M.C. Escher Sphere Spirals, 1958 www.mcescher.com


Chapter Five

John Dewey's preface to his masterful, Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education (1916), opens with this sentence, "The following pages embody an endeavor to detect and state the ideas implied in a democratic society and to apply these ideas to the problems of the enterprise of education" (p. iii). My study has been an attempt to continue Dewey's endeavor by extending its purview to the integration of technology into the curriculum. In short, in this study, I have attempted "to detect and state the ideas implied in a democratic society and to apply these ideas to the problems of the enterprise" of technology integration in education.

Summary: Connectivity

For the use to which any known fact is put depends upon its connections. The knowledge of dynamite of a safecracker may be identical in verbal form with that of a chemist; in fact, it is different, for it is knit into connection with different aims and habits, and thus has a different import.

(Dewey, 1916, p. 356)

Science begins with a close examination of what appears to be magical. The social science of educational technology research has yet to seriously consider the relationship-magic inherent in successful teaching/learning experiences. What Shotter referred to as the "interfittedness of things" (1971), those amazing moments that are also realizations, those events that occur between people in the course of a successful teaching/learning experience, educational technology has not reproduced. The interpersonal in education will remain magical to us until relevant grounded theories emerge through conversations and from qualitative investigations that will allow us to examine ourselves and our interactions with less prejudice and more compassion.

Living Systems: A sensitive dependence on initial conditions

This study reinforced through experience, the knowledge I had acquired through reading, of the embeddedness of living systems within a complexity of relational, communicative interaction. I found that the inevitable process of change-over-time could be manipulated by a researcher, myself, using interpersonal trust and collaborative achievement as motivators.

Systems theory describes systems as internally consistent, in continuous interaction with other systems, self-regulatory, and self-actualizing. Bertalanffy (1975), a biologist, developed the theory of open systems and general systems theory (Davidson, 1983). Bertalanffy, and later Lorenz (1993), asserted that a small alteration in the pattern of a system’s process could lead to enormous alterations in that system's pattern. This "sensitive dependence on initial conditions," was a guiding premise that justified the experimental use, throughout this study, of small, caring, relational, discursive activities to bring about significant change. And, indeed, subtle changes in interpersonal dynamics, in relation to technology use, such as an increase in mutual respect, did affect the functioning of the system as a whole.

Paulo Freire (1970a, 1970b, 1973, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1998), Maxine Greene (1978, 1988, 1995, 2001; Pinar, 1998), and Lisa Goldstein (1997) have illustrated many levels of potential and poignancy in the relationship between teachers and students, repeatedly pointing out how interactions between people determined what kind of learning resulted. Freire also emphasized the role that teachers can play, modeling interactive transformation. Freire stated that, "In the culture of silence the masses are "mute," that is, they are prohibited from creatively taking part in the transformations of their society and therefore prohibited from being…they do not know that their action upon the world is also transforming" (1970, p. 213).

During the course of this research study, I tried to remain aware that each communication that I participated in, whether face-to-face or text-based, on the telephone or online, was affecting the course of the action and the meaning-making process of our change effort. This study validated conversational reality theory: I found that conversation was the ground from which the co-creation of our reality emerged.

Resolving Polarities

In Chapter Four, I outlined three types of polarity thinking that affected participant-teachers’ relationships to technology innovation. I asserted that it was possible to find a unity underlying the three sets of polarities using two particular theoretical perspectives, conversational reality theory and Ricoeurian hermeneutics. Conversational reality, as previously stated, defines conversation as the ground from which ongoing social re-creation emerges. Ricoeurian hermeneutics is a specific orientation to textual analysis, a creative analytic whose purpose is a synthesis of meaning not a polarization of conceptual frameworks nor a dichotomization of prior unities.

Mink (1993c, 1994, 1998, 2000), applying systems theory to human resource development, found that, in order to support the development of a higher level of interaction within a system, a change agent must be able to perceive the existant functioning from outside the system under examination. In other words, to mix fractal terms with human resource development terms, a change agent must introduce a strange attractor from another level of interaction (engendering a different pattern or dynamic interaction). Using systems theory as a means of analysis, this study found that a researcher (myself), wishing to raise the level of interaction from competition to collaboration, did so by identifying, communicating, and sharing elements of unity underlying polarity thinking.

Conversational reality theory provided a framework for perceiving individuals in specific conversations as co-creating the world as they were living in it. Each participant in a conversation brings all they have been and all they hope to be. As people reach out from their prior experience to participate in a conversation, a meaning-making moment is creating ground for a future. Note that, within this theoretical framework, the future is a collaborative creation. In this framework, a competitive conversation is a collaboration in competition, an agreement to compete. A researcher can widen her lens to view a conversational interaction not as a battle of wills, nor as a conflict of interest, nor as a clash of titans, but as an exchange between two individuated elements of a unified system whose life is sustained through (and judged by the level of) the health of its participants (Rose, 2000).

This study confirmed for me that we are embedded in interaffecting, living systems and that the course of collaborative, democratic futures cannot be predetermined. We all have the ability, through our lived connectivity, to affect change. The way we affect change is not only through lesson plans (though I do not want to minimize the importance of lesson plans) but also through subtle alterations in the interactions taking place between persons.

Having studied computer models of weather patterns, Lorenz (1993) claimed that, when a butterfly flapped its wings on one side the earth, some time later, in another part of our earth, a storm would emerge as a result. Lorenz’s famous statement-metaphor added a further poetic dimension to Bertalanffy’s assertion that "a sensitive dependence on initial conditions" is a principle that applies to all living, interaffecting, systems. My study showed me that human beings are no less susceptible than other natural phenomena to subtle changes in the (interactional, relational) atmosphere.

This study confirmed that delicate actions, small alterations, even as seemingly unimportant as a tone of voice, during a conversation, could act as powerfully on a system as a flap of a butterfly’s wing. I have confirmed for myself, through my own experience in this study, that an educational system made up of human participants is affected, not just superficially, but radically, at its root, on ontological, definitive levels, by every conversation that takes place within it.

In the following, I will re-examine the three polarities, I and Thou, creative and critical thinking, and justice and care, from the point of view of conversational reality and Ricoeurian hermeneutics. Although I cannot demonstrate the co-creation of conversational reality in a narrative, Appendix F provides an example of a text-based a conversation that took place online during this study. However, I can demonstrate a version of Ricoeurian textual hermeneutic in the last of the next few sections on interpretive schema: justice and care. And, I can try to capture in narrative form a type of text-based, interpretive conversational reality as I proceed to integrate perspectives from this study.

A final, preliminary note: the theories I have used to achieve a theoretical unity for myself do not exhaust the available schemata for perceiving unity in dichotomies. Further research is needed in cognitive-unifying processes that support collaborative, democratic practice.

I and Thou: Appreciating the Other

In 1931, John Dewey wrote an article for the inaugural issue of The Harvard Teachers Record (later, The Harvard Educational Review) entitled, "Appreciation and Cultivation." In this article, Dewey defined personal participation as emotional participation. "To care," was to be "emotionally stirred," with "a sensitiveness to shades of meaning" (no pagination).

I quote at length from this article because I find Dewey's appreciation of the value of care and emotional connectedness vital and vitally apt in describing the method of interpersonal relatedness I used to engage the participants in the co-creation of conversational reality. Appreciating the other was a fundament to Third Force psychologists and, in the following quote, we see that this appreciation for the other has had a very respectable history in educational theory as well.

I think one could go through the defects and mistakes of teaching and learning generally and find that they are associated with failure to secure emotional participation…

Appreciation, in short, is more than immediate and transient emotional stir and turmoil. It shapes things that come home to us, that we deeply realize have possibilities, entail consequences. To appreciate is to trace mentally these outleadings, to place the possibilities before the mind so that they have felt significance and value.

There is no fact and no idea or principle that is not pregnant, that does not lead out into other things. The greatest and commonest defect in teaching lies in presenting material in such a fashion that it does not arouse a sense of these leadings and a desire to follow them. There is then no appreciation, no personally experienced value, because what is presented is presented as if it had its meaning complete in itself, as if it were closed and shut.

Think over the teachers who made you aware of possibilities in the things which they taught and who bred in you a desire to realize those possibilities for yourself. I can give no better exemplification of the true nature of appreciation nor of its capacity to attend all subjects of instruction.

(Dewey, 1931, no pagination)

When I read Dewey's description of the power of appreciation, I felt that I understood the resistance that instructional technologists encountered when they tried to introduce technological innovation in schools (Hodas, 1993; MacPherson, 2000; Saba, 1999; Slowinski, 2000; Solmon, 2000). In none of these studies was there a sense of teacher appreciation. How can we expect teachers to appreciate what technologists have to offer if we do not respect and appreciate what teachers have to offer technology?

This study found that making it clear to participants/teachers that their input and their very being was respected, appreciated, and necessary to the change effort, transformed resistance into mutual appreciation and collaborative effort, focused on the goal of improving the educational environment.

Buber (1958, 1977), Maslow (1968a, 1971), and Rogers (1962, 1967, 1977, 1980) all expressed an awareness of the importance of interpersonal appreciation, similar to that expressed by Dewey in 1931. According to these theorists and clinicians, appreciating others was the challenge from which a specific process-dynamic, the magic of interpersonal growth and change, emerged.

Conversational reality theory (Shotter, 1993a) stood the materialist position on its head by privileging people, and especially people engaged in process. over objects. And Buber (1958) had made the same distinction years before when he claimed that the I/Thou relationship was the basis for a humane civility, whereas the I/It relationship was the basis for interpersonal antagonism.

Freedom in the United States is guaranteed by the constitution but laws alone cannot guarantee freedom because laws cannot make people free. We give freedom to one another by appreciating each other. Mutual appreciation, as a mode of relating, is fundamental to democratic process. Dewey understood that teachers have an extraordinary opportunity to offer experiences of freedom to their students. Certainly, in the fields of adult education, teacher education, and human resource development, democratic educators owe themselves and their students appreciation and freedom.

Bruner has always supported intellectual freedom in education, defined as a situational, constructivist, guiding that is respectful of an individual’s need to prove for themselves the truth of epistemological assertions. In his article, Learning and Thinking (1959), he stated, "Let us not judge our students simply on what they know. That is the philosophy of the quiz program. Rather, let them be judged on what they can generate from what they know — how well they can leap the barrier from learning to thinking" (p. 192). Bruner's implication here is that thinking generates action.

The necessity of proving for oneself, thinking for oneself, is a fundamental praxis of both scientific rationalism and artistic creativity. Also, more generally, thinking for oneself is a fundamental requirement for democratic (participatory and interpersonally negotiated) citizenship and therefore must be valued and included in learning experiences paid for by citizens of a democracy.

Changing our minds. Most of us have experienced speaking from a point of view that we can feel is changing even as we speak. We often continue explicating from our original point of view because otherwise the conversation loses its shape. Kuhn (1992) and the structure of our higher education system, have asserted, the first in content, the second in formal, curricular organization, that argument is the highest form of thinking. Deborah Tanner (1998) asserted that our culture thrives on argument. Often, even though we know we will change our minds later, we continue "to play the devil’s advocate," not because we are being devilish but, quite the contrary, because we are being socially acceptable, keeping the conversation going, or attempting to clarify the other person's point of view, or simply re-creating an antagonistic conversational reality that has become what Dewey might have called a habit. In any case, argument often brings forth information quicly (though whether or not it is the information we are seeking was discussed previously in Chapter Two in the section on Carol Gilligan’s work).

The presence of conflicting opinions is not necessarily a sign of difficulty. Conflicting opinions do not necessarily have to generate antagonistic conversational realities. An environment that supports different opinions is beneficial for creative activity. In this study, I found that I did not need to agree with participants in order to show interest and care. I found that I was most effective when I gave equal credence to all points of view, including my own. The interpersonal energy source for meaning-making is challenge. More research is needed on what sorts of conversational (cognitive and emotional) challenges are most conducive to democratic meaning-making: At what point does creative conflict become antagonistic polarization?

At any given moment, a researcher cannot know for certain whether or not a conversational partner is changing her point of view. During the conversation itself, the partners may appear to retain their original points of view when, in actuality, a great deal of adaptation is occurring. Practicing conversational reality theory or Ricoeurian hermeneutics, requires perceiving beyond expressed polarities to underlying, dynamic unities. In the context of democratic education, the most important underlying dynamic in a conversation is, quite simply, the participants’ commitment to participating in the conversation. In other words, both conversational reality theory and Ricoeurian hermeneutics have proposed that participants who are communicating are making an effort, are enmeshed in a process of mutuality. In this study, I found that, if a participant, in active communication with a researcher (myself) expressed an opinion that seemed contrary, nevertheless, that participant was taking part in the unity of collaborative worldmaking and, over the course of time, exhibited signs of having been affected by our conversation/collaboration.

During the group technology meeting with Archer - weeks after Gold had expressed to me intensely negative feelings and opinions regarding teachers and technology integration - Gold used exact words and phrases that I had used during our conversation in the hall to describe his own position on technology integration. I am aware of the research on men and women's conversational patterns and the propensity men have of taking official credit for ideas that women have introduced (Alic, 1986; Barber, 1994; Coates, 1986, 1988; Holmes, 1995; Kramarae, 1980; Spender, 1980, 1982a, 1982b; Tanner, 1986, 1990, 1994b, 2001; Waithe, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1995). However, for the purposes of this study, the most important conversational reality that was taking place at that moment was not a type of intellectual theft but rather the momentous collaborative achievement of interpersonal exchange: Gold had adopted my theory-in-use as his espoused theory.

If I had insisted on taking credit for the views that Gold was publicly espousing in Archer’s presence (my views), very little systemic change would have been accomplished. I would have only succeeded in embarrassing both Gold and myself. Instead, allowing Gold to adopt my theories as his own, my espoused theories created an impression in the participants that a more teacher-friendly technology policy was more likely (than previously) to occur. This created hope, a a generally beneficial addition to a change effort. My goal as an action researcher was not the same as a feminist’s or a critical pedagogist's. My goal was to initiate change in such a way that it could sustain itself after I had left the system. If my goals had been feminist or critical, I would have felt obliged to challenge Gold’s taking credit for my ideas.

More research is needed comparing the effects of various conversational approaches on systemic change. Ideally, I would be able to spend more time in the environment and find ways to express many interpretive levels, complicating and deepening the conversation; but more often than not, the change agent has only a limited time in the environment and more research would help us make decisions as to which type of analytic is best to express under which circumstances.

My choice, as an action researcher, to openly share information with someone who was openly in conflict with me, had the result of bringing that information into the system from more than one source. Then, because my opinion (that the goal of information technology initiatives should be student use, not teacher competency) was offered by two participants known to be at odds and then echoed by Archer, the information became widely accepted. I consider this the most surprising achievement of the action research and it was brought about through practicing conversational reality during a single, very challenging conversation between Gold and myself.

Creative and Critical Intelligence

My favorite educative conversations are a combination of creative and critical thinking. My favorite teachers have captured my imagination and influenced my methods of ratiocination by engaging me in conversations that are rich in this powerful combination. For me, critical thought is like the spine of a creature, every bone has to be connected in a certain way, or the creature cannot move. Creative thinking is best likened to the coordination of the organs, the rhythm of the body's myriad activities, purposeful, continuously adjusting to circumstances by means of combinations of communicative and generative activities.

Sable's invitation to practice research with a group of art teachers was particularly enticing to me because I anticipated an opportunity to bring two parts of my life and thought into closer alignment in an educational experience that would unite artistic praxis (creative methods and products) with critical thought (analysis, synthesis, and thematic self-reflection). I was not disappointed. This section describes some intricacies of the weave of creative and critical thinking/action.

Vygotsky on the psychology of art. Vygotsky graduated from Moscow University in 1917, the year that marks the success of the Russian revolution. He was in Moscow studying during the years that led up to this momentous alteration of Russian society. While Vygotsky was studying psychology at the official Moscow University, he was also studying art and philosophy at the Moscow free university (Wertsch, 1984).

Vygotsky's theories regarding the origins of thought were influenced by his understanding of the artistic process. In his earliest book, The Psychology of Art (1925/1971), Vygotsky stated that, "Thus, the psyche of social man is viewed as the general substratum common to all the ideologies of a given era, including art. And we also recognize that art is determined and conditioned by the psyche of social man." (Vygotsky quotes in this section lack pagination, as they were taken from: http://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1925/art1.htm)

Later, Vygotsky would theorize the social foundation of psychology. Vygotsky's view that art reflected and affected the social psyche prefigured the later work of art therapists such as Alida Gersie (1997), an expert in guiding people as they re-story their personal narratives.

According to Harrison (1911, 1962, 1973), art was originally used to extend religious ontological explorations, making the world a less terrifying and more habitable place, psychologically. According to Vygotsky, seemingly in agreement with both Harrison's perception and Dewey's (1934) and Dissanayake’s (1988) that art praxis is fundamental to the functioning of social realities, "art arises originally as a powerful tool in the struggle for existence; the idea of reducing its role to a communication of feeling with no power or control over that feeling, is inadmissible."

And further:

If the only purpose of a tragic poem were to infect us with the author's sorrow, this would be a very sad situation indeed for art. The miracle of art reminds us much more of another miracle in the Gospel, the trans- formation of water into wine. Indeed, art's true nature is that of transubstantiation, something that transcends ordinary feelings; for the fear, pain, or excitement caused by art includes something above and beyond its normal, conventional content.

This "something" overcomes feelings of fear and pain, changes water into wine, and thus fulfills the most important purpose of art. One of the great thinkers said once that art relates to life as wine relates to the grape. With this he meant to say that art takes its material from life, but gives in return something which its material did not contain.


It is my view, from long experience, that art is transcendant to the degree that its praxis is collaborative (interpersonally and/or kinesthetic-materially). Even the cliché image of the lonely painter or poet in the garret includes the paints and canvas in the case of the painter or the pen, paper, and candle in the case of the poet. In alignment with the biblical maxim that when two or more individuals come together, the substantiality of spirituality is increased, is the Vygotskian view that when two or more individuals come together, opportunities for socio-constructivism increase.

Negotiated meaning-making. I heartily approve of teacher resistance to any simplistic representation of an archetypal human relationship such as the relationship between teacher and student. In this study, I found that teacher resistance to simplistic representations of the magic (as yet lacking substantive, critical description and analysis) of teaching/learning moments was a sign of the health of a beleaguered educational system owing to the courage of individuals working steadfastly within its not-so-temperate zone.

Failing a Pinarian reconceptualization (1975) of the process of education, the least instructional technologists ought to be able to acknowledge is the superior complexity of any teacher's mind (and heart) to the capabilities of any machine or pre-designed instructional system. Unfortunately, affording teachers respect on the basis of the complexity of their humanity, rather than reifying computer efficiency and Gagne-influenced (1977) educational designs, is rare in the present educational atmosphere (Papanek, 1992). Conversational reality theory holds that negotiated meaning-making is the central (shared) activity that takes place during a conversation and further, that negotiated meaning-making emphasizes relationship, shared activity, and the ongoing process of co-worldmaking over winning and losing objects, status, or power.

It pains me to see or read about living, breathing, participating teachers made subservient to machine logic and any kind of systemized thought. In this study we found that, within a humanitarian approach that values all kinds of knowledge, we could integrate technology and art into the curriculum. The core participants had no desire to privilege themselves or anyone nor did they follow any ideology. The teachers and administrators who worked with me during the course of this study were hardworking and able. They accepted any knowledge of computers and technology that would help them in their work with students and peers.

The participants in my study were often at the mercy of intra- and interpersonal crises resulting from an inability to integrate creative and critical thinking well enough to envision an educational purpose broader than efficiency, for technology into the curriculum. Art/articulation made it possible for some of us to state our problems while simultaneously participating in their resolution.

Unless as change agents we wish to restrict ourselves to using extrinsic, aggressive motivators such as various forms of economic force and material or social threats, we must learn more about the interpersonal, meaning-making dynamics that take place in conversations so that we can participate more fully, with increased awareness and sensitivity to the (shades of) meaning the other person is trying to convey.

A critical/creative articulation. What follows is a prose-poem, an example of a creative/critical response to the challenge of integrating art and technology in an educational environment


A cRiTicAlcReaTive ARTiculation

You and me: I and Thou; and we are all together.

Who is art?


Who are you?

Arendt, 1954, 1977; Berman, 1982;
Berners-Lee, 1999; Buber, 1958;
Gersie, 1997; Gibson, 1975;
Gilligan, 1990; Habermas, 1984; Koestler, 1964; Maslow, 1971; Nussbaum, 1990, 1998;
Rogers, 1980…

What we need it to be.

What is art?

What are you?

Sesonske, 1965; Tolstoy, 1898…

Whenever/Now: Is, was and always will be: Working skillfully.

When is art?

When are you?

Dissanayake, 1988; Eisner, 1999;
Fairhurst, 1996; Francastel, 2000;
Guggenheim, 1960; Haskell, 1993;
Goodman, 1978…

Here, there and everywhere but especially

in the Briar Patch with the other refugees from the war of wor(l)ds

Where is art?

Where are you?


Blandy, 1987; Efland, 1990;
Eisner, 1994; Greene, 1978;
Ott, 1984; Randall, 1995…

It makes us feel better (or worse) it makes us feel more- human.

Why is art?

Why are you?

Carey, 1988; Efland, 1996;
Eisner, 1998; Gardner, 1990;
Gersie, 1997; Harrison, 1962, 1973;
Trend, 1992…

Far-too-far-away-from-fine …and you? How ARE you?

How is art?





Dissanayake, 1992; Eisner, 1985a;
Gersie & King, 1990;
Goodman, 1978; Greene, 1995;
Koestler, 1964; Langer, 1963;
Robinson, 2001;
Vygotsky, 1925/1971…


Any interaction can be thought of as an initial condition. A researcher can move as delicately as a butterfly and, if Bertalanffy (1975), Prigogine (1984), and Lorenz (1993) were correct, the data will be affected. It is not necessary to control a system in order to affect it; it is only necessary to participate. And therefore follows a corollary salient to social science research - that the way we participate affects the dynamics of the system.

More research is needed in how researchers' relational stances affect social science research projects. Of particular interest to me would be research describing the intricate weave of critical and creative thought during conversations in educational environments with careful attention given to any correspondence in the patterns/weaves (of critical and creative thought) to relational stances between individuals.

Justice and Care

A Ricoeurian hermeneutic (Ricoeur, 1986, 1991, 1992, 1997) is a particular type of creative textual analytic whose purpose is synthesis. Before this study I had never used a Ricoeurian hermeneutic to synthesize my analyses of experience. Ricoeur's technique can be described as pursuing the examination, the critique of an idea until an underlying symbolism (Cassirer, 1955a, 1955b, 1955c, 1955d) reveals itself. When an interpreter is able to identify a symbolic basis of a text, generally, that symbol system will be a response or a link corresponding to a shared human experience or need. Following Ricoeur’s examples, I found that a researcher (myself) can perceive the common humanity underlying all the symbol systems used by participants. Perceiving a human unity of need or experience, a researcher (myself) can create a cognitive synthesis (a reconceptualization) that includes/values more than one perspective. This section on justice and care is a very abbreviated example of a Ricoeurian hermeneutic (interpretation) on the cultural conversation on justice and care as poles of moral orientation.

Ricoeurian hermeneutic technique involves stating the text under analysis, in this case, Gilligan's work on moral orientations, and then conveying analyses of other texts perceived as relevant to the first text's perspective. The purpose of the hermeneutic is to create an analytic movement, a circle, that begins with the text in question, goes as far as the analyst is capable of going and returns to the original text but with, hopefully, a more resonant (thicker, richer) appreciation of the derivation, meaning, and the potentials for action in the original text.

The originating text in historical perspective. Gilligan's dichotomization of justice and care as poles of moral orientation (1987, 1988) brought an ancient theological debate into the social psychology conversation.

The Old Testament had defined justice as a kind of balance that could be achieved through forms of retribution, "an eye for an eye." This definition of justice was modified significantly in the New Testament where justice was understood to include actions of mercy and forgiveness. Skillfully, Gilligan has brought an ancient theological conversation concerning the tension between Old Testament justice and New Testament mercy into a postmodern, interpersonal, relational, psychological framework.

The conflict between justice and mercy has often been bound up with questions of equality: Can equality between persons be established and judged according to external circumstances alone or do questions involving intangible qualities, such as love, respect, and care, have a place in the evaluation of equality?

A relevant legal text. Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote the Supreme Court decision (1954) for Brown vs. The Board of Education. Thurgood Marshall's argument had been that "separate but equal" could never lead to true equality; that separation makes equality impossible. Equality connotes interaction, and interaction can only be achieved through inclusion. I quote at length from this classic decision because it is a perfect example of the exercise of the — justice of the - ethic of care in education. Marshall convinced the Warren court that the only way to make people equal was to recognize their needs, and make it possible for those needs to come together with those of others, to share in the opportunities afforded by democratic education to better ourselves.

The following quote is taken from the Warren Court's decision in that case:

Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship... In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.

We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does.

(Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States,
Earl Warren, 1954)

Marshall's argument for inclusion/diversity in educational environments was based partly on the fact that school is compulsory in the United States. Education is a necessary part of a democratic society and thus cannot be avoided. Because school cannot be avoided, the Warren court found that laws regarding education must exercise both types of moral reasoning - the type of moral reasoning that deals with a tangible, objectively verifiable justice and the type of moral reasoning that deals with an intangible, emotionally dynamic care. Ethical justice assures a reasonable (e)quality of tangible resources while ethical care assures a reasonable (e)quality of intangible essences of experience.

Technology is bound to become ubiquitous and compulsory in schools in the United States in the 21st century. Teachers will have to use technology. Because technology will be a necessity and cannot be avoided, methodologies regarding the educational use of technology must include both types of moral reasoning. Justice-reasoning will ensure a reasonable equality of tangible, technological resources while care-reasoning will provide an emotional/cognitive environment conducive to democratic equality.

A relevant conversational reality text. In my face-to-face meeting with Archer, he assured me that the problem of teachers not utilizing technology in their classrooms would be alleviated the following school year, 2001-2002. Archer said that the school district was introducing a mandatory computer-based reporting system that teachers would be required to use. All records, attendance and grades, would have to be submitted on the networked computer in each classroom. Hands-on teacher training in the use of this system was not part of the change management of this new requirement. However, according to Archer, requiring teachers to use computers for administrative purposes would accomplish the instructional technology goal of teachers using technology.

I questionned this approach, asking Archer if this was not yet another example of force being used to motivate teachers. I did not understand why the head of instructional technology for the district was willing to introduce computer technology to teachers through administrative necessities rather than through pedagogic rationalities. And I was seriously concerned that the head of instructional technology for the district was more concerned with the efficiency of this approach than with its interpersonal or pedagogical effects.

These questions were the only ones that Archer avoided during our conversation. He countered my query with an enthusiastic description of the new national curriculum that was being introduced district-wide. This new curriculum emphasized "accountability in speech." I acknowledged to Archer that I understood that this was the district’s goodwill gesture towards creating an educative environment. However, while I applaud accountability, I suspect that accountability used as an ultimate value will leave issues of care without a linguistically supported administrative basis.

I was working in the school in the Fall of 2001 when the teachers at Captain Dewey High were having to use the new computer-based reporting system. The system had not been thoroughly tested before being implemented district-wide and there were hundreds of problems on that one campus. Records, lost in cyber space, were resubmitted many times. Records were unaccountably altered: students were reported missing when they were present; failing grades were given to students who were doing well. I often witnessed teachers asking other teachers, in desperation, whether they had been able to access one or another system functionality. Hours were spent in sorting the mistakes made by the technology. The technology help desk was overburdened and unable to answer all the distress calls. Many report cards went out with the wrong information, causing all sorts of distress in the community.

However, lest I leave the reader with the impression that the experience was damaging or worthless, let me express another impression I had as I witnessed teacher frustration, confusion, and anger: teachers were talking about technology more than ever before. Teachers were seeking out experts in technology who were known to be kind, understanding, and fair as well as knowledgeable; teachers like Bryght, Genesis, and Wiser. Teachers were collaborating on problem solving. Technology lost some of its aura of perfection, and teachers gained much in the way of confidence. Some teachers found that they knew more than the computers ever could, and that intelligent human beings (teachers) were needed to function as intermediaries between students and computerized administrations. In other words, the justice of forcing all teachers into the same exact situation with regard to technology had brought forth the ethic of care in teachers and led to increased instances of collaboration and peer support. However, many teachers were exhausted, many students were frustrated, and many parents were worried unnecessarily.

Coming full circle. In the Old Testament, instances can be found (cf. Abraham and Isaac) of justice and care working in tandem rather than at odds. In Brown vs. Board of Education and in my own experiences during this study, we can note an increasing awareness of the importance of the interrelationship of these two qualities of moral reasoning. Justice provides a means for rationalizing an equal distribution of tangible resources (no mean feat) while care provides a means for nurturing an ecology of democratic relationships (no less an achievement). Further research is needed on patterns and levels of integration between these two reasoning domains.

I end this discussion with a long quote, another excerpt from Democracy and Education (1916) in which Dewey outlined for the reader the unity of the "natural sciences." Although I would prefer to call these sciences, the "life sciences," I heartily concur with Dewey’s assertion that beneath the educational division between science and the humanities lies the unity of the more fundamental "natural [life] sciences." I have broken up a single one of Dewey’s paragraphs to make his (to today’s standards) rather dense language more easily interpretable:

At the outset, the rise of modern science prophesied a restoration of the intimate connection of nature and humanity, for it viewed knowledge of nature as the means of securing human progress and well-being.

But the more immediate applications of science were in the interests of a class rather than of men in common; and the received philosophic formulations of scientific doctrine tended either to mark it off as merely material from man as spiritual and immaterial[,] or else to reduce mind to a subjective illusion.

In education, accordingly the tendency was to treat the sciences as a separate body of studies, consisting of technical information regarding… physical [phenomena], and to reserve the older literary studies as distinctively humanistic.

[My] account…of the evolution of knowledge, and of the educational scheme of studies based upon it, are designed to overcome the separation, and to secure recognition of the place occupied by the subject matter of the natural sciences in human affairs. (p. 290).

Discussion: Democratic Process

In my study, I found that teacher resistance to technology was partly due to the way technology was managed. Decisions regarding technology were made at the highest levels of the educational bureaucracy. Technology methodology was handed down to teachers as a form of educational engineering rather than as a medium for communication.

Technology is a hybrid of rhetorical logics merged with forms of data organization. Computers were originally designed to handle mechanical and computational processes for industrial and military purposes, have evolved to benefit artistic and communicative social purposes.

Critical pedagogists (Apple, 1979, 1982; Giroux, 1981) have carefully delineated how certain ideologies systematically disempower teachers and students. When computer technology is introduced into educational environments as representative of machine logic, teachers who are already concerned with the place of humanism in the curriculum might rightfully be suspect that technology will further alienate and disempower students. Empowerment in education is usually defined as an increase in individual self-esteem and autonomous, spontaneous, group harmony. Although technology is capable of supporting individual self-actualization and group effectiveness, its potential for connectivity is not as often offered to educators as its efficient enablement of standardization.

It is my opinion that the very predictability of computer technology that was useful for military and industrial purposes is anathema to some teachers. It was my experience in this study that teachers (especially art teachers and those who had strong spiritual commitments) were adept at the subtle inferences and gradual alterations in relationships that constitute meaning-making. In the technology in education research articles mentioned earlier (Hodas, 1993; Saba, 1999; Solmon, 2000; Slowinski, 2000)), the representatives of technology innovation appeared to be unaware of the delicate, relational balance that teachers maintain in their classrooms. Therefore, the technologists' actions could have been perceived as disrespectful to teachers. Teacher resistance to technology then might not have been resistance to the potential connectivity that technology could provide, not a resistance to technology's liberating, humanitarian Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) but a resistance to being bullied by technocrats who seemed ignorant of the relational, communicative, imperatives of a progressive, Deweyan, educative classroom.

In the following section, I will discuss Gordon Lippitt and Kurt Lewin's (1939) study that suggested that the relationship between teachers and students is reflected in the dynamics of classroom conversations and the meaning-making that can occur therein.

Lewin and Lippitt’s Social Experiment

In 1939, in an article in The Harvard Educational Review, Kurt Lewin reported an experiment he designed with Gordon Lippitt. Lewin stated that he was attempting to take "the mysticism out of the group conception and [bring] the problem down to a thoroughly empirical and testable basis" (p. 23). Lewin and Lippitt found that, "the atmosphere a teacher creates as well as her skill" (p. 24), affected the learning that took place under her aegis. Specifically, Lewin, a refugee from Nazi Germany, was interested in the difference between autocratic and democratic educational environments. In this dramatic study, an autocratic classroom was structured so that the teacher did all the talking, and a democratic classroom was structured so that students were active participants in meaning-making activities. "The democratic group chose its activities, whatever they chose, the autocratic group had to do" (pp. 24-5).

Lewin reported that, in the autocratic classroom, procedures were defined and dictated by the authority figure who also determined the work groups; and that, "polic[ies were] determined by [the] strongest person," while, in the democratic classroom, "all policies [were] a matter of group determination." In the democratic group, the teacher freely discussed concepts and procedures with the group whereas in the autocratic group, the teacher never gave reasons for either criticism or praise. Lewin reported that the "style of living and thinking" (p. 27) of the leader was adopted by the group; and there was 30 times as much hostile behavior among the students in the autocratic group than in the democratic classroom where students, instead of exhibiting antagonism, often deferred to one another.

I cannot help but notice that although we expect classroom teachers today to use at least some democratic procedures as outlined by Lewin (1939), we almost always introduce new material to teachers in an autocratic manner. Generally, teachers are not free to choose with whom they work, nor are they free to discuss with authorities the new curricular designs and regulations that they are expected to realize year after year.

Defining Democratic Process in Education Today

In James Tarrant’s Democracy and Education (1989), Tarrant argued that the commitment to educate citizens was a moral obligation of a democratic polity. Tarrant defined a citizen as someone capable of making choices based on reason. Tarrant later expanded his argument (1991, 2000, 2001) to criticize modern utilitarianism and postmodern commercialism for abandoning commitment to individual's right to self-determination and the concomitant exercise of civic responsibility. Tarrant’s critique of utilitarianism made the point that the utilitarian assertions that people act for their own good and that happiness is the ultimate good have been used to justify training people for work without teaching them how to question the nature and value of work itself. Tarrant's critique of postmodernism was that it had absorbed commercially manipulated values without question (2000). Essentially, Tarrant's assertion was that educators have a moral-democratic obligation to teach their students how to question intelligently and effectively.

According to Dewey (1916) and Arendt (1963), the democratic process does not consist simply in voting for the candidate most likely to get us what we want. These great thinkers understood the democratic process as a relational stance in which people engaging in dialogue transform themselves and their society. Democratic dialogue rejects the premise that the strongest force wins by overpowering the opposition. Democratic dialogue is an enlightenment concept based on new world experiences valuing (appreciating) the astounding abilities of individuals working together, creating and maintaining a precarious existence through collaborative work.

Democracy has never been an easy process, it requires a continuous redefinition of mutual rights and responsibilities, of self and other. Enlightenment scholars did not assert that democracy was a natural state. Quite the contrary, democracy is a human achievement, an ongoing attempt to actualize in a body politic a spiritual understanding of the inherent, intrinsic equality of persons. Mass education in the United States, the commitment to universal literacy, was a result of the realization that democracy requires educated citizens who are able to choose autonomously, and to work collaboratively. This is the realization that Tarrant (1989) defined as a moral-democratic, curricular imperative.

In On Revolution (1963), Hannah Arendt described the American revolution as the only successful democratic revolution, the only revolution that brought about a genuinely sustainable political democracy. According to Arendt, the long-term political success of the American Revolution was due to the fact that democratic process had developed indigenously, prior to the revolt against English rule. And therefore, the constitution of the United States was not a vision statement but a description of an existing political reality, a social and conversational praxis. Our constitution was not a dream, nor a set of rules handed down to a mass of people from the decisions of a political elite. Our constitution was a description and a furtherance of how our body politic was then constituted. We practiced democracy before democracy was politically institutionalized. Our legal constitution reflected and set out to guarantee that future Americans would be able to continue to extend this democatic art, this democratic experiment. According to Arendt and Dewey, the experience of democratic process is the basis, an ever-evolving basis, of democracy.

The life sciences. The life sciences are those sciences that explore organic life, define, delineate, and manipulate life processes. In Human Anatomy and Physiology (Hole, 1993), life is defined as characterized by ten processes: movement, responsiveness, growth, reproduction, respiration, digestion, absorption, circulation, assimilation, and excretion (p. 7). James Miller, in his astounding book, Living Systems (1995), showed how myriads of life patterns and processes throughout the multiplicity of animate life correspond to one another. According to Miller, human beings are living systems whose life processes are similar to, and sometimes precisely the same as, those of other living systems. Miller proposed that social organizations were also living systems and could be analyzed on the basis of their life processes, that which sustained the life of the organism. Accordingly, biology is a life science - and so is education.

Learning is undoubtedly a process and one upon which not only adaptation (sufficiency) but also survival (necessity) depends. Learning, in its natural state (if the reader will forgive that fanciful metaphor) is a process that promotes life. For me, learning has been the most essential life process. My point is that learning is not a thing, an object that can be examined, nor can it be iteratively articulated as a series of behaviors. Rather, learning is a process in which a living being enters into a relationship with some other in such a way as to integrate information and inevitably then or later, slightly or greatly, both organisms change. Learning cannot be a one-way process. Learning must involve another organism that is also somehow affected by the interaction.

This research began as my effort to join others who work to diminish the destructiveness of educational mythologies that divide people from themselves and from each other. My work has been embedded in a socio-constructivism that takes as an assumption that we all participate in the co-creation of society through each and every interaction, I and Thou, you (the reader) and me (the writer). In order to create change in a school environment, a technology innovation, I used action and qualitative research methodologies to encourage and participate in a moral-democratic learning process.

Implications: Educational Praxis as Democratic Process

"In my own reading, dreaming, creating, intuiting, and thinking," (Mink, 1998, p. 1), I have found that I am deeply devoted and addicted (shamelessly) to learning. For me, learning is life. Democracy is the only socio-political system I know of that incorporates within its ideology the right and responsibility of citizens to learn, develop, and grow.

My definition of democracy is that system of socio-political organization whose fundamental, interpersonal interaction process is negotiation and whose product is a progressively wider scope of human inclusion in decision making/sharing and in worldmaking/sharing. Democracy is a complex system that requires an educational system to support its drive to include and produce.

Historically, in the United States the mass education system has been analyzed and judged, argued and altered, most comprehensively in the arena of curriculum studies. Curriculum studies examines educational systems to determine what elements are more or less conducive to and supportive of learning. My study has been an inquiry into the potential efficacy of conversation, used as a tool to further democratic processes during a change initiative in a high school. The change effort was directed by a group of fine arts teachers and focused on the goal of improving a school web site. Collaboration, conversation, care and connectivity were the underlying themes, purposes, goals, and meanings of my actions, my thinking, reading, dreaming, intuiting, and creating.

Implications for Future Research

Farhad Saba, in New Academic Year Starts with Controversy over the Use of Technology (1999), reported that teacher resistance to technology was due to faculty anxiety and lack of technology support staff. Teacher resistance was attributed to individuals feeling insufficiently trained and insufficiently supported by technicians. Saba indicated that cognitive paradigms, operative in the environment, held back teacher participation. My study also found that teacher resistance to technology was related to the lack of technical support. I did not find, however, that cognitive paradigms held back teachers but rather, that conflicting paradigms often made it difficult for teachers to collaborate on solutions to technical problems.

Saba freely reported that the teachers felt anxiety and a lack of institutional support but Saba did not report that he felt any anxiety or lack of institutional support even though he was surely outnumbered in the field. My impression of Saba's report was that the technologist failed to perceive his own thinking as paradigmatic or influenced by emotional needs. In a competitive research community, it can be personally and professionally debilitating to share publicly, feelings of vulnerability.

One implication that my study has for future research is in the reiteration of the value of social science researchers' commitment to self-reflective, qualitative research and the ethic of care. This commitment can mitigate against the tendency to blame teachers for systemic problems and open our eyes to the unity of the learning process in which we are taking part. I hold to the qualitative methodology premise that there are no neutral observers or researchers, that the act of studying an event, an environment, an educational situation, inevitably affects what is being studied.

Argyris (1971) wrote, "Is it possible to develop research procedures which … challenge, confront, re-design, and manage the environment in which [we work] in such a way that the job gets done and [we actualize] more aspects of [ourselves]…? I believe it is, especially where the social scientist joins with the subjects, together to study and re-design their environment" (p. 566). If we are bound to affect our experiments and our experiences then, as knowledge workers, we need to understand more about how we are affecting systems by participating in them.

This study used the systems theory premise of sensitivity to initial conditions in a collaboration with a core group of participants; changing either the core group or the initial conditions (the conversations), theoretically, will change the outcomes. An interesting twist on the design of this study would be to have two researchers working as I did, each using unique conversational strategies with different core-group participants; and then to compare the types of curricular integration that occurs, looking for patterns related to subject area and meaning-making styles. Further improvement on this study would be to revisit the campus over a period of years to study the effects of different initial conditions and core group characteristics on long-term change.

Implications for Practice

Present democratic structure requires that mass education policy be controlled by the government. However, there is no reason for mass education policies to be controlled by special interests, whether business, military, or religious. A mass education system in a democracy must have its own values, separate from those of all other major institutions. Education must have learning as its highest value or else deteriorate to the dissemination of propaganda and the perpetration of permanent apprenticeships, serving elite purposes.

In the large body of literature reporting the resistance of teachers to technology in schools, I found little examination of the nature of that resistance and, at least in the instructional technology literature, no serious questioning, examination, or criticism of the values that are intrinsic in the design and ontologies of our present educational technology. My hope is that this study will open a path to examining teacher resistance to technology less prejudicially. If students are meant to be the primary beneficiaries of the availability of computers in education, how do the teachers, administrators, and parents fit into this vision? What are the students meant to do with electronic information? What sort of experiences and interactions are modeled, shared, and communicated as those towards which students are expected to strive?

I found too often for my intellectual comfort, technology being spoken of as a thing that must be acquired with no mention of its educational meanings or purposes. Complex forms of mechanization (such as information technology) are said to be "efficient" and yet, educational technologies have been problematic in every environment in which they have been introduced. We do not need to shy away from the challenge of integrating efficiency with more expansive learning values. Surely, the challenge is similar to that inherent in the integration of justice and care, or creative and critical thinking.

Dewey understood that it was interpersonal interactions that made the difference between the exercise of routine habits and moments of genuine learning. Dewey wrote that, "Efficiency ... is reduced to a mechanical routine unless workers see the technical, intellectual, and social relationships involved in what they do, and engage in their work because of the motivation furnished by such perceptions" (1916, p. 85). It is a disservice to those who question the forms, and purposes of instructional technology to label them resistant. And it is inhumane to then concentrate instructional technology change efforts on breaking, or transforming that resistance without a serious attempt to interpret our own labeling practices and purposes.

My efforts were to speak of and relate to technology as a means of facilitating educative process. My efforts were to attempt to relate to participants as equals, as democratic citizens, co-workers in the field of education. The teachers I worked with closely were more than willing to integrate technology into their curricula, on their own terms. They asked me to provide advice and guidance. Teachers rarely asked me for instructions but, once we had established trust, they did not hesitate to ask me to instruct their students. Most teachers in this study preferred to learn while watching me teach, rather than by participating in a teacher-student relationship with me. The few times that teachers adopted a student role with me, there were no students anywhere nearby. I interpreted this, not as a resistance to instruction but as hesitancy to create insecurity in students by even temporarily abandoning the role of teacher in their presence (mothers often exhibit this same inclination in relation to their children).

Culture is a shared ritual. School, an element of our culture, is a shared ritual. What do we celebrate in this ritual? What is reinforced, valued? Modern culture valued progress, urbanization, and mechanization. Postmodern culture tends towards a re-evaluation of progress in the context of community, ecology, and the ethic of care. I suggest that curriculum theorists interested in technology integration in the schools recognize the importance of celebration and identify joyful, caring ways to share information, skills, and resources with specific schools and individual teachers; to influence the social ecology of education towards connectivities that support group and individual self-actualization.

Who among us can afford to cease questioning our underlying values and purposes, our motives and motivations? In the interest of technological progress, we cannot afford to circumvent traditional debate and justify ourselves when we forgo democratic conversation in our haste to create change. The means are the set (or series) of initial conditions that brings into being a particular change. The ends, the result of the change process, develop from, and cannot be separated from, the means that brought them into being.

Implications for Theory

We are all frightened of change to one degree or another. Change connotes the unknown, the unknown connotes that we will not know how to behave, what to say; we might find ourselves abandoned, incapable, bereft. A change agent is not without fears of his own (Hirschhorn, 1988; Mink, 1998). Harrison pointed out that learning can mitigate fear. If a change agent engages in an interchange with a participant as a learner as well as a teacher, aware of the potential mutuality in the meeting with another, the participant is subliminally freed from assuming a subservient position and co-agentic conversation and action are more likely to occur.

In my view, a change agent/consultant’s primary roles are listener and responder and her primary focus is the response-ability to provide just-in-time learning. The change agent's role is to manifest sensitivity, to respond to the subtle hints people share when they are ready to engage in discussion. The fear that conversation is not enough is ever-present. However, this study found that educators can trust conversation. We can align ourselves with Vygotsky's view that language is the preeminent tool for socio-cultural development. We can exercise the generosity of spirit, advised by Maimonides (1200/1946) as essential to the development of the whole/holistic intelligence. We can practice generosity in conversation in such a way that we scaffold, in Bruner’s sense (1990), the learner/participant emotionally as well as cognitively. Scaffolding a learner emotionally requires the more experienced partner to provide reassurance when necessary, to model consistently an emotionally engaged intellectualism, and to refrain from abandoning close-knit, respectful participation during a change process.

I have coined the term, emotional scaffolding to mean a particularization of the ethic of care in education. Emotional scaffolding is an active, participatory openness to the needs of learners consisting of: 1) an awareness that emotion is the ground from which intelligence arises. (Damasio's (1999) neurological research has extended William James' (1890) conception of cognition as emerging from emotion.); and, 2) because emotion is implicated in every facet of learning (via relationships), and because those persons in the role of learners are risking change, a change agent in the role of educator must provide emotional as well as intellectual guidance. Emotional scaffolding includes reassurance, respect, and unconditional positive regard for self and other. Emotional scaffolding is a relational dynamic that consists of a sensitivity to the potential in the learner (similar to what Vygotsky (1934/1962) described as the Zone of Proximal Development), and the ability to provide just-in-time learning in the form of encouragement and support i.e. teaching by example, modeling the approach the change agent wishes to introduce into the system, and feeling free to be influenced emotionally by people, events, and circumstances.

My conceptualization of educational, emotional scaffolding includes the premise that, since learning takes place in the context of relationship and conversation, emotional scaffolding must be mutual in order to be truly democratic. In practice, this means that the person in the role of educator must be openly risking change along with those in the role of learner.

Although I have brought the term emotional scaffolding into the conversation, the act itself and the efficacy of this approach to inspire learning relationships with others has been well documented (Buber, 1958; Fromm, 1956; Maslow, 1968a; Rogers, 1980; Bateson, 1979; Belenky 1997; Bovard, 2000; Bradshaw, 1996; Brown & Gilligan, 1992; Ellsworth, 1989; Gersie, 1997; Gilligan, 1990; Goldstein, 1997; Goleman, 1995; Gunzburg, 1997; Hirschhorn, 1988; Leonard, 1968; Miller, 1980; Mink, 1998; Noddings, 1981; Nussbaum, 1990; Oyler, 1996; and Velleman; 1999). Further research on emotional scaffolding could support a humanist approach to technology integration in schools and to change initiatives in general.

In Conclusion: Participation

To oscillate between drill exercises that strive to attain efficiency in outward doing without the use of intelligence, and an accumulation of knowledge that is supposed to be an ultimate end in itself, means that education accepts the present social conditions as final, and thereby takes upon itself the responsibility for perpetuating them.

(Dewey 1916, p. 137)

I end my study as I began, seeking an articulation of the possibilities for collaboration, conversation, care, and connectivity that technology affords to educators. Technology has the potential to support teachers. Teachers have so much to offer instructional technologists and designers. And yet, in the field of educational technology, as in so many other educational arenas, the research focus remains on closed systems and could be characterized as obsessively concerned with efficiency, standardization, control, and correct answers.

Although the classroom drills, memorization exercises, and timed tests of my school years were onerous and deadening, they were thrilling, passionate, and interactive compared to some of the blindingly boring, computer-based, education packages designed with the same principles of interpersonal interaction as the digitized telephone operator recordings that make us wait while all the choices are listed, none of which suit our particular need or question. During the drills, memorization exercises, and timed tests of my school days, anything could happen; in every moment there lurked the possibility of an unexpected event, a human intervention, a strange attractor emerging and taking us in a new direction. A bored student could at least hope that something interesting might happen.

Learning, or any other type of organic growth, is not an additive but a transformative process. For an organic, living creature to incorporate something new, a transformation in the organism must occur. Professional teachers have many opportunities to share a variety of miniscule and mighty transformations with students. In my collaborations with professional teachers over a period of over 30 years, and in particular in this action research study, I have witnessed a particularly acute sensitivity in teachers to issues of transformation. Some teachers prefer to encourage deep and profound transformations in their students while other teachers prefer to initiate subtle, almost imperceptible changes in student perceptions. I have not yet worked with a teacher who was resistant to the concept of change, on the contrary, teachers are immersed in a daily, experiential, situation-based, change process called education.

In Democracy and Education (1916) and in Experience and Education (1938), Dewey claimed that democracy was an experience and that educational experiences (in a democracy) should be democratic experiences. Dewey’s interpretation of democratic experience in education focused on the dignity and respect of persons. In Dewey’s view, the teacher was to take a student's rights and responsibilities as a democratic citizen seriously, engaging with her in relational, relevant discourse and activities.

I end this narrative without an answer but with new questions: Why not examine the roles that social scientists play as we carry out our research? How are we creating culture as we study it? What interpersonal dynamics do we create as we converse with participants? As social scientists, it is our job to create definitions of culture. To abstract and concretize the ephemera of experience so that people can use our research to make informed decisions surely requires us to broaden our perspective beyond polarity thinking and the use of distanciation, force, threats, humiliation, or any other dehumanizing perspectives in interpersonal communication.

Our culture has spawned a digital technology. A shared, cultural, definition of the appropriate use of digital technology in educational environments will require deep and sincere questioning, many scientific and artistic experiments, and a democratic, conversational praxis, in order to emerge and evolve. As social scientists, we cannot afford to neglect our responsibility to participate and self-reflect as we question, observe, predict, describe, and inform.


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