Friday, October 15, 2010

Theory Makes Practice: The Lived Experiments of A Student/Administrator

Theory Makes Practice: The Lived Experiments of A Student/Administrator

By contributing blogger “Ms. Buzzkill” 

("Ms. Buzzkill" is a rather cute nickname I’ve been given when telling people their jokes are sexist/racist/homophobic)

Hello everyone! It’s been a whirlwind since classes began but I love my first semester in the Educational Studies program at OU. When I’m not collaborating with my colleagues or burying my nose in a book at Bizzell, I work full-time at the Women’s Outreach Center, which is part of Student Life at OU. I do support and administrative work and I also help maintain our sexual violence awareness programs and work with our peer educators to develop and teach a bystander intervention program that we offer to undergraduate students. My work there has informed my theoretical work on a practical level, and what’s really important is seeing students change and integrate new, prosocial behaviors after the discussions and questions we raise at our events.

Supporting others and changing my local reality are why I do this work; I see this happen on a daily basis when students walk in needing support in dealing with sexual assault, breast cancer, stalking, pregnancy, or just need information to fill in the blanks for their own physical or emotional health.
I’m excited to debut a presentation that I created for our center today with my colleagues in the program. I believe that complicated, theoretical explanations of the lived experiences of undergraduates can be accessible for the average student, but thought-provoking for the post-doc. I’m looking forward to revisions and discussions based on issues that are important to me as an administrator, a student, and as a citizen of this Earth.

You can find more at our website,

Thanks for listening! Stay tuned for more from me throughout the semester. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Who wants a rational conversation about education anyway?

Who wants a rational conversation about education anyway?

By contributing blogger—The Cranky Welshman

To carry on rationally about a matter of substance, one must sometimes contest the meaning of a term or two.  If I were to say that providence has decreed the right of every person to liberty, then you would be wise to ask whether I think “person” extends to individuals of both sexes, all races, classes, sexual orientations and religions.  Given the reference to providence, you would be especially wise to ask whether I felt that non-religious individuals, fetuses, and those residing outside the great state of Rhode Island were persons.  If in response I gave a clearer account of “person”—one that would satisfy your curiosity even if it fails to compel agreement—then it would still be left to sort through the meaning of “liberty.”  After that would come the truly difficult work of lining up (coherently) my definition of person to my definition of liberty. 

All of this is preface to an observation.  The media chatter about education is strikingly unlike a rational conversation.  When politicians and pundits alike sound off on the many supposed disasters of public education, they do so by making the same claim: schools are not “achieving success.”  They all (I exaggerate—say rather 99.9 percent of them) mean that students are not getting high enough scores on criterion-referenced exams.  Never mind that the process by which test makers determine criteria is painfully and stupidly arbitrary, that those criterion-referenced exam scores are used normatively, or that standardized testing renders public education the venal, banal, despicable thing that causes people to cringe when they think about their school days.  Never mind all of that, because to even mention such things is to call into question what those politicians and pundits mean by words like “achievement” and “success.”  To call into question the meanings of words is, undeniably, to enter into a rational discussion. 

Who wants that?