Dubinsky – “More than a Knack: Techne & Teaching Technical Communication” TCQ 2002.

  • D. argues that by reinvigorating techne we can prepare teachers to master the techne of teaching. In so doing, they will become “user-centered, reflective practicioners who understand the critical need for situational uses of knowledge” (129).
  • D. argues that a lack of TC professionals leads to a “forms-based pedagogy” that does little to teach the user orientation (as opposed to “system” orientation) needed in TC classes.
  • A key issue: “unprepared or underprepared teachers ask students to imitate the discourse of the workplace without asking for or offering a more complex reflection about the cultures that produce that discourse or the ethical issues involved in its production” (130).
  • A key binary: the difference between formulaic-systems teachers and user-centered teachers: the former “teach students to be tool users rather than practitioners who use tools and reflect upon their uses” (the latter) (130).
  • By preparing teachers to master the techne of teaching, D. argues that we provide them opportunities to “research to learn to do” through collaboration with other teachers/students.
  • advocates teaching “knowing how” in addition to knowing “how-to” as the “know-how” is rhetorical knowledge that is contingent and shaped by the situation.
  • Trajectory: 1) explain relevance of techne to TC; 2) discuss Aristotle’s distinction b/n knack and art; 3) connect teaching and techne, highlighting the importance of context; and 4) offer suggestions for how to improve our current work in the discipline.
  • D. positions teaching as a “productive knowledge” or practical faculty that is contingent. Likening it to medicine, it bridges the gap between theory and mere practice. Teaching is art.
  • Productive knowledge is, of course, concerned with the how and with-what, but is also keenly attuned to the telos or end . . . in that, teaching as techne re: writing means understanding teaching as something that works with purpose, audience and product. Of course, audience is difficult to establish in a strictly academic context.
  • D. argues that reflective practice and collaboration with other teachers is the final step in moving from a teacher to technites or master. Master teachers respond to signals and situations artistically by relying on their experience in research, teaching and reflection (134).
  • D. argues, using tech comm terms, that teachers must go beyond product-model testers; instead, teachers should become product designers and usability testers. This theory-practice relationship should shape teaching and guide teachers in developing the techne of teaching (136).
  • Key quote: “Teaching is not a knack or craft that can be defined by standard lesson plans or rules; rather it is an art that requires flexible attentiveness to the situation and audience” (138).
  • D’s recommendations: 1) master teachers leading teacher training programs; 2) methods courses that are available every term – especially the first; 3) collaboration across disciplines to see our discipline from another’s eyes to better understand challenges in teaching to folks from other backgrounds; and 4) collection of teacher narratives to be used as a starting point for discussions about teaching.

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