This volume marks a significant coming of age in a number of ways. It is edited and written by a group of promising young researchers, who have already received a handful of well-deserved honors and awards for their work. And, as the book will show, it is written by equally talented and dedicated teachers, who see these two commitments going hand in hand.
These writers are challenging some of the old boundaries that have separated teaching and research -- boundaries that reflect not only patterns of power and status in English departments and education, but ones that reflect old assumptions and stereotypes -- that theory is impractical, that research is irrelevant, and that good teaching keeps a savvy distance from both.
These writers are not only challenging the wisdom of that boundary, but arguing that it needs to be reconceived as a two-way street. That is, theoryguided, research-sensitive thinking can make us better teachers. And by the same token, the practice of observation-based theory building, situated in our teaching, can make us better researchers.
The close collaboration on the agenda that marks this book began in 1986 with the founding of the Center for the Study of Writing at University of California, Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon. Ann Penrose, and later Barbara Sitko, worked with the other authors of this volume to develop the traveling Research-For-Teaching Seminar Series at Carnegie Mellon. The designers and presenters of this series, who met with faculty from high schools, writing projects, colleges, and universities around the country, set a goal that was not always easy to meet. They wanted each seminar to present new research on issues, such as writing and learning, reading and writing connections, and at the same time convincingly to demonstrate ways research-based thinking could be woven into better teaching. If we began with the idea of research designed for teaching, as the work and as this book matured, the other lane of the two-way street began to widen, as classrooms became sites for inquiry by teachers and students alike.