Wednesday, December 5, 2012

To Wobble

Definitions of Wobble: to shake or wiggle, to be weak, to falter, unsteady movement from side to side, to sway, to shake, to stagger, unsteady motion, to tremble or quaver, like a baby, bad stance, spinning

To wobble usually has pretty negative connotations.  It seems to be a problematic action, one that reflects the unknown, uncertainties, undoing.  I have been thinking with my students about reclaiming wobbling as learning.  Fecho (2005) writes about wobble in this way, as the unsteady places with potential for learning.  When our understandings and current positioning in the world is questioned in some ways and we are given the opportunity to reflect and figure out how to move forward. 

Wobbling is a lot more interesting to me than other words usually associated with learning.  Especially at this time of the semester (finals week here we come!), learning sides up with measurement, success, achievement, numbers, grades, objective (huh?) assessments of knowledge.   For their final blog posts I am asking students instead to narrate:

moment(s) of wobble from this course.  You will be thinking about time(s) when your thinking has been challenged.  When something has felt uncomfortable or different that your usual experiences.  You will unpack your experience of this as well as why you think this has been a moment of wobble.

This blog post should be one with more questions than answers.  More uncertainties than certainties.  This should be about what you are wondering now.  This piece or question or idea does not need to have a resolution.

Be creative.

Be thoughtful.

Dig in.

This is no easy task.  With the dominant narratives of heroes and bootstraps in our heads, it is really difficult to write about our own wobbling, our uncertainty, and call that learning!  Well in my own last blog post (for class) this semester I am drawn again to thinking about wobbling in the field I am studying this semester, gender and language studies.  An essay I read this week, “She Sired Six Children” Feminist Experiments with Linguistic Gender, Anna Livia names, problematizes and values the wobble of feminist science fiction writers.  She takes this lovely approach to Ursala K. LeGuin’s feminist fop aux in the 70’s in The Left Hand of Darkness where she uses the masculine generic (he/him/etc) in reference to the (supposedly) amorphous gendered people in her novel.  Livia puts this work in context with LeGuin’s future works and her own critique of the language.  Livia’s exploration of Marge Piercy and June Arnold’s more progressive moves to create new non-gendered pronouns for their novels is still a messy task as both women struggle to make the transportation hold in their works.  Livia questions and honors the works of these women and the ways that they negotiate their own wobbling.

Anyway as the semester wraps up I am thinking about my own wobbling right now and hoping, like Livia I can  find value and not just judgment in this uncertain, unsteady, rocky stance.

Fecho, B. (2005).  Appreciating the wobble:  Teacher research, professional development, and figured worlds.  English Education, 37 (3). 

Livia, A. (1999). “She sired six children” Feminist experiments with linguistic gender. In M. Bucholtz, A.C. Liang, & L.A. Sutton, Reinventing identities: The gendered self in discourse.  NewYork: Oxfod University Press.

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