The process we went through to conceptualize, create, and carry out our praxis projects was a lot like our journey to the Doerner Fir in (almost) Douglas County — long, winding, riddled with trial and error, a bit frantic, but worth it in the end. Who knows, maybe Jim planned it that way all along to prepare us for our projects.
After the poster celebration on Friday, I realized that both my projects (science and values in education, and teaching Maori culture) dealt with an overall framing question about what to teach in education and in what kind of depth — a question I have been struggling with for the past few years in most of my education classes, and I think a question that many professional educators struggle with every day. I felt successful in explaining and encompassing the issue in my conversations with people at the poster session, but I always felt like I had to suggest a solution, which I sometimes did with my discussion, but I almost wish instead I asked the person I was talking about what they thought instead (which I did sometimes as well). Since we are the “experts” at our poster sessions, it’s easy to feel like we need to provide all the answers, but I think the real point of these interactions is to open the conversation and provide any insights we’ve gained into the matter, but not necessarily prescribing a solution. That can feel uncomfortable at times, but by jumping straight to solutions it’s easy to push other people’s thoughts and insights to the side. Additionally, it’s an important pedagogy to be open to other ideas and open the conversation, so it was good practice for me.
Overall, even though it was a very quick turnaround, I think the praxis project was a success. I think it could have been more successful if we took two trips to Douglas County, one in place of our week about Malheur and another return trip when we had it this year. That way, we would be able to apply our theory readings to Douglas County and begin thinking about our praxis projects much earlier on. I’m happy with my poster outcome and topic, but I could have used a lot more time to think through my ideas and apply it more to Douglas County. As it is, I think I have a good start and an intriguing conversation-starter but not a full project.
Like finding the Doerner Fir, getting to the poster session was stressful but being able to have scholarly discussions with peers from ENVS and other fields was a really cool experience. I would do both again!