I remember the scene in the movie The Mission in which one of the characters responds to the statement “thus is the world” by saying “no, thus have we made the world – thus have I made it.”
I wonder whether we do the same thing when we who are academics in the postmodern era analyse everything in terms of power struggles.
I appreciate very much the fact that so many disciplines in the humanities and social sciences have turned a critical eye on areas in which power dynamics were neglected, and systems of inequity were treated as simply the outworking of objective and/or inevitable processes.
But I’ve also noticed a penchant for my colleagues in these areas to view university administrators as well as other faculty colleagues with hostility, reflecting the assumption that all their actions are simply matters of power.Analysis of power dynamics is crucial – but it should not lead us to assume that no one acts collegially or even benevolently, that no one genuinely cares about the good of their institution and their students and wants the best for it – or at least, that no one else does, or no other department does to the extent that we do, or that faculty do but administrators (many of whom were or are themselves faculty) do not.
On Valentine’s Day, another academic shared the image below on social media. It seemed to me to be perfect to accompany this post. It is absolutely appropriate to approach love in a variety of academically rigorous ways. But most if not all academics are also aware through experience that there is at least the potential for there to be more to it than that.
Education cannot exist without love, at least in the social and historical context in which we find ourselves today. It requires a level of commitment to the acquisition of knowledge, and helping others to do likewise, that goes beyond the level of compensation that most educators receive. Education requires sacrifice on the part of the one learning and on the part of faculty and staff who facilitate learning that others experience.