Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Changing of the Guard

The sand is running out beneath my feet. I've been standing here for quite a while, and the waves just keep breaking, washing around my ankles as the tide rises.

Problem is I don't know where to go next. This place is all I know. My feet don't want to lift up and get out of the changing seas.

I took up residence here about 20 some years ago because it was what I wanted to do. I liked this place, this stretch of sand at the University of Arizona. The days were interesting. We had a pluralistic view of teaching; creative writers, lit people, ESL folks, and rhet-comp people all found a way to get along mostly. PhDs and MFAs, we worked together to appeal to diverse grad students in different grad programs. We all agreed that writing was complicated stuff and that teaching writing was exponentially more complicated if you really respected it.

I mean the brains of students all work differently and teachers had to apply a variety of methods to try and reach as many as possible. Some students responded to talk about style and sentences, others to big ideas, still more needed to explore personal stories and identities.

Teachers needed to teach from their strengths and past experience while meeting common course assignments and guidelines.

It was not paradise, but it worked in weird ways. Young teachers found things out about themselves that they didn't even know existed before they started teaching. Of course there was chaos, creative chaos in the design of syllabi and approaches and selecting materials.

But the tide has risen and the ground I stand on is washing away, being pulled from me by time and change.

The new guard is rhet-comp focused. The new curriculum standardized. To be fair, I don't know much about it because I haven't even read the new text book or seen the new assignments.

My role next year is unclear. My personal involvement is minimal. I don't know what to expect or what I can do about it.

I do know I have to step back or the waves will carry me away from shore.

It's the way of things.

You can't fight the tide. You need a place to stand. It's time to move.

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