Monday, July 09, 2007

English/Education

I spent the morning meeting with my colleagues in the English department (I'm in a college of education). We haven’t interacted very much in the past but hope to develop better ways of collaborating from here on. During my time on the Executive Committee, I’ve wondered if English/education relations is an important issue for CEE to attend to. Some members have suggested reaching out to CCCC and MLA in more active ways, but others seem to think there are better things for us to worry about (maybe because how English and education relate tends to be so institution-specific). How do you view the English/education connection (or divide) within the context of your own institution and/or within the context of CEE? Is this something we should be paying more attention to?

8 comments:

Michael Moore said...

I am not sure about reaching out to CCC and MLA. I am not saying we shouldn't take advantage of opportunities, but I don't think we should spend our energies in that direction. We used to have it nice in that English Ed was housed in the COE and we controlled several worthwhile methods courses. Now, Georgia being the conservative and accountability bent state it is has opted for everyone to get a degree in the content area and the English dept has taken over our key methods course so that it can have a ENGL designation. I may add that this hasn't been successful. We've regressed in terms of pedagogically knowledgeable graduates. Now our new graduates tend to teach the way they were taught by pontifical English faculty. I get one crack at them due to a required content reading course. It is eye opening for them but often it's too little too late.

Bucky C. said...

I can sympathize with Michael a bit. I teach at a university in the deep south that is housed in a conservative English department that, in my opinion, has no idea how or even who should be teaching English Education. Since I've been there, a senior faculty member has called EE the "bastard child" of the department, and another faculty member, the department's representative on the faculty senate no less, used a racial slur to describe how education majors are viewed on campus. The program is supervised by someone with a masters degree from an obscure college and though I was brought in to be the "doctoral presence," the only reason I'm teaching more than one English Ed class this year is because another person with only a masters-level education recently left to go into administration. I've even been told that a number of recent department leaders didn't really understand why the EE program needed a person with or seeking a Ph.D.

If we reach out to MLA or CCC, I think part of what we need to do is educate them on the importance of our field and let them know that we're not "Comp/Rhet lite" or people who were just looking for an "easy" way to earn an English degree. I hate to say it, but that seems to be my current department's "understanding" of EE.

We do have multiple EE class requirements (a writing course, a grammar course, Ya lit), but depending on who teaches them, the focus may or may not be on pedagogy. And a recent collaboration between myself and the Reading department in which we've tried to create a required course in reading for secondary students has met with tough resistance.

I'm also not sure that we'll be able to gain much from MLA or CCC. But, I do think we might focus on this topic when we discuss career options with our EE doctoral students. The pros and cons of working in an English department vs. in a COE deserve some special attention for up-and-coming scholars, I think. No one better to share a conversation about that with them than CEE, I say.

Bucky C. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Don Zancanella said...

Bucky, I think your last point is an important one. The last several students who have finished our doctoral program have taken jobs in English departments, and my impression is that some of them have found the transition challenging. I also wonder if the experience Michael describes (of accountability pressures moving English Ed. toward English and away from education) is a national trend. (I'm not suggesting that's bad--there are some very fine English Ed. programs in English departments--I'm just wondering about the evolution of the discipline.)

Louann said...

As you may know, I'm interested in studying the nature of English education (although that work has been mostly on hold while I edit English Journal). But the work I did with Sheridan Blau a few years ago still resides in my brain and filing cabinets, and I'm eager to get back to it. So, this discussion is especially interesting to me.

While it may be possible for some of us to change our program location from English to SOE (or vice versa), I don't think we'll be the major change agents in most systems. So, then the question for me is how our institutional locations shape our understandings of what English education is and should be. How are our practices informed (or deformed) by our locations? To the extent that we define the discipline of English education by concerns and practices (and I know that's not the only way we define ourselves), it seems to me that institutional location makes a huge difference.

I'm still working with these ideas, so any conversation on them would be helpful to me.

Reaching out to CCC and MLA may have benefits, but we would need to be able to explain to other groups who we are in pretty clear terms. That's harder in a discipline that draws from all of the others.

I am, by the way, in a state that does not allow an undergraduate degree in education and in an English department where our work is valued and supported (mostly).

Bucky C. said...

I like the angle of inquiry that Louann mentions. I should say that I've had some reps from other places do some "soft recruiting," and they've been from English Departments and assured me that EE is well-respected within their departments as well. I don't want at all to sound like I'm downgrading English departments in general.

Certainly "it depends on where you are" is a big part of answering these questions we've raised.

I can say this: When I do hit the job market this season, I'll be paying close attention to the position's school and department and will be asking questions to assure a good philosophical and pedagogical fit. Lessons learned and all that...

I wonder if another question worth asking of EE professors is "in your current position, are you able to do the types of things you feel you ought to be doing, and to what degree?" I wonder if those in COE's would give higher numbers or percentages or express greater satisfaction than those in EE departments; if being involved with a NWP site would have an impact, etc. I'm sure there are many of us who gladly accept teaching freshman comp and general ed literature classes to fill out our teaching schedules, but my guess is there are those of us who would rather there be more EE classes for us to teach or who would rather our full schedule be ed classes so that we can feel like we're serving our students best. Of course, as I've envisioned it, this question deals only with courses taught and leans towards those with 3-4 class teaching loads per semester, but that's something interesting to consider, I think.

Don Zancanella said...

Perhaps one place to start would be with the data (which I don't think anyone has) on how much English education is done in various settings. I'm hoping CEE will have the beginnings of a database about EE programs before long. Even just knowing the size of programs and the kinds of courses offered might help us understand the contours of the field better.

Cho-A Park said...

Umm,,, Should I say hello first? Hello!
Well I'm a korean high school student.
I just wanted to ask some english grammer to somebody,
of course Americans but I don't have any American friends
so I googled some educational sites.
That's how I find this site. So If you don't mind, can I ask
some question? Actually our English education is pretty
old. We learn very old expressions and grammer. So many
foreigner teachers say that sometimes even the textbook is
wrong! Oh, maybe I was talking too much.
So my question is,
It's all right not to consider material wealth ( ) having great
importance in your life. In fact, we believe those who choose not to chase ( ) wealth are more content than those who do.

What word should I write in those blanks?
Can't I write 'is' and 'material' in each blank?
It could be tough to read with my bad English but I really
appreciate your kindness if you had read this odd and quirky
question. I won't feel bad even if you don't answer and just ignore it. Cause I also think this is pretty funny.
Then have a nice day!!

-Cho-A Park (choa713_@naver.com)