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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 Five: When a Public Intellectual Speaks Out But No One Hears Her, Does She Exist?



When a Public Intellectual Speaks Out But No One Hears Her, Does She Exist?


← 54 | 55 → I just ordered a nifty T-shirt from the Academy of American Poets that features a line from Wallace Stevens’s “Le Monocle de Mon Oncle” on the back—“I wish that I might be a thinking stone.” And a scansion of that line across the front: ~/~/~/~/~/. Someone at the Academy of American Poets online store felt compelled to offer instruction, declaiming that there is “in fact room for disagreement about the scansion of this line.” Prospective buyers of the T-shirt are told that although Stevens “probably heard it as five iambic feet…an alternative scansion is one iamb followed by a pyrrhic foot (two weak stresses) followed by two strong stresses (a spondee), followed by two iambs. It is also possible that all feet in the line are iambs except the third foot, though the word might most likely would have been italicized if that were the case.”

Ohmigod. As Freud would have said, sometimes a T-shirt is just a T-shirt. Not wishing to be rude here, but I think this T-shirt scansion issue just might get to the core of my problem with the notion of “Public Intellectual in Education”: Much educationese is neither intellectual nor anywhere near the public. I worry that such a concept even comes perilously close to being an oxymoron. I’m...

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