a brief acknowledgement that I know next to nothing about academic assessment except as the recipient of said assessing – which makes much of my opining… useless? This piece is half-finished
I wrote a piece a few months ago entitled “Do I Own My Domain If You Grade It.” I argued that ownership and assessment necessarily butt heads in the conversation around Domain of One’s Own as identity reclamation. Essentially, you can’t reclaim your identity in a public performance for assessment.
Writing here – on this lil blog – has complicated those views.
Isn’t everything performance for assessment?
I write in public now to communicate something – a sort of expression – a series of thoughts. And when those thoughts exist in public, they’re always floating around for assessment of a sort. Any response to this piece is a sort of assessment.
My anticipation of your assessment definitely shapes the form of my writing… I write for me, but I also write for you all (whether – even – I admit it or not). You’re my public. It’s fundamentally performative. All writing, expression, conversation, experience is performance. Just like any written performance for a single professor, I’m now performing a version of myself in public – for assessment.
So, then, when folks talk about blogs/domains as these “reclamations of identity,” well something feels off. Sure, I’m choosing how I portray myself, but I’m not reclaiming my identity… Or… Hmm. This gets philosophical. What is identity? Where does it exist? What does it mean to ‘own’ identity such that it could be claimed or reclaimed? Is there some ultimate truth deep inside? Social construction of identity? That maybe even we take on and off identities per our publics? That our performances of identity don’t have any ultimate backing behind them?
Could reclaim be the wrong word? It may not need to be a nostalgic step back, claiming some sort of lost, pure, true identity. Rather, it’s moving forward, owning the building process, understanding the permanence of assessment, and working to grow a conversation out of that assessment.
Some questions for good assessment in the university?
If I’m proposing that you never escape performed identities, and that someone’s always assessing one of those identities, then there’s then two big questions rising out of this…
1 – If the the existence of “assessment” doesn’t matter (it’ll always exist), then should our question be what is that assessment leading to? Where is the assessment taking us? Does it exist a thing, good unto itself? Or does it find a helpful seat in a proposed trajectory? Is it being used to propel a conversation forward? Or does the assessment stop the process where its at? Does the assessment take process into account? Does it cultivate a culture of iteration? experimentation? openness to failure? playfulness? Does the conversation continue? Does the show go on?
2 – Does the reclamation of identity propose identity as a preformed, transactional thing? Something to be claimed and exchanged? If so, does that get in the way of an experimental push forward – of experimenting on and in an undecided identity? I don’t hope to reclaim, store, possess a fixed identity, stuck in a historical moment. I also don’t want my identity imposed, pushed onto me, told to me. How do identity and ownership interact? What are the bounds?
So I think the style of performance I’m embarking on in this blog-chain is both a self-consciously assessed series, as well as a hopeful conversation-starter, an exploration of an undecided identity.
A FINAL NOTE.
I just realized something. Perhaps embarrassing. Certainly so. A lack of awareness – a process flaw. Identity should be a free thing, a process, a series of active decisions. The imposition of identity based on race, gender, ability is the true social issue. That individuals don’t have the ability to self-create. But they’re assumed to be something or another. Choice in self-creation.
How does self-determination exist in relation to the permanence of assessment? How does, “I determine to be identified as such” exist in contrast to “You are…”?
Please turn your assessments to comments below. (;