Beyond Application

Writing theory in the world of education scholarship is not easy.  There are demands to make my writing “useful” and “practical” for those in the field like teachers and administrators (see here for an interesting rebuttal to practicality), as well as to make my writing explicitly political so that I am acknowledged as demonstrating its link to social justice (see a future blog post about my love and hate relationship with the label “critical”).

= My writing must be accessible in order for it to have utility and a just reach.

I hold this value near and dear, but like all great things it invites complication into my life.  In the midst of accessibility, my writing must also be “rigorous,” per the terms of my academic status and, if I’m honest, per the terms of my personal value of robustly thought-out intentionality.  While accessibility and rigor don’t have to be exclusive, they are challenging to engage simultaneously.  This leads me to my latest puzzle: What will rigor look like for me, as an emerging digital scholar whose theoretically critical work will likely take many nontraditional forms?

Related to this, how will I respond to the demand that I anchor my writing in the theoretical work of those who have come before me, while, at the same time, moving my thought beyond a simple application of that theory to a “real life” case or scenario?  In other words, what will it look like for my theoretical work to move beyond application?  How do I move beyond simply presenting this: “Look here! I found an example of what the theorist was talking about!”  And, how do the many forms of digital help or hurt me in these pursuits?

Can digital be my means of “moving beyond application”?

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