Ted Hamann on Great Plains education
Ted Hamann, professor, UNL Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education, is the guest editor for a special education issue of "Great Plains Research" -- Vol. 29, Issue 1. In this video, Hamann describes each of the articles in the issue, as well as the ideas behind how education and place relate.
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[00:00:00.230]I am the guest editor of the new special issue
[00:00:03.680]of Great Plains Research, volume 29, issue one.
[00:00:07.659]And that includes five papers that are about
[00:00:11.935]establishing a regional educational agenda
[00:00:15.650]and basically asking the question
[00:00:18.310]what does it mean to engage in education research
[00:00:21.615]in, on, of, or with the Great Plains.
[00:00:27.660]We posed questions like how do we learn
[00:00:30.020]that the Great Plains matter?
[00:00:32.370]How do we learn how they matter?
[00:00:34.750]Who do they matter to?
[00:00:36.080]Are there people who are excluded from that?
[00:00:38.670]Who gets to be imagined as of the Great Plains?
[00:00:41.290]Where do we learn that we're from here or not from here?
[00:00:44.310]Or which station we have?
[00:00:46.496]And this is, it's a juxtaposition of five articles
[00:00:50.736]having the introduction, or my guest editor first chapter,
[00:00:56.410]sort of introduction of the whole issue
[00:00:57.780]as sort of paper one, if you will.
[00:01:00.290]It's shorter than the others.
[00:01:02.150]But it's a intentional juxtaposition of work
[00:01:04.660]called multi-vocal literatures.
[00:01:07.260]So the first big piece is written by the former dean
[00:01:11.610]of the University of Nebraska Lincoln,
[00:01:13.030]it's College of Education and Human Sciences,
[00:01:15.696]Marjorie Kostelnik, and she describes a process
[00:01:18.700]where in a retreat format, she and 40 faculty
[00:01:22.880]from the College of Education and Human Sciences
[00:01:26.130]tried to delineate what the research agenda
[00:01:28.480]oughta be over the next decade or so.
[00:01:30.570]And that process occurs in 2013, but it asks questions
[00:01:35.140]like what is federal funding likely to look like?
[00:01:37.020]What are the questions that are pertinent?
[00:01:38.875]What can we do or should we do that others can't easily do?
[00:01:44.030]And not all of that is regional, but a big chunk of it is.
[00:01:46.853]Given the double charge for the College of Education
[00:01:50.330]and Human Sciences for the University of Nebraska
[00:01:52.520]as a land grant and research intensive university,
[00:01:56.790]what does it mean to sort of meet the land grant charge
[00:01:59.900]of being relevant to here, but concurrently,
[00:02:02.411]be relevant beyond here.
[00:02:04.020]And it occurred to me, so that piece, I think,
[00:02:08.100]elegantly illustrates this whole premise of,
[00:02:10.852]well, I suppose all of the pieces illustrate
[00:02:13.590]the same premise, but what does a regional
[00:02:16.170]educational agenda look like, and if I sort of imagine,
[00:02:20.210]how does this issue contribute
[00:02:21.540]to educational research writ large,
[00:02:24.315]I don't know that region is a format that we use
[00:02:27.020]very often as a sort of lens of analysis.
[00:02:30.410]You know, we can study classroom, or school,
[00:02:34.395]or school district, or a state, or even the nation,
[00:02:36.290]but region, it's an important concept,
[00:02:38.840]but it is fuzzier perhaps, and I wanted to illuminate,
[00:02:42.480]you know, here's how it matters.
[00:02:44.350]So by instinct, I call her Dean Kostelnik,
[00:02:47.970]even though her real name's Marjorie,
[00:02:49.400]but Dean Kostelnik's chapter is sort of a walk-through
[00:02:52.170]of how the folks who label themselves
[00:02:54.890]education professors might take on studying here.
[00:02:59.830]Very different next chapter, written by VVanessa Hamilton,
[00:03:03.680]Carlton LeCount, Nicole Parker Cariaga,
[00:03:06.400]and Kristine Sudbeck, all of whom
[00:03:08.320]are at Nebraska Indian Community College,
[00:03:10.474]asks, and the title of it is,
[00:03:13.080]Research On versus Research With,
[00:03:15.550]and it raises a very powerful
[00:03:16.875]and highly contemporary frustration
[00:03:22.235]in the inadequate treatment of American Indian populations
[00:03:27.130]on the Great Plains is sadly, age old.
[00:03:29.766]But this issue of sort of research on American Indians
[00:03:33.632]as opposed to research with American Indians.
[00:03:36.490]The playing with that preposition is crucial,
[00:03:39.580]and it talks about the sort of learned skepticism
[00:03:42.830]of what research actually offers to reservation schools,
[00:03:47.173]to Nebraska Indian Community College, et cetera,
[00:03:50.080]and sort of asks researchers how do you build credibility
[00:03:53.571]with a population that quite often
[00:03:56.820]has not been aided by the research carried out on it.
[00:04:02.030]So it's, you know, at one chance you start
[00:04:05.220]with Dean Kostelnik's piece,
[00:04:07.730]who are the folks who do most of the education research,
[00:04:10.050]and then you have a kind of response in,
[00:04:12.635]at least historically, how has that research
[00:04:14.990]at least often been hazardous or problematic.
[00:04:18.114]Then the third piece, perhaps, is the most future-oriented.
[00:04:23.480]It's by Carolyn Albracht, who also has,
[00:04:25.720]if you've gotten a chance to see the cover
[00:04:27.280]of this special issue of the journal,
[00:04:29.620]she's the photographer and designer
[00:04:31.340]behind that sort of nine photograph montage.
[00:04:34.808]But she does a piece that was derived from her dissertation
[00:04:37.995]that's called Ecological Responsibility, Landscape Literacy,
[00:04:41.960]and the Aesthetic Awareness of Place.
[00:04:44.075]Her core question, and particularly looking at
[00:04:49.371]a summer program in environmental education facility,
[00:04:53.380]kids engaging with the outdoors along the Platte,
[00:04:56.635]in the prairie, but asks a sort of more holistic question,
[00:05:01.250]how do people learn to be of a place?
[00:05:05.150]How do people learn that the Great Plains matters?
[00:05:07.790]And this is to a target audience that lives on them,
[00:05:10.213]and you know, I mean, there's a long storyline
[00:05:13.200]of people moving away.
[00:05:14.820]On what basis would they move back?
[00:05:16.500]On what basis would they be stewards,
[00:05:18.040]whether they're still here or someplace else?
[00:05:20.711]And environmental education is not the only rep to that,
[00:05:23.353]but it's a pretty powerful rep to sort of connect people.
[00:05:29.130]The fourth chapter, the last of the five pieces,
[00:05:31.940]but the fourth sort of content chapter,
[00:05:34.010]is by Amanda Morales,
[00:05:36.192]and it's called Valuing Rural Dexterity.
[00:05:39.540]And it's point of origin is actually
[00:05:41.980]a kind of interesting observation.
[00:05:43.910]She's originally from Hoxie, Kansas,
[00:05:47.430]or the high plains of Kansas, but her first job
[00:05:50.220]after college was being the education director
[00:05:53.390]at the Fort Worth Texas Museum of Science and History,
[00:05:57.755]and she noticed in that role, I mean,
[00:05:59.880]she was hosting kids that were coming to the museum
[00:06:01.940]as part of field trips, and she noticed that there was
[00:06:05.840]a different way kids from the sort of
[00:06:09.051]arriving rural districts would play with the artifacts
[00:06:13.690]and materials that the museum had available,
[00:06:15.380]as compared to the sort of suburban kids.
[00:06:17.640]And there seemed to be a sort of comfort level
[00:06:19.830]with sort of touching stuff, manipulating stuff.
[00:06:22.420]And you know, she said, I wasn't engaged in
[00:06:25.330]sort of formal research,
[00:06:26.370]but I remember this impression of these kids just had
[00:06:30.180]a confidence with certain material that the suburban,
[00:06:34.060]and often more affluent kids, didn't necessarily also bring.
[00:06:36.740]They were more sort of waiting
[00:06:37.930]for the teacher to say, okay, what do we do next?
[00:06:39.950]What do we do next?
[00:06:41.952]And she proposes, Dr. Morales proposes,
[00:06:45.730]a extension, if you will, of a pretty well-regarded theory
[00:06:50.240]in education research.
[00:06:51.350]The theory is called funds of knowledge,
[00:06:53.890]and it asks us to pay attention to what knowledge,
[00:07:00.010]what assets, what sort of ways of understanding the world
[00:07:03.260]do certain kids arrive at school with.
[00:07:06.315]And those may not be the understandings and assets
[00:07:09.560]that the school typically recognizes,
[00:07:11.312]and she sort of sets up the questions, well, why not?
[00:07:14.910]And at what hazard?
[00:07:16.112]And if we are increasingly standardizing curriculum
[00:07:20.730]in K-12 education, making it national or even global,
[00:07:25.020]do we lose rural context?
[00:07:26.380]Do we lose place context?
[00:07:28.051]And she doesn't pose it as either/or, you know.
[00:07:31.020]It's not that local place matters more than national place
[00:07:33.980]or international, you know.
[00:07:35.730]We do have some global problems in the world,
[00:07:37.710]but one of the sort of sources of insight perspectively
[00:07:40.900]is how, from my biography, am I positioned?
[00:07:43.980]I'm anchored in a place, and I sort of comment
[00:07:46.130]on the world writ large coming from somewhere.
[00:07:49.150]And she worries if we've lost track of that
[00:07:51.080]coming from somewhere.
[00:07:53.120]So those are the sort of individual pieces.
[00:07:54.968]If I can use, I guess, just sort of
[00:07:58.213]two more turns of phrase.
[00:08:00.490]One of the things that ties together all of these pieces,
[00:08:03.330]and methodologically, they're pretty different
[00:08:04.960]from each other, the way they ground themselves
[00:08:07.180]is pretty different, and I like this juxtaposition
[00:08:10.040]of multi-vocal literatures.
[00:08:11.720]Multi-vocal literature is actually
[00:08:13.710]a turn of phrase from Ogawa and Malen, 1991,
[00:08:16.190]and that's talked about in the introduction.
[00:08:18.592]But we also borrow from Greenwood a lot,
[00:08:22.315]and he talks about place-based education
[00:08:24.891]in a, I'm trying to think what the original source is,
[00:08:28.010]that's in the introduction.
[00:08:30.230]But more importantly, he raises up two sort of
[00:08:33.180]key ideas for how we would engage
[00:08:35.130]in an education research agenda of a region.
[00:08:38.430]One of them is called critical geography
[00:08:40.200]and the other is bio-regionalism.
[00:08:41.792]Critical geography asks about how spaces
[00:08:45.750]are expressions of ideologically-laden power relations.
[00:08:49.531]That may sound like a lot of big words,
[00:08:52.600]but if you think about it, who gets to name a place?
[00:08:56.430]So why is Lincoln called Lincoln?
[00:08:58.390]Instead of Lancaster, or instead of what Otoe Indians
[00:09:02.180]would've called it.
[00:09:04.432]What does it mean that there are still
[00:09:06.310]sort of memory built into various names like Nebraska,
[00:09:10.230]like Kansas, like South Dakota?
[00:09:13.611]But who are the people who say what Kansas means?
[00:09:15.510]Or who references, or what Nebraska means,
[00:09:17.750]or in what language and so forth?
[00:09:20.209]So critical geography is about more than just naming,
[00:09:22.830]but naming becomes a way of sort of pondering, hmmm,
[00:09:27.150]how do people exercise power and define
[00:09:30.710]what is and isn't part of a region?
[00:09:34.070]Bio-regionalism is a little more obviously
[00:09:36.430]ecologically-oriented, and you know,
[00:09:39.310]so akin to the big map that's at the front
[00:09:41.600]of the Center for Great Plain Studies,
[00:09:43.080]or the map that's in, the one I reference actually
[00:09:46.190]is from Michael Forsberg's 2009 book,
[00:09:50.290]I'm trying to think, it was Lingering Wild Places,
[00:09:53.290]or something to that effect.
[00:09:54.890]But he points out that the prairie,
[00:09:57.280]the tall grass prairie, mid-grass and short-grass prairie
[00:10:01.790]extends from Manitoba down across the Rio Grande
[00:10:04.800]into Tamaulipas, Mexico, and you sort have this,
[00:10:08.370]I buy the idea that the way grass is successful
[00:10:10.850]in Texas is different than the way
[00:10:12.620]grass is successful in Saskatchewan, ecologically,
[00:10:15.110]'cause the climate conditions change some.
[00:10:17.730]But in both cases, it's an ecosystem that favors grass,
[00:10:21.145]so what is it about fire,
[00:10:22.980]what is it about variable precipitation,
[00:10:24.880]what is it that gives that sort of coherence.
[00:10:27.952]And so, there is a storyline of sort of humans
[00:10:30.210]making sense of this vast grassland
[00:10:32.448]that creates a shared history, shared types of land uses.
[00:10:37.830]It's a pretty easy place to put a plow,
[00:10:39.510]particularly once you break the sod the first time,
[00:10:42.050]because you don't run into a lot of rocks,
[00:10:43.730]'cause there just aren't a whole bunch of rocks here.
[00:10:46.010]Here and there, but not writ large.
[00:10:48.430]So anyway, critical geography, bio-regionalism
[00:10:50.987]as sort of coherent orienting ideas,
[00:10:55.140]and then the particular pieces look
[00:10:57.150]at education research from a regional perspective.
[00:11:01.168]And I suppose I should end by offering
[00:11:03.310]a thank you to Peter Longo, who's the regular editor
[00:11:06.048]and was willing to sort of step aside
[00:11:08.600]and trust me to assemble a special issue.
[00:11:11.670]And then, of course, Rick Edwards,
[00:11:12.850]and the Center for Great Plains Studies
[00:11:14.210]for being part of the reason
[00:11:15.860]this whole journal exists altogether.
[00:11:18.040]So thanks to you all, and hopefully folks
[00:11:21.360]who get a chance to crack this open
[00:11:22.860]will read from beginning to end,
[00:11:24.340]because I think that the pieces are enough different
[00:11:26.960]from each other that if you wanna sort of understand
[00:11:30.048]education research as this multi-genre,
[00:11:32.662]different disciplines coming together,
[00:11:35.020]cross-section, which is what education research really is,
[00:11:38.210]here it's grounded by a particular place.
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