The serendipity of connections and their consequences

Hugh Mehan
2020 Education Review  
This essay is an account of how, throughout my 40-year career as an educational researcher and professor of Sociology and Education, mostly at the University of California, San Diego, I have tried to live my commitments to excellence and equity in practice to create a more just educational system. These values permeate my story, which is presented here in two parts. In the first part, broadly spanning 20 years, I focused on uncovering the roots of the seemingly inexorable social fact of
more » ... nal inequality in US K-12 education, mainly through studying some of the policies and practices that produce those inequalities. My findings showed consistently that students of color from low-income backgrounds did not fare as well as their middle-income "majority" contemporaries. In the last 20 years, I have attempted to build educational environments that might produce more equitable possibilities for underprivileged young people based on the research that uncovered the stratifying practices that produced educational inequalities.Many of the directions that my professional career took were not thoughtfully and carefully planned. My participation in various projects was not entirely free, totally independent, or completely rational. They were often not entirely of my own making. Instead, I often responded to opportunities presented to me. In fact, I think that the concept of serendipity accounts well for the relationships that shaped my career trajectory.
doi:10.14507/er.v27.2909 fatcat:3g4uuqwj6ngkznv73h4goaflam