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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 Nine: Traveling Down a Desire Line: Surviving Where Academia and Community Meet


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Traveling Down a Desire Line

Surviving Where Academia and Community Meet1


“I’m a wanderer from way back,” I said to a colleague as we both left a meeting. We had been discussing my current position at the College of Liberal Arts and Science, where, from a tenure-track position in the English Department, I teach primarily English Education classes. A former high school teacher in Los Angeles, where I was raised, I went to graduate school at UC Berkeley, although there were many moves around the American West prior to that. Even though I am now near the opposite coast by choice, the parts of my career that I discuss in this chapter are the ones that have been unforeseen—the opportunities that initially seemed to be detours. I explore, in a non-chronological way, how traveling a desire line in academia, which is usually the most direct and/or easiest route between two points, has been a constructive, albeit non-linear, journey for me. I also question the assumption of linearity: Who defines what counts as “direct” or “easiest” in one’s development as an academic? In attempting to balance professional (i.e., tenure) expectations and my own sense of responsibility as an educator living and working in sociocultural contexts, I have moved along a path that has been both rewarding and challenging. While a desire line usually strays from an official path in order to establish a more...

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