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School & District Management Opinion

Understanding Complex Ecologies... of the What Now?

By Rick Hess — April 05, 2010 2 min read
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It’s April, and I was just starting to muse on the approaching AERA annual conference when a wonderful note arrived reminding me that the theme of this year’s AERA meeting is “Understanding Complex Ecologies in a Changing World” (nope, I don’t have any idea what that means either). The note announced a series of working groups to explore this topic. Personally, I’m hopeful one group will focus on explaining what the hell the theme means. Anyway, as a public service message to readers who will be in Denver for AERA (and because it’s kind of amusing for everyone else), I thought I’d share the list of working groups.

I was going to have some fun with this but, honestly, I’m not sure I can improve upon a simple listing of the groups. The thing that strikes me is that the groups whose titles make sense all seem to deal with race, gender, ethnicity, immigration, and diversity, while the others might as well be titled in Aramaic. What I can’t tell is whether indecipherable titles mean that fluency in the relevant jargon is the price of entry, whether participants are trying to dress up the fact that they’re not sure what they’re talking about either, or whether the folks picking the titles are trying to hide the embarrassing fact that they’re not talking race and gender. Hard to say, really.

Anyway, here you go:

The Use of Epidemiological Methods in the Study of Educational Inequality
Chair: Jill McNew-Birren, Washington University in St. Louis

What Neuroscience Tells Us About Complex Ecologies of Learning
Chair: Reva Fish, Buffalo State College - SUNY

Ecological Influences on Health and Implications for Education and Learning
Chair: Caroline O’Brien - University of North Texas

Complex Systems in the Study of Ecologies of Learning
Chairs: Christin DePouw, University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire and Isaura Pulido, Illinois State University

The Implications of Language Variation for Learning Within Complex Social Ecologies
Chair: Virginia Gonzalez, University of Cincinnati

Identity, Ethnicity, and Race in Learning
Chair: Tyrone Howard, University of California - Los Angeles

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Influences in Complex Social Ecologies of Learning
Chair: Connie North, University of Maryland

The Role of Indigenous Knowledge Systems in the Education of American Indians
Chair: Stephanie Waterman, University of Rochester and Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, Arizona State University

Immigration and Opportunity to Learn
Chair: Michelle Knight-Diop, Teachers College - Columbia University

Teacher Knowledge and Student Diversity
Chairs: Deirdre Cobb-Roberts, University of South Florida and Traki Taylor-Webb, Bowie State University

Examining Cultural Influences on Learning and Development Across Multiple Levels of Context
Chair: Yoon Pak, University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign

Use of Mixed Methods to Study Complex Ecological Questions of Learning and Development
Chair: Fred Bonner, Texas A&M University

Ecological Influences on Risk and Resilience in Human Learning and Development
Chairs: Gwendolyn Webb-Johnson, Texas A&M University and Patricia Larke, Texas A&M University

The Impact of Educational Policies on Teaching and Learning
Chairs: Clifton Tanabe, University of Hawaii - Manoa and David Kupferman, University of Hawaii - Manoa

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