letter eighteen: theory, learning, and design
Chúc mừng năm mới! Happy new year! It’s the year of the tiger. The last month has been full of loss, and grief, and I found myself particularly moved by Joan is Okay (Weike Wang) over the last few days. Are any of us really okay? I look forward to a new year and to small joys ahead.
This past week, I stopped by campus to pick up some books I’d requested from the library. I then realized that some of them had non-negotiable due dates, so here are some snippets of things that stuck:
User interface design (Larry E. Wood, 1998)
“Design is both a product and a process. The product is an artifact designed for a specific purpose, given a set of components, resources, and constraints within which a designer has to work. The process consists of techniques and procedures for constructing the desired product.” (p.1)
“While there are some excellent sources of information on user interface design, none contains specific descriptions of how a designer transforms the information gathered about user and their work into an effective user interface design....some might argue that is to be expected because that process is a highly creative one and that creative processes are inexplicable by their nature. While this may be true in a limited sense, designs don’t really appear as if by magic. They are largely the result of thoughtful, conscious processes.” (p.3)
Decolonizing Educational Research (Leigh Patel, 2015)
On Patel’s own history of immigration to the US, which resonated with my lived experience: “We embody a history of forced migration that yearns for settled and perhaps settler status while maintaining and mourning home practices. My history is one of interrupted relationship to land and culture, forced assimilation, and resistance to those cultural histories. Put simply, I am both colonizer and colonized.” (p.3)
On learning: “Learning is fundamentally a fugitive, transformative act. It runs from what was previously known, to become something not yet known. Terrifying and beautiful. Education, for centuries, within the grip of coloniality, has sought to make this essential aspect of humanness, learning can remind us of the limits of coloniality. It is from and within those histories that my own shifting relationship with educational research, anticolonial praxis, and answerability lives.” (p.6)
More on learning: “Learning is fundamentally about transformation. It is coming into being and constantly altering that being; it is a subjective and often messy act. It is, in essence, letting go of a rung we have a firm grip on in order to fumble with the specter of a different rung. Coming into being is in essence about being-in-relation.” (p.76)
Creating Research-Practice Partnerships in Education (Bill Penuel & Daniel Gallagher, 2017)
Penuel + Gallagher on Vakil 2016’s conception of politicized trust: “They suggest that it is not enough to talk about relationships in terms of mutualism and trust without also speaking to dimensions of power that exist in our relationships.” (p.91)
Theory and Educational Research (Jean Anyon et al., 2009)
I just ordered a copy of this book, and I also stumbled across Anyon’s syllabus on critical social theory in ed research. Excited to explore some more theorists soon!
“We want to demonstrate in this book that critical social theory can be a powerful tool with which to make links between educational “inside” and “outside,” between past, present, and future, and between research design and larger social meanings. Theory allows us to plan research that connects the ways in which social actors and conditions inside of school buildings, districts, and legislative offices are shaped and changed by what happens outside the classrooms, offices, and official chambers they inhabit. Conversely, theory can point us to the larger political and social meanings of what occurs in educational institutions and systems. As well, theory can embolden youth and community participants from whom theoretical engagement in general has been withheld.” (p.3)
Something to make:
Banh chung! Like this recipe writer, my grandma used to send me a giant banh chung via USPS in one of those square priority mail boxes. You can put anything in them, and they freeze well!
What are you making? If you’re in Boston, how was your blizzardy weekend?