Tuesday, March 17, 2015

PhD and the fire hose

I love to learn. It makes sense then that I started a PhD program. It's no secret that I am a bit of an education addict, and I've talked about getting into this program before.

 Now that I'm in my second year of my program, I'm a little bit less overwhelmed. But studying in my program is still quite a bit like drinking out of a fire hose. I am reminded of the more dots meme related to World of Warcraft except that I can't stop the dots.

 This week, I read the significant portion of Margaret Mitchell's book Response to Reform. I quipped on Facebook that the only thing that kept me from throwing the book across the Metro train where I did a significant portion of my reading was that it was crowded and it was rush hour.

That's not to say that I didn't like Mitchell book, or even agree with her arguments. The problem is that I did agree with her arguments. Mitchell gave me language to talk about the patterns that I had intuitively guessed were part of the rhetoric of educational reform, but did not have the knowledge or the historical background to put name to.

I could really spend a couple of weeks talking about Mitchell, but I won't. Because firehose. I can see the logic in the course. I can see the progression in the readings. But, I want to stop and savor. I want to talk about these ideas with my colleagues.

 I'm leaving tomorrow to go to College Conference on Composition and Communication, the annual conference for writing and rhetoric. It's my first national conference at the college level, and I will probably meet some of the scholars whose work I have been reading.

That access is one of the things that I really like about these conferences. If I put myself out there and go to conferences, I meet the most thoughtful individuals in the field. I've have attended NCTE's K-college annual conference every year except one since 2009. The experience is absolutely wonderful, and the innovative, smart people I have met through online and through these national conferences have changed the way I think about teaching and learning. It is through these types of forum where scholars and practitioners of education come together is that there is tremendous potential.

I am perpetually amazed how few of my education colleagues take advantage of these professional development opportunities. When we come together to create knowledge, to share our experiences, and discuss the professional and political horses that move us push, we define and redefine our field.

 Which brings me back to Mitchell because isn't this type of self-directed professional development  vital. Isn't this what is means to profess??

(Apologies to anyone who read this when it was mess. The iPad and Blogger don't get on as well as they should.)

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