Friday, December 12, 2008

The End of My Semester.

It is the end of this semester. I cannot say that I will stop my learning and exploration of all things that fall under the realm of discourse and rhetoric.

In fact, it is the opposite. I have become captivated by the power that is held behind the philosophy of rhetorical writing. It is absolutely fascinating. It has made me more aware of my surroundings and how I directly impact those through my rhetoric.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Rhetoric Behind the Tenured

Having a teacher that is tenured is probably the most stressful process I have ever had to overcome. This semester, in catching up with a public university's curriculum I was forced to take a History course I had little to no interest in. I picked the time that was most convenient for me. It was a large class of about 100 students and the teacher was provided with two TAs.

In my new experience, I not only learned how the TAs became a buffer between me and my professor, but also how apathetic the professor was towards his own students. This alarmed me because while the lectures were given by the professor, the grading and understanding of assignments was provided by fellow students, or TAs. I haven't looked into UTEP's mission statement, but I am certain that this low interaction with professors is not part of what they profess. This impacts their image to students that are looking towards that sort of thing. Actually, I think that UTEP's mission statement is almost null and void and its image is right there with it.

This entry isn't about UTEP's lack of a narrative or decisive image as much as it is about the rhetoric of my professor. Midway through the semester, my professor defiantly proclaimed during his lecture that we could "complain but that it would do you no good because I am tenured and cannot be fired." Everyone laughed at that moment, as did I. I thought he was joking because in my experience it has been the goal of most teachers to teach their students and not mock their inability to have their complaints heard and acted upon.

It wasn't until my recent encounter with this professor over a discrepancy with my grade that I encountered exactly what the rhetoric of that statement truly meant. The narrative that he wrote was with that simple statement and through his apathetic nature built his image upon that narrative and furthered strengthened it. Thus leading him to believe that because he is tenured his authority cannot be questioned. I went into his office this past Monday to ask him what it was that he was expecting from a paper that I thought I had written at a higher level than college Freshman English that was the norm and had sufficiently answered the prompt to my best ability. It is with this that he looked at me through the corner of his eye as though I was somehow bothering him. It was before I had finished my questions that he berated me and said that I should speak to the TA that graded my paper. I completely understood his point, yet I felt that a TA that may have the same writing capacity as I had may not be able to objectively grade my paper to its full potential. This was not something that was wanted to be heard by my professor. Instead of obliging me and taking 15 minutes out of his time to read my paper and evaluate his TAs work he instead ushered me out of his office with no reply besides "Take it up with the TA."

As I reflect on this, I realize now that my approach wasn't exactly the most phenomenological approach as I worded my discrepancy, but it wasn't highly offensive either. My better judgment told me that this was not only a problem with image but with the rhetoric that was set up and enforced time and again mid semester. The structure of the class was created, and agency was stripped from each student over time.

This segued into his believing that his power was absolute and could not be questioned. I have a hard time believing that the University in whom I support through my tuition will not listen to the complaints of its primary financial backers. I am currently debating on whether I would be able to question this authority by writing a letter to someone that can help me make an impact. Power is not absolute.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Work and the Lack of Rhetorical Awakenings

As the semester has come to and end, I have realized exactly how much people are unaware of their own personal rhetoric. The story that they are telling through their language and discourse. As I have mentioned, I have become fully aware of rhetoric and what it means for me as both a person and a prospective employee in the workplace.

My part-time job as a secretary is one that I normally don't put too much effort into. Yet, with any job that I have, I try to identify myself with the company that employees me. The structure that the company I currently work for is disorganized and sends a mixed message not only to its employees but to its customers as well. I understand the problems of being a home business start up, but establishing their structure as an organization was essential before they began hiring. The structure has become weak, and they have lost several employees because of this. Having read Faber's analysis on MacKenzie College I know that change is possible. While change is not automatic, it is not completely unattainable.

I have taken the readings from Faber and have began to apply them to this current work situation. How can my agency influence the current structure of the organization? I know that it can, and because I am aware of this I have begun to take steps towards the daunting task of re-structuring of the organization. My agency overlaps that of the structure of the organization. I keep to what the basic structure is, but emphasize and build on this with my own agency thus impacting the overall narrative and image.

In other words, not only am I putting customers first, I am setting a precedent that wasn't there before. I am letting customers know that they are a valued part of this organization, because without them it wouldn't be an organization at all. I think the hardest part of this is that I am doing so under my boss who doesn't completely understand what I would mean by structure and agency. The way that I approach this is cautiously. I don't want my boss to think that I am trying to overtake their image and structure, but I also don't think that their current image is a sustainable one. I haven't devised a "plan" to implement these changes, I just continue to work with my customer service skills and ability to identify with customers. I have learned this while working with multinational corporations who have their own organizational culture and structure. The ability to assimilate to a new organizational culture and structure is one that should be valued in any possible candidate for employment. I find that this ability allows me to further serve the organization I work for.

This has been the basis of wanting to change my current employer's structure. I am not trying to "change" it completely. I am just trying to influence the image and narrative so that it is more completely able to serve their customers and employees without the interruption of inconsistencies.

How do you explain rhetoric to those that have no concept of it outside of a "rhetorical question"?