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.