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Education colloquy showcases research

By Ryan Bolin
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
February 24, 2000
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Ingrid Rose was angry about the state of our educational system. So she became a teacher.

"If I wanted to change it, I had to be a part of it," she said.

Rose, an education graduate student, was one of several students to present her research Tuesday at the 13th annual Learning, Reading and Culture Graduate Student Colloquy. Presentations ran throughout Tuesday, relating to the theme, "Transnational and Intercultural Perspectives on Language and Literacy."

The student-organized conference was orchestrated by volunteer graduate students. Faculty staged several presentations aimed at giving the participants practice for real world situations.

The colloquy culminated with a Keynote Address by Stanford University professor of education Ray McDermott.

Sue Greed, chair of the colloquy planning committee, said the forum is useful to students.

"It's a place for graduate students to share their research in a supportive environment. This is the second year I've been a part of the colloquy and it's just an incredible experience," Greed said. "The most important thing about it is that it's organized by students."

Rose said that in her three years teaching at Pima Community College, she has noticed increasing apathy in her students.

"There has been a dramatic decline in the willingness of young people to serve in the community and government."

Her research focused on examining the causes behind a general lack of civic and political involvement, and proposed possible solutions. Ultimately, Rose said students need a solid respect for the community they live in.

"Give them the tools to be active, independent critical thinkers and they will want to be involved," she said.

McDermott, who has been studying learning theories for decades, presented two projects he is currently involved with to graduate students. He is especially interested in society's fascination with labeling kids "learning disabled" or "genius."

He cautions against being quick to categorize children according to arbitrary measures of intelligence.

"If we are going to have a theory of learning and drop it into a culture, we need to examine who dangerous it can be," he said.

McDermott has familial connections with these issues. His daughter was coded "learning disabled" in third grade, while his older brother was deemed a genius. Neither of these assessments, McDermott said, seemed accurate or helped his family.

Simone Gers, also an education graduate student, said she benefited from the conference.

"It's an electrifying exchange of ideas between students, faculty, staff and guest lecturers," Gers said. "It's powerful to get contributions from so many different fields and perspectives. "

At the end of the speech, he asked for feedback on his research.

Gers said she appreciated how he ran his presentation.

"It helps us a lot to observe a professor working through theories who then invites us to participate," she said.

Ryan Bolin can be reached at city@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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