OTs as “public intellectuals”

In 2009, I have the tremendous fortune to present at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning conference. It was an amazing few days devoted entirely to research and discussion related to teaching and learning. Among many of the great presentations was a keynote presentation delivered by Dr. Tai Pesesta. The complete transcript of her presentation can be read, but one of the things she challenged the audience members to do was to be “public intellectuals” in their fields. I agree that the term “intellectual” may be somewhat distancing, but the heart of her message was that if we only strive to reach those in our field, then we risk being idiosyncratic. She said it was imperative to think about a broader audience for our work. It has been two years since I heard this presentation and this notion has stuck with me all of this time. Although Dr. Peseta’s message was geared toward those in academia, I have continued to contemplate this message and see the connections to OT.

This week AOTA announced that they had created several Pinterest boards, including one for OT blogs. This is such an exciting thing to see as social media can undoubtedly be a tool in which OTs have the opportunity to reach a wider audience. Who may our audience be? with whom do we want to engage in conversations? Perhaps it includes clients, those from various aspects of our communities, those in other disciplines, or those contemplating a career in OT. But the fact that a growing number of OTs are putting their thoughts, words, ideas, experiences, and information out in a public forum is an incredibly exciting thing! Perhaps it is through these avenues that OTs will develop many opportunities to engage the “public” audience.

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