Revolutionary Change

This week’s readings seem to focus on how people are represented in research.  The study by Rodaldo he examines how in an effort to sound objective research “fails to grasp significant variations in the tone of cultural events.”(Rosaldo, 1993, p.50)  Descriptive language used to describe social activities can be distancing and even “dehumanizing” (Rosaldo, 1993, p. 54).    Research needs to be put in terms used  in everyday life or by adhering to “the highly serious classic ethnographic idiom almost inevitably become parodic when used as self-description?” (Rosaldo, 1993, p. 48)  Accuracy and interpretation of events observed may be improved by including personal accounts of the participants to close the distance in understanding.   This is an experience I witness in parents all too often as I review student’s Individual Education Plans (IEP).  The technical jargon that is contained in legal documents like the IEP is supposedly written in concise language that is specific to the child’s needs.  Furthermore, parents are given and even bigger legal document that outlines the rights and procedures of team members.  The result is, parents are not as tuned in to what the documents say as they are about conversations, in plain words, about how their student is performing. “What does self-determination mean for the world’s 300 million Indigenous peoples?”(McCarty, 2005,p.1)  The same questions educators ask about self determination for students with IEPs are very similar to the questions asked of indigenous people.  They both represent a small population that is caught in the demands of conformity.  The pathways they have to travel for equality in view of the rest of society are very different. Researchers and educators know that, short of a revolution, change is slow and the dominant culture demands conformity. “The coincidence of the change of circumstances and of human activity can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionizing practice.”(Lave, 2012, p.158) I believe it goes back to nature’s battle for survival or self preservation.  People and civilizations have been making attempts to divide and conquer since history began.  The irony is that there is just as much to learn from the conquered people as the victors.  Now we notice “the underlying processes of cultural, economic, social, and political displacement that lead to language loss- what some scholars have labeled linguistic genocide” (McCarty, 2005,p.2) and human history with it.  The challenge will be to find a method of change that will find a way to preserve and seek cohabitation. The International Society for Culture & Activity Research (ISCAR) is working to create change with the question, “what is needed for engagement in a political struggle for a different, more inclusive, just and habitable world?” (Lave, 2012, p.156) My inquiry engages the school and its local community in the struggle to make a difference by closing the gap through education and self-determination.   As business professionals, community leaders, and politicians reach out to form school partnerships they plant the seeds to inspire students to set goals for their education.  Change is slow and if one seed is planted as a result of my inquiry, it will be worth the struggle.  “Each of us has much to learn, but together we can help ourselves and one another to understand more adequately our own political situations and struggles and those of the people whose lives we study.”(Lave, 2012, p.169)   References: Lave, J. (2012). Changing Practice. Mind, Culture and Activity, 19(2), 156171. McCarty, T. L. (2005). Indigenous Epistemologies and Education SelfDetermination, Anthropology, and Human Rights. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 36(1), 17.   Rosaldo, R. (1994). Culture and Truth: The remaking of social analysis. Boston, MA: Beacon

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Jeffrey Cook

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