Mike is quite right, I think, that a key issue is how academics define what's academic, which means what gets academic credits approved by the faculty senate. Of course as we also heard there are differences between universities in terms of how narrowly (valued specialist knowledge and canon classics only) or broadly (also university service to the community) definitions go.
But it's no secret I think that university notions of what is intellectually valuable have moved from the avant garde of some centuries ago (when perhaps they were the only game in town, institutionally) to what seems pretty conservative and frankly "academic" in the pejorative sense today -- i.e. tradition for tradition's sake, knowledge without critique or with only standardized forms of pseudo-critique, specializations whose use-value (even in a broad sense) seems only to be self-serving within academic status communities, etc.
And with a lot excluded by ideological contrast: no such thing as learning from real-world experience (except perhaps ethnography), no relationship between intellectual value and human or community value, no such thing as emotional learning (neither emotion as essential to significant learning or learning to refine and extend one's capacities to feel), no spiritual or aesthetic dimension to learning. The exclusion of the arts as such from the academic, admitting only their histories and criticisms as academic. All these contrastive exclusions have their own particular histories, of course, but it's odd to still be stuck with them.
On "service&learning" (with a small alteration of the punctuation and semantic connotation), I too have argued a lot in recent years that in- school education, of whatever kind, can never be sufficient or satisfactory (for lots of reasons, see for example http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jaylemke/papers/Re-engineering_Education.htm ; a slightly different version was published), and that a key element of what we need is a back-and-forth between experience in the non-school world and critical reflection and theoretical examination of that experience in something more like the classroom seminar. I was writing mostly about secondary education, but many of the arguments apply to higher ed as well. I was not thinking just of learning- through-service-to-others, but also of internships and apprenticeships, and exploratory experiences across a wide range of social institutions and settings.
There are just a very limited range of things you can learn about while sitting in an otherwise empty room, talking to people and reading books. That range is I think exactly what has come to define the "academic" dimensions of life/knowledge. Philosophy, mathematics, abstract theory of any sort, historical accounts, literature. Natural sciences added a very small dose of "the laboratory", meaning in effect another room containing only as much of the World as needed to replicate simplified, idealized versions of the canonical evidence for some bits of the standard theories. (Not enough certainly to challenge those theories or to make new discoveries.) Around the edges of this Academicized World are some oddities: geological and ecological fieldtrips, the rare bus to the zoo or museum (also, note, these latter are idealized, simplified facsimiles of the world which are designed to reinforce dominant theories/conceptualizations).
How bizarre that all the rest of life, which cannot be learned about while sitting in a classroom, becomes ipso facto defined as knowledge/ experience of no intellectual value.
In the higher education context, of course, we know that by and large in major research universities our colleagues across departments don't really care all that much about teaching and education anyway. So it's interesting to consider the limitations of the Academic also as they apply to our research practices. To what extent is it true that highly valued academic research is by definition research that can be done in a room with nothing but books and documents (literary studies, historical studies, law, theology), or nothing but the equipment needed to test a specific hypothesis (physical and biological-medical sciences)? And what of the human/social sciences? The experimental tradition certainly fits the Keep-the-World-Out paradigm of academic research/education. The survey tradition was genuinely innovative, but still gains its intellectual respectability exactly by not letting people tell us anything we haven't asked them, and converting all our interactions with the social world into minimalist documents (SPSS printouts). Even field-based studies gain respectability exactly to the extent that they "focus" only on answering some set of narrow, pre- defined questions. Once again we are pretty much only left with ethnography as a more open-ended research tradition, and frankly, its academic respectability is marginal at best compared to the other traditions (if still better than Education, Comm Studies, and few other stepchildren).
I preach here to the choir, I know. But my point is that it really is necessary to continue to challenge the equation of the traditionally academic with the total domain of intellectually valuable knowledge and intellectually useful practices (quite apart of course from the socially useful ones, about which universities mainly don't care anyway). I'll put it as blunty as I can. Universities are in danger of becoming intellectually irrelevant if we don't critique and broaden our definition of what is intellectually valuable. That applies to both research and teaching, to both content and methods.
Dinosaurs got bigger, too. JAY. Jay Lemke Professor Educational Studies University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109 www.umich.edu/~jaylemke On Mar 30, 2009, at 4:49 AM, Mike Cole wrote:
Yes. Here we see the fusion of cognition and emotion, and as I wrote earlier,I am CERTAIN that Emily, Peter, Eugene and others organize activity thatevokes the same effects. REAL education. Great stuff, when it can be squeezed out of the iron cage. mikeOn Sun, Mar 29, 2009 at 5:57 PM, Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:I think I cried at the same point in "Cultural Psychology" too. :~ andy Mike Cole wrote:*I.** You think you have much to offer the kids, pearls of wisdom, insight, morals, etc., but you end up learning and growing more than them! I thoughttheir world view and perspective was limited, sometimes stereotypical (all their Chinese jokes made me laugh though), but I discovered mine was justaslimited in the ideas and judgments I carried into the center with me.Lookingback, I think it’s sad that I was surprised to find that some of thesekidswere brilliantly intelligent, and ridiculously talented in so many other ways. Too often I feel that kids, especially in lower SES areas, who are surrounded by teachers, parents, other authority figures who have low expectations for them, end up having low expectations for themselves. Yetthere I was, with my own sorts of expectations. ..I really came to appreciate the whole “structure” or maybe it’s more accurate to say“structured chaos” of the learning center. I don’t know how exactly it works the way it does, but all I know is that it created an atmosphere andplace that allowed kids to feel safe and comfortable enough to be creative,explore, learn, grow. It allowed for the relationship between the buddies and the kids to grow and flourish on its own, without having to followpredetermined rules or guidelines (other than Ms. V’s that is), and becauseof this, I think that’s what allowed for such great relationships to be built within the short timeline of 10 weeks! It’s amazing how attached the buddies and kids can get to one another, and I’m not quite sure how it happens, but I think it’s more than enough evidence to show that we mustbe doing something right at the learning center. **I can’t express how much the kids at the learning center have brought so much joy to me this quarter, but it has moved something in me that I’vebeenon the edge about for a long time now. I’ve always considered teaching to be something I was interested in and wanted to pursue, but I wasn’t sureitwas something I was really that passionate about. I do love working withallsorts of kids, and teaching them, building that relationship with them, learning from them. But there was truly something different and special about my experience at the learning center that made me look back on italland say, “This is what makes me want to teach – to be able to interactwithkids like these, to love these kids, and to have them love you back…” I want to see these kids do well, I want to be there to help them learn and grow into strong, independent individuals, I want to help them in anylittleway I can. I most certainly was not expecting this class to give me that extra little bit of inspiration, but it did, and it’s undeniable. It’snotjust that these kids in and of themselves are inspiring, but it’s also so much intertwined with what you do with the kids, the relationships youmake,how you get involved with them that makes the difference for them, and foryou. ( 3/19/09)* * * * * *II: **I do not think anything would have prepared me for what Iemotionally and mentally went through this quarter. This course truly has been a humbling experience and it amazes me to look back to measure my growth, not only as a student, but a person as well….. I challenged myself and worked with people that I never worked with before. And the fact thatIsurvived and everything worked out shows that I can do anything I put mymind to. If anything, I surprised myself because I was so scared andintimidated sometimes by the adults and even the middle school girls, but looking at the way I handle those situations, it almost came natural tome. I never knew I had it in me* (3/19/09).On Sun, Mar 29, 2009 at 4:44 PM, Duvall, Emily <email@example.com> wrote:In my reflection work with my students I tend towards the critical,challenging institutionalized positionings of teachers and learners, of parents and children, etc. Assumptions are challenged in the work we do.. Including assumptions about and rigid notions of a more 'knowledgeable'other.It opens up opportunities to mess with understandings of the zpd and toengage in conversations about scaffolding versus mediation.In some of the product oriented work, like the assessment project, it allows my students not only to engage in interesting conversations about policy, politics, accountability measures, etc and how it impacts on our understandings of children learning to read. In this project, requested by the Title teacher of a school, I hope my students will come to see how our grassroots efforts can address the inadequacies of the 'system'.. Revealing the limitations of accountability with regard to its impact on teaching, as well, is what I see emerging in our Readers Theatre Club.Many of my students believe they live in a homogenous world whereeveryone has equal opportunity and that such things as the Aryan Nationsare in the past and best ignored or slavery is in the past and irrelevant to Idaho. Learning to break through the veneer of appearances, developing a critical lens on multiplelevels...incorporating theory in a meaningful and practical way ratherthan a text book understanding... these are some of my goals. ~em -----Original Message-----From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com ]On Behalf Of Peter Smagorinsky Sent: Sunday, March 29, 2009 2:08 PM To: 'eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity'Subject: RE: [xmca] The national context for education funding in the USI realize that service-learning has gotten a bad rap, which doesn't meanthat it can't be carried out with intellectual rigor. My sense from being ina Fellows group on my campus is that serious s-l education is designedbothto serve the community and to challenge students intellectually, andideally to promote conceptual change regarding issues such as poverty, immigration,etc. If it's a research site (like 5D and ultimately, I hope, like my course), it could also provide a Hawthorne effect that could enhance theexperience. I'm fairly comfortable with the term service-learning. The hyphen,incidentally, is less a grammatical touch than a sign of the connection between the two terms and constructs. And so while service comes first,andwhile courses no doubt don't eradicate poverty etc., s-l courses canhelp feed hungry people (my colleague's course does this) and help kids graduate(my course does this), and so they help chip away at larger problems. Inmycase, I developed the course because most students who enter our teacheredprogram come from the honors/AP track of their high school and never metthekinds of kids they mentor/tutor in the alternative school; and yet their careers will undoubtedly begin with assignments to teach middle and lowtrack students. So it was set up as a learning experience for my students inwhich, in conjunction with book club readings and discussions in class,they learn about populations with whom they have had little contact and develop apersonal relationship with one kid from such a background, then put the experience and the readings/discussions in dialogue in order to write acasestudy. The book clubs are also designed to model a pedagogy that lies outside the repertoires of most of my students, who have been lecturedtofor most of their education, and suggest to them that alternatives areavailable.I was supposed to present something on this site at AERA but have notravelmoney left, and so have had to cancel my trip. This is the first yearI'veoffered the course and so the syllabus will get revised in light of some realities that have come into play this semester (e.g., what to do whena mentoring relationship is undermined by the student's unannounced absences).But I think it's going well.....only the course evaluations know forsure. p Peter Smagorinsky Professor of English Education and Program Chair The University of Georgia 125 Aderhold Hall Athens, GA 30602 firstname.lastname@example.org/phone:706-542-4507 http://www.coe.uga.edu/lle/faculty/smagorinsky/index.html -----Original Message-----From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org ]On Behalf Of Mike Cole Sent: Sunday, March 29, 2009 2:19 PM To: eXtended Mind, Culture, ActivitySubject: Re: [xmca] The national context for education funding in the USWhat bothers me about the term, service learning, Peter, is that it implies no seriousintellectual engagement related to the critical, scholarly activities atthe university. While we still run a 5thD course of the kind described, it is by no means restricted to education or psych majors. Majors from all over the map participate.And we also are engaged in an entirely different sort collaborationwith a learning center at a HUD housingproject. The range of joint activities is vast, as are the serious lifeproblems facing all residents, so it provides a marvelous canvas upon which students can explore the relationship between their own life paths and the conditions of life of people in very different circumstances.I gather, Peter, that your experience is like mine: There is a serious,positive, improvement of a generalized sortin the further education of the undergrads. There are also some niceoutcomes, sometimes, for people in thecommunity, but it is a little difficult to erase poverty, sexism, andrascism by this means. But since the question Jay posed was about improving higher ed, and since these kinds of efforts are in perfect allignment with thepolicies of the present administration in Washington (for the moment)this line of action seems timely. Thanks for the links. mike On Sun, Mar 29, 2009 at 10:44 AM, Peter Smagorinsky <email@example.com> wrote: Hmmmm, this sounds remarkably like the way the 5th Dimensionexperience atUCSD works.I know that others attempt similar ways to integrate student work into communities, a.k.a. "service-learning" in US contexts. I'm teachingsuch ahttp://www.coe.uga.edu/~smago/SL/SLSyllabus.htm<http://www.coe.uga.edu/%7Esmago/SL/SLSyllabus.htm >course this semester (see<http://www.coe.uga.edu/%7Esmago/SL/SLSyllabus.htm> <http://www.coe.uga.edu/% 7Esm <http://www.coe.uga.edu/%%0A7Esm> ago/SL/SLSyllabus.htm>for the syllabus), which I developed through a grant from UGA's OfficeofService-Learning. One of my friends from the Fellows has a greatprojectdescribed at http://www.uga.edu/columns/070910/news- urbanfood.html.Theseefforts can also serve as great research sites and thus combineteaching,research, and service into one project. They also provide studentswithimportant experiences and close the town/gown gap by serving communitymembers in need. p Peter Smagorinsky Professor of English Education and Program Chair The University of Georgia 125 Aderhold Hall Athens, GA 30602 firstname.lastname@example.org/phone:706-542-4507 http://www.coe.uga.edu/lle/faculty/smagorinsky/index.html -----Original Message-----From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org ]OnBehalf Of Mike Cole Sent: Sunday, March 29, 2009 12:02 PM To: Jay Lemke Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture, ActivitySubject: Re: [xmca] The national context for education funding in theUSMy answer to your last question, Jay.Make participation in real world settings, linked to relevant academicworkincluding reading and writing, mandatory for all students attendinganycollege or university. Use money to do this mainly to support grad studentsupervisorswho themselves are gathered into groups supervised by seniorprofessors asone of their courses.All evidence is that such practices improve student commitment to more serious study at the university, increase the intellectual and socialcapital of those with whomthey work, and increase understanding of social justice issues amongmoreprivileged students, e.g., those who can afford to attend auniversity.mike _______________________________________________ xmca mailing list email@example.com http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca _______________________________________________xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca _______________________________________________ xmca mailing list email@example.com http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca _______________________________________________ xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca _______________________________________________xmca mailing list email@example.com http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca-- ------------------------------------------------------------------------Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/ >Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden: From Erythrós Press and Media <http://www.erythrospress.com/>._______________________________________________ xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
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