Professing Education
A publication of the Society of Professors of Education
2008. Vol.6 No.1

Editorial: Editorial: Professorial Paths to Freedom, Recalcitrance, and
Beyond
John Novak

Being a professor of education has its ups and downs as we make the rounds from the academy to the school to the surrounding community to professional journals to global issues and back. Done well, we experience an aesthetic sense of unity and completion. We have brought many worlds together and enjoy the postmodern rush of limited but creative harmony. Done poorly, we commiserate about the formalism of the academy, the high stakes testing in the schools, the lack of community in the community, the hoop-jumping experienced in following editorial comments, and the disruption of hope in an ever more complex world. We feel alone, and worse, we feel surrounded by others like ourselves. Misery may love miserable company, but too much of anything, especially a bad thing, is too much. It is hoped that there are more `done wells' than `done poorlies' and we savour the former and learn from the latter. A community of colleagues supports us during our low moments and prods us during our self-content perches. The four parts of this issue of Professing Education look at professing well and present some practical suggestions, conceptual distinctions, probing questions, and re-examination of core words that keep us going. Each of the four articles offers support and prodding to move us beyond our present contents and discontents.

In the first article, "On the Path to Professing," Jill M. Gladwell from Buffalo State College, cogently describes how she prepared herself for the teaching, research, and service needed to profess well. Regarding teaching, she followed the advice of her academic advisor and took courses from excellent teachers. These are people who modeled not only a sound understanding of what they were teaching but also a contagious spirit about why their subject mattered to them and should matter to thoughtful people. Her research efforts were encouraged, sustained, and extended by a dissertation support group that continues even after she obtained her doctorate. In her role as president of the department graduate student association she gathered invaluable experience research symposia and conferences. Preparation for teaching, research, and service does not merely happen. It develops from encouragement, collaboration, and professional networking.

The direction for professing can go in very different ways. In his article, "Education Left and Right," Ken McClelland uses a key distinction from the late Richard Rorty's "Education Without Dogmas" to look at the different political sensibilities evoked in choosing to educate for freedom or truth. It is Rorty's contention that primary and secondary education are controlled by the conservative emphasis on socialization while higher education is led by the left's commitment to social criticism. Using Dewey's concept of a moderate progressive, McClelland shows how Rorty can be enlisted to aid and abet thoughtful reformist impulses. Professors of education who question both the recalcitrant left and the right will appreciate this insightful essay.

Recalcitrant is not a term that is often associated with John Dewey, and Rebecca Glass, from the University of Hawaii-Manoa, explores why this might be so. In her review of Naoka Saito's book, The Gleam of Light: Moral Perfectionism and Education in Dewey and Emerson, Glass points out Dewey's difficulty in dealing with the recalcitrant child. Although he can speak about the recalcitrant child, it is not in his heart to really speak for the recalcitrant child. As a social philosopher through and through Dewey needs Emersonian nudgings to help learn the value of the nonconformist within society. Professors of education influenced by Dewey's Democracy and Education and Experience and Education might wish to rethink some basic social assumptions after reading this article.

After reading these three essays, some imaginative practical, conceptual, and professional possibilities could help remake the rounds of our work as professors of education. Read on.

Editors: John M. Novak & Kenneth A. McClelland
Associate Editors: Rahul Kumar & Dirk Windhorst
Publisher Coordinator: Robert C. Morris
Web Publishing by: Rahul Kumar & Herman Yu
Webmaster of the Society of Professing Education: Jan Armstrong

For this and past issues, visit http://profed.brocku.ca