Saturday, April 9, 2011

A different kind of post

I have just completed my application to the Cambridge PKP supervision course. In the course, a students works directly with a Cambridge professor on a topic of their choice; as a result, students must first submit an application enabling Cambridge to match students with appropriate tutors.

Since I suspect that someone I will soon go on a date with may read this blog post, I sought something that would introduce me to them in a positive way. I believe that this application describes me intimately: for their sake, and for yours, I post it here.

Briefly describe your proposal. 250 words.

Through interaction with a Cambridge tutor, a personal ontological perspective will be developed, codified and refined during the first two weeks of instruction. Ideally, discussion will focus on the works of Georg Simmel, Emmanuel Levinas, and Soren Kierkegaard; however, it is expected that the tutor will include their own ontological perspectives as elements of the discussion.

During the following three weeks of instruction, the student’s ontological perspective will be developed into an educational model and described in written form. In this process, a range of pedagogical practices and theories will be evaluated and selectively incorporated into the educational model, based on the degree of fit between the pedagogical practices and the ontological perspective. Where available, empirical data on pedagogical
practices will be reviewed and incorporated into the pedagogical-method evaluation process

In the final three weeks of instruction, a general model for translating ontological and phenomenological perspectives into educational systems will be developed. Specifically, a series of questions will be formulated; the pattern of questions, and their corresponding answers, will serve as a guide for developing multiple systems of education based on varied ontological foundations.

The written products of all three stages of instruction will be gathered into a paper describing a model for the development of ontologically appropriate systems of education. To guide the supervision, a tutor with expertise in educational philosophy and/or sociological theory would be preferred; however, any tutor or number of tutors comfortable with the process described would be able to provide the desired assistance.

Why do you want to pursue this independent study option and what benefit do you hope to gain from it? 250 words.

I will eventually pursue a career in education reform; specifically, I believe that the philosophical foundations of the American system of public education do violence to the moral and active nature of individuals. As a result, I wish to explore and develop educational philosophies upon which to base more acceptable systems of instruction. To develop my own educational philosophy, I intend to first explore and develop my own ontological perspective.

The independent study option attracted my attention because it provides focused opportunities to develop my ontological perspective and educational philosophy. I hope that the supervision will provide an environment which will intensely refine my ideas by testing them against the expertise and knowledge of the tutor and selected texts. This process will thereby improve the efficacy and internal consistency of the school system I eventually develop. I recognize that many other individuals do not share my ontological perspective. Thus, I hope to also develop a generally applicable model or starting point for individuals wishing to establish philosophically and culturally appropriate systems of education. After identifying my own ideas and realizing them in a school system, I wish to provide others with the same opportunity. I anticipate that assisting religious, cultural, ethnic, and linguistic groups in forming appropriate systems of education will form a significant portion of my future career.

Thus, I am attracted to the supervision option in order to directly pursue the intellectual and practical preparation I desire for my future work in educational reform.

Briefly describe any relevant work you have already done in the area.

In the past year, I have taken two courses on classical and contemporary sociological theory. Each course was designed to familiarize students with the general ontological perspectives of well- known theorists; the theoretical survey began with Plato and Socrates and concluded with the works of Michel Foucalt, Judith Butler, and Jurgen Habermas. Another course taken simultaneously examined the life and philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard. Previously, I completed a philosophically-grounded tutorial on the sociology of international development which provided additional insight into various systems of thought. I am currently taking a course in organizational theory; my research in the course applies organizational theory to educational institutions.

During the sociology of international development course, I discovered that my ontological perspective was insufficient to account for my analysis of the theories I was studying. As a result, I began to explicitly formulate my own ontological perspective through writing. As I have explored additional philosophical and theoretical positions, I have continued to refine my ontological position.

In education, I have studied the sociology of education in four courses, including a course providing an overview of the subject, a course on the production and reproduction of social inequality through education, a tutorial on the limitations of schools as agents of social change, and a research course examining the impact of religious institutions on educational outcomes. Following the research course, I conducted a qualitative field study in South Africa on the educational consequences for students of varying degrees of religious involvement. After returning to the United States, I conducted a similar study using quantitative data and presented the findings at the 2011 Pacific Sociological Association Conference. I am currently preparing a paper detailing the findings for publication.

I am currently co-authoring a study describing the distribution and evaluating the effects of various expressions of educational philosophy in e-learning systems in Utah; the study is slated to conclude in December of this year.

Please list below any books or other sources which may be relevant to the topic.

Totality and Being – Emmanuel Levinas
Otherwise than Being – Emannuel Levinas
Twilight of the Idols – Friedrich Nietzche
Archaeology of Knowledge – Michel Foucalt
Being and Nothingness – Jean Paul Sartre
Truth and Existence – Jean Paul Sartre
Pedagogy of the Oppressed – Paulo Freire
How We Think - John Dewey
De Magistro – Saint Augustine
The Philosophy of Teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas – Mary Helen Mayer
From Childhood to Adolescence – Maria Montessori
Various books of Christian scripture
Various commentaries and explanations on non-Christian scripture

As an added bonus for those of you who scrolled down:

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