The James P. Purdy and Joyce R. Walker article, Liminal Spaces and Research Identity, fell a little short for me. I find that the ideas are great, in that we should be incorporating students’ previous research practices with that of our own at the academic level to better assist them in their adaptation to, and advancement in, the academic place and the world in front of them. More than this, that we should adapt ourselves to them, more so than them to us. Yet, what I find the article lacking is that it focuses only on what needs to be done at the “first-year composition” level, and nothing being mentioned of what should be, and could be, done at the lower, K-12, levels.
Now, I know that this is the University and we are concentrating on what we can do now, especially if students come in with the tools that, as an academy, we feel are inadequate to fully serve them. But if the collaboration between student and teachers started at, say, the elementary and junior high level, than wouldn’t this alleviate some of the struggles students and teachers have once they get here? If the ideas presented in this article were established at a younger age, wouldn’t everyone benefit? Teachers would understand how to work with students, as opposed to working against their practices. Students would also know, not just what’s expected in the world of research and writing, but what is more beneficial to establishing and supporting their ideas through research; and not necessarily what is quoted as “better research practices,” or “the right way to do things.”
Maybe this kind of thinking is impractical due to budget cuts, the lack of professionals willing to use this approach, students’ inability to utilize these tools at a younger age or to even find meaning and usefulness in them, or maybe just that we live in a world where research and writing have become second or third fiddle to more “technology based” fields. But if we are ever going to make a change in the way teachers interact with students, the way students interact with education (primarily research and writing), and the way in which we all come to see each other as cogs of a larger machine helping each other along, then we need to begin this implementation of solid research practices and “teacher modernization” at an earlier stage in their learning. (Teacher Modernization- the act in which we get teachers up to date with current generations practices so they are more capable of adapting their tricks-of-the-trade with that of their students, in order for both parties to fully benefit from the learning/work experience)
I want to point out too, that in no way do I find this article to be any less effective because of the points I have made. I just think that in order for this article to reach a wider audience and to fully address the issue of research identities and the liminal spaces students inhabit, then the issue goes further than just first year comp.
P.S. My pic of Bo Jackson is there because it’s nice to see an Athlete up on the board, beside a Giant…lol ;-) and besides…Bo knows Baseball. And Bo knows footbal. So Bo’s gotta know research and writing.