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Education policy maven Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute think tank offers straight talk on matters of policy, politics, research, and reform. Read more from this blog.

Education Opinion

Getting Geared Up for AERA

By Rick Hess — March 25, 2011 3 min read
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We’re a couple weeks out from the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in New Orleans. AERA’s annual meeting is a huge affair that typically draws close to 20,000 participants and features thousands of papers. The work too often involves hiding pedantic argument behind walls of incomprehensible jargon, as well as a dogmatism and quasi-partisan groupthink that I find troubling in a scholarly environment.

That said, I believe in keeping one’s oar in the water. So I attend every year, and participate in sessions when asked. On a personal level, I like damn near everyone I know who’s involved with AERA. And I’ve got no desire to censor, restrict, or otherwise silence even those scholars I deem most dubious (I wish their own sensibilities were as sensitive with regards to my own scholarship back when I was a young academic, but c’est la vie).

None of that means, though, that I feel compelled to sit around and give a pass to politicized or ludicrous scholarship. So, as always, I’ll opt for gentle illumination and perhaps the occasional bit of snark regarding the nation’s premier educational research conference. To wit, let’s play a quick Friday round of: “Which of these fourteen papers/panels/symposia are for real, and which did I just make up?” Have at it. (And, bonus, those who think me a small-minded S.O.B. who just doesn’t understand the value of this stuff can use the following as a helpful guide to can’t-miss conference sessions.)

Paper: Disrupting Colonizing Curricular Practices: Culture, Place, Politics, and Pedagogy
Fri, April 8 - 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Paper: Of Ghosts and Ghetto Politics: When Disability and “Other” Bodies Matter
Fri, April 8 - 2:15pm - 3:45pm

Paper: Using Policy Genealogy to Understand Contemporary Political Discourse and Stakeholder Decision Making
Sat, April 9 - 10:35am - 12:05pm

Paper: Contradictions of Identity Politics and Whiteness Theory Versus Marxist Theoretical Emphasis on the Dialectics of Class and Race in the Current Epoch of U.S. History
Sat, April 9 - 12:25pm - 1:55pm

Paper: Suppressions and Disavowals in Discourses of Institutionalized Academic Knowledge: The Appearance and Disappearance of Affect, Politics, and Methodology
Sat, April 9 - 12:25pm - 1:55pm

Paper: Citizen-Subjects Incited in the Social Imagination: A Foucauldian Discourse Analysis of the Political Rationality of A Nation at Risk
Sat, April 9 - 4:05pm - 6:05pm

Symposium: Duoethnographies of Status, Privilege, and Power: A Political Turn for the Public Good
Sun, April 10 - 8:15 am - 9:45 am

Paper: Transformative or Transformational? How the Mainstream Appropriates, Depoliticizes, and Denies Alternative Theories and Practices of Leadership
Sun, April 10 - 2:15pm - 3:45pm

Paper: Cultural Persistence, Political Resistance, and Critical Hope in the Community and School-Based Art of a Puerto Rican Diaspora Neighborhood
Mon, April 11 - 8:15am - 9:45am

Symposium: American Narratives, Hyperpatriotism, Militarism, and the Curriculum: Examining the Political and Pedagogical Implications of White Supremacy in the Lives of Students of Color
Mon, April 11 - 10:35 am - 12:05 pm

Paper: An Immodest Proposal on the Politics of Viewing Pornography in a Public University and Beyond
Mon, April 11 - 6:15pm - 7:45pm

Roundtable: The Intersection of Illegality and Politicalization in the Testimonios of Undocumented Immigrant Students
Mon, April 11 - 8:15am - 9:45am

Paper: “Mathematics as Unneutral": Teaching as a Political Act
Tue, April 12 - 12:25pm - 1:55pm

Symposium: (Dis)course or ‘Dat Course: The Post-Katrina Diaspora, the Colonial Mindset of Post-Katrina “Reform,” and the Role of a Liberationist Pedagogy in Restoring an Indigenous Culture
Tue, April 12 - 12:25pm - 1:55pm

Okay, so the first thirteen are all authentic. Only the fourteenth was fictional. If you got ten or more right, I suspect you’re an AERA veteran. Nicely done. Either way, thanks for playing!

The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.