The Scholarship of Teaching: Beyond the Anecdotal

January 15, 2009

Salvatori’s article appears at an opportune time for the Visible Knowledge Project: over the next few months we will deepen our collective engagement with student learning through small group discussions and begin to represent our findings in the electronic posters. Duke University Press has graciously agreed to let us reprint two key paragraphs from Salvatori’s article in this newsletter. The entire article is available online as a part of Project MUSE and is available through many university libraries.

From page 298:

“. . .The most salient characteristic of the scholarship of teaching (which in my work I have called “pedagogy as reflexive praxis” [Salvatori 1996: 345] is unprecedented attentiveness to students’ work, their cultural capital, and their learning as a litmus test for the theories that inform a teacher’s approach. This focus has fostered an understanding of the classroom as a site where student voices are actually heard, where their knowledges are actually acknowledged and engaged, where teachers reconceive teaching and themselves as they learn to ask and to address simple but consequential questions like, what does it mean for me to teach this text with this approach to this population of students at this time in this classroom?”

From page 302-303:

Intersecting the American Heritage Dictionary definition and Heidegger’s text helps me account for my resistance to the anecdotal mode and frame the following argument. To talk or to write anecdotally about teaching can indeed make it interesting, even humorous, and hence easily communicated and entertaining. (Why one might feel the need to cast teaching as such is also worth reflecting on.) But to theorize teaching through a form of discourse that by definition is “not published,” is “not given out,” seems to me to mark it inevitably as mysterious, difficult, or not interesting enough to be given out. Insofar as knowledge about teaching is anecdotally conveyed, it cannot be systematically traced. This is a characteristic of the genre of anecdote. 6 Neither [End Page 302] can it be systematically built on, since it cannot be accurately retrieved. It is undocumentable, open to appropriation and plagiarism; it does not conform to most commonly accepted criteria of traditional scholarship, for instance, citation and bibliography. 7 And it lacks some fundamental features of the scholarship of teaching.

From Mariolina Rizzi Salvatori’s, “The Scholarship of Teaching: Beyond the Anecdotal,” appearing in Pedagogy, volume 2, number 3 [Fall 2002], pp. 369-394. Copyright 2002 by Duke University Press. Used by permission of the publisher.

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