Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ways with Ethnography: Teacher Freedom and Community Building

There's quite a bit of rhetoric today surrounding the ideas of "standards" and "back to basics," but much of this rhetoric ignores the fact that teachers in the classroom must somehow connect with their students in such a way that students will continue their learning as a lifelong process.  What we see in Shirley Brice Heath's Ways with Words is that teachers who have been empowered with lessons in ethnography are better able to reflexively adapt their teaching to meet the specific situation of their own students.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ethnography - The Invisible Social Justice

I have long wondered what it would be like to work at the cutting edge of a field of study, to introduce new concepts, or to apply prior methods in a new ways.

The two readings for today - Philips's The Invisible Culture for the book club and Heath's Ways with Words - have both been seminal works in the ways they've revealed the importance of ethnography in examining the deep relationships between language, culture, and the social structures which define our societies.  Both authors were writing at a point in time when the influence of science overshadowed many of the important contributions of quantitative analysis, and I think their works reveal just how unknown and "invisible" many aspects of human culture are to those of us who are comfortably position within our own lives.  And yet, for all the strength of their insights, I don't think these texts have reached some of the audiences who most need them - teachers, public leaders, and students.  In this post, I'd like to consider why this may be.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ethnography, Power Dynamics, and Perception in Research

 In preparing for my teaching internship in the fall, I continually find myself trapped in search of the "right" study methodology.