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Paper #1 - EDUC 640 Paper #1 Wednesday, September 16, 2009...

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EDUC 640 Paper #1 Wednesday, September 16, 2009 PIN THE THEORY ON THE DONKEY: THE SPORT OF THEORY AND THE EDUCATION TARGET AS ZEBRA Stefani Relles Research Assistant, University of Southern California “A work of art that contains theories is like an object on which the price tag has been left.” (Marcel Proust) SECTION I: INTRODUCTION Author as Artist This paper makes the simple case that education is more like art than science, and that, by logical extension, I, the emerging academic in education, have more organic proximal similarity to an artist than a scientist, the former lauded for unbridled creativity, the latter likely condemned for it. This differentiation is particularly salient in the context of this, my first academic paper as a Ph.D. student which, excuse the hypothesis, is likely to be judged as an exercise in futility by scientific rules of play since there is no formal study to support my case nor much more than five, albeit intensive, weeks of reading about theory behind my argumentation. My point is that my status in the theoretical gymnasium of academia is pretty low. I’m practicing somersaults and cartwheels while the professorate - 1 -
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engages in back handspring layouts and full double twist pikes. In science, at this juncture, I am, as they say, “no match.” But in art, the forum for discourse is not so narrow. The world of art is an intellectual ecosystem in which the theoretically experienced peacefully coexist with the theoretically naïve, and are even prone, on occasion, to stimulate one another. Artists, in other words, are not methodologically adverse to acknowledge creative merit even when the process by which something is created “smells fishy” against establishment norms. Argumentative structure Nonetheless, the process by which this paper is created sticks to basic argumentative rules. I first define scientific theory by focusing on the nuances relevant to a comparison with art theory. I then discuss education as a unique field of social science research in order to illustrate the inadequacy of applying scientific priorities to certain types of educational studies. Third, I introduce grounded theory as methodological approach which splits the difference between scientific and art theory. In this regard, grounded theory is a better fit with which to study certain education problems, in particular the area of post-secondary literacy remediation. Ultimately, I advocate for continued theory innovation in pursuit of a theoretical “glove” to fit the peculiarities of education study. Education is neither a science nor an art, but a creative practice betwixt and between. The restrictive round hole of scientific inquiry cannot possibly serve the square peg of education scholarship. As a novice researcher, as a - 2 -
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debut artist, I write from the precipice of an academic cliff. Before I jump off, I have to ask: why is education pigeonholed as a social science given that it oozes into the field of art? SECTION II: DEFINING THEORY
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Paper #1 - EDUC 640 Paper #1 Wednesday, September 16, 2009...

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