Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Truth is Power; Power, Truth

Truth is Power; Power, Truth

I hadn’t read this piece by Foucault before, and while I found it really interesting in terms of social theory, ideology, rhetoric, etc., I struggled to link it to a class on teaching with technology. I’m sure this is my fault, and you others will come up with something brilliant. The old internal light bulb did flash, however, at a few passages:

1. The bit on page 112 about history being discontinuous. Foucault asks, “How is it that at certain moments and in certain orders of knowledge, there are these sudden take-offs, these hastenings of evolution, these transformations which fail to correspond to the calm, continuist image that is normally accredited?” Which made me think of digital technology, an area of knowledge in which it is impossible not to argue that we are caught up in a hastening of evolution. I think back to my family’s first computer – a Compaq Portable – and laugh.

I suppose my dad was an early adopter of PCs, and I suppose I am too, sort of (true early adopterdom requires more money than I have). The thing is about being an early adopter, is that there are upsides and downsides. The upsides we all know; the downsides I’ve found surprising. One is that I always feel behind the bleeding edge, because the bleeding edge is moving so damn fast. Another is that I often feel that same sense of panicked pulled-in-multiple-ways urgency that I get when I’ve got too many windows open at once: the anxiety of hypertasking, the fear of missing the current great killer app, the hope that just…this…next…gizmo…will…solve…everything.

A third downside to early adopterdom is that when it’s applied to teaching with digital technology (hereafter shortened, a la popular usage, to just “technology”), it’s frustrating being ahead of the curve and waiting for the school and my students to catch up. I’d like to go all-electronic and ditch paper, but not all of my students have access to printers, and not all of them have laptops. I’d like to paste my beautifully designed course calendar into Sharepoint or eLearning, but they won’t let me. I’d like to find a single content management system that does everything I want it to, lets me customize its interface, and functions consistently. This last one is, as of yet, impossible.

2. I also liked the stuff at the end about regimes of truth, but I can’t quite connect that up to teaching with technology in ways I’d like right now. I’ll ask about it in class if I remember.

Now on to Giddens.

And here’s my reaction to Giddens: huh?

1 comment:

kristin said...

CHRIS (not amy),
You say: "I struggled to link it to a class on teaching with technology. I’m sure this is my fault, and you others will come up with something brilliant." Touche--this one is a bit tougher. In particular, his discussion of power is relevant to my understanding of technology in the classroom. I also find his discussion of the specific intellectual useful in light of the role of the academic in issues of technological literacy and access (a la Selfe and Grabill). You also managed to parse out some other possibilities here.

I hope, after our discussion Tuesday, you were able to get something out of Giddens. He's a beast, but I always am suckered back into him. For me, it's often the practical and discursive consciousness that really helps me when I talk and think about my teaching goals.