Scholarship for what?

I have to begin by first owning that I have been in critical pedagogy land for the past month or so and that, needless to say, critical pedagogy and transformative theory have completely opened an entire new world for me. My encounter with these two philosophies/theories - while logically they are the next best step for me - has changed how I read, think, write... They're even causing me to seriously analyze my career choices, my spirituality, and education at large.

Thus, this post stems from much of these two bodies of literature.  See my pages on critical pedagogy and transformative learning for more general information that I've started reflecting on.

I wrote a post last week on asking the big questions (For what? So what?) within the framework of my graduate work. If critical pedagogy is about exploring our assumptions about teaching and learning and the power relationships that get caught up in the mix - and transformative learning is primarily concerned with the development of autonomous learners that are able to critically analyze and make informed decisions about their lives and what they know, I think there needs to be an exploration of these ideas within the realm of scholarship.

Here I am framing scholarship in the semi-traditional sense in that of what the professoriate does. Through this lens I am defining scholarship as a commitment to teaching (covered by critical pedagogy), research, service, and communication (publishing/sharing/authenticating knowledge).

I'm aware that at this point this could begin to sound like a conversation about the ethics in scientific research or the philosophy of science - but that is not my intention.

Scholarship is deemed almost unquestionably by our society to be the fountain of knowledge production and dissemination. Shouldn't we be asking ourselves some serious questions about who is doing the researching, writing, and teaching and how and for what they are engaging in their responsibilities?

This is not a witch hunt - it is, rather, a shift towards empowerment and accountability in scholarship. And not accountability like standardized testing and achievement and all that nonsense. Accountability as in where one takes responsibility for their actions and choices in such a way that they become more empowered.

As we approach the processes and functions of scholarship - teaching, research, service, and communication - we need to be asking ourselves the following questions:

- Who am I writing for?
- What is the aim of my research?
- How does my background affect the kinds of research questions that I generate?
- Who will benefit by my writings?
- Who might be harmed by my research?
- Who am I writing to?
- Why ask the questions I'm asking?
- Are there other ways to ask the questions I'm asking?
- What questions am I not asking and why am I not asking them?
- How does my scholarship contribute to the larger, global conversation and narrative of teaching and learning?

Within the realm of my burgeoning knowledge I'm not aware of anyone else asking these kinds of questions as of yet.  (I would love some help and for others to point me in the right direction, though.)

We need a new and fresh perspective on scholarship, a critical complex perspective, and I think that this next generation of scholars is going to dramatically revolutionize the way we approach learning, teaching, technology, and community on a global scale.

Onward!

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