The university, however, is the place where ‘common’ wisdom is only of negative value; it is something to work against. The movement toward a more specialized discourse begins (or perhaps, best begins) when a student can both define a position of privilege, a position that set him against a ‘common’ discourse, and when he can work self-consciously, critically, against not only the ‘common’ code but his own.
I don’t know if I disagree with this statement (from the end of p. 521) or just don’t understand it.
I think it’s the former. (I think I really disagree with this idea; I think that’s the myth of academic discourse.) I think this statement is saying that academic discourse is not a specialized way of speaking that emerges from everyday ways of making meaning, but that the development is instead in some kind of “game” we play – one we play to set ourselves apart and give us (academics) a certain kind of privilege. One that you can only master from “inside”. I *don’t* believe in “faking” academic language. — I do believe in trying it on, seeing “have I got this right?” But that’s different from “faking” it. I think the “white shoes” author is going to be easier to engage in academic writing and conversation than the “clay” writer.
I’m thinking right now of two students in my inquiry class – one who only speaks by citing information found on the internet – who talks about light in terms of wavelengths canceling – all of the vocabulary of science and none of the meaning; and one who speaks in a more “everyday” kind of language about “what if the sun was red…”. I have no way to work with the first – the one who uses scientific language in a “faking it” kind of way . With the second, we can shape that idea, make it less ambiguous, see if such an idea is even possible, and gradually an academic/scientific discourse emerges.
I love a lot about the article – it is HARD to move from everyday language to a specialized discourse. But this ending troubled me.
“and the thing I really want to stress is that these ideas do not come because we don’t have enough to think about and the imagination runs wild. When we study … the data… it leads us, almost inexorably to this picture.” (from Radiolab The (Multi) Universe(s) – a physicist describing the idea that there are lots of bubble universes – it’s seemed relevant…)