Since my last post, a lot has changed for me. I still view myself as a teacher educator, researcher, and writer who spends a lot of time thinking about educational equity (or the lack thereof), language, what it means to be a great teacher, and other things of that nature. The location and context of my work has changed, but my underlying beliefs have not.
I still believe it is incumbent upon all of us to participate in reasoned and thoughtful (not to mentioned researched!) conversation about education in this country. When I was working with K-12 pre- and in-service teachers, I focused on issues that directly related my students and their (future) students. Here’s how I described my purpose at the beginning:
Currently the well-financed so-called reformers are in control of the conversation. From where I sit, their goals seem to include dismantling free public education in this country. Therefore, I’ve decided to express my dissent and raise a ruckus and add my voice to the growing chorus of teachers, parents, students, and other interested folks who demand that we reconsider education and what it means to educate.
I still think we need to be engaged in a deep conversation about what it means to be educated, to know and to be able to apply knowledge to achieve personal, academic, and professional goals. The main difference now is where I’m engaged in the conversation.
Here’s how I framed the rhetorical situation at the beginning of this blogging adventure:
When I decided to start this blog, a friend (the blogger who calls herself Straight Laced–look for her posts on the guests page!) asked three really good questions. Here’s what she asked, and how I answered:
- Who’s the audience? I hope the audience will be like-minded folks and policymakers with open minds about education.
- What’s the purpose? I think it’s useful to add voices to the conversation. All social change movements have benefited from having people willing to say and do what others don’t want to/can’t. We are like the suffragettes, but instead of enfranchising women (a goal I’d argue we have only partially met in this country, but that’s another blog…), we are working to change the conversation about teaching, teachers, and learning.
- Will we be able to change policy or just vent our feelings? Who says we can’t work toward the former by doing the latter? I think it’s important for me to not just complain about the status quo to the students in my courses. I’m surrounded all the time by people who agree that our educational system is broken and that the current conversation seems to miss the mark (not to mention that it’s increasingly mean-spirited and punitive).
I’m not as sure about the audience now. The people I work with? Perhaps, but many of them are already “the choir.” (Although writing to a friendly audience is a treasure.) The purpose? Well, in my current capacity, I am not in a position to actually make change. I can facilitate conversations, ask questions, contribute ideas; but as a staff member at a research 1 university, I’m not part of the governance structure. Of course, as a faculty member at a comprehensive university, I didn’t have much influence on wider policy issues either. No complaints intended. I think what I’m doing now has the potential to (eventually) contribute to student success, albeit in a less direct manner.