On the Future of Anthropology in Schools of Education: Introduction

so good morning everyone welcome to Teachers College I’m so delighted that TC is hosting this important conference and I want to thank our they were organizing this gathering and just to say again any time when I get to see it going with three weeks in a row makes my makes my world so and this is terrific TC is certainly the perfect place to reflect on the role of anthropology to assess the sess education practices and informal education policy and practice Margaret Mead who arguably did more than any other scholar to focus anthropology on education taught here from nineteen forty eight to nineteen sixty she interned mentor the young Lawrence credit who would become one of the nation’s greatest educational historian’s I would say the greatest and TC seventh n greatest present need played a significant role in shaping kremens vision of Education his vision meant learning occurs not only in the classroom but everywhere and compasses the world outside the classroom remains at the heart of tc’s work today still another TC legend Edmund Gordon who is fantastically with us today also recognizes anthropology’s relevance the American classroom when Ed serve is the inaugural research director for the federal head start program he included anthropologist among Rosie gather to recommend priorities for research on children’s language and its relation to success and of course in the international arena TC faculty members such as George blond and lambos coma toss have helped us understand the role of education in Africa and Latin America how education itself was the engine that enabled indigenous peoples to take control of their own destiny so anthropology’s impact on education and tc’s legacy has been indeed the field has given us decades of ethnographic studies that have provided some for our most sensitive and textured views of what goes on in interactions between teachers and learners but we’re here today to talk about the future you’ve gathered because anthropology is disappearing as a focus at many schools of Education around the country and because major foundations no longer back anthropological research in the classroom federal funders such as Institute for education scientists sciences want large-scale quantitative studies that yields hard numbers and no nuance meanwhile new interactive technologies have emerged that are generating wealth of data that what students do and don’t understand how they confront learning challenges so what then is the future of anthropology and education does the field still have a valuable role to play the answer of course for all of us isn’t unequivocal yes while large-scale experimental studies are valuable there without contents and lack greater meaning if an intervention help students in one context or students from one background but fails to help another we still need to know why and discovering the y takes observation and analysis I’ve argued that policymakers who have worked with for my entire career don’t just want to know whether something works they want to know what and how they can make it happen in their own context and that’s the kind of question that we don’t find funded to and that’s where we need anthropologists to take the lead with new waves of immigration to this country the work of researchers who can bridge the gulf between the classroom in the neighborhood and between the classroom in the home has never been more relevant and if as my mentor Donna shillelagh has stressed public schools are where most children become Americans then we need anthropology now more than ever so thank you for being here today and thank you for the important work you want to wish you a productive meeting thank you very much for the opportunity to just say a few words as you get started I’m going to say a couple of things that are institutional and then a comment that’s maybe a little bit more personal on my perspective on anthropology institutionally I just want to say that we provided a Provost investment fund grant to support the work that and fit led to this this one day gathering and those grants go to faculty to support new work that we thinks and adds value to what we do as a college it’s fairly open ended but the idea is to really be generative and to find things the will will help us to create and think anew and I believe very deeply maybe the second institutional comment in the

tradition of self-study in higher education that is that we as a research community have to pause and we have to look at ourselves and we have to look at ourselves in relation to the fields that were part of what is changing and not not to be stuck in institution areas but to use our imaginations to really think where we’re going next so the Provost investment fund grant and this strong belief and traditions of self-study it very well represented today doing is coming together looking at the field of anthropology in education in schools of Education in this college and trying to think anew and i were to think about where we’re going more personal comments are I grew up with with anthropologists I grow in kind of a blended world as a historian with you know gears has blurred genres you know where we read anthropology not we you know we moved over in a philosophy read social theory and became destroy ins and that’s the world the Kremen came out of that’s the type of world of my advisor David tyacke a Stanford came out of that we you know we were one community together you know it’s like none there was not a real separation of disciplines now there’s there’s so much in anthropology that as a historian situated centrally and what what we do because history is not just big structures it’s not systems you know you really get down close to experience and you’re really looking at those sluice gates where new historical experience is flowing through and you feel you feel the energy of that and the the danger you’re you becoming an anthropologist you’re not just destroy them and I think historians when they would deeply deeply devins now as they must clean up earth they’re really working alongside a technologist now as a historian and some of the reeds stalking and other seal about the history of anthropology over the years no followed that and have also been fascinated by the conversation inside anthropology about the observer observed and how we understand ourselves trying to understand others I’ve been fascinated by a number of the sort of mythological perspectives inside anthropology and they’re there three words to me and I just tried to capsule is very briefly because you got to hear from a lot of other people just as I think about our faculty and you know moving to hire new faculty to honor the faculty that are here you know one word that is really central for me as I think about anthropology is disorientation you know it’s it’s the disorientation of industrial civilization moving out and crashing into traditional cultures you know and the disorientation in those cultures that it’s also that the people doing those initial early studies in death ecology will look back on their civilization and they were all so disoriented by what they saw so what was learned you think more recently an hour to the South Seas you know that he was studying something that was the other and different but he also you know ultimately looked at his own civilizations over and different and so he was deeply within and against you know that’s the position of the anthropologist you know it’s that that encounter that’s disorienting and it’s true in Valle you know more modern studies where we’re looking the day Lena sub life amidst rationality run amuck you know that’s still anthropologist at work now so that disorientation is really important we the second word of these are keywords i guess i think addy in today second word is disciplined disciplined inquiry and you know there’s a danger in professional schools that you know because we are saturated with profession authority with the creation of professionals with the copper codification of professional knowledge is a danger that research can just become professional advisory literature you know the history that anthropology that you know that the study of institutions can merely serve you know these large structures of professional power which have roots in things beyond the professions obviously they’re often part of you know deeper layers of power in society and so disciplined inquiry means that we we we stand outside of that and we we have a discipline that shapes questions that’s informed by theory and then we ask original questions and we are not afraid you know to go where power tells us not to go and so disciplined inquiry is extremely important that it’s very important that it be situated inside a place like teachers college so that we don’t become overwhelmed by you know the mandates of professions again professional advisor literature accentuate so that that’s really important to me that that discipline exists the disciplines no I

would say the same about history philosophy in other fields as well the fact that those are here is really important my third word i’m choosing d words here but exists is delight at all it’s the delight that i have felt it in reading the anthropological literature mentioned beard soon you know you know going in you know reading there are so many other things where there there’s so many particulars of the world that have been situated and given meaning in larger sense of how people make me in together and that’s something that as a historian I love that because I think history also does that but I felt especially with you know things that surprised me even looking at current life you know what’s going on now you know anthropology is constantly bringing us back to what’s really in front of us and causing us to look again and see in new ways welcome and I hope you have a really good deliberation thank you all right thank you so much for inviting me to say a few words of welcome on behalf of this department it’s a department that was two programs a huge program and international Comparative Education and the small vibrant and re-energized program in anthropology there’s not much I could add after president Furman and provost James let me just say to personal things that this conference brings back memories good memories the first one is that I did lose my innocence to anthropology and they was at the age of 15 that I did that I met Margaret needs in Iran and I grew up as a Iranian and Switzerland so as at the Astra we would go back every summer to Iran and my aunt was working in the school of social work and she managed to sneak me in into a lecture that Margit meet held in Tehran because her daughter was living near on at the time so she was basically visiting the family she would show pictures of villages in Iran that showed cool people I thought how could that be this country is not the developing country it’s not poor then I realized it was a wake-up call I understood my world changed ever since I had that encounter then I realized it’s not only the villages it’s also the cities I realized it’s not only Iran poverty is everywhere so I all lot actually personally to that encounter and having that encounter with development through anthropology the second memory and that was like ten years later when I was studying social psychology we reached almost cool at that time I thought he’s a German but then I realized he’s an American you all know this great book there was a scientific revolution and it is a book that explains how disciplines emerge and disappear have fields of studies emerge and disappear how they differentiate themselves I remember at that time it was really something that i was completely fascinated so i took it up again yesterday and I looked into it so what to talk rule says there are two things that really determine how academia develops and transforms itself one is socialite sociological factors you would call it tight gas stores aight guys in the American English you know what niches they’re all what markets they are how the environment changes like I would say the whole transformation of the foundation studies must have had a huge impact on anthropology the other one is epistemological and he doesn’t say it in those three words but let me put these three words in his mouth because that’s how I interpret them well it’s I would say it’s identities boundaries and comparative advantage the one issue is what our core beliefs in theories and methods and scholarship that binds an academic community that defines a discipline or few of studies and those identities are replicated over all over again in journals and conferences and in fact we have a peer review process in place that ensures that it followed that this identity is preserved preserved and replicated the second one is boundaries every identity is also a definition of what one is not so the question is whether the boundaries of a field or of discipline and nowadays the boundaries have become much more loose than they used to be in all fields and in all disciplines but still it’s an issue to

be discussed and the third one because and comparative Eric my favorite term what is the comparative advantage what does a field or discipline have to offer has to offer what others don’t and for teachers college that’s an important one because it’s a huge knowledge factory Teachers College so what is this field of anthropology able to offer in this wider environment in this department but also at the College in the having a Baylor University it used to be that anthropology was what we would call local historians and typologies used to be local historians used to be local sociologists used to be area not area specialist but country specialists so the question is now in the area of globalization and again where others I know from our way that he doesn’t want he doesn’t like that definition of anthropology as local historians and local knowledge and all that some curious to see after two days of deliberation where your intellectual debates are moving with regard to attend these boundaries and comparative advantage let me end by saying that this conference generated a lot of excitement within students of anthropology at Teachers College and I’m very grateful to obey Brent specifically but also the other colleagues in anthropology Leslie Bartlett professor George bond and professor lambrusco meters for making this event happen thank you so much first I wanted to thank President firming from us James and professor Steiner campsie for these kind words of introduction my colleagues reserve on komitas Bartlett and I are very very thankful that you have helped us to make this possible in a draft email I once wrote that our calls for paper last April at hit a nerve my colleague Leslie Bartlett suggested that I write more optimistically that this call had struck a chord whatever metaphor more aptly capture what moved all of you to join us like Alex and I along with our students we are gratified that so many of you card came from various parts of the United States and beyond I hope that will make some history together in the next two days once upon a time there was no anthropology at Teachers College and then according to some records in 1935 the course was thought titled anthropology and education it may have been the first court course taught under this title anywhere in the United States I’m sure the historians will try to figure out whether that’s true and probably the world then in the 1940s Margaret Mead certainly the most famous anthropologist of regeneration started a long association with teachers college that continued until her death in 1978 she taught several courses about human development mass media culture and communication in 1953 solemn Kimball joined the faculty and was a key figure in all the major events that led to the formation of the South field of anthropology and education at Teachers College in the United States by then George Spindler had already been appointed at Stanford so Stanford can claim three years being ahead of us and so many other anthropologists were appointed at the University of Pennsylvania Harvard and then many many others by 1970s several dozen anthropologists founded the council and anthropology and education thereby completing a 20 year process of professional institutionalization among many other projects the Ford Foundation supported a large-scale project comparing three high schools which is also very interesting about the role half foundations might be interested in what we had to say again between 1975 in 1985 eight anthropologists we’re on appointment of Teachers College and the number similarly increased across the schools of Education of the United States but as we said already we’re not here to celebrate the past we are here to lay the foundations for a future we and this is an identity statement anthropologists concerned with all aspects of Education in all settings how are precisely to educate ourselves about

our current conditions we are also here to figure out how to educate our audiences about the power of what we do Margaret Mead and the other pioneers in our field did that quite powerfully many school people policymakers colleagues in programs dedicated to the educational practicing professionals had been convinced and often claimed our field as their own it is a testimony to influence that many if not most members of our associate professional association in the entra para the council an apology and education that most members of this association are not disciplinary anthropologists but there in the past two or three decades decades a certain skepticism has corrected arguments they were powerful 50 years ago are appear less compelling to our audiences among those remove policy about schooling foundations look askance at our proposals they are framers ethnography major sources of funding for students are closed and growth Provost’s James and Jason Furman so that we had problems the gate foundation funding our students which is not everything so major forces of course I are close it is not self-evident that to use the current cliche our discipline and it approaches are sustainable I contend that it will not be enough simply to restate the arguments that used to be convincing we need to reframe these arguments clearly and powerfully the discipline has much evolved over the past half-century these theoretical frameworks are more sensitive to various complexities its methodologies and techniques have been thoroughly critiqued and many of the criticisms have been answered leading to a great frankini I believe all this has to be taken into account as we represent that is make present again a research agenda and how we publicize our contributions to the debates are we to do this this is the main question we organize the conference to address I am sure that many answers will be offered I at least look forward to participants arguing passionately that we should take this route for another one there will be disagreements but I hope that we will leave with a renewed sense of passion and the certainty that we like our predecessors will do what needs to be done not only for us as disciplinary academics but more importantly for all those are credit predecessors working with in schools and outside of schools in inner cities and remote rural areas in the United States and around the world we may disagree on what may be our units of analysis but not our units of concern we have something to contribute but we also make the case that we do we must answer the challenges of the skeptics among audiences and demonstrate convincingly that a further reforms of our society’s political systems and all that derive from them require the particular wisdom of anthropological research as it did during the Second World War it’s aftermath the building of the Great Society so many dreamed of when they proposed developed and then critique all the programs associated with the mid-1960s in the United States the conference as you know is organized into three plenary sessions when we will discuss the overall question that we asked he’s also organized through the four paper sessions to highlight exemplary research this morning we will discuss further the historical developments that led to the success of anthropology in schools of Education in 1960s 70s and 80s and we are fortunate to have with us at Gordon who throughout his career to me certainly is the preeminent person that represents the audiences are audiences outside of anthropology ad has kept encouraging our work and also challenging us and we also coordinate that Fred Erickson will speak to us about the work of Dale Himes and the anthropologists ambiguous we join him at the Graduate School of Education of the University of Pennsylvania Misha spragins has been and I but I want to say that he has been the leader here has been leading research into the early years of the field both here and at Stanford and as we have done the CNI are particularly interested in intellectual relationships between Margaret Mead and Larry creme the then future president of Teachers College the next binary session will focus on the experience I would say the people of our generation who were the beneficiaries of the earlier work of people like me to spend learn Kimball ohio’s we need to start accounting for the history we made an

offer over which our students will make their own history the third and final plenary session brings together those who we are sure will be leaders in our fields now filled it is up to them to converse with the many stakeholders who will make it possible for anthropology to have a future in schools of Education and threw them in the ongoing reform of our societies the four paper obsessions organized in terms of the themes that keep emerging as most compelling in the work of our discipline in the sense its insists that the sustainer campuses question that what do we do these days first in most obviously we cannot ignore schools most of our audiences are deeply concerned with them the further reform and the resistances to the reforms so of course not surprisingly one of the sessions bring together current research in schools and related settings second we must remain true to anthropology fundamental message schools are only one of the many settings through which education proceed this may be the most consistent message in in tribe introductory statements all our predecessors made you look at Margaret Mead Spindler Kimball but they always made that’s that statement in their opening chapters it is an easy message to forget and I’ve written against our tendency to focus most of our research on schooling I have even said something that maybe to be provocative I’m even willing to take the project the position that in the twins as the 20th century turned into the 21st century schools are getting less important as a locus of Education even if you are they getting more important as gatekeepers in the careers of our children and grandchildren so another session brings together research on education in in communities while playing video games in the streets of Belfast not followed that together but just odd places third we cannot not return to the roots of anthropology itself and we cannot not move away from the United States in Europe we must encounter what is happening in the rest of the world where populations keep differentiating each other even as the intermingle anthropology and education clearly succeeded because it addressed issues of immediate concern for people in American schools of Education the very spread of schooling through colonial post-colonial and newer projects might appear to make cross-cultural research into the worlds of schooling and necessary but as the work of my colleagues in internationally competitive education abundantly shows policy diffusions in borrowing is never straightforward with Benedict could have predicted that on the basis of what she observed in the American Southwest and so might have live east rose when you wrote about Lee collage at the same time muscles of mechanisms have allowed more and more people to move around the world outside and often against older institutional frameworks these movements will not be possible without complex educational processes of which were barely aware on this matters for sure anthropology as much to contribute and I hope that the papers in that session I know so some of them will do that very well for although the first one is scheduled this afternoon is a session that is particularly dear to my heart looking at the careers of my of our founders most of them came to education fully formed so to speak they came with filled work publications in anthropology and so on they came with theories and techniques developed on other settings and for other purposes but I’ve come to wander along with some students and colleagues is whether concerned with education may not also transform our disciplinary understanding of fundamental concepts and particularly of the concepts associated with sculpture the boy seems established that cultural variation is a given of humanity what has not been clear is the ongoing process that produces new cultures in the sense of new forms of arbitrary arrangements in local populations I have argued sort of a publications that this process may be a side effect of the very need all people have continually to educate themselves about new situations so we put together papers that might shed light to what some of us now refer as cultural production that is the production of new cultural forms as people encounter the consequences of older forms on their everyday life