in the beginning


[by Adam]

Exchanges of writing have provided a foundation to many collaborative efforts. For us (John and me) writing to each other remains central and essential to how we work together. Not so long ago, we sent each other emails in an effort to shock, surprise, and delight one another. We learned not to swig coffee when opening an email from the other: too many mouthfuls of coffee have been sputtered onto our screens and keyboards.

A few of you might recall our mock journal called JEST that we handed out at conferences some years ago. John came up with the slogan, “It’s all in JEST” and we giggled as we handed them out to unsuspecting NARST conference attendees. I still believe in the merits of several notions presented in JEST. These included incorporating cheese as a positive reinforcement for science learning, employing sock puppets as  guest lecturers (with an Argyle sock as an international instructor), and relying upon the capacity to interpret science jokes to assess scientific literacy (e.g., Atom #1: I think I just lost an electron. Atom B: Are you sure? Atom #1: Yes, I am positive!). These were ideas simply ahead of their time. Much too far. Nevertheless, these proto-endeavors served as proving grounds for what became Crossroads.

Crossroads itself emerged during face-to-face discussions at other conferences. But details, philosophical and pragmatic, were hashed via email exchanges. Perhaps because our use of writing was so central to the development of our understandings that we insisted that writing by others was a prerequisite to Crossroads participation. During my sabbatical I began to write more frequently and deliberately. I started using a blog and invited John to peer in. I challenged him to do the same, and ever since we’ve been dueling and debating via our blogs.

Another writing collaboration was an infamous exchange in 2007 of op-ed pieces published in the Journal of Science Teacher Education. People who didn’t know us thought they were witnessing a long-standing feud and that there must be bad blood between us. Mostly, it was the opportunity to bring ideas to the fore that otherwise would just sit stagnant in offices — or hang in the stale atmosphere of a tavern in which we first aired these ideas.

The point of all this is to explain that while Crossroads has been a major five-year project for us, there is an entire other realm of work between us via qwerty keyboards. Time and again we re-discover the great potential of letting ideas ferment a bit as we develop them independently. But then there’s an even greater power when the ideas are hashed out in a public forum. Which leads us to our latest Venture.

For one year, we are taking a stay-cation from Science Education at the Crossroads. During this sabbatical we are doing some writing and one of those projects, we’ve decided, should appear here in this most public of forums. This is “Intersections” — not the same as Crossroads, but with a similar orientation and mission. If nothing else, we’ll entertain ourselves with ideas about science education. Occasionally we might shock one another into generating a contradictory posting. Or maybe just send a coffee in an unexpected direction. The hope is that what we start here will evolve into something else that exceeds even our imaginations. We have almost come to expect our initial efforts to evolve and grow in this way.

Our ambition is to use this site as a focal point for critical exchanges about the purpose and direction of our work. We intend to highlight the work of others, call attention to a few traditions we could do without, and debate whether we ought to seriously contemplate alternate pathways. In all of it, we welcome your involvement. You can follow our blog entries, subscribe to the feed, and post comments to us and for others to consider. Best of all would be to provide your own contributions that can appear on this site.

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