3 Influential Books: IPR Fellow Merylann Schuttloffel
We asked our IPR Fellows to write about three important books that helped to shape their scholarly career. This week, Dr. Merylann Schuttloffel discusses the three books she chose, and why they have been significant to her life and work.
The Three Most Important Books in My Intellectual Development
By Merylann “Mimi” J. Schuttloffel, Ph.D.
My intellectual development has not ceased, I hope, but in line with the intent of this request, I am going to include three books that had an impact on my development. I began my professional life as a teacher, and in my heart, I am still a teacher. In my view, leadership is a different kind of teaching.
I am a big fan of the Hoge and D’Antonio research that speak about the importance of generational cohorts. I see a generational cohort as living within a kind of culture or worldview. For that reason, I would have to begin with the Documents of the Second Vatican Council, particularly, the Decree on the Lay Apostolate, as having a huge impact on the choices I have made regarding my intellectual development. I was in high school when this document was released and at that time most Catholic school teachers were religious sisters and brothers. I wanted to teach in a Catholic school and this document opened the door with an important challenge and affirmation of my Baptismal call. My following vocational decisions followed from that initial motive to work in an environment where I could integrate my faith and my professional life.
The second book that influenced my intellectual development was How We Think by John Dewey. This book was introduced in my teacher preparation program and I was fascinated by Dewey’s integration of philosophy and psychology into the role of the teacher. The experiential classroom as a model for democracy had an influence on my own educational philosophy. This text began a thread that ultimately led to Schön and Van Manen’s writings that were instrumental in the development of reflective practices. Their work was a profound influence on my creation of the contemplative practice leadership model (Schuttloffel, 1999, 2008).
The final book is Alexis de Tocqueville’s On Democracy in America. I have a tremendous interest in how history and culture have shaped identity. De Tocqueville’s observations of American society touched on areas that include the religious, political and cultural fabric of the United States as a nation. His topics relate to my own research agenda that explores the intersection of Catholic identity, leadership practice and national culture.
These three texts, while different in content, made a substantial contribution to the direction of my career and my arrival at The Catholic University of America. They continue to shape my development as an educator.
Photo credit: Zitona