University Park, IL,
15:59 PM

College of Education Faces Off: Theory vs. Practice

When Governors State University first switched to remote learning, the College of Education (COE) quickly jumped on the task of defining what these academic experiences would look like.

Through information and Facebook live sessions with students and local schools, the community desire for consistent and robust conversations on education, from theory to practice, came through loud and clear.

Invigorated by the response, Professor Amy Vujaklija and Director of  Educator Preparation Joi Patterson have since begun recording a podcast, “Teaching and Learning: Theory versus Practice” With Dr. Amy and Dr. Joi that will air weekly and cover a variety of education topics.

“We’d be having these conversations anyway, just in the hallways at the university. The pandemic has pushed us into a different space. Now, our conversations are no longer limited to who happens to be walking by,” Vujaklija explained.

Initially, the podcast was created to help inform the community on education in the remote setting, but in the ideation process they realized the relationship between the community and the university was more symbiotic.

“The planning stage showed us how much the community was contributing to our knowledge and understanding. A podcast makes it possible for us to learn and share learning simultaneously,” Vujaklija said.

The podcast, with production assistance from the Center for Community Media (CCM) at GSU, covers topics from home schooling to bilingual education, each with a different guest speaker drawn from administrators, teachers, authors, alumni, and educator preparation providers every week. The Despite the differing subject matter and variety of guests, Vujaklija and Patterson are finding the common thread that ties all the episodes together is an exploration of identity and diversity.

Patterson and Vujaklija also offer their own insights into education in the podcast’s interviews from their opposing angles: theory versus practice.

For Vujaklija, the broader perspective is usually her interview focus.

“One question I always ask is who do you lean on to inform your practice and view? I’m always thinking big picture and I want to know about the research and theorist that shape them,” she said.

For Patterson, the elements of the practice intrigue her.

“I like to ask about the nuts and bolts, get into the weeds of why the theory works from a practical perspective. Practical things are grounded in research though,” Patterson said.

 Despite their differences, the educators explained that theory and practice go hand-in-hand.

“They work together. It’s fun to pretend to think there’s one that beats the other one, but you can’t actually have one without the other,” they both agreed.

The duo began presenting together at the English Language Teachers' Association (ELTA) conference two summers ago in Arkansas and have looked to each other for all their envelope pushing ideas since.

“We both share this constant want to improve, and to push the boundaries. We make great partners in crime,” Patterson laughed.

The pair envision their podcast to continue for a long time, and for future Facebook live events where previous guests are brought together for larger conversations.

Keep an eye on the COE page for “Teaching and Learning: Theory versus Practice.”