Scholarship: Evidence for Scholarly Thinking and Writing Ability
Before I can discuss my own development as a scholar, I must define what I have come to understand scholarship
to be. The scholar -- or scientist -- strives to make valid and trustworthy claims about the world. The scholar
cultivates an intellectual life while pursuing knowledge via the scientific method and disseminating knowledge via
the reviewing and publishing process. On this page I present evidence of my scholarly thinking and writing ability,
and on the Research page I present evidence of my ability to engage in rigorously methodical scientific inquiry.
In my development as a scholar, I have come to realize how strongly one’s inner vision of the world influences what
one sees outwardly as objective reality. The eye sees what the mind is prepared to receive (to paraphrase
Bergson). Confirmation bias, I have come to realize, is the most common pitfall in research and argumentation.
Quite often this takes the form of heartfelt hopes and wishes for "a better world" which appears in one’s visions
and ideals. While it is easy enough to root out someone else’s bias, it is more difficult to admit to my own bias;
therefore early in my doctoral studies, I made it a habit to examine my own biases in an attempt to remove my
intellectual blind spots. To develop as a scholar, as I see it, is to cultivate the practice of seeing first then defining,
and to break the habit of defining first then seeing. This is not to say that I aspire to perfect objectivity, since
objectivity is an ideal; it is say to that I strive toward the goal of objectivity with the recognition that, to paraphrase
Karl Popper, my knowledge is necessarily finite and my ignorance infinite.
A major theme in my thinking throughout my years of coursework has been American attitudes toward authority.
Years of living in a Confucian culture (Taiwan) and in close association with my wife’s Chinese family have forced
me to reconcile my inbred egalitarian attitudes and beliefs with the Confucian predilection for hierarchy. Through
my own seeking for a balanced view of the equality-hierarchy spectrum, I began to see the American predilection
for equality as a hidden bias in some research in education. My 2008 paper "Assumptions Versus Theories in
Studies of Classroom Authority" is a study on theoretical frameworks in four examples of research concerning
classroom authority. A common theme in three of the studies is an unexamined negative conclusion built into the
premise of an examination of authority; the fourth study is offered as a model of ideological balance and objectivity.
The second piece of writing offered here is titled "Discursively Performing Membership: Assertions Of
Normativity" (2009). I was energized by Michael Silverstein’s work, to which I was introduced by Anthropology
professor James Collins. I took Silverstein's (2007) notion of performing membership in discourse, combined with
Brown & Levinson's (1987) Politeness Theory and Erving Goffman’s concept of presentation of self (1959) and
formulated a model of the performance of membership through moral positioning.
This paper is an examination of the moral dimension of authority hiding in the dimension of interaction which
may be revealed in analysis of discourse. Thus it weaves together three main threads in the development of my
intellectual thought life: the concept of the individual under the sway of ideals (the examined vs. unexamined
life), the hidden dimension of interaction (cultural "scripts" for interaction), and linguistic analysis. This third
thread, linguistic analysis, brings us to a discussion of my development as a researcher, which is presented on
the following page (Research).
Brown, P. & Levinson, S. (1987). Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge
Goffman, E. (1959). Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Pantheon.
Silverstein, Michael (2007) "How Knowledge Begets Communication Begets Knowledge: Textuality and
contextuality in knowing and learning". Intercultural Communication Review. Rikkyo University, May 2007.