Reflections on Scholarly Maturity
About a year ago, I received a letter from a highly respected and recently retired member of the profession. In that letter, he reflected on what he had learned over the years about students, teaching, and scholarly pursuits. I appreciated his thoughts because they were insightful, progressive, and reflective. His letter triggered my own thinking about the kinds of qualities that are exemplified in those who have achieved what might be termed "scholarly maturity."
Those of us who spend our time and energy thinking about industrial and technical matters understand the power of working models. Through a sometimes difficult and painful process of prototyping, experimentation, and continuous refinement, models evolve into something that work. The same is true of most people. There are individuals in every profession who, through their unique growth and refinement experiences, have come to exemplify and embody the kinds of qualities that we admire and that motivate us to want to elevate our own performance.
As I reflect on the careers of those that have inspired and motivated me to improve and grow as a professional, a number of characteristics come to mind. The list that follows is incomplete and does not reflect any order of priority. These thoughts are intended to trigger discussion and reflection about our own levels of scholarly maturity.
- Are those who have achieved some degree of focus, but not to the extent where they have lost sight of the larger context.
- Typically have a circle of colleagues from other disciplines that engage, challenge, and inform one another.
- Have the ability to communicate complex and difficult concepts in a clear and understandable manner.
- Have the ability to conceptualize in such a manner that familiar concepts and ideas are seen from different and larger perspectives.
- Are more motivated by genuine curiousity and an enthusiasm for knowing than by the external demands of academia.
- Tend to think beyond the confines of their own profession and research agendas.
- Are able to listen to and learn from those who lack the experience to conceptualize, conduct research, or communicate very well.
- Are willing to take risks by extending their work and thinking into areas that reach beyond their expertise.
- Remain current. They tend to read a lot.
- Tend to have a clear sense of the limitations of their ability and knowledge. Rather than being defensive about what they dont know, their knowledge gaps tend to trigger curiosity and represent new challenges.
- Maintain intellectual honesty and curiosity. They engender trust and spark new ideas.
- Are able to elevate colleagues to another level rather than engaging in destructive competition and intellectual and personal "one-upsmanship".
- Tend to be gentle, gracious, and interested, especially with thoughts and aspirations of younger and inexperienced colleagues.
- Realize the importance of taking time to disengage from the grants, papers, publications, and other worthwhile endeavors to simply sit and think deeply about significant issues and problems.
- Are reliable. They follow through with their commitments and have learned how to place realistic limits onwhat they choose to commit to.
- Have learned how to prioritize. They know how to say "no" and know how to manage and balance their time.
- They tend to have new ideas and an ability to engage and motivate others to thinking with them.
- Tend to be engaging, fun, and energetic people to be around.
While our "lists" will likely differ somewhat, it is nevertheless important to spend some time thinking about the kinds of characteristics that comprise scholarly maturity.
In This Issue
This issue contains four feature articles. In the first article, James Greenan, Mingchang Wu, Ramlee B. Mustapha, and Lisa Ncube examine the attitudes and motivations of vocational educators related to secondary-level program improvement. In the second article, Klaus Schmidt reports on a study of two different forms of the dual vocational training system in Germany. Criteria used to make the comparisons consisted of training satisfaction, economic outcomes, and job satisfaction. The third article, by James Brown, David Pucel, Cathy Twohig, Steve Semler, and Peter Kuchinke, describes a comprehensive outcome-based model for evaluating Tech Prep program implementation. The model includes definitions and a conceptual model as well as discussion of database development and analysis mechanisms. In the fourth article, Paul Brauchle and Kenneth Jerich report on research designed to examine the effects of a training program for graduate teaching assistants on teaching performance.
The At Issue section contains an essay by George Rogers that raises concerns about the misalignment between what is being taught in teacher education programs and what is being called for in the local schools. Specifically, he cautions the movement toward modular based technology education laboratories given indications that skills with industrially-based equipment are still required in a large percentage of schools. The Comments section contains a report on the nineteenth annual JITE awards results by Kenneth Gray. The Bits and Pieces section presents information about submitting manuscripts to JITE, how to become a member of NAITTE, and ordering various NAITTE publications.