Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Farther shores

In Silly Season for the School Scholars, Frederick Hess and Laura LoGerfo report on the doings at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

Will this organization drown in its own irrelevance?

Here is a sampling:

One scholar of multiculturalism showed how to do away with injustice and racism, while promoting compassion and wisdom, in “Resisting Resistance: Using Eco-Justice and Eco-Racism to Awaken Mindfulness, Compassion, and Wisdom in Preservice Teachers.”

Other work promised to promote proper multicultural teacher attitudes: as with “Teaching White Preservice Teachers: Pedagogical Responses to Color-Blind Ideology” and “Overcoming Odds: Preparing Bilingual Paraeducators to Teach for Social Justice.” Breakthrough research on this front included “Discovering Collage as a Method in Researching Multicultural Lives” and “Artistic Code-Switching in a Collaged Book on Border Identity and Spanglish.”

Among the panels tackling the pressing questions of “queer studies” (formerly “gay and lesbian studies”) were “Queering Schooling and (Un)Doing the Public Good: Rubbing Against the Grain for Schooling Sexualities,” “The Silence at School: An Ethnodrama for Educators About the School Experiences of Gay Boys,” and “Working Against Heterosexism and Homophobia Through Teacher Inquiry.” Unfortunately, this work may have felt a bit conventional to those researchers fortunate enough to catch the 2004 analysis of ableist oppression in homoerotic magazines: “Unzipping the Monster Dick: Deconstructing Ableist Representations in Two Homoerotic Magazines.”


Anonymous said...

I didn't go to AERA this year, although I've done so in the past. The (very thick) program always contains a few talks whose titles make you laugh out loud, including the ones you cited.

On the other hand, it would be misleading to infer from the post that the sample cited is either random or representative. It's neither.

There are some areas of research, such as studies of classroom processes (work on the discourse and other instructional processes that go on in classes), research on what teachers know about the topics they teach and how they learn what they need to know, where AERA is the best place in the world to learn about issues that are central to any effort to improve the quality of teaching and learning in schools.

It is a big group and it contains people whose work probably won't contribute to those goals. But it would be misleading to infer from this that AERA is likely to "drown in its irrelevance."

NYC Math Teacher said...

I didn't notice the word "dialectic" anywhere in your post. Are the progressives slipping?