Always more to say

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How much more can be said? It seems like all the words have been used up.

I’ve been struggling with a new blog post for this site: one trying to tangle explicitly with self-promotion and brand in academia. Ironic, isn’t it, given that this site is basically an instance of these things? Well, regardless of how we feel about it, I think that academic self-promotion and brand is part of the landscape today, and I’ve been thinking about what to make of that. I’ve also been taking a little time off with my family, a last breather before the semester begins and the craziness comes with it. Of course another sort of craziness has come to this country. Although not surprising, recent events in Virginia (August 11, 2017) have been a stark and sharp reminder of my own white, male privilege – and of the contrasting reality for others around me.

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Advice for Ph.D. Applicants, Part III: How do I apply?

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In this series, I am sharing what I have come to know about selective doctoral applications and experiences – or everything I wished I had known.  The first part was about deciding whether or not to pursue a Ph.D. at all, and the second part was about how to locate a program of interest.  This post is intended to provide you with some feedback on how to tackle the application itself.

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Advice for Ph.D. Applicants, Part II, How do I find a program?

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If you are returning to this series my assumption is that you’ve already thought carefully about embarking on a life-path as some sort of researcher, and are thus certain that you want to find a Ph.D. program that suits you.  If you have not, please consider reading Part I before moving on to this next step.  In this post, I will outline some of the most important considerations for identifying a program to which to apply. This is a long and fully packed post – so I hope you have a good reader or are willing to print it out.  I also hope, however, that it contains valuable and helpful advice.

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What is the Jeffersonian Paradigm?

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As they went about attempting to lay out the new social landscape of American democracy and society, the founding fathers debated how society might best be structured. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were among the most prolific of thinkers to participate in such debate, and have left a rich treasure of their thoughts for us to examine. One particular such debate became deeply influential in how we have come to think about education and meritocracy today. In my new book I refer to a particular bundle of philosophical positions about education, which emerged directly from this debate, as the “Jeffersonian paradigm.”  Although it has radically changed over time and does not belong to Jefferson alone, this paradigm has endured across the breadth of American history.

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Advice for Phd Applicants, Part I: Should I Get a Ph.D.?

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I am very fortunate to work in a selective and well-resourced institution, and have many opportunities to meet amazing, young people embarking on a career in graduate education. I also encounter many interested (and interesting) people who just don’t understand what a Ph.D. is, how to go about finding a good program for them, or to go through what is a very competitive process. This is particularly important because these are things I also did not know when I started on this path. I’m thus setting out here to share what I have come to know as straightforwardly as possible.

With some reflection, I think that I may be the last of a generation of scholars to figure all of this out as I went. Even in the last few years, I’ve seen applicants getting increasingly polished, and so there is a great need to undertake this entire endeavor strategically. In this series, I’ve constructed some guiding questions both to get the reader started, and as a means to explore some of the bigger issues at play.

My plan for this series of blog posts is to cover the following:

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Committing Words to Paper

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This last Friday I had the pleasure of submitting my complete and now copyedited manuscript for my first book.  What a wondrous privilege it is to put words to paper and have others think them worthy of being read by a broader community; I am humbled by the opportunity.  I am also, frankly, terrified by it.  For although I have published articles before, the immutability of ‘paper’ has taken on a new significance in my mind.

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Ethnography in Education Research Forum, 2017

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The Ethnography in Education Research Forum is a conference held annually at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.  It is one very much shaped by graduate students, as organizers, presenters, and attendees, and one of the first venues where I presented my ideas to a community of scholars.  Attendees come from around the world of course, but I highly recommend it for those in the region who want to share their ideas, as it is very much a regional hub for ethnographic thought in education.  And, although rooted in ethnography, it has expanded to be an inclusive space for qualitative researchers in education of every stripe.

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Fall excitement in the summer?

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Like all academics, I deeply appreciate the quiet of the summer and the time to get things done. This is particularly true for those of us with complex appointments. At times I can be very cynical, but allow me a moment of unadulterated and corny enthusiasm for teaching in the fall.

I have been delighted to teach Anthropology and Education (EDUC547/ANTH547) for the last few years at PennGSE, which I inherited from my dear colleague (and chair), Kathy Hall. Although I always change it up a bit, I’ve given it a complete overhaul this summer, and am excited by what it may bring. It’s typically my favorite course to teach, for several reasons, but I am particularly energized for this September. Why?

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