Jumping in to #digiwrimo (a month of exploring digital writing) with an activity about what would constitute our “unofficial CVs”. I’m already wide-eyed and breathless with how apt that question feels. I feel like I’ve been talking about what (doesn’t) count with colleagues, friends, peers, and pretty much anyone who will listen for years. What matters? What counts? Why do these questions so often yield oppositional “data points?” Recently the context for these questions has been my work in a couple of different faculty fellow roles on my campus, supporting my fellow “mid-career” faculty and recently collaborating and creating peer-to-peer learning opportunities about the intersections of technology and pedagogy.
Mostly, my work in academia (what I teach and write about) has focused on the body. And that’s where so much doesn’t count. Our sleep doesn’t count. Eating well doesn’t count. Being pregnant and having babies can count against you. Sitting too much and not getting enough exercise doesn’t count. I hear the phrase “carve out” all the time when my colleagues and friends talk about self-care.
For me, some of the “stuff that matters but does not count” includes raising my two amazing children, one of whom was small and adventurous as I finished my dissertation and the other who was small and chronically ill when I got tenure. The CV does not include this information. Nor does it include the Halloween costumes I sewed or the cooking experiments I tried in order to find a food that wouldn’t make my younger child ill. It doesn’t include playing Legos on dark winter mornings or staying awake past midnight when a teenager finally wanted to share her stories.
These days worry that my recent forays into (producing and teaching) digital storytelling and participatory media won’t count. That working intensively on teaching and learning issues on my campus won’t count. Creating brand new classes that push students to engage in digitally creative “maker” style participatory work … this stuff goes into the “new preps” category, and is counted by number – how many new preps do you have? If you want to “count,” you have to buy yourself out of teaching to focus on publishing. Do I even want to become a full professor, I have wondered over and over? Hell, yes. But I won’t compromise. Not on the Halloween costumes. Not on creating relevant active learning experiences for my students.
Who doesn’t want it all to count? When “counting” means receiving the recognition and engagement of my peers for all the hard work that goes into the daily life of this profession.
For this digital writing month, I’m going to write. I’m not sure what yet. I didn’t know I was going to write this post tonight. But I’m determined not to compromise – whether my words count or not.
Image credit: drawing by Selene Emad-Syring