Discourse Development


Over the summer I was fortunate enough to find a writing job with a company that creates and maintains an online presence for various medical practices. The company creates websites, blogs, advertisements, and various other technical aspects of building success online. We worked for plastic surgeons, dentists, orthopedists, and a long list of other specialists. One of our clients was even a cosmetic dentist for stars like Kanye West, the Kardashians, Miley Cyrus, and more.

I’m a part-time writer in the office, so most of my work consists of writing blog posts, press releases, social media posts, and creating landing pages. It was great experience for many reasons, but what I want to focus on is how this job relate’s to James Gee’s idea of a liberating discourse.

We have our primary discourses, which are the language and customs we develop first (from our homes). And anything after that is a secondary discourse–the way we learn to speak in school, at work, with certain friends, et cetera. The more discourses we develop, the less restricted we are. We grow more adaptable and more free from the restrictions of  a single discourse.

For example, I started this blog in a college class last semester. I learned how to use WordPress, how to act, interact, post, speak, and more, creating a new discourse on blogging. The office I worked at over the summer just so happened to use WordPress to create its websites and to edit them. My blogging discourse using this site helped me get the job.

In the job, I also developed more discourses. I learned how to communicate with my various coworkers (most of whom were older than me). I learned how to speak in a blog post for all different sorts of medical specialists, how to formulate my words in a press release, how to format and organize a landing page. One secondary discourse gave me the opportunity to find employment and to develop further discourses that may help me in the future.

Now, at the start of my junior year and my formal educational training, I can’t help but to relate my own experience to my future classroom. The more discourses a student can develop, they better off they will be in the world. Social interactions, employment opportunities, and more all depend on the discourses an individual possesses. As teachers, it is our job to facilitate the development of these discourses.

Read more about Gee’s ideas on discourses here.



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kestearns
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 21:20:50

    Cassie, I’m so happy to see you making these connections. How do they apply to your journey to become a teacher? How did this summer position help you think more deeply about your role as Eng.teacher–i.e. literacy worker, Discourse developer, etc. etc. What kinds of language capacities did you need to be successful in this job? I’d like to see you reference the text here for a closer reading of Gee.

    I couldn’t open this link–it “tried” to open but clearly got stuck. Can you tell me what you’ve linked to here?

    Be sure to make distinctions between big “D” and little “d” Discourses/discourses.


  2. stephanieshannon
    Sep 20, 2013 @ 04:23:44

    Your working situation is very cool I must say! I really like how you focused on James Gee’s idea of a liberating discourse. This entry has helped me to understand discourse a bit more than what I am getting from classes. I think that is because we don’t have enough time to sit in class and just talk about discourse for a whole week! You examples and connections that you made are interesting because they are relatable.


  3. cynthia
    Sep 30, 2013 @ 20:57:24

    I love Gee’s Situated Language and Learning http://amzn.to/1bm84DD Talks abt academic literacies and how some kids are behind from the get go b/c of the way schools privilege them. Also provides online gaming communities as a model for the way that school SHOULD happen. Glad to be reading you again!


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