This week was sort of a humdinger regarding my beliefs in my actions and aspirations both professionally and personally. I thought a lot about research and activism. How often is research actually activism? Can it be activism? Probably. Most of the time, research is probably not activism. Is research that matters most activism? As an aspiring ed. researcher, shouldn’t my research always be activism if it is to have real, positive impact on education and improve our quality of life? How genuine are the intentions of these institutions and the folks that toil within them?
Lots of questions!
I think about when I used to be a reporter, way back, seemingly millions of years ago in my twenties, and how it felt like a lot of what I was doing was activism. I got to pick and choose from filings in the federal and state courthouses and expose what I thought was newsworthy and needed to be read – claims against powerful people, corrupt institutions, corporations. That felt like activism, although who knows what impact it had.
At least with research there seems to be a way to document impact in a more concrete way, which means you can learn from your research and consider what impact it had, why, who it helped, and then improve your work based off that documented impact or non-impact. As laborious as all of the formalities and documentation in research can be, it can help me get better if I use it. Is that activism?
I think about students a lot. Mostly, I feel for them and all of the doubt and struggle they endure to obtain a degree, all of the investment and faith they put it into that degree and us. Most of the time I think that my activism for them is trying to make their instructors better teachers and more understanding and nurturing. I sometimes wonder though if it’s the students themselves I should be working with. If done right, that might be a more concrete activism.