A writer is, mostly, a professional amateur. – Ta-Nehisi Coates
Public amateurs can have exceptional social value, not least because they dare to question experts who want to remain unquestioned simply by virtue of accredited expertise; public amateurs don’t take “Trust me, I know what I’m doing” as an adequate self-justification. But perhaps the greatest contribution public amateurs make to society arises from their insistence — it’s a kind of compulsion for them — on putting together ideas and experiences that the atomizing, specializing forces of our culture try to keep in neatly demarcated compartments. – Alan Jacobs
The point is not to replace specialists, but to open the hermetic quarters of specialized knowledge to public forms of interrogation. So it is almost an anarchist position: people should be entitled to learn what they need to learn and to contribute to the decisions that affect them. It’s a question of cognitive sovereignty. These positions and methods: amateur research, self experimentation, collective experimentation, unregulated discourse, exposure of interest and transparency, collaboration with non-conforming scientists or experts, are meant to invade specialties with questions of value, questions that most specialization is designed to eliminate. Since art is a realm where values are debated, one of the points of the artist as public amateur is to perform learning publicly to bring the question of value to the production of knowledge. – Claire Pentecost
It doesn’t take long for a conversation between teachers to include something sarcastic about the fad du jour. By being sarcastic, we put up an umbrella to try protect our sanity from the ideas raining on us from administrators, academics, and yes, even colleagues. I will go further, and boldly say to the proponents of the current pedagogical panacea: I’m sorry, but whatever “evidence-based” product you’re selling today, I’m not buying. The research it is based on is flawed. The anecdotes that support it only apply to specific circumstances which are not easy to replicate. In short, as I have written before:nothing works. – Henri Picciotto
Looking for ways to expand your career while staying in the classroom is a real trick. What I’m wondering is if part of the mismatch has to do with a tension between amateurism and professionalism. A teacher is a professional amateur and every other role in education calls for expertise. Teacher-researcher, teacher-speaker, teacher-leader, all of these are amateur-expert pairings, and maybe for that reason they make a mismatch.
But if a writer is a professional amateur, and if that’s what teachers are too, well?