Collective Creativity: A Learning Community of Self-Study Scholars
Shaffer and Anundsen (1993) defined community as “a dynamic whole that emerges when a group of people participate in common practices, depend on each other, make decisions together, identify themselves as something larger than the sum of their individual relationships, and commit themselves for the long-term commitment to their own, one another's, and the group's well-being” (p. 10). In the past, involvement in community was determined by where you lived, your family, or religious connections. However, today our communities are formed through emerging choices with respect to identity and values; they are not necessarily place-based. This has been referred to as a conscious community in which each member's need for personal growth is emphasized; a community which honors the views of all its members (Shaffer & Anundsen, 1993). The Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University (1998) recommended extending com munity to undergraduate classrooms, with colleges building and cultivating con scious communities for learning and growth (Boyer, 1987, 1990). The Commission called for undergraduate college communities that are purposeful, open, just, disci plined, caring, and celebratory. Our goal in this chapter is to explore what a con scious community can look like in a university graduate classroom.
In this story, we describe our experiences in a new course offered on self-study research in spring 2006. The course was designed and taught by Anastasia, a selfstudy teacher educator, with five Ph.D. candidates: Mary, Deanna, Kavita, Jennifer, and Dawn Renee. It took place at the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) at George Mason University, a large Mid-Atlantic university committed to both research and the scholarship of teaching. The CEHD holds the following core values listed in alphabetical order: (a) collaboration; (b) ethical leadership; (c) innovation; (d) research-based practice; and (e) social justice. Some of the questions we asked in our self-study were: “In what ways does our work together align with the values of our college?” “How would we describe our learning community?” How did our learning community impact our learning, and what are the implications of our graduate learning community for other classrooms, programs,and universities? In this chapter, we individually and collectively analyze the impact of our learning community.
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