Reflections on Courtney Cazden

Dr. Allan Luke

Characterizing Dr. Courtney B. Cazden as "the most humble and understated and powerful mentor to us all," Dr. Allan Luke explains that "she has this incredible capacity to see and hear and observe educational problems and practices." Describing her approach to research and scholarship, and to the world around her, as steely and honest, Allan notes that she can "see right through not only to their core scientific and cultural questions, but to the moral and political heart" of the matter in question. Allan explains that he first met his long-time friend in Australia and has since worked with her on research related to Singapore schooling, Queensland school reform and Indigenous education, and multiliteracies. Noting that she initially characterized him as "one of those 'critical' people" who was "doing critique, doing theory, telling people what's wrong with the system, but not really interested in making a difference with kids and teachers," Allan recalls that Courtney did not have time for "the self-interested theory or academic windbags"! Since referring to her standards for meaningful scholarship as the "Cazden litmus test," Allan and his Australian colleagues note that her work underscores the importance of one's "willing[ness] to get out there and work at it with kids and communities and teachers" as well as "putting your time and heart where your political rhetoric is." Allan characterizes her "absolute moral commitment to improving the lives of the most marginalized and least advantaged communities, of kids and families who historically get left behind and left out" as a way Courtney has profoundly impacted his own work and that of many others. Citing her "Quaker sense of honesty, justice and peace, [and] a truly Communist egalitarianism that has so much to the field, and to the lifeworlds she's crossed" among her many gifts, Allan explains that it has been a privilege to work alongside her time and time again.

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