Monday, October 07, 2013

Problematizing Honors, or, Thirteen questions

I’m finding it harder and harder to defend what I do. I want to be an agent of change, and not simply a caretaker of the status quo.

What is the Honors Program now? Is it now just a vehicle for perpetuating inequity, reinforcing hegemony, keeping the academic elite (those students who have best learned how to play the “school” game) ensconced in existential safety? Or is it now an opportunity to offer a way out of inequity and hegemony, a place where doctrinaire views can be dissected, interrogated, and challenged?

What can the Honors Program be? How can I do the work to further make it a place where the privileged students who find themselves there encounter a place where their safety and surety, their privileged positions, are challenged?

Is this the best that can come from it? Can it be more still?

While walking together the other day a close friend of mine suggested that I should use my position to dismantle the program from within, to work to replace it with a more equitable support structure, one which offers resources and opportunities to those students who are more marginalized, more vulnerable, less acquainted with the patriarchalist assumptions of a mainstream university education. Such an institution would be something more than a learning resources center, more than an agglomeration of math labs and writing centers. It would be an institution devoted to advocacy for change and not simply to helping students cope with the status quo.

What would I even call such a structure? Where would it be housed? How would the university react to it? What would its charge be? Its day-to-day functions? Is there a precedent for such an entity?

To be continued, no doubt...

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