Craig forwards a JRRE piece on outmigration 9/9:



outmigration... haven't read; is just out. Easy to subscribe and get these notices...
also attaching the pieces I mentioned today; first will appear shortly in Children, Youth, & Environments... ACCLAIM 7-site study
second is also forthcoming in an edited book about textbook presentations in an international context (Rebecca--you have these, I think.)

Hey--is anyone able to put together a full citation for Mike Corbett's suggestions? So we can pick and chose what to read next time? Next time is Friday 9/16 at Casa at 2PM.

Have a good weekend, everyone.


Althusser is misspelled in a citation; I informed the authors. They looked sheepish.

Begin forwarded message

From: Kai Schafft <kas45@PSU.EDU>
Date: September 9, 2011 4:09:23 PM EDT
Subject: JRRE Publication Announcement: Rural Schools, Brain Drain and Community Survival
Reply-To: Kai Schafft <kas45@PSU.EDU>
- Hide quoted text -

The Journal of Research in Rural Education is pleased to announce the publication of vol. 26, no. 11, Sending off all your good treasures: Rural schools, brain drain, and community survival in the wake of economic collapse” by Jennifer Sherman and Rayna Sage.

Vol. 26, no. 11 may be accessed at:

The web page for the Journal of Research in Rural Education may be accessed on line at:

  • * * * * *
The Journal of Research in Rural Education publishes research that is of demonstrable relevance to educational issues within rural settings. JRRE welcomes single-study investigations, historical and philosophical analyses, research syntheses, theoretical pieces, and policy analyses from multiple disciplinary perspectives. We welcome manuscripts concerning learning and instruction; preservice and inservice teacher education; educational leadership; educational policy; rural education and community development, and the cultural, historical, and economic context of rural education. Brief commentary on recently published JRRE articles is also appropriate.

Kai A. SchafftAssociate ProfessorDirector, Center on Rural Education and CommunitiesEditor, Journal of Research in Rural Education ( State UniversityDepartment of Education Policy Studies310B Rackley BuildingUniversity Park, PA 16802-32000

PH (814) 863-2031Fax (814 865-0070
Jeff forwards a Teachers College Review piece on "cosmopolitanism" 9/10:


Thanks Jeff. TCR has an urban mission, and can be a rural source for that reason.

It seems that 2 versions of cosmopolitanism are in circulation--a localist one (cosmopolitanism the enemy) and a cosmopolitanist one (cosmopolitanism the friend). I'll be curious to see where this one falls--sounds like the former from the description. The big proponent of the latter seems to be Kwame Appiah. (Spelling might be off.)

Tom Popkewitz has a book dealing with the former, though I don't think you'd call Popkewitz a localist per se, but you can definitely call him a Foucauldian.Anyway, one of Foucault's big deals was the character of what happens on the ground (as in "the body of the prisoner" in Discipline and Punish, another education-relevant Big Picture book.) In the Howley household, we don't regard Foucault as a postmodern philosopher, because we trace a clear line (in his work) through Althusser to Marx.

I sometimes think that it's localism that has brought cosmopolitanism into existence, and not the other way round. Existentially speaking, localism ye have always with ye.


- Hide quoted text -On Sep 9, 2011, at 9:21 PM, Jeff Taylor wrote:
  • - Hide quoted text -
Spent the early eve at Casa (only had one) and Athena (Terri -- interesting, perhaps not as much as it could have been): when I got home, this was in my inbox from Teachers College Review: Cosmopolitanism IS localism! Fit our discussion so well I thought I'd send it 'round...

  • Jeff

  • --
  • Jeff Taylor
  • <HansenTCR2010CosmopolitanismAndEd.pdf>
  • More from Craig 9/10:
  • 9.10.11


Just ordering a couple of books from the list... including the captioned one by Sherman...that new piece in JRRE is apparently drawn from this book (TWWTWD) recommended by Mike C. Could be an interesting comparison, the book and the research article.

A propos of this exercise, I've already asked Rebecca to find journal articles by Carr & Kefalas related to their book, Hollowing Out the Middle... just to see the comparison. The C&K book is distinctly written for a wide audience to draw it (the wide audience) to the issue of rural outmigration. That is, the book has a particular purpose, which one might describe as hortatory. One sees this a lot in C&I publications; as in "do it this way." Behind the advice, with scholars anyhow, an "objective" attempt at discovery usually exists.

  • --c.
  • A Longer Exchange on Bob's Amazon List:

  • 9.10.11
  • FYI, ALL... Bob's Amazon wishlist (see below) might do for cites, since the point is to get the books... on the other hand, Dan, a properly formatted list would be good for eventual use in writing.

Seeing Like a State (Scott) and The Other Greeks (Hanson) are not exactly about rural. But much that one reads makes the point that rural doesn't stand alone--it's part of a system, a larger system. These two books describe aspects of that (ill-defeind, OK!) larger system. The subtitle of the Scott is "How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed"... it's about the nature and meaning of the hubris of social engineering. The State itself, from time immerorial, has two purposes: (1) tax collection and (2) conscription. One sees how schooling fits in. Now, for most of this time--the lifespan of any institution we might call a "state"--the world has been overwhelmingly rural.

The Hanson is historical. The "other" Greeks were the farmers whose accomplishments enabled the Greeks We All Know And Admire--the classical Greeks of the flowered Athens: Phidias, Sophocles, Socrates/Plato, Herodotus, etc. The other Greeks--the Attic farmers--remain unsung. Hanson sings them and, more critically to our story, sings their contribution to the idea of democracy; an idea and even an ideal being lost--evacuated--in the American landscape, contingent on the loss of farming as an occupation within the active view of most people. I admire this work, obviously, on the basis of my, er, characterization of The Rural (i.e., the truly rural, an ideal more than a reality) as based in farming.

There's a third book I haven't yet mentioned, and seldom do, but it's great and relevant in this line--the peripheral vision that enables a critique of the whole system in which rural finds itself embedded. And without such a critique, I don't see how anyone can engage rural (of whatever sort and on whatever terms). Really, it's an author more than a work. Jane Jacobs. The Life and Death of American Cities is the first thing I read... A mind not attuned to the setting of rural within a larger system(s) would turn away from Jacobs and her work. Her thesis is that cities are the engines of economics and that macro-economics (national economies as a whole, along the lines of Adam Smith) is an illusion. So she immediately puts rural into a regional economics. One might call this revisionist history (revisionism: "No, no, the old boys got it all wrong; the right view is [whatever]"). Nonetheless, the whole argument is more localist. And what's a city becomes a real question in this scheme. Here in OH we call lots of little places "cities." Get it? Jacobs also has a sort of platonic dialog, Systems of Survival, which expounds another interesting theory: that human moral codes organize themselves into two systems--the trader and the guardian outlooks. Commerce and Military (echoes of Scott; rather Scott, who comes later, echoes Jacobs, and makes rather more of her theory). Jacobs says we gotta have both, and we've gotta avoid having one corrupt the other. And the last of the Jacobs trio is Dark Age Coming. This one is prophecy, and it don't look good. The argument is communitarian and moral more than economic. (For the material argument, see Jim Kunstler's The Long Emergency: it's about how the 20th and early 21st centuries are founded on unsustainably cheap energy.)

Finally--one thing keeps leading to another in this realm--there's Kunstler's The Geography of Nowhere (1993). It's about the construction of the American suburb, and it's a better book, to my mind, than Long Emergency. The critique is sharp, the analysis fresh, and the writing--well, Kunstler is just a talented writer; ya wanna write well, look at how he puts sentences and paragraphs together. He's a school refuser: no advanced degrees. I think Jacobs is in this club, too. Anyway, for me, the antithesis of rural isn't urban--it's suburban. Geography prizes the small town. The small town is the center of rural economic and social reality (see Life and Death).

Finally, finally: there's Edward Soja, and I've just begun to scratch at his work. Mike Corbett recommends him, and Soja has clearly influenced Mike's work. A major Soja work (seemingly) deals with the making, unmaking, and remaking of Los Angeles. LA is an iconic American geography--right? A city modeled on the suburbs? I dunno. Maybe Mike will tell us more. Part of Soja's project is to displace history as the center of social theorizing (i.e., Marx is a theory of history--as in 'class struggle is the engine of history'). Fascinating idea--why should we have privileged history this way in social theorizing? The idea seems, in some sense, to bring back the outlook of the 18th century physiocrats, a largely French school that articulated land as the prime human issue--and source of wealth and even (morally) the good. The physiocratic outlook appeals to Paul Theobald and me, and he and I identify ourselves as agrarians. I think all the folks mentioned here can imagine a post-urban world: that is, one in which the present urban model collapses and we have to improvise something else to organize, protect, and stabilize human existence. That project doesn't strike me as far-fetched, and it does strike me as one in which rural (line-in-sand, ideal, or existential) plays a very important role, prospectively.

Our list is just going to keep growing. By the way, some members of the wide rural circle have written guides to the rural-relevant literature (not including rural math education, of course, a field that barely exists--and keep that clearly in mind. It means that you're making up 'the truth' as you go along, a rare opportunity in any form of schooling!).

See y'all next Friday at 2 at Casa. Lunch same basis--contribute what you can, and if you can't, don't.

Given Bob's Amazon List, I may go ahead and save the citation formatting for when a paper is actually written for efficiency's sake (and the fact that it would be long buried in emails by then).
I ordered a copy of the Bonner book that M. recommended; I also have a copy of Geography of Nowhere and Hollowing Out the Middle if anyone wants to borrow them - just let me know and I'll bring it/them Friday.

Sharing what's on our shelves is a good idea. I've got a copy of

  • Michael Corbett's Learning to Leave
  • Hollowing Out the Middle
  • Richard Brown's Knowledge is Power (study of information networks in 18th-19th c. rural America)
  • Brown & Swanson (Eds.) Challenges for Rural America in the 21st Century
  • Sonya Salamon Newcomers to Old Towns: Suburbanization of the Heartland
  • James Anderson The Education of Blacks in the South 1860-1935
  • Bob Moses Radical Equations (places the Algebra Project in its rural setting)
  • Moses et al Quality Education as a Constitutional Right
  • Wendell Berry The Unsettling of America
  • Eugen Weber Peasants into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France 1870-1914

  • plus some odds and ends:

  • Harry Eells, Professor of Rural Education/Iowa State: Rural School Management (from 1924)
  • OJ Kern Among Country Schools (1906) "The author hopes the book will prove suggestive to the teacher and school officer who are striving for the spiritualization of country life through the medium of the country school. He believes that a careful reading of its pages will show a practical way of interesting the farm child through farm topics."
  • Jane Jacobs A Schoolteacher in Old Alaska, the edited/commentated journals of Jacobs' great aunt Hannah Breece
  • Millard Fillmore Kennedy Schoolmaster of Yesterday: A Three Generation Story 1820-1919 (1940)

  • I'm also attaching the EP Thompson piece "Time, Work Discipline and Industrial Capitalism" that came up Friday. I think Thompson helps define "urban" in a way that may help some of us define "rural."

  • Jeff

  • 9.11.11


Thompson piece is great. Thanks so much. Mumford draws on it in his big technology volume--I remember best the bit about time, and now I have the orig source.
I've long wanted a similar piece on money--I know it exists. Time is money, and it's not a coincidence they invaded and thus remade the world... entirely remade it. I bet the group doesn't have much of an idea who Thompson was. Or where he's 'coming from.'
No one has yet mentioned the work of Deborah Reed Danahay. I forget the ethnography title but it is about a school in a village in rural France on the 70s. She has also written one about Bourdieu and rurality entitled Locating Bourdieu.


  • Thanks for reminding me -- I have a xerox copy of her book, but it's in one of the boxes of files I haven't sorted through yet -- also have several other studies, some in english, some en francais, on french rural schooling (the Weber on the list I sent around is important for providing context). I have about two dozen studies from various parts of Africa on training rural school teachers, and on their "construction" of math and math teaching, buried in those same boxes...

  • Just ordered the Reed-Danahay on Bourdieu -- Amazon says Wed.

  • --Jeff

  • Yes. I remember another one called the Village in Vaucluse (spelling??) that was interesting too.
Have any of you read Aikenfield by Ronald Blythe? There is a section where he interviews teachers and the Headmaster that is interesting.

More on Reed-Danahay and Pierre Bourdieu:
Sending around a brief interview with Reed-Danahay re her Bourdieu book -- for those who haven't gotten round to him yet.

  • Jeff
  • 9.12.11


Over the years, er, decades, I've been baffled by the trendiness named "bourdieu." Can't imagine, for instance, reading in an "untutored" fashion (!) 6 secondary treatments of his work. Seems madness. But the debate to which he's party, of course, is wildly important, and his bedrock critique of schooling has always struck a chord with me.

Had no idea he was (seemingly) one of us... rural outsiders. It would explain an awful lot. The French academy is rather more disgusting than the American; on the other hand, the French take it seriously. It's not easy!!

Also, I've never, no not ever, encountered a group so engaged in reading as this one, and we're just getting started. What's that all about, as in chez Bourdieu? Pretty weird, but maybe that's just me and my limited experiences.

Mike's Query re a "Handbook of Rural Ed research:
What would you guys consider a handbook like this? For Dr Dani's EDTE 715 class we're supposed to find an article from a research handbook like
Flood, J. (Ed.). (2003). Handbook of research on teaching the English language arts (2nd ed.).
Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Abell, S. K., & Lederman, N. G. (Ed.). (1994). Handbook of research on science education. Mahwah,
NJ: Erlbaum.
Lester, F. K., Jr. (Ed.). (2007). Second handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning:
A project of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2 vols.). Charlotte, NC:
Information Age.
Neuman, S. B., & Dickinson, D. K. (Eds.) (2001). Handbook of early literacy research. New York:
Guilford Press.
Pearson, P. D. (Ed.). (1984-). Handbook of reading research. Volumes 1-3. New York: Longman.
Shaver, J. P. (Ed.) (1991). Handbook of research on social studies teaching and learning. New York:
Spodek, B. (Ed.) (1993). Handbook on the research of young children. New York:
Others to be approved in advance by the instructor

I would like to find one that is covering the research that we're reading. The closest I can find is the 21st century book Would you consider it roughly equivalent to the types of books listed above? I keep reading more of the papers we've talked about, its an interesting transition. I had gotten so used to every paper having a neat solution in math, that I was looking for these in education papers as well. I think that's what was bugging me about the papers we read last week. Have to remember that if there was a neat and perfect solution, we wouldn't still be doing research on it. Just have to get used to a new way of thinking. Have any of you used Mendeley? Might be a quick and easy way for us to share papers. I know that we weren't really talking about it in our class, but I did finish the book "An Imperfect Union" that Dr Howley recommended this summer. Would this type of thing be considered rural math ed, it seemed more rural ed admin, although it was an amazing read. I'd highly recommend it if you get a chance. Probably will need to get it from the library though, I couldn't find a copy for less than 100 bucks. Seeing that clash between school board and community, and it not even matter who was on the school board, it reminded me of how things seem to be going now in Washington County. My sister lives in the Warren Local School district, and they have been pushing a levy for roughly 15 years, and it seems like no matter what they say they need the money for, the community is dead set against it. There seems to be a constant war between the people and the administration there. It was interesting to read the perspective of another community about it. Anyway, let me know if you don't mind about the original question, and thanks for getting the amazon list together, its making it easier to find what we're going on.

  • Mike
  • I'd guess Dr D wants you looking at a Handbook-type essay. The handbook chapters are meant to be summaries of the state of the research -- what's been the foci, what advances or new questions have been raised -- in particular subareas since the previous Handbook in that field: a place to go to get oriented and "place" your own research question before diving into the literature. If the authors of the Arnold piece had actually read, summarized and synthesized the 498 papers they rated, it would have been like a Handbook article on rural education -- but still not rural math education. Rural math education isn't (yet?) a research domain large enough to rate its own Handbook, or even a chapter in the Math Ed volume (is there a Rural Ed Research Handbook, Craig?). Instead, you need to decide what your potential research topic is (like mine is teacher professional development; Dr F is big on curriculum development/testing and technology use in secondary math), read THAT chapter in the Lester, and look for strands within it that relate to your rural interest. Hint: sometimes there ain't any...

  • Jeff

  • 9.11.11


Right. Handbooks are their own somewhat peculiar genre. I've consulted very few, in part because rural ed is a (comparatively) small domain, and I'm no longer much interested in pedagogy or curriculum per se. I once did a tongue-in-cheek Venn diagram showing the overlap of rural ed and math ed-- a very small circle with a single point in common with a much, much larger circle. So now the small circle has a very small intersection with the larger one... or vice versa... we always got more rural ed researchers willing to play in the math sandbox than the other way around.

The anthology Mike mentions is Kai Schafft's edited collection; Paul, Aimee and I, and Mike C have chapters in it. It's meant to represent a range of concerns, and so the citations and commentaries have a somewhat 'synoptic' (that's a James Scott favorite term, and I learned it only recently from Seeing Like a State) purpose--synoptic-esque, but by no means systematic as handbooks.

So, no such tome (rural ed research handbook) in rural education as yet... but we've had conversations from time to time.

One could examine any handbook for rural-specific questions. The problem is, in C&I, that the psychological basis doesn't very actively encourage much respect for context (with a few exceptions inspired largely by Vygotsky who was inspired by early Soviet outlooks, i.e., by political economy). Yes, social psychology does exist. But it's the relationship of modifier to modified... social psychology. Math education in rural schools (and not rural math education). The psycho acorn falls close to the psycho tree. Look at it this way: is context peripheral or central. If central, it's a good idea to call it something else. That enacted-curriculum guy, McKnight, once mocked me (it was fun) for using the term "rural circumstance"--for him, apparently, it was just syntax, and all tangential to curriculum. I get it, I just don't buy it. Anymore.

I think you could argue, on bases hinted at above, for a rural-focused project related to the assignment for Dr. D's course. Use a handbook for something rural. Outline a rural math ed research handbook. I'm not sure what the assignment is, of course.

Here are a couple of other assessments of the state of rural ed research (rural math ed research is hardly ready for such work as yet): Ted Coladarci's "Improving the Yield of Rural Ed Research" My "doing science right in rural ed research",n2,p67-79,Kannapel.pdf Alan DeYoung & Patty Kannapel's update of Alan's 1989 review of the rural ed literature,n2,p131-138,Howley.pdf "How to make rural ed research rural" (was a contribution to a symposium that JRRE editor TC organized)
Here's Ted Coladarci's "Reflections at 35,000 feet: An open letter to ACCLAIM do students."

And here's DeYoung's "original" review of the rural ed lit (1987). Notice that the venue is an AERA flagship journal--nothing genuinely rural has been published there since that time, or in any other AERA journal.

BTW-- I have PDF versions of the chapters in Imperfect Union and will mount them in Dropbox if anyone wants them. If we can find a copy of "Life and Death," we could do the same. The only copy we can find online is outrageously pricey. I oughta look for my copy... I'll remind myself.


  • I would love to get those on PDF. I do 90% of my reading on the kindle, so PDF/Ebooks are so much easier for me to deal with. Much less to store that way. Also, I wanted to ask if it would be OK if I missed Friday's meeting. My wife's parents are flying in Friday for her baby shower, and she asked if I could drive up to pick them up. Wanted to check in. Let me know if this would be a problem.

  • Mike

  • A Meeting Agenda and a Proposal to "Duplicate" the Arnold Lit Review:

  • 9.14.11

Dear Colleagues--

Research actually says that agendas are helpful for meetings. I kid you not.

This is what I have for Friday. Anything else?
    • Jeff’s proposal for a lit review.
    • Readers commit to works: Bob's Amazon wishlist can serve as a bibliography for books. What about articles in research journals?
    • Other organizational issues (e.g., is this a course? do we need a dictator?)
    • Substantive insights or questions arising in our minds from the past week’s reading. For me, this is the purpose of the group: reading and talking together.

  • --c.

  • Looks good to me; see you all at 2:00 on Friday! (And one thing to add... those of us who have some pieces of rural literature - articles or books - that could be lent out, maybe we could bring a small handful to exchange).

  • Well, like the email said earlier, I'll be MIA friday. Maybe I missed something, I don't remember talking about Jeff's lit review, if anyone can bring me up to speed as far as what was discussed, etc. I'm curious whether Learning to Leave the book is the same as the dissertation. I've said before, I prefer Ebooks, and I did a search to see if anyone was selling it on PDF, and one of the first links was to University of British Columbia's dissertations page. It's a 300 page document, I can attach if anyone would like it. Is this the same material, or different material same title? I think the research journal articles are going to be kind of covered with the lit review. I was looking through the JRRE archives, and papers I saw that I would like to read are Distance education usage in rural schools Mathematics course-taking in rural high schools Rural elementary school teachers' technology integration The possibility of place Sending off all your treasures

Ok, going through the journal, there's actually about 30-40 articles that seem interesting, I'm not going to bore you all with the entire list. Are there other journals that would be recommended? Since I won't be there Friday I'll chime in now, it depends on your definition of course. I thought what we did last week worked well. We have quite a stack of reading available to us now. We can agree on things we'll read for the week, if its a longer reading then we might miss a week's meeting and take two weeks to read, if its a book or something along those lines. After reading imperfect union, I'm curious what everyone's opinion on school consolidation is? One of the communities in this book really felt losing their school effectively destroyed their community. Hope you guys have fun this week. Let me know what the results are for the week.

  • Mike
  • On "Jeff's Lit Review":

  • That actually came up after the last meeting broke up. I asked Craig whether trying to do what Arnold et al did -- survey the rural ed research lit for research quality, using their criteria, for the years since June 2003 -- would be a way to "get our hands wet" doing large bib searches and learning to answer questions about research quality. I asked because it seemed to me a good way to add to our own growing bibs, and to get pre-thesis guided expereience doing lit searches, but I wasn't sure how feasible it would be. Craig seems to think it's a reasonable task for a group our size, so I was intending to put it up for discussion this week. Note that this could be something we do (under someone's supervision) in a LATER quarter this year, for another set of credits. I need two more courses in either rural ed or math ed -- preferably both -- this year. Don't know if it fits anyone else's plans.

  • So now you know. Let us know what you think!

  • Jeff

  • Folks--

Same study; publishers often require changes, but basically the dissertations and the sometimes-published books are nearly the same. Of course, you have Mike Corbett's email address, and you can ask him directly!

Another rural example is John Gaventa's (1980) Power and Powerlessness: Acquiescence and Rebellion in an Appalachian (um) "Valley." I think that study was done at Oxford, yes, England, and received a lot of attention. Gaventa later directed the Highlander Center (activism in the southern mountains; founded by Myles Horton).

Not many other rural ed journals on the planet. The Rural Educator is another in the US, not as good as JRRE, overall, but nonetheless better in the past few years. The Australians have a journal or two, but they were wretched when I read them (several years back already).

Otherwise, Rural Sociology publishes much that is relevant to rural (obviously) sometimes relevant to place (not so obviously), and occasionally actually about rural education per se.

I'm thinking that no one, except maybe Dan, got the link to Bob's Amazon wishlist-pseudo-bibliography?

  • --c.
Another Mailing List to join



fyi... another rural list onto which you can sign (trying stupidly to avoid the end-of-sentence preposition).


Begin forwarded message:

From: USDA ERS E-Mail Updates Service <webadmin@ERS.USDA.GOV>
Date: September 16, 2011 1:46:43 PM EDT
Subject: New Rural Economy information @ ERS
Reply-To: USDA ERS E-Mail Updates Service <webadmin@ERS.USDA.GOV>


New or updated information is available from USDA ERS on Rural Economy topics. See new items in all topics at
This update covers Monday, September 12, 2011 to Friday, September 16, 2011

This briefing room offers a synthesis of ERS research, analysis, and data on rural Americans' income, poverty and welfare
Released Friday, September 16, 2011

The ERS State Fact Sheets provide information on population, income, poverty, education, employment, federal funds, organic agriculture, farm characteristics, farm financial indicators, top commodities, and exports, for each State in the United States. Links to county-level data are included when available. The State Fact Sheets have been updated with 2010 farm financial indicators and top agricultural commodities.
Released Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bob sets up our DropBox Account for storing shared Documents 9/18:

Robert Klein has invited you to a Dropbox shared folder called "articles", and left you this message:

"I've set up this dropbox folder as a repository for articles for the Rural Reading Group. You should be able to download from it and add to it. If you have questions about its use, please let me know. I'll be adding Imperfect Union by Alan Peshkin soon. I'm reformatting it to be more e-Reader friendly.
Best regards,
Bob Klein"

View articles.

Craig on "Doing It Right" (Math) vs "Doing It Well" (Social Science) 9/19:



I've been thinking about the definitiveness of mathematical reasoning (aiming at absolute proof) and the methods of reasoning from data in the social sciences.

The difference between doing something right (math) and doing something well (social science, with much failure). As a youngster in high school, I translated the work of math as the pursuit of Truth. And everything else was just bullshit. Reuven Hersh says someplace that "mathematics is intolerant of nonsense." He might actually have said "bullshit," because that's how I remember it.

Anyway, this distinction (done rightly v. done well) seems key to understanding why social science is not simply bullshit. To that end, I've posted in the Dropbox account just established by Bob, the attached piece by Lincoln and Guba (t>1994). Their 1994 piece is a sort of recent classic on this stuff. You'll encounter it in qualitative methods courses. It's all about the breakdown of the positivist domination of the social sciences--and please consult the Wikipedia if you are clueless about positivism. It has a lot, a very lot, to do with the hope that social science would "do it right."

Anyway, the soundbite is that you can do social science well, at present, in several identifiable ways (i.e., with lots of details that distinguish the relevant commitments). I suspect that several in our group don't yet appreciate the variety, though we've actually touched on it in our "what is rural" first efforts. FYI: In the Lincoln & Guba scheme, I identify myself as a post-positivist rather than as a critical theorist or a constructivist. It's regarded as a conservative position. But I appreciate those other approaches, when the work is well done.


Just to add to Craig's msg , when I first read this piece in my Qualitative Methods class, I was new to Education Research, fresh off the pure math track. This piece was very motivational for me in thinking about the tension I was feeling between studying the teaching and learning of a field, mathematics--so positivist and Platonic— and my personal feelings that how we know and what we can say we know were so contingent —so non-positivist. It's a tension I still wrestle with.


Me too (wrestle with right and well).

I think that why I like and respect quantitative research is that it does produce yes-no answers. The questions are pretty small, however. But if you choose questions strategically, the little answers can have large political implications. My "cottage industry" asked a simple question (answered with the help of a simple differential equation, in fact): does social class (SES) mediate the effect of school and district size on achievement? Answer: yes. Implication? Keep schools for poor kids small. No, the powers-hat-be don't want to hear that; but now citizens and educators keep throwing that fact into the face of politicians. See?

So the significance of such post-positivist inquiry ("the truth is out there, contingently and tentatively) goes far beyond the technicalities of any study. And this is exactly where most quantitative researchers fall down--they exhibit appalling ignorance of sociology, history, economics, culture and politics, not to mention geography, epistemology, ontology, and ethics. The small-minded habits keep them confined to small questions (often small-minded ones), and they leave the interpretation and application entirely to (you got it) the powers-that-be. It's intellectually and politically irresponsible.

In this light, qualitative work that deeply engages experience and meaning (and culture, economics, history, and politics) is essential. As are multi-method studies. But assembling a capable multi-method team that respects objectivity as well as subjectivity, and can unroll a good study (good of its kind) that is circumspect about history, culture, economics, and politics--well, it's so difficult as to be very unusual. I can't really think of one. It's like putting together an excellent opera production (yes, for all you opera fans): it's hard to find a good production out there in reality. I stopped going to opera when I lived in the city because the performances were expensively disappointing.

Nonetheless, as education doc students learn if well advised, even doing a dissertation has vexingly many complications. And not everyone who completes a dissertation actually develops a taste for doing more of the same. About 75%, in fact say, "Never again!" And this figure excludes the 50% of those who sign up for doctoral programs who never get it together to write a dissertation. <-- that's a fact all doc students need to consider early in their programs. The point is to write a dissertation. The coursework is, to my mind, gravy...and useless if you don't (yourself, under your own counsel) use it to improve your writing, push your reading hard, and deepen your ability to interrogate reality, conventional wisdom, and (most critically) ideas.


Learning from Other Countries 9/19-25:



Reading Weber's Peasants into Frenchmen, with France a famously centralized system. Great book, empirically-based history.

I has me thinking again about schooling as "colonization." In this case, a century-long effort to render local peasants who didn't speak French into citoyens (citizens of the revolutionary republic, or reactionary monarch). The effort required that kids, that is, the rising generation in particular, orient themselves (per Weber) to Paris and its cultural fashions and commitments. Schools helped do this by changing kids' polarity. Wanna be something? Go to Paris. It's a well established habit (though with continuing resistance).

Under the rules of globalization, my thesis is that the citizen is now quite dead as a concept grounding the nation state, which is a weaker ideal as well. But the consumer needs to be colonized even more than the citizen. Can't get my head around that.

The attached (also in dropbox site) considers the current frenzy (documented lightly in this easy read piece) of aping practices in other nations. Not research, here, but light critique with implications for empirical work in rural. That is, Zhao cautions that America's decentralized system is a globally unique legacy actually appreciated by those other nations. I've thought for years that a conspiracy (of sorts--Zhao lists the conspirators) is underway to create a Ministry of National Education in the US. Get rid of local boards of education. Get rid of districts. Certify nationally. Impose inanely detailed national curricula. NCLB consolidated the earlier gains (NAEP, national goals, standards, state-based testing, "privatization") and has many educators in local schools and districts in an endless panic mode--this phenomenon is actually quite new. (Parallels to endless war? One wonders.) Anyway, this issue is another one that very much justifies rural as harboring national import. I'm thinking of adding "localism" as #3 to my list of 2 (outmigration and consolidation).



Seminarians all--

Philippine Rural Education: An Anthropological Perspective. South East Asian Studies Center Monograph #13,
Northern Illinois University: De Kalb, Illinois.

Bet this is hard to get; author is Doug Foley, whom Bob mentioned Friday. The title takes my breath away--right up our alley, no punches pulled, "rural" (the hated r-word) right in the title. Well, Obama's mom studied blacksmithing in SE Asia. I have the PDF, btw, if anyone is interested. Will try to remember to post to wiki when up and running.

We owe Jeff a thanks for the philosophy overview--this sort of knowledge is sometimes assumed in doc programs, and sometimes not even valued. It's critical, though, if you care to conduct a well-informed study--whatever your committee or chair advises. Knowing this territory is a high standard indeed.

I ordered the Bonner--seems like an interesting twin (fraternal) for Vic Hanson's Other Greeks. Rural is the polis! High and predictable irony in the modernist world. What's modernism? When was it?


Alden's got it on the first floor (the Philippine book Craig mentioned), although the PDF might be more convenient.

I agree with the thanks to Jeff... Speaking of which, Jeff, I believe you took us up to the early 20th century last time, so I'm looking forward to part II next Friday :) I concur that knowing this stuff is important - I see it alluded to all the time in articles I read - it's just taking awhile for it to stick for me. I read through a dummies book on Foucault last night that Bob had given to me; I felt like I was following most of the book, but if you ask me what post-modernism is as applied to a given concept, my answer would be as vague as ever. Same with Derrida and post-structuralism/deconstruction of text. Existentialism seems to click for me for some reason, but after Sartre it's all hazy. So I'm glad to have some sharp minds to bounce questions off of...


On various post-what-you-thought-we-were-doings:



So, a propos of your question about 20th century philosophical positions, did you check out the captioned article in CYE?

as with (p. 20):

The methodologies for the studies on which this paper draws are located within an “enabling place pedagogies” approach underpinned by poststructural and postcolonial theory. These are articulated by Somerville (2007a; 2008a) as characterized by three key simultaneous elements or principles:

1. our relationship to place is constituted in stories and other representations,
2. place learning is embodied and local, and
3.deep place learning occurs within a contact zone of multiple contested stories,

and by an ontology and epistemology of postmodern emergence (Somerville 2007b; 2008b).


Many of the postie place conscious people I know draw from "post-humanist" lit. Knowing may be embodied but it's one body among many kinds ... Is their line


Two thoughts:

Keith Basso's "Wisdom Sits in Places" on Apache place names and how they articulate a culture in space;

Paul Cobb and Erna (sp?) Yackel's classic paper on emergent social knowledge in a math classroom (have it at home, don't have time to run down the ref right now - I'll post it later).

"Emergent" models of knowledge are, I think, suspect: they're usually held by closet realists who want to be constructivists. In the Cobb piece, the emergent model is explicitly methodological, not epistemological: they remain agnostic on the philosophical issues. Again I'm reminded of Anna Sfard's essay "On two metaphors for learning and why we need both" reminding all parties that these ARE, after all, metaphors...


Legitimation Crises (so Habermas enters by the side door...)


Dear Groupers (there is something fishy about this lot!)--

I've been thinking again about the justification for "modern" education--the creation of the citizen. Quite a while back I wrote about the collapse of this mission under the rising dominion of transnational corporations. Zygmunt Bauman and Saskia Sassen were my sources for the claimed collapse (still in progress). The citizen's prime vaunted function? Voting. Hallowed rite.

So a NYT article today about voting's crisis of legitimation (the article doesn't reference that idea) caught my eye.

I keep wondering about the implications of the argued collapse for rural life. Bauman suggests that attachment to places (urban and rural zones) will become increasingly compulsory for society's bottom tiers. So that would be my question--what can we predict for rural schools under such circumstances? What can legitimate schools with a public purpose absent an operant citizenship?

Sorry to miss the upcoming sessions!


The answer is usually "C."

My sense of Bauman's work on the issue is the focus on the idea of "mobility" rather than on "attachment," but it's been a while. Seems like semantics, but to me "mobility" embodies an idea of choice—namely that "attachment" could be read either as by choice or by necessity (further: inability to detach or have the luxury of mobility). Gas is expensive (says Kunstler and others) and those who live in remote areas are increasingly burdened with a greater % of their assets devoted to buying gas to work to buy gas to work to…

Doesn't he define cosmopolitanism, in part, on the luxury of mobility? His take on consumerism seems to include travel as a consumable?

There is the first option, however engages choice more fully—that attachment is a willful devotion to place. Read this way, rural citizens are already attached judging from the literature on rural living. Voting, then involves exercising a choice FROM a place and possibly ABOUT a place. Where I get cynical is how the vote is then read into action. Ohio's recent redistricting and accusations of gerrymandering would suggest that the politics of voting and dividing up the map treat place as a form of civic real estate and votes as an extractable resource. Your heart may belong to Appalachia, but your ass belongs to Columbus.

Then I go read Paul Theobald about the history of enclosure and the power of the peasantry to resist. I'm just not sure that that resistance happens at the ballot box but I'm pretty sure that resistance is harder without the trip to the ballot box.


While the metropole wrestles with the "semiotics of the cellphone" -- is this latest call to action in whatever is today's Tahrir Square an "emergent" democratic action or hidden party/corporate "crowd control" -- democracy can continue to find its raison d'etre in the face to face of small communities IF its citizens can maintain significant control of the local means of production. Jefferson cum Marx: democracy is the articulation of a society of human (not corporate) producers. As with many good schooling practices, democracy doesn't "scale up" very well.

The question you ask about local schools is complex in this context, because they are at once local, and so a site for democratic action (here I'm thinking Habermas), and inextricably a part of a national system of education that has both push (state curricula, certification standards) and pull (preparation for college, scaffolding of economic opportunity) impacts on the constitution of local education.

In this arena, I suspect that a key element for the local school remaining both an expression of the local, and an instrument of local reproduction (no, NOT teen pregnancies!) is the manner in which the school's professional staff is integrated into the community.