind me to tell you a Michael Berube story sometime.

  4. terry says:

    Hey Rev–
    I left a long comment over at the podcast, though I don’t see it there now. I was only going to listen for five minutes but found so much of value that I stayed for the whole thing : ) Thanks.


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