First of all, there’s a new podcast episode up here. You should listen and share. It’s about how the dismissal of rap as a viable artform (as opposed to reasonable and contextualized criticism of some of its trends and habits) is almost always rooted in Dr. Kendi’s conceptualization of “cultural racism.” Just me this time, but I think the point is made well.
Next week (the 15th, to be precise), I am making a presentation of my paper on “The Altruistic Shield” at the NYS TESOL conference in White Plains. (For those who may not remember, the altruistic shield is my concept of “A psychological mechanism among English Language Teaching (ELT) professionals which allows them to exempt themselves from acknowledging their role in perpetuating systemic racism and other forms of inequity by virtue of the altruistic or self-sacrificial nature of their work.”) I hope it goes well. Meeting with my dean tomorrow to suss out how accurate my instincts have been in the way I have planned my presentation.
This will not be my first conference presentation. By my count, I’ve done four thus far, three of which were at the New School, where I’m pretty sure I was allowed in because of their desire to support their alumni (understandable), and one of which was at the international TESOL conference in Seattle in March of 2017. That was the only “big” one I’ve done thus far, and it went very well. That, however, was as a consumer of knowledge, and this presentation is my first time as a producer of my own knowledge. Thus it feels very important to me, as a scholar and as a person. I know what it felt like to complete my first marathon and know I had changed as a person, so I wonder if these 35 minutes will feel the same.
The only times a presentation hasn’t gone well has been when no one shows up, really, and I start to flop-sweat and tap dance. People who attend are usually eager. People don’t really attend presentations in which they are not interested, especially when there are several simultaneous choices. I’m not famous enough to attract an audience that wants to come and jeer me (that sounds fun, though). Thus, my goal is to assume good will and good faith, and try to build upon that to push the listeners to take action. We’ll see how it goes….
I’ll be recording the audio of the presentation and will share via the podcast a week or two later. I also have another podcast episode recorded and edited that I’ll be sharing first.
And I am going to responding to a very exciting “call for papers” that is specifically about anti-racist pedagogy (there’s more to it than that, but still). There is no guarantee I’ll be accepted, of course, and it’s asking for 6,000-8,000 words, but whatever I write, I’m going to make sure it gets seen and read and shared by as many as possible. My only question is, do I make my smaller, calmer argument, or do I take a big swing? Both would be primarily opinion pieces as I won’t have my own data until a year from now. I am leaning towards taking a big swing.
The smaller argument is one that seeks to normalize the phrase “Teaching Standardized English” as opposed to the current titles for our field, which serve to marginalize and minoritize. There’s a fairly straightforward argument to be made there, that including the “ize” requires us to confront the dominance and opppression inherent in the field. There are good articles to be written on this.
The big swing, however, is one I am more interested in. And I realize, if it doesn’t get accepted, there is no reason I can’t look for a smaller journal, or hold it back until I have data to back it up. My concern with the smaller argument is that, even if a few people adopt a new title for their work, it doesn’t much provide a framework for their teaching and their management of their programs. You can switch your title and teach exactly the same oppressive lessons and pat yourself on the back. So if I take the big swing, and I succeed, it would be with a complex but comprehensible pedagogy that professionals could apply to their work, be it in classroom teaching or management. So I think I’m going to try. Worst comes to worst, I write something that I need to hold onto.
I am going to try to write the big swing piece in December (the deadline is Dec 31st) and the smaller swing piece in January for some other publication, so that I can have my biggest, boldest work out in the world (or at least under review) before my child is born.
I’m not hesitating any longer.