Posts from the ‘802 Daily Writing’ Category
on the benefits of lurking and looking back…
January 26, 2015
This term in addition to my 804 course I am a “lurker” in the 802 course that is also running concurrently. I took 802 officially last year (as a refresher, it was the course where I was pretty sure would either lead me to thesis nirvana or make me drop out of the program because my brain would explode. Turns out, neither happened but I did finish up with way more confidence about the research process and way more humility about myself as an academic.)
Because 802 is run not in the closed LMS of Moodle but in the semi-open platform of The Landing (the Athabasca social network site…immortalized in such techno remixes as this one) once you’ve survived 802, you remain a member of the group permanently. This permanent membership means you can watch what’s going on (provided you weren’t so scarred from your own experience that you turned off all notifications) and even participate in the group again if you so choose. Though I’ve had neither the courage nor inclination to do the later, I’ve been very actively engaging in the former, watching a whole new crop of eager students tentatively define their epistemology and ontology as their first discussion assignment and generally begin wrestling with some pretty hefty content.
As I’m the youngest child by many years I don’t know if it’s quite the correct analogy but as I read responses from cohort 7 I can’t help but feel like an older sister to them all…charmed by their earnestness, a little worried for them regarding the “growing up” challenges I know they will face in the next few months, and overall so proud to see who they are becoming. I didn’t think it would be feasible to build cross-cohort relationships that had any meaning or depth but through the looking glass that The Landing has become, I’m beginning to become a believer that it might actually be possible. We all have shared experiences now and there’s no reason this open space can’t be the catalyst to connect us. Granted, cohort 7 will never be the somewhat blood-family that cohort 6 is to me but still…I love that we can all build community and enrich each other through this doctoral process. If we were all at a brick and mortar school for sure we’d be checking each other out and swapping resources and secretly envying/admiring/being inspired by each others work. In the absence of physical hallways and chance coffee shop encounters, The Landing seems to be a more than decent substitution.
In addition, as I’ve been watching their engagement it is taking me back to my own thoughts and ideas when I was in 802. I remember first being asked about my own ontology and my own epistemology and being pretty sure that defining those two things was equivalent to asking me to speak Chinese. But after some research, lots of trial and error, and a healthy dose of rye, I did manage to pin down my own views, namely that truth is contextual, dynamic and changes based on experience, narrative, and environment. Knowledge is personal and subjective assembled through connections and worked out through social interactions. In 802, I called myself an anti-positivist who embraced nominalism and pragmatism with a twist of critical theory for good measure…a year later, those definitions, with a few subtle nuances, still remain core pillars of who I am. As cohort 7 goes through each discussion and project, I’m eager to see how the lisa-of-last year compares to the lisa-of-today.
I am sure there have been articles written delving more into the research, reasons, cautions, and benefits of cohort cross pollination and as I am now beginning to have some good first person qualitative experience…I’m curious to explore.
But…all that scholarship can wait for another day. For now all I have to say is…you go cohort 7! Jump into discussions, wrestle with these gnarly brain-bending ideas, and truly give it your all knowing that you’re not alone in your struggles. In addition to fabulous supervisors and a rock star instructor, you’ve got eight cheerleaders from cohort 6 ready to shout encouragements if you ever appear to be slowing down. It sounds quite cliche but your learning really is all of our learning and your courage to do something so vulnerable in an open space helps us all be courageous and open too. Persist even when it gets overwhelming. This will test you in ways that feel like they are far beyond your breaking point but in the end…this experience will change you for so much the better…just as it did for us.
DAY 1: Assignment 4 Begins…
March 24, 2014
And, proposal writing is put on hold for a little bit while the final monster to conquer, Assignment 4, takes precedence. I’ll admit I wasn’t all that worried about Assignment 4 until after meeting with the cohort last night. I think the past month+ has been so challenging+stretching in so many professional/work/personal ways that all I could conceptualize was what I needed to do in the next day or two. The end of April felt like forever away and Assignment 4….yeah, pretty much a 6000-9000 word mirage because I was drowning in the dailies.
But after meeting with the cohort, hearing them ask questions I didn’t even fully comprehend, and looking at the calendar and realizing the sobering fact that April begins like…next week I realized the monster is actually way closer than it appears in the mirror.
So, I know you’re probably wondering…just what is Assignment 4? Glad you asked! Basically it’s called “Planning Research Strategies” and is meant to mimic the “methods” section of my real dissertation. (AHHH!!! real dissertation!!!….sorry, just needed a textual freak out moment because honestly I felt way closer to a real dissertation about a year ago before I knew all I didn’t know…if you know what I mean.)
But anyways, the idea is that we’ve already got brilliance in the research questions, paradigms, inquiries, etc. and now it’s just time to hammer out the research methods, then examine the prospective data collection and analysis strategies (of course, keeping consistent with preciously established theoretical/philosophical orientations and practical research methods). Cake, right? Hahaa….if only.
DAY 3: reflecting on reflective practice
March 19, 2014
Today’s 500 words of written brilliance (ha) are around an article I read this morning while working out. (Yes…I’m on Day 3 of a workout-and-read-academic-articles kick and it’s pretty amazing. Sitting and reading feels almost like torture unless it’s accompanied by whiskey and it’s in the evening but manically moving with the aid of a machine and reading…best thing ever. Go figure.)
The article is by co-authored one of my new friends, Karel van der Waarde, and is called Communication design education: could nine reflections be sufficient?
DAY 2: conference recap pt. 2
March 18, 2014
The first day of the conference left me equal parts exhausted and excited. When I climbed into the shuttle van back to the hotel (coincidentally seated next to keynote speaker, Karel van der Waarde…we talked about Ikea furniture and I tried to be chill even though on the inside it was very very out-of-body) it was with the distinct feeling that I was a bit different than I’d been that morning…like my mind had been stretched just a bit wider than before in a sort of mental yoga exercise.
Day two came way too early but away I went for another round of inquiry, challenge, and spontaneous meeting of awesome educators. The second day was a bit heavier on people presenting papers of their research. I attended several interesting sessions including one by Daniel McCafferty challenging the dead metaphor of designer as problem solver and instead re-framing it to be designer as gardener. (And yes…he is Canadian and I’ll be very shallow and admit the reason I originally chose to attend was because I totally miss my cohort and just listening to his accent was a bit like coming home in an academic manner.) Perhaps the most provocative paper session I attended (though didn’t realize it at the time) was by Dori Griffin whose presentation was titled Design + the Doctorate: A Call for Participation in the Disciplinary Discussion Surrounding Doctoral Education in Design.
DAY 1: conference recap pt.1
March 17, 2014
So…today’s been my first full day back post-conference thus it seems only fitting that I should make Donald Schon proud and be a reflective practitioner about the whole experience…well at least a little bit. And, since I need to get back into the writing habit sooner than later, what better place to do it than here with the sacred 500-ish words.
First off, let me say that the conference was totally beyond all of my expectations. I don’t know what exactly I was thinking it would be (because honestly I was so fried by the week preceding it) but I can say I had no idea every speaker and almost every session would be an somewhat of an “aha” moment for me. Perhaps it’s because I lead and work on an entirely location neutral team or perhaps it’s because my own educational journey is one that is so obscure, but whatever the case may be at the conference I discovered others who not only were tracking with me but actually understood a bit what I get amped up about and, oddly enough, get excited about it too. There is indeed deep life-giving power in hearing the two simple words, “Me too”.
DAY 2: exhale.
March 11, 2014
It. Is. All. Over.
Jury duty, Assignment 3 conceptual framework, Assignment 2 presentation, and probably all of the chemicals my adrenal glands had stored up for the past month. Today was a cacophony of experiences that in many ways are completely out of body. I thought I’d have a ton of words to process it all, but it turns out…not so much. All I really want is whiskey and sleep and to feel my own permanently tense back muscles revert back to their flesh and blood state as opposed to the rock solid masses they’ve become.
That said, there’s no doubt in my mind that this path, however hard or confusing or stressful it may feel at times, is precisely where I should be at this moment…these battles are exactly what I should be fighting and this dread-mixed-with-ecstasy is changing me for good and refining me for whatever future is in store. and in that, even in the midst of so much chaos there’s a weird tranquility that legit I have no idea how to explain.
So, enough for now and enough words for one day. Here’s a link to my Assignment 3 if anyone in the wider world wants to see it and my hand prints (which like the design nerd I am, I’ll totally admit still make me so happy to see.)
Good night world. See you tomorrow.
DAY 3: digging out…
March 5, 2014
The continuous raging blizzards of Midwestern America are indeed an apt metaphor for my life these past few days. It’s more and more and more emails and calendar events and reports all the time and this morning I was a bit of a frazzled mess about it. Tonight after a highly productive day in the closet office, a successful piano lesson, and liberal amounts of both siracha aioli and Beligan beer, I’m feeling way more like I have at least a tiny grasp things and my pace of life has slowed from Mach 3 to 1987 VCR fast forward. Today the spinning plates haven’t shattered and even more my own soul is firmly intact…..which feels very very good
DAY 4: movie making…maybe
February 27, 2014
So, I’ve come to the conclusion that arts-based research is kind of the best thing ever because it combines art methodology and academic research and it is holistic and it actually has the potential to move close the gap that seems to exist between theories and musings and other amazing academic endeavors and the stuff of human life and human emotion. Yesterday I was all hung up on truth and power and identity and yet after doing yet more reading today, I’m coming to realize that truth doesn’t really matter…arts-based research like art itself isn’t about finding the “one” right answer rather it is about opening dialogue.
It seems to be hardwired into me (and I’d say many many others) that because I’m in school, I need to find the one right answer. I can write eloquent sentences about my epistemology and my own constructive ontology and yet when I actually live…it’s so much harder because when there are lots of right answers…you actually have to pay attention to details and context and all the thick, textural goodness that is life. I think my new challenge is to take the capital “S” out of school and the captial “R” in research instead approach these endeavors like I do my own creative practice.
And also along the lines of arts-based research, I want to make a short movie because I have no experience in movie making and I think it would be awesome to try and yeah…everyone needs to try movie making occasionally, right? I think, yes.
DAY 2: open space.
February 18, 2014
Avoid reading “the paper” at all costs in an effort to have even a smidgen of distance from it, not micromanage my proofreader, and most of all remind myself that my life is much larger than a single assignment even though how I’ve oriented my life in the past several days makes it fell pretty much that this assignment is the most important thing ever…It’s amazing how writing a 6,000 word paper really can give you tunnel vision…I can only imagine what might happen over the course of a dissertation if one wasn’t fairly intentional about not turning into an idea-hoarding dragon.
Turn it all in and let. it. go.
DAY 1: back in the saddle
February 24, 2014
So “the paper” is officially finished, turned in, returned, graded, and happily sitting on my desktop. You can read it in all it’s 6,000 (almost) word APA finery here. In the end, it was good and according to the audio comments it all turned out good (though I’ll admit I only listened to the first and last audio comments because in all honestly audio comments kind of still intimidate me and even though I say I’m not, I actually still feel like small pieces of myself are all over the paper and I’m kind of not quite ready to hear the hardcore critiques…I think I just need to get over it and listen to them all…with whiskey of course!)
I feel amazingly relieved that the first massive hurdle is cleared and I’m still trotting along. I’ll admit, this side of the paper beast, I feel slightly more legit and slightly less like a poser. Or maybe I’m just realizing that the divisions I thought were so hard and fast between “academics” and “regular people” are not solid at all rather exceptionally porous. Ha. And porous feels like an apt description of me through this season.
So now another week begins and there are once more journals to be read and noble thoughts to be expressed and all the other things that sound quite heady and intellectual but really seem to just boil down to lots of discipline and work and reflection….Oh, and lest I forget on the lists of tasks, there are also those 500 words of brilliance each day to be constructed. Tonight we shall easy in with 250…tomorrow, full. steam. ahead.
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