University of Regina
As I sit here in my office writing this, we are racing toward the closing days of autumn soon to begin the long journey through winter toward vernal equinox. I looked out the window earlier this morning and the sun was low in the prairie sky. However, it was still providing warmth, including enough heat to dislodge the extraordinary rime frost gathered on trees and bushes from unusual heavy fog last week. The layers of crystalized ice gently fell to the ground, joining the thin layer of snow. Our autumn 2018 issue of in education, not unlike the ice crystals, is gently joining our long line of journal issues. However, what makes this issue extraordinary is that it is an issue that is given over to some essays. As Cyntia Ozick (1998) wrote, an essay is a thing of the imagination, but it embodies reflection and insight, and it is possessed with a power toward agreement, even when the reader thinks she is not so inclined.
In Alayne Armstrong’s essay, we learn of the inherent narrative imaginings within mathematics if only we open up to the storied virtues of math and cast aside the tendency to see the teaching of math through the narrow, if not myopic, lens of arithmetic. Alayne artfully draws upon the power and thoughtfulness that are at the core of essay writing whereby the reader is taken into a story that is both sensitive and compelling. She then raises the question of authorship in mathematics. Of particular interest is the sharing of some of her research with middle school students and the use of “coloured tapestries to help… illustrate some of the storyline traits of the mathematical work the groups do.” The reader will learn just how storied mathematics is, and has been!
In Marc Spooner’s essay, we travel through some simultaneously familiar and startling terrain in the academy and the wider world. It is to invoke that old adage that one must travel afar in order to return home to see things anew—Marc calls out the quotidian so that we might stop for a moment and attend to what has been, and is happening while we have been toiling away in the academy. He urges us to not be distracted by the high profile stories of outed researchers or journal hoaxes, but to recognize and take heed of “the growing, high-stakes audit culture within the academy that results in extreme pressures to publish and, for some, the resort to cooked-up findings.” Marc draws a straight line from these pressures to the corporate shift in universities and the drift, if not swift movement of the academy into an audit culture. Where the University has “spawned a whole class of middle-management auditors (accountants, in function) who have replaced faculty administrative positions,” and armed themselves with tools to measure and calculate performance and outcomes. I can hear a fragment of Leonard Cohen’s song, The Future:
Things are gonna slide
(slide) in all directions, won't be
Nothing (won't be) nothing you can't
Marc calls out what is, and has been, happening in universities around the world noting that if the academy, that is to say academics, do not come together to collectively push back against the regolith creep of the audit culture our academic freedom and much more will be subsumed.
Kerry Robertson, in her essay, delves into the exploration of professional collaboration amongst teachers through the notion of trust and curiosity. She attempts to look at what Huebner characterized as the vulnerability that is teaching; however, that ‘‘vulnerability can be endured in a community of care and support, one in which members take time for telling and listening to the stories of each other’s journeys’’ (Huebner, 1999, p.385). Kerry helps us recognize that collaboration begins with trust, which is “characterized by mutual respect, professional commitment, personal integrity and personal regard,” and is accompanied by curiosity, which “is the commitment of individuals to seek out new and potentially challenging ideas.” We need to listen to each other and hear our stories.
Finally, although this issue has showcased essays, we do have a powerful piece of research included in this issue. Elaine Murdoch and Rainey Gaywish research the effects of Intergenerational Trauma (IGT) on the learning of Aboriginal students in postsecondary settings, investigating IGT as a possible reason for student attrition. They explored the issue from the perspective of trauma-informed education principles (Mordoch & Gaywish, 2011). The researchers utilized a conceptual framework based on an Anishinabe teaching of Four Lodges (directional)—Talking, Planning, Teaching, and Healing. The researchers formulated questions for each Lodge to frame the research on how IGT is understood by students enrolled in select programs for mature Indigenous students. The questions align with the medicine wheel:
The Teaching Lodge— How do you come to know?
The Healing Lodge—How do we bring about positive energy?
The Planning Lodge—What nurturing is needed?
The Talking Lodge—What do we seek to be answered?
The researchers’ findings are encouraging and lay out a path forward in supporting the learning of Indigenous students who may be experiencing the effects of intergenerational trauma.
We hope that you will find this somewhat different issue of in education of interest and share the essays and article amongst your friends and colleagues. Enjoy the journey!
Cyntia Ozick (1998). SHE: Portrait of the essay as a warm body. The Atlantic Online. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/98sep/ozick.htm
Huebner, D. (1999). Teaching as a vocation. In V. Hillis (Ed.). The lure of the transcendent, collected essays by Dwayne Huebner (pp.379–387). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.