Speaking Truth IN Power

If to be critically literate is to fight the power, to speak truth to power by prescribing what counts as true  (which truth always looks like Truth talking, a mere inversion of the status quo), then to be “positionally” literate is to speak one’s truth in power, by describing—or giving an account of and accounting for—one’s position in a field of positions, some more powerful, i.e. in accord with the forces of the status quo, some less so (which is a truth talking—and an intervention in the status quo).

Positional literacy in the template university (U 2.0) is the modest courage to ask after templated education, to put it in question in order to give a better account of the university, of teaching and learning, of the classroom, etc.

This is necessary because the university dissembles. It openly declares its design and designedness, not to mention, its designs, but reduces them all to a single principle: process as product—process in-itself, the university in aeterna. This is design that pretends it’s not. (To operate, this principle requires a procedure of continuous feedback aimed at total [ac]countability—which procedure requires standard measures, i.e. templates.)

The fixation on process is, of course, self-defence—and pretence (designed again, then). The university in aeterna has embraced process because it feels itself threatened at every moment, as if throwing up its arms and saying “Look! I’m entirely transparent to process; I’m free of design!” makes it less of a threat. (This threat is, however, turned inward upon its inhabitants.)

The academic today cannot but serve this design, as they dis-assemble and re-assemble stuff more or less according to templates. But this can be done viciously or virtuously: by working to measure, e.g., counting throughputs and outputs (speaking the Truth of power), or by hard-to-measure work like giving an account of oneself (speaking truth in power).


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