"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

i should have seen this coming...

and of course, just as i got going, i hit a brick wall.

yesterday i found out that i might not get my degree.

"why?" you ask? it's called gate-keeping. it's why i hate the educational system.

Why aren't you going to get your degree!?!
9:35 AM me: oh that's a funny story
we had senior project presentations yesterday
9:36 AM and i was explaining how i had this radical idea to change the format of my project
9:37 AM i'm looking at the educational system as a power system, an extension of the capitalist hierarchy that has historically ignored and excluded communities of difference
9:38 AM well, i'm also looking at schooling rituals, and seeing my project as an extension of this power system and its rituals and habits, i don't want that to be the kind of project i write
9:39 AM also, theory and practice is one of the core considerations in my thesis, i'm arguing for better educational practices that honor the "democratic promise" and theory of education
9:43 AM so, when i was explaining to Bill that i wanted to write my thesis with as little jargon as possible (jargon being the language that conveys power and authority to an arbitrary author. jargon also being the technical language that wedges a distance between communities, the language that marginalizes), opting instead for a dialogic or conversational writing style (a la Myles Horton and Paulo Freire and other practitioners i've been studying), Bill asked me "if i wanted my degree."

8 minutes
9:51 AM me: i didn't really think he was being serious, but then he explained to me that "this is an academic exercise and you're going to have to conform to its expectations if you want to be recognized by the institution"
9:52 AM i was extremely upset

it's just so frustrating because i knew this would happen, i just wasn't prepared to have to fight for the integrity of my project so early in the process!



Brian said...


You have to pick your battles. Get your degree, you aren't selling out.

stephan!e lee said...

you're right. it's just so frustrating that this guy has to frame it like that, like if i do things my way, i'm not going to get my degree, am not going to be recognized as a worthy contributor to the cultural/intellectual discourse, and if i go ahead and get the degree, i'm suddenly a sell-out!

it's just (forgive me) an extremely stupid and simple way to think of the writing process, and academia in general.


remaerdyaD said...

If he was being serious, could you take it up with a board of some sort, like on ethical grounds or something?

stephan!e lee said...

let's hope it doesn't come to that. let's hope he understands the bitter irony in what he's suggesting. let's hope i get away with it.


The ZenFo Pro said...

Well, that sucks, but honestly I think I can see both sides here.

Undergraduate education is about learning to think, express, etc., freely and creatively, but it's also about learning how to play the game within a given set of parameters that have been predertmined by a greater system.

For example, it makes sense to want something like a thesis written in a uniform style, say, in MLA, Turabian, or APA, because that helps future users of the research access and understand author intent long after the originator dies. Same holds true for the use of controlled vocabulary (database thesauri, for instance, are designed to create standardized searching across a dynamic electronic spectrum, improving the user's precision when performing a search.)

You'll have to find some compromise here, chica. Give me a ring if ya need some help.