Approach 4

Being Undisciplined and Living Beside/s

I am an ex-Academic who is experimenting online with undisciplined—unexpected, improper, resistant, rebellious, outside of traditional fields of study—ways for using my academic training in my storytelling and troublemaking. I experiment to reclaim my passion for engaging with ideas, authors, theories and education that the academy sparked within me and then, over the course of 33 years in school, disciplined out of me (Sara Puotinen, Undisciplined site)

Unlearning bad habits and toxic academic values enabled me to craft a new way to be: Undisciplined. Undisciplined started as my twitter user name, but when I made it the name of my main site in the fall of 2012, it helped me to understand, organize and guide my practices and projects as I figured out how and who to be now that I was no longer an academic educator.

What is Undisciplined?

  • An online identity
  • A dis/location within academic fields of study. With a PhD in Women’s Studies, I have no home discipline, or primary field of study. My work moves between religion, ethics, philosophy, education and new media studies.
  • A method for bringing many disciplines, discourses, methods together in unexpected ways and through unconventional, and sometimes improper, means.
  • A practice of breaking down and breaking free of the disciplinary values that encourage me to be too rigid and limited in my thinking and that privilege knowing over feeling and engaging.
  • Not evidence of laziness, lack of focus or bad scholarship, but of resistance to being disciplined and to perpetuating toxic academic values and bad habits.

Undisciplined and Undisciplining Practices and Projects

  • Communicating in different registers and with different media by creating digital stories, writing haikus, using Pixelmator to craft text + image “posters,” developing interactive story experiments and crafting lots of lists!
  • Reading a wide range of physical books for pleasure, to be inspired and to bear witness to others’ stories. Avoiding academic books and refusing to feel embarrassed by my love for mysteries and young adult fiction. (#undisciplinedreading project)
  • Writing more to document the process of thinking, feeling and engaging, than to produce a product that increases profits

My intent in making a break from the academy, unlearning bad habits and toxic values and being undisciplined is not to reject all of my academic training. Instead, it is to CLAIM my education by rethinking my relationship to it and repurposing the parts of it that are valuable and discarding what is not. To RECLAIM my passion for thinking, engaging and learning that inspired and sustained me during my more than three decades in school. And to STAKE A CLAIM for a new space that exists not inside or outside, but beside (next to) and besides (in addition to) the Academy.


Return to: How I Used My Break