Mary F. Roe
A few years ago, one of my doctoral students had a course assignment to interview a faculty member regarding the theoretical framework that guides his or her work. I agreed to participate. She expected me to specify a single framework and explain its selection and use. I instead shared a need for cognitive flexibility to shift across choices and, at times, combine them within one project. I invoked principled eclecticism to support the rigor behind this decision. When she reported the results of this interview to her class, one of her fellow students said, “She can’t do that.” That student would benefit from reading this text.
A variety of educational stakeholders grapple with numerous and varied wicked problems (Jordan, et al., 2014), problems that hold no simple nor permanent solution. This situation increases the burden of making progress and intensifies a need for a well-articulated theoretical framework to avoid competing or contradictory actions. The traditional process begins with selecting a single framework and applying it with fealty and consistency; however, this process seems to set aside an often-heard cry to avoid “one size fits all.” The collection of options within this book provides educators and researchers with a foundation for an initial choice of theory, along with the information necessary to include additional concepts, constructs, and propositions when a single theoretical framework becomes overly confining.
A few examples exhibit movement beyond strict allegiance to a single framework. In one of my earlier publications (Roe, 2004), I attested to a need for “rationales” and asserted that “the best and most complete research will still demand customization to meet the multiple contexts where middle level literacy learning occurs” (p. 7). In keeping with this perspective, Bettis & Roe (2008) combined feminist theory with traditional social-constructivist theory in our investigation of girls’ roles in literature discussion circles, while a later publication (Bettis, et al., 2016) singularly used feminist theory. Kander & Roe (2018) lobbied for teacher educators to include social justice frameworks alongside those typically promoted for literacy.
This book offers readers theoretical options, the information necessary to change course, and the knowledge and freedom to combine frameworks. The authors make a wider use of theoretical frameworks possible by proffering a breadth of options beyond a brand name theory. The theoretical descriptions in this book combine accessible text with visual models. Perhaps this text’s biggest contribution lies in its neutrality. Instead of judging or promoting theories, the authors remain invitational in tone and content. These crisscross decisions match our times and their wicked problems.
Bettis, P., Ferry, N. C., & Roe, M. F. (2016). Lord of the guys: Alpha girls and the post-feminist landscape of American education. Gender Issues, 33, 163-181.
Bettis, P., & Roe, M. F. (2008). Reading girls: Living literate and powerful lives. Research in Middle Level Education Online, 32(1). Retrieved from http://www.nmsa.org/
Jordan, M., Kleinsasser, R., & Roe, M. (2014). Wicked problems: Inescapable wickedity. Journal of Education for Teaching, 40(4), 415-430.
Kander, F., & Roe, M. F. (2018). Teacher as advocate for social justice: Integrating advocacy into the theory and pedagogy of literacy education. In S. Hochstetler (Ed.), Re-forming literacy education: History, effects, advocacy (pp. 171-180). Routledge.
Roe, M. F. (2004). Literacy for middle school students: Challenges of cultural synthesis.
Research in Middle Level Education Online, 28(1). Retrieved from http://www.nmsa.org/