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Reimagining the Public Intellectual in Education

Making Scholarship Matter


Edited By Cynthia Gerstl-Pepin and Cynthia Reyes

While the term «public intellectual» has been used to describe scholars who seek to share their re-search with the public, little work has been done to examine the role of a public intellectual in the field of education. This book builds upon the notion of the public intellectual in a way that makes the term more accessible, using it to refer to education scholars who seek to share their research outside of academia. Media coverage of educational issues is rife with self-appointed experts on education who have claimed space in public discussions to define educational problems and dominate public dialogues on education. But where are the education researchers in these academic dialogues? This book addresses their absence, sharing the stories of scholars who are seeking to enter public dialogues and reclaim space for reasoned dialogue on education. The stories of public scholars highlighted here acknowledge that the policymaking arena is teeming with value conflicts that can lead to dismissing or ignoring research if it does not fit with political agendas.
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Chapter Four: Scholarly Personal Narrative as a Way to Connect the Academy to the World


← 38 | 39 → CHAPTER FOUR

Scholarly Personal Narrative as a Way to Connect the Academy to the World



I remember vividly the day I received an email from the editors of this volume. It was an invitation to submit a chapter on the “public intellectual.” They also encouraged me to write in a first-person narrative style. Both of them knew that, in the 1990s, I created a way of doing research that I call Scholarly Personal Narrative writing (or SPN). Since then I have authored four books (Nash, 2004; Nash & Bradley, 2011; Nash & Viray, 2013, 2014) on what I call “Me-Search/Re-Search” writing. Of course I jumped at the opportunity to write about using SPN as a way to bridge the gap between scholars, students, and the general public. I have been trying to make the case for doing this for many years. I am grateful to my editors for the chance to sum up much of my writing about SPN, as well as to be able to enrich my thinking about what it is to be an SPN public intellectual.

For me, Scholarly Personal Narrative (SPN) is a style of public-intellectual writing based in storytelling and self-disclosure, one that draws from a variety of academic and non-academic references and findings. It allows the writer to communicate to a non-academic audience the excitement of the intellectual life in a way that is accessible and...

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