Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Scholarship of Engagement

At this past Wednesday's workshop of the Dewey Society's Commission on Social Issues, A.G. Rud (Purdue University, and editor of the Dewey Society's scholarly journal Education and Culture) brought our attention to recent work on 'the scholarship of engagement'. This notion owes its recent popularity and prestige to the work of Ernest Boyer and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

In Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate (New York: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1990) Boyer argued for a broad understanding of scholarship. He offered ways of balancing four general areas of scholarship: discovery, integration of knowledge, teaching, and service.

As Boyer explained in "The scholarship of engagement" in the Journal of Public Outreach 1,1,11-20, 1996), this kind of scholarship fits primarily into the service category; professors draw upon their own discoveries and syntheses of knowledge, as well as those of their peers, in addressing community issues.

In the Commission's Workshop we discussed the problem of providing incentives for members of the Dewey Society to join in working on the Society's explicit social engagement mission. We agreed that one way would be to frame up their contributions (for example, White Papers on Issues) as 'proper' scholarship subject to peer review.

It turns out that we were re-inventing the wheel! The National Review Board for the Scholarship of Engagement exists to assist colleges and universities in providing peer review and quality assessment of engaged scholarship for tenure and promotion decisions. Universities have to request this service from the National Review Board in a timely fashion, and the Board will locate appropriate peer reviewers and provide them with guidelines for evaluation.

Purdue has actively embraced the engagement mission. It would be great to see every prestigious institution of higher education do this as well. Speak to your department chairs and deans, and ask them to make the case for this sort of scholarship with the provosts, presidents and trustees. The guidelines and services of the National Board eliminate many of the clouds of uncertainty surrounding this practice.

The Review Board can be found at
and a very good bibliography on the scholarship of engagement is presented at:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Liveblogging from AERA in NYC

The Commission met today with about 25 people in attendance. Len Waks and Craig Cunningham ran a smooth and tight meeting. We discussed ways in which we could enact some of the Deweyan social agenda, following up from last year's meeting. All participants were encouraged to read this blog and to encourage other JDS members to do so. More later...back to walking the streets of Manhattan...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Social Networks and Public Issues

David Brooks, the conservative columnist at the New York Times, offers a vision of netrworks of government facilitated social entrepreneurs setting to work on intractable social issues including poverty and college access.

In "Thoroughly Modern Do-Gooders" he paints a vision of data-driven, nerdy, Bill Gates lookalikes attacking problems government agencies cannot solve.

This is the image of the public-private partnership in the so-called social sector that Peter Drucker promoted and Al Gore labeled "re-inventing government".

Every progressive voice for change simply has to come to terms with this image: supporting it and contributing to it, or critiquing or de-bunking it. It is the new trend in public thought. It is not going away any time soon. Look for some version of this from both national political parties.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Bud The Teacher" has Moved. Plus: Troublesome Note on Student Disruption in AP Science.

who have followed the musings of Bud The Teacher will want to know that the blog has moved and has a new URL: http://

ON March 15th Bud passed along a troublesome note from a science teacher:

Classroom Climate Disruption. Literally.

I am very concerned about a small group of AP Environmental Science students (3) who have taken an aggressive stand opposing my teaching of climate change. I already teach it from the perspective of “here’s the data, figure it out” but they think that I made the data up. I showed them where it came from (NASA and NOAA) and they think it is a conspiracy by the left wing to infiltrate and brainwash the American public.

Normally, I would let it go but these kids are being disruptive and belligerent to the point that I have had to refer them to the administration.

NCLB and Suburban Relief

As many of us knew all along, NCLB was a "get tough" marketing campaign of the major political parties. There are few political strategies better at generating knee jerk reactions than school and teacher bashing. NCLB had it all: tough talk, "accountability", guarantees of free tutoring and private education to those trapped in "failing schools".

Now it turns out that too many schools are failing. NCLB administrators in the Department of Education are scrambling to weaken its draconian provisions to forestall a mass revolt by parents and school districts, especially in affluent suburbs, whose award-winning schools are labeled as "failing" by NCLB.

As the New York Times reports in "U.S. Eases No Child Law As Applied to Some States,", "The Bush administration, acknowledging that the federal No Child Left Behind law is diagnosing too many public schools as failing, said Tuesday that it would relax the law’s provisions for some states, allowing them to distinguish schools with a few problems from those that need major surgery."

“We need triage,” said Margaret Spellings, the secretary of education.

"Under the new program, the federal Department of Education will give up to 10 states permission to focus reform efforts on schools that are drastically underperforming and intervene less forcefully in schools that are raising the test scores of most students but struggling with one group . . ."

Home School Athletics Institutionalized

Tha home school movement is becomeing more established.

Only a few years ago a parent choosing to home-school his or her children was invariably asked "How will they meet and interact with other children?" Often there was no good answer.

Then homeschool associations formed in most metropolitan regions. But they didn't meet the needs of many parents. Some evangelical Christian homeschool families, for example. didn't want their children associating with more liberal Christians, much less free thinkers or "godless hippies". And the feeling was mutual.

As the movement has grown, it has generated new solutions to the problem of access to social experiences.

The New York Times, in "Growing Cheers for the Home-Schooled Team"now reports on the growth of athletic leagues for himeschoolers. Some of the teams are very good; some players have attained star status and are being actively recruited by the top college sports programs.

One point to notice: the homeschool teams are now scheduling games against public schools.

A larger network of educational providers is thus being recognized, and both conventional schools and home-schools are emerging as nodes in this network.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Workshop March 26 in new York

The Commission on Social Issues of the Dewey Society is charged to facilitate communications among members of the Dewey Society and the public on pressing social, cultural and educational issues.

Today’s front-burner issues include rising racial re-segregation, ubiquitous high-stakes testing, undermining of public education by charter and voucher plans, and the attack against evolution in science education. Tomorrow will bring fresh assaults against the ideals of progressive democratic education for all.

The Commission will hold its second annual workshop at the JDS meeting in conjunction with AERA in New York on Wednesday, March 26, 12:25pm to 1:55pm at the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square, Room: Marquis Ballroom, Salon A, 9th Floor

Please attend and participate in this workshop.

Last year more than 30 members of the Society engaged in a lively and productive conversation about how the Society could assist members in contributing to the public discourse on education, society and culture in the spirit of John Dewey.

One of the by-products of that session was the founding of the blog Social Issues. A second was President Jim Garrison’s decision to select topics of broad public interest for this year’s John Dewey annual lecture and annual symposium at AERA. The Commission for Social Issues and the Dewey Society are also thinking about sponsoring a series of “Progress Reports” – white papers on current and emerging issues accessible to policy leaders and public audiences. Your help is essential to the success of this venture.

Please come to the workshop and assist the society in moving beyond its great success as an interllectual forum so that it can add its voice to public conversation.