Course Reflection



Friedrich Nietzsche said “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger” and this quote has never been truer in my life now, especially in these last eight weeks. This experience has not been bad but it brought a few obstacles such as battling a respiratory infection for two weeks while carrying a 21-hour teaching load at work. Then add attempting graduate studies again for the first time in three years and learning how to use new technology with my coursework, talk about a learning curve! Times of panic have taken hold throughout this semester and then times of resolve to do my best and finish what I started.

Perhaps it was June Furr’s’ project “New Year’s Eve” that caused me to think about what I was truly supposed to learn in this course and how to use it in my own life. I learned from the Inquiry Projects of the entire class is that life is not a Hollywood Movie but sometimes we need a projection of what is on screen for us to recognize what is going on in our own real lives!

Growth as a student and even as an Instructor is evident as I near the end of this course. Dr. Pupchek said to me earlier in the semester, it is a different role to be the one not sitting behind the proverbial teacher’s desk but in the student chair with all the uncertainties and anxieties staring you in the face. As an Instructor for over the last six years, I believe I forgot the fear students feel as they enter into their education, even on the graduate school level! Communication is the cornerstone and the purpose of my job and my job is to inspire my students to use communication skills and theories to get their ideas across. Maybe one of the most important things I learned from this class and from my Inquiry Project was at times maybe we as humans make things harder than they really are sometimes we are so focused on what we are trying to achieve that we ignore what truly is important!

Best of Luck to Everyone!

Rachel Parson


SEVEN TRADITIONS: The Critical Tradition

               The Critical Tradition is one of the seven traditions which have intrigued me from the beginning because I feel as though I understand it on a personal level because of personal experiences and observations of the experiences of other people. The Critical Tradition pulls back the thin veil that covers privilege and exposes the fact that certain social and cultural factors are still attached to privilege and its obvious tie to Marxism, which is the foundation for the socio-economic structure of this country and many other countries. However, deeply embedded is oppression and domination by an “upper” class, i.e. those who possess more wealth are the decision makers, whether it be in government or social situations.

                The Critical Tradition is the tradition I used the most this semester to apply to certain Discussion Board topics throughout the semester because it is timely and easily applied to all societal problems and traditions. It addresses balance of power, oppression and as the text puts it, “fuse theory and action” (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011, p. 57). Oppression still exists today, even after close to 150 years of it being officially abolished. It is still evident in the workplace, school, church, and even in the political arena.  In rhetorical sense those views are echoed in verbal speech, and non-verbal communication among members of certain socio-economic groups.

             A perfect example of the applications of the Critical Tradition actually dates back to my days as a freshman in college in my Sociology class. One of my classmates, a young African American man shared a painful experience related to privilege in the vein of race. He was alone in a town working and trying to finish high school, without any family support. He only had his grandmother and some concerned faculty and staff at the high school and several friends from school as his support system. He started attending a church that one of his high school friends invited him to attend. He stated that he was the only African American in that church but he had made many friends there. He was really good friends with a young lady whose father was the pastor of the church. Unfortunately, the father thought something about him being friends with his daughter and talked to this young man in private and made public statements about “separation” as well. Needless to say the young man did not attend the church anymore. It being so long ago, there may be some more details to this story I am forgetting but I clearly remember sitting there thinking how such behavior from a pastor of all people, could actually communicate a message of hate and intolerance, especially when the situation was merely one in which Christian and neighborly love was being shown to someone who needed it. Needless to say the young man stated that he never felt compelled to walk into church again, because he was not among the “privileged” to attend that church.

The Critical Tradition could be applied to this experience. It would be interesting to actually interview and study the experiences of this pastor, and his daughter at the time of this incident to examine the social and political climate of the town at that time. Were the views of the Pastor typical of a small southern town and what were the socio-economic conditions of that town? Did the daughter resent her father’s involvement in her friendships? Did the young man’s views ever change toward organized religion? The only way to answer these questions effectively would be to talk them today. It would be very eye-opening to uncover the communication patterns in this situation but as the objective of critical research states, two different views from two different backgrounds (social and political) are often in struggle with each other and it is usually the side with the most influence and power that are most adhered to and respected (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011, p.57).