In this essay Nicholas C. Burbules reviews his experiences and the lessons he learned as editor of Educational Theory for more than twenty years, and he explores some of the normative choices that are inevitably made by any editor in carrying out his or her role. Burbules examines the relationship of a journal to its intellectual field; the review process; communications and interactions with authors; the process of editing and revising manuscripts; questions of representativeness in a theoretically pluralistic field; (...) the business of journal publishing; and the dilemmas that confront an editor in terms of his or her own position and identity within a field. In all of these reflections, he examines the ethical and political background of the choices made, and how these in turn reveal deeper assumptions about the nature and purpose of academic publishing. The result is to “lift up the curtain” and reveal how one philosophically reflective and self-questioning editor handled his responsibilities. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis essay explores the concept of phronesis in two contexts: phronesis as a virtue, in fact a meta-virtue because it guides the exercise of other virtues; and phronesis as an element in theories of practice. I argue that these two aspects are closely related, because ethics – especially virtue ethics – is best understood as a kind of practice. The second part of the essay explores some of the consequences of thinking about ethics in this way.
This essay reflects upon certain aspects of Wittgenstein's own practices as a teacher. Doing philosophy always took priority for Wittgenstein, whether this was in oral or written form: it was important to show the deep puzzles in our language (and our culture and thinking) as a step toward dissolving them. In this respect, one can teach only as a guide; it is a matter of showing more than saying. Wittgenstein's approach suggests a model that I will call tacit teaching. Tacit (...) teaching refers to the many forms of informal instruction—some intentional, some unintentional, and some difficult to categorize simply as one or the other—by which skills, capacities, and dispositions are passed along within a domain of practice. Wittgenstein repeatedly uses the language of signposts, of wandering through a city, of being lost and finding one's way, of needing a guide, of learning how to go on by one's self, to refer to the complex web of knowledge and understanding that allows successful autonomous practice in some discipline: most pertinently, in the context of Wittgenstein's own teaching and writing, the discipline of doing philosophy, but with clear reference to teaching and learning in other complex and ill-structured domains as well. (shrink)
In this article, Nicholas C. Burbules explores the effects of various social media on the ways people communicate, and the implications of these effects for the use of social media in educational contexts. Facebook, Twitter, and a host of other applications are being used in increasing numbers, especially by young people. It is where they live, share, and learn, so it is to be expected that educators would want to find ways to use these technologies to engage them. At (...) the same time, however, these new media come with a host of issues and dangers as well as possibilities. Creative educators need to be aware of these in weighing the advantages and disadvantages of social media for educational purposes. (shrink)
A broad-scale quantification of the measure of quality for scholarship is under way. This trend has fundamental implications for the future of academic publishing and employment. In this essay we want to raise questions about these burgeoning practices, particularly how they affect philosophy of education and similar sub-disciplines. First, details are given of how an ‘impact factor’ is calculated. The various meanings that can be attached to it are scrutinised. Second, we examine how impact factors are used to make various (...) ‘high stakes’ academic decisions, such as hiring and promotion, funding of research projects and how much money is to be awarded to a particular area. By focusing on a particular practice, problems with the application of the metric generally are outlined. Finally, we offer some general observations about the unintended consequences and other problems arising from the widespread use of this metric, including attempts to ‘game the system’. We argue that the use of impact factors increasingly shapes the kind of topics and issues scholars write on, their choices of methodology, and their choice of publication venues for their work. Technical measures and mechanisms tend to ‘colonise’ the qualitative and professional judgments that must also be part of the process of evaluation, and for which bibliometrics alone cannot offer a substitute. (shrink)
In his writings Jim Marshall has helpfully emphasized such Wittgensteinian themes as the multiplicity of language games, the deconstruction of ‘certainty,’ and the contexts of power that underlie discursive systems. Here we focus on another important legacy of Wittgenstein's thinking: his insistence that human activity is rule‐governed. This idea foregrounds looking carefully at the world of education and learning, as against the empirical search for new psychological or other facts. It reminds us that we need to consider, in Peter Winch's (...) words, ‘what it makes sense to say’ about certain educational phenomena, and how these meanings stand against understanding a wider form of life. This insight has important implications for doing educational research, and we examine some of these. (shrink)
This article uses computerized analysis of text, along with a close reading of text, to trace change and development in Burkitt's lymphoma research. While past researchers have focused on the way a text enters the literature, we wish to learn what happens to knowledge claims after they arrive in the published literature. In order to explain why some claims are successfully solidified into facts while others remain as isolated, unsupported claims, we rely upon the notion of the material and social (...) technology required to do successful work in a research area. (shrink)