Impedagogies: A Brave New Milieu

In the words of James Scott, we are moving from the legible to the illegible.  This unfamiliar territory is like a 60-something comp instructor learning how to rap. I refer to this brave new milieu as “impedagogy”. You might have noticed that this is the title of my blog. Here is the poem from Kentucky poet laureate, Richard Taylor, that I quote from:


Here is a tweet where I am teasing out some of the foundations of this work.

In many ways it feels like I am standing at the corner of “Wrong Place” and “Wrong Time”,

But this is only the movement from a comprehensible hierarchy toward a less intelligible network.  It feels uncomfortable because it is.  All sustainable learning  will have an element of this impedagogy.  We have all felt this when our reach for knowing exceeded our grasp.

I have begun to realize that there are many new “illiteracies” that are popping up in my own field of composition and rhetoric:

1. Podcasting:  I had ten students out of sixty this past spring opt for podcasting as a platform for their research project.  This is not part of my specific curriculum. No one taught me this.  But I know just enough to be able to help my students adopt this as a way of learning.

2.  Jupyter Notebooks:  “Computational notebooks combine code, results, text and images in a single document, yielding what Stephen Wolfram, creator of the Mathematica software package, has called a “computational essay”. And whether written using Jupyter, Mathematica, RStudio or any other platform, researchers can use them for iterative data exploration, communication, teaching and more.”  These messy notebooks, well… these I can’t do myself…yet.  I did approach some of my STEM students including several from our high school science academy on campus about using these tools. No one adopted this for their project research, but I think I have put a bug in their ears. They might. I am anxious to use these ‘computational notebooks’ in my own work with the biological diversity of my firm and my study of deep sky objects. (Can you tell that I am retiring soon?)

3.  HipHopPedagogy:  Daniel Bassill pointed me to this new way to teach and learn which is also a very old way–experience being the best teacher.   Of course, it doesn’t have to just be hip hop that teaches, it could be that joining a bluegrass group could become one’s ‘minimally viable university’.

4. Impedagogy as a website: I have experimented quite a bit on my site with multi-modal illiteracies including Zeega.

I am looking for more examples of impedagogy all the time. It is one of my prime filters.  I am a journalizmo of this kind of jive.  Drop by, comment, and share your wealth.




  1. // Reply

    I’ve followed your blog for many years but never took the time to look for a definition of “impedagogy”. Your post today prompted me to do that. I found no definition for “impedagogy” but many for “pedagogy”.

    Here’s one:
    “the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept.”

    When you preface this with “im” does that mean an “imprecise meathod?

    PS: have you changed the format of your blog?

    1. // Reply

      If you look at the poem, Taylor writes about how he doesn’t have a teaching analogy to fixing the car radio with a door slam. That is pedagogy. And he laments the fact that his mighty auguring eye and direct address don’t work like he wants them to–that is no pedagogy. Impedagogy is what does work–unexpectedly or improvisationally like podcasts worked for some of my students. I am sure you used impedagogy in tutoring.

  2. // Reply

    Remix Pedagogy. Close observation of the material through breaking it up and reassembling or reconstructing somehow. When I crocheted a chain for each character and space in a poem, I noticed the spaces in the sentence for the first time.

  3. // Reply

    I think the key to this post is to read that link in the first paragraph that discusses legibility and illegibility. It is a strikingly original understanding of those two words.
    I would call what you do a translation, Wendy. Translating the spaces in a poem into spaces in crochet. Isn’t that what the original loom cards did–our first computer programs!?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *