Response to Gee

Gee’s text on Discourse (with a capital “D,” that is) was probably one of the most rational yet mind-boggling concepts I have encountered thus far.  From what I could gather, Discourse is analogous to behavior, talent, and skill—all of which are relative in various societies.  It is not attained by being taught, rather, but through constant observation and practice of a particular Discourse (Gee 485).  Gray areas do not exist in Discourses: it is black or white; one has it, or does not (Gee 487).  One Discourse leads to another, which may hinder/conflict with another Discourse, or lead to the renaissance of yet another Discourse.  Primary Discourses lead to secondary Discourses which may or may not be permanent.  It is the primary Discourses one has that sets the tone for the secondary Discourses one could potentially attain.  Primary Discourses get a person “on their feet,” and basically serve as the foundation needed to live life.  Primary Discourse is especially apparent in the parent-child relationship.  Parents set examples for their children who willingly adapt, and without knowing it, obtain Discourse.  Young children then watch, learn, practice, and build on the set example of their parents to quickly master and attain their primary Discourse(s).  The primary Discourse(s) attained are then applied in the next steps of the child’s life (school, friends, ect.).  These next steps are known as secondary Discourses, where children will further develop, grow, and attain more Discourses.  Primary Discourses are used to attain secondary Discourses or to help a person better situate himself in a secondary Discourse.  Secondary Discourses have the potential to bring wealth—knowledge, status, materialistic goods, money, ect.—and success to those who acquire and fully understand them (Gee 485).  However, “illiteracy,” or failure to attain a Discourse, could do the exact opposite.  Overall, Discourse is relative and self-specific. It is the key piece to the intangible, self-defining puzzle of life.   My understanding of Discourse ends when it comes to a larger scale: the scale of life.  Since “Discourse is the saying (writing) -doing-being-valuing-believing combinations,” (Gee 484) then is life itself a Discourse? If so, can it ever be attained, or is it only achieved through death?

Project 1 Brainstorm

For Project 1, I obviously need to incorporate my Discourses.  First I’m going to list a few Discourses I believe I have attained, organizing them as primary and secondary. 

Primary: speaking English, speaking Chaldean, respecting elders, communicating with family and friends, polite mannerisms, religious (Catholic) belief, eating healthy, sleeping at night/ waking up in the morning, decision making, *understanding right from wrong (which is also relative because “right” to some is “wrong” to others).  

Secondary: reading, writing, speaking/conversation with peers and colleagues, hard work ethic, driving, making friends, babysitting, shopping, riding a bike, tying shoes, basic math, attending school regularly, attending church regularly, effective and efficient study habits, playing soccer, playing the violin, high school, *college (in the process of attaining this secondary Discourse).

I would like to highlight on the educational aspect of my primary and secondary Discourses (speaking, respecting, reading writing, high school, study habits, and college).  If I didn’t have the foundation from my parents to focus on school and stay on track, I would not have been able to master high school, good study habits, and the rest of the secondary Discourses that got me to ENG 1020 at Wayne State.  Many friends and family members would explain to me the importance of getting good grades, and how college will be the best years, but very tough at the same time.  I didn’t fully understand from their teachings until I was able to actually have the “apprenticeship” and experience college for myself.  Even though it’s only been the first week, I already love Wayne State and am beginning to realize how critical it is to work hard, focus, and succeed.  The more time I spend in college, and the more work I put in, the closer I will be to attaining the “college Discourse.”  Just like it took four years to fully understand and appreciate high school (one of my secondary Discourses),  it will take that much more to have the college Discourse fully under my belt.  I’m not sure if I’m straying from the Project 1 topic, but it’s a brainstorm and I am open to any suggestions and constructive criticism!

3 thoughts on “Response to Gee

  1. Discourse may be “relative,” but is it always “self-specific”? If I am learning how to be in a certain profession, say, in business, then doesn’t it matter what others in the discourse community say/do, so that I can learn to be more like them and thus enter the community? What would Gee say?

    In terms of secondary Discourses, think especially about things like playing soccer, being a violinist, being a college student. These are Discourses with some definable characteristics you may be able to explore. (And there may be others you think of.)

  2. Let me add that it is sometimes helpful to think of a Discourse as a set of social practices done by a group. So, WSU students “do” things a certain way (like, not waiting for the crosswalk signal to cross the street :), or calling buildings by certain nicknames).

  3. Great point! Thanks for the perspective on the other side of the spectrum–I would have to agree that WSU students , and different groups in general have different ways of “saying-doing” and “self-specific” might be too broad because although no two people are alike, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have the same interests/Discourses. The combination of Discourses might be what makes each individual an individual.

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