Last spring, because of a change in scheduling, I was asked if I would take on another graduate seminar for fall. I agreed, and when I was asked what I would offer I said, “Well, something literacy, identity, and agency-ish,” wondering as I said it what I really meant.
There are some courses we teach that we have a clear sense of what we want to accomplish – the trajectory of the course, the readings, the assignment. This course, which is going on this fall and called Composing Identities: Exploring Literacy, Culture, and Agency, I knew would be a bit of an adventure for me and for the students involved. It’s not that I had no idea what I was doing. I’ve been working on these ideas for the past couple of years as I plan toward the book I hope to start writing in the spring. But the theorizing and research is still very much work in progress and I was still entangled in the ideas, issues, and readings myself.
So, I decided that the course would have to be an exploration for all of us involved. I told the students this on the first day of class, and everyone has been great about exploring the ideas, readings, and implications in a series of discussions that have just been extraordinary all semester. I always tell graduate students that one of the things I love about my job is what I learn from them as they do their research – and that is still true. But this class has been such a generative, productive, and inspiring experience for me as a teacher and as a researcher. Not much more to say about it in this blog post, except to remember that the joy – and value – in teaching, for me, is most effective and fulfilling when it is at its most collaborative. This is one course I will be very sorry to see end.