random string of thoughts

i haven't posted in a while - mainly b/c i'm still getting used to making my incomplete thoughts public... (although my class is faced with these digressions on a weekly basis!).

last weekend i attended nctear in columbus. apart from freezing temps - that contrasted with the near-balmy weather we'd been having in nyc in the several days prior to my leaving the east coast - i found myself in the midst of several multilayered conversations about literacy, literacies, semiotics, language, media, technologies, space, time, and love. yes, love. (i'll return to that shortly)

as i sat in audience through keynotes and roundtable style presentations, presented two papers (one co-authored with Kathy Schultz) and participated in informal conversations, i found myself laughing on the inside at one recurring thought: if we're all asking questions upon questions, who's offerring some answers? laughing b/c harvey graff and deborah brandt began the conference by posing broad musings about exactly what is literacy? laughing b/c the two participants that kevin leander brought with him - zoe and stephen, who are a part of his ongoing research on youths' online literacy and technology practices - seemed to be lightyears ahead of their audience in terms of what it meant to engage with technologies as an everyday practice, and had us rapt with attention as the lines between their presentation and practice blurred in front of us... laughing b/c so many of us are making a life in pursuit of still more questions... and perhaps that is part of the point: what new questions can we ask? that might, i hope, lead us to engage in work/research that is then responsive to the world in which we live. or, i fear, are we engaging in all this work without paying enough mind to what carol lee reminded us of: what is all this research for?

in between last weekend and this weekend, i had the opportunity to share some of my work with the teachers college community in two quite different venues. as a result i have been in email and face-to-face contact with students with whom i have been talking about the study that anchored my dissertation work. these conversations have caused me to reflect, again, on my graduate school career and the lessons learned by asking the question of for. and, has raised for me the question of what graduate schools of education are doing to support graduate students to keep the question - what am i doing this for? - at the forefront of their studies and practice. that is, how can we support research that is at once intellectually rigorous, ethical, academically responsible, and committed to social justice? or, as another colleague put it, in response to students who wondered aloud whether every day had to be about being "critical": can we afford to "take a day off"?

this weekend, i attended a few sessions of the ethnography forum at the university of pennsylvania's graduate school of education. in particular, i was moved by pauline lipman's keynote on friday evening when she spoke of "politcally engaged ethnography" and made call to action for researchers to take seriously their roles and work in the global discourses of education within this climate of war and resistance. she challenges us to take seriously and perform educational research that is political, partisan, and methodologically rigorous. she expounded eloquently on a question i have asked simply over the last several years: what counts as research/data/analysis? and whose voices/perspectives/realities are considered?

these posts always go on too long and make me wonder how they are connected to the topic of the course.. only they are - if only to remind me that we are not isolated in our work as teachers and researchers. this both a path of frustration and a sign of possibility...

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