NLA Discussion: How Practitioners get Information and Knowledge
GEORGE E. DEMETRION
gdemetrion at juno.com
Sat Jun 27 12:26:29 EDT 1998
A listserv devoted to practitioner inquiry could be highly instructive as
it would allow participants throughout North America and across the
Atlantic (and other parts of the globe) to post, summarize, critically
reflect upon a wide divergency of practice and theory from many
There is obviously much good work on P.I. Much of it is localized or
regionalized. To truly come into its own as a "legitimate" field of
educational research, broader dissemination of practices would be
Time pressures at work often preclude "systematic, intentional inquiry"
at our sites as a regular part of doing business. Conferences are
expensive, time consuming, and too episodic to build the continuity in
the emerging field of practitioner inquiry to give it the legitimacy and
knowledge base needed to stabilize a "field" of discourse.
The e-mail technology would be an excellent resource to overcome the many
impediments of fragmentation that mark current efforts in P.I. It would
provide a national and international forum to explore practice in "real
time." A P.I. listserv would also result in an extensive data bank and a
historical archive that, potentially, could lend great credibility to
this emerging field of teacher research.
In my mind, the definition of teacher research provided by Marilyn
Cochran and Susan Lytle (1993). Inside/Outside: Teacher Research and
Knowledge (Teachers College Press) can provide a source of general
direction as well to pose some provocative challenges. They write:
"By systematic we refer primarily to ordered ways of gathering and
recording information, documenting experiences inside and outside of
classrooms, and making some kind of written record. Systematic also
refers to ordered ways of recollecting, rethinking, and analyzing
classroom events for which there may be only partial or unwritten
records. By intentional, we signal that teacher research is an activity
that is planned rather than spontaneous....By inquiry, we suggest that
teacher research stems from or generates questions and reflects teachers'
desires to make sense of their experiences--to adapt a learning stance or
openess toward classroom life."
There is much to do to build on these general principles.
In Inside/Outside, the authors hoped to elevate teacher research to the
"forefront" of educational work. That has not become a reality for a
myriad of reasons. Through a dynamic, P.I. listserv, there is at least
the possibility of moving teacher research at least beyond the frings;
and who knows, maybe even toward that forefront.
Much of the discussion on plain English and academic discourse has to do
with the democratization of knowledge and language. E-mail
communication, particularly listservs can become an incredibly potent
tool of democratization because of the immediacy of communication and the
"leveling" of discourse. That is, academics can challenge practitioners.
Practitioners can challenge academics in fee and open discussion.
While I personally draw on a variety of mediums to obtain information and
insight, I can't think of a better single source that could move the
field forward than a listserv devoted to ABE teacher research and
LVA -CT River East
East Hartford, CT
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