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Current Issue: Volume 24, No. 2 , Week of June 5, 2005

Adversarial Control or Love? The Graduation Ritual

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Previous Issue: Volume 24, No.1 , Week of May 29, 2005
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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: May 28, 2005
Latest Update: June 2, 2005

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Topic of the Week:

Conflicting welcome for customers; may I help you? unruly customer, unruly customer Conflicting welcome for customers; may I help you? unruly customer, unruly customerr
May I Help
For jeanne's suggestions, click on the image or here.

For upper middle class families graduation is a ritual that one focuses on like birthdays. They're important to the child who''s birthday it is, and because of that, they're important to us. But if you come from a class where food is scarce, work is even more scarce, and surviving in the unforgiving urban environment is hard in and of itself, birthday rituals may be honored, but not with anywhere near the same easy, but expensive ritual. Sweet sixteen parties may abound, but they are much easier to afford and to lavish on the child when work is available and mom still has the energy to bake and decorate cakes, or the luxury to buy them and have them decorated.

You don't have to earn a birthday. They come every year. Take it from us oldsters - they do come. But some rituals only come for some of us after a lifetime of struggling to fit the achievement into a life that has many other demands, too. That's where graduation fits. If generations of your family have been college graduates, the whole family might be sophisticated and blasé enough that it seems just like an automatic, but nice, celebration. Maybe if you're that blasé, the discomfort of a hot sun from which you have no shelter, of a lack of water, of a refusal to let you go to the bathroom, of some insensitive unknown barking at the top of its lungs on a loudspeaker, of names being read so fast you can hardly keep up with them, of being rushed through the receiving line so quickly you don't get a chance to even smile for the photographer, maybe then it doesn't matter so much and one can laugh at the incongruities and mishaps, and write it off to another administrative snafu.

But when you've struggled, and your family has struggled with you, that struggle is part of what we recognize on graduation day. it's your moment to shine; your moment to bask in congratulations because you made it; you did it; you finished. Good feeling. But then what may be "a lesson learned so that we won't do that next year" for the administration can be a veritable disaster for you. This is an answerability issue. Your feelings are hurt. I can't begin to tell you how pleased I was that transform_dom was there for you. And I can't begin to tell you how sorry I am that this happened. Someone in the administration didn't understand how hot it was, how long the ceremony would necessarily last, how uncomfortable that would be, and how much water was needed. They may have learned, though Michael's post, Message No. 4956, suggests the problem may be endemic. Transform_dom provided a forum for answerability. Several of you got to express the yelp within. And lots of us from the transform_dom community heard you in good faith and stand prepared to help you be heard.

In our illocutionary discourse we might want to suggest that we have now learned that the disasters mentioned above are really important to those of us who struggled to get here. We need to voice that and make a validity claim that those issues need to be dealt with. Making that validity claim, listening to ourselves in good faith, and hearing beyond the utter disappointment, we need to frame a good and persuasive argument and procedure to correct the problems.

But we also need to finish out your graduation this year with a gratifying sense of celebratory closure. Maybe we could use our exhibit to do that. We can either gripe, and take an adversarial position, which rarely makes the participants of any side happy. Or we could try what Fellmand would call a "mutuality" approach. Whatever else your school intended, it certainly didn't mean to hurt and insult you. It just didn't manage to solve some very large problems to your satisfaction. One reason is probably that you didn't have the opportunity to join in governance discourse on what you expected; what you needed; what was possible; and what wasn't.

Now let's see if we can go back and figure out, in the spirit of mutuality (CSUDH is our school, after all), how to add some happy closure to your graduation. I await your ideas.

For jeanne's suggestions, click on the Customer Service Department image or here.

love and peace and a hearty congratulations to you all, jeanne

NEWS, Announcements, and

Current Discussion Topics:

  • The serenity prayer: from Sarah, Message No. 4553 that so many of you appreciated:
    god grant me the serenity to accept the things i CANNOT change, the COURAGE to change the things i can, and the WISDOM to know the difference.

    And now, in light of graduation, I want to add, and the discipline to apply my learning in illocutionary and governance discourse to a system that can be changed, can be more human, can care about people and who they are and what their needs are. jeanne

  • Learning Records for Spring 2005 I have records for 44 students. If I missed you, you must let me know. jeanne

  • Learning Records with Grades for Spring 2005 Most of you should be up. I've gone back all the way to 4400. If your name is missing from grade sheet, e-mail me immediately. If your learning record is missing, that's OK, just remind me to get it up. jeanne

    You can call me at 323-374-4982. I'll get it if I'm at the computer. jeanne

  • Instructions page for joining transform_dom and transspan

    Famous People and Concepts We Should Have Heard Of, But Often Haven't.


    • Gordon Fellman - Professor at Brandeis. Author of Rambo and the Dalai Lama. Important for Fall 2005 courses.

      Conceptual Linking

    • adversarial compulsion - Being competitive just for the sake of winning. Basically means that you can never win enough for it's the adversarialism that drives you. From Fellman's Rambo and the Dalai Lama. Fellman's discussion of adversarialism.
  • Jeanne's Lectures for Spring 2005

    Visual Sociology

    • From Issue No. 1, Vol. 20, May 24, 2004: Topic of the Week.

      Making art is not a children's past-time. It's a human past-time. Making art makes our world more beautiful. Making art is part of living well. Make some art. jeanne

      "But, Mommy, 'truth' is only an expression of the dominant paradigm!"
      From Gods of Ramen Website

      Yes, and play and laughter may come to change the dominant paradigm and make it more humane.

    • "Protect It, Don't Pave It: Save Battlefields." This essay, by high school student, Elise Zevitz, took first place in the Civil War Preservation Trust National Essay contest. Elise is the daughter of a member of the Dear Habermas community. We salute her achievement with pride. Why Preserve Our Battlefields? They are the visual presence of heroes who have gone before us, and remind us of the sacrifices and why they are made, even today. jeanne

      There are some lovely photos of preserved battlefields at The Civil War Preservation Trust Wait patiently and the photo will change on the Home Page.

    • Arlington West Memorial Project in Santa Monica, a Great Success! By Frank Dorrel on Change Links Progressive Newspaper and Calendar Site. But no pictures. Did anyone take some pictures. There was lots of coverage on TV.

    Academic Support

    Using Academic Language Effectively

    Merriam-Webster Dictionary Search:

    and Careers

    • Resumes:

    • Letters of Recommendation:

      • Letters of Recommendation: How to get me to respond to your request. Many of you need letters. If you will follow this format, I can do them quickly and make them good.
      • Dog Letters If you do not give me adequate information, but do manage to get my attention, you may end up with a dog letter. That is a letter that says that you work well with people, that you are enthusiastic, that you persist at getting things done, and that everyone likes you. Of course, my dog gets along well with people, brings his ball to them, is enthusiastic, and persists at getting them to take his ball. Everyone likes my dog. That's a dog letter. It's so general it could be about my dog. jeanne

    • Career Options You Might Not Have Considered

      • visual media and their interdependence with other means of knowing to understand that we are not totally rational creatures deciding things apart from our feelings and values. Wolfowitz (new President of the World Bank to aid developing countries AND principle advocate of the Iraq War) might feel very differently when he is exposed to visual and aural images of the poor developing countries that have not before been his primary concern. So we want to know how best to present those developing countries visually. And we might find that we can have a career doing that sort of thing, so it does reflect on us as individuals. Added April 2, 2005.

    That Was Fun! Sneaky Strokes and Flying Good Dogs

    Flying Dog is also a painting by Zhang Kai. Best I've ever come across to illustrate our site with magic numbers and unicorns and whipped cream cats and now, flying dogs:

    Index of Nice Things We've Said to Each Other

    Flying Good Dogs: Whenever something happens in class that works out well, that inspires you, that helps in studying, whatever, take a few minutes to send us an e-mail. We'll post it where all of us can learn from it, including other teachers.

    You can also send an email to the Who to Take Site: