Last week I attended some sessions by Gary Stager at the MACUL Conference. I blogged them both: 10 Things to Do with Laptops and Digital Democracy. While listening to the closing keynote, I also skimmed some of the articles on Stager’s website: particularly his critiques of Daniel Pink and Thomas Friedman‘s popular books.
These ideas simmered in my brain over the weekend. This was my first experience hearing Stager speak, and his thoughts are challenging and require processing. I’m still processing the new ideas.
But one piece of logic really struck me. The Andrews Leadership program focuses on laying a theoretical framework for each competency and for our research. The professors keep pushing us to deeper levels of understanding and the ability to compare, synthesis and select theoretical frameworks for our work. I’m still learning what that really means. But Stager helped me realize why it matters.
Theoretical frameworks ground us in the knowledge by those who have gone before. It lays the foundation. Gives us shoulders to stand on. Builds on the body of knowledge already there.
As I’ve worked on the beginnings of my literature review, I’ve realized the importance of really understanding what others have done.
Stager’s critique of those popular books showed me that often best-selling books are someone sharing their ideas, with little connection to previous works and theory. Therefore they should be viewed carefully and thoughtfully, without swallowing the whole idea hook, line, and sinker.
I understand better now, why it’s important that the books that we reference for our reflection papers for each competency need to be books of substance, grounded in research.