Two years ago, I co-authored a book review for Teachers College Record. I was teaching high school English at the time while also working towards my master’s degree in educational technology. I had elected to complete the coursework in a combination of online and in-person courses. During the in-person portion, I approached one of my instructors about future collaborations. He did not raise a suspicious eyebrow. He did not change the subject to whether or not I was enjoying my time in the dorm. He said yes, and he said it with enthusiasm.
We worked on the review, and when it was published, I noticed the editor had made a small change to my biography’s final sentence, which read: “He has taught high school English in Austin, Texas.” I had not taught high school English in Austin, Texas; I was teaching high school English in Austin, Texas. That past perfect “has taught” stuck in my eye. I experienced the revision as a rejection of my identity as a teacher. My identity as a graduate student and my research interests qualified for the present tense, however. But a teacher-graduate student-researcher? Nope.
Sure, I may be reading too much into that “has taught,” yet I kept returning to it during this week’s focus on scholarship. I’m a scholar. Am I scholar? Google reveals scholars look like this:
I have beard; therefore, I’m a scholar.
Whew. Glad that’s settled.
But wait! I don’t own any crushed velvet hats. Nor do I keep a stack of quills in my desk drawer. As to whether I possess a human skull like the scholar in Karel van der Pluym’s painting, I’m not telling.
So the question is, Who is a scholar? And whose scholarship is valued in higher ed? In the public beyond the ivory tower?
Next week, I’m attending a workshop facilitated by the Office of Curriculum and Scholarship and the College of Medicine. The workshop is titled Transforming Your Ed Tech Innovation into Scholarship. The workshop’s website says, “During this session, OCS (Office of Curriculum and Scholarship, College of Medicine) instructional designers and researchers will outline potential strategies for molding curricular innovations into scholarship.” From this description, as well as other language on the site, the implied audience – and thus the group considered to be scholars – is faculty.
But let us not forget: I have a beard and a human sku…I have beard; therefore, I’m a scholar. How do I get others to recognize my identity as a scholar? Recognize and value my identity as a scholar?
One option is to present alongside faculty at conferences. For instance, our team’s videographer recently co-presented with a faculty member at our university’s annual teaching/learning/technology conference. My colleague and the faculty member collaborated to produce a series of videos on the motherhood penalty. They discussed the project, side-by-side, at the conference. Scholars, meet fellow scholars. Visibility matters.
So does my own sense of myself as a scholar. And that’s why I’m grateful for Pedagome and the leadership they’ve provided through this DigPINS experience. Y’all have modeled what collaborative, open, big-hearted scholarship looks like in higher ed. I may not have any crushed velvet hats (yet), and I definitely do not keep a human skull in a shoebox behind the oatmeal in my pantry, but I am a scholar-technologist-designer-teacher-student nonetheless.
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