I wish I could write enough about this point to reflect how much I have been thinking and learning about it lately. It isn't really the learning point of a single day. It is an on-going process. Because I am adopting a (first person) narrative inquiry approach for my dissertation, I have been trying to find out as much as possible about it.
This is the way I go about things. I didn't know that there was an established methodology called first person narrative inquiry. I just felt very strongly that this was the right way to go about presenting my work. Only once I was defending my case to my dissertation supervisor did I learn that others had trod that path afore me. She sent me in search of materials to reference in my rationale.
I came across a few choice pieces:
Clandinin, D Jean and Connelly, F Michael. 2000. Narrative Inquiry - experience and story in qualitative research. Jossey-Bass. ISBN 0-7879-4343-6.
Farrands, Robert Miles. 2007. Excitement, bewilderment and emergence: exploring a life world through writing as first person inquiry
Whitehead, Jack. 1988. Creating a living educational theory from questions of the kind, 'How do I improve my practice?' Cambridge Journal of Education, Vol 19, No1, 1989, pp 41-52. Accessed online 12 November 2008.
As I have been reading these, I have become enthused all over again for the narrative approach. I was excited almost to the point of tears (pathetic, isn't it?) by the title of Whitehead's paper, because this is exactly the question I have wanted to explore in respect of my own professional practice: How has the use of social media affected my professional practice? In particular, I want to look at it from a learner's perspective, since altogether too much research addresses the teacher's perspective.
There are great wadges of text I would love to lift right out of Clandinin's book, but that would leave little place for my own writing in between! Take for example, these gems:
"Educators are interested in life... learning and teaching and how it takes place...the leading out of different lives, the values, attitudes, beliefs, social systems, institutions and structures, and how they are all linked to learning and teaching"Can I get an Amen? Tell me I'm not the only one who wants to stand up and cheer... please?
"For Dewey, education, experience, and life are inextricably intertwined. When one asks what it means to study education, the answer - in its most general sense - is to study experience."
"People live stories, and in the telling of these stories, reaffirm them, modify them, and create new ones. Stories lived and told educate the self and others, including the young and those such as researchers who are new to their communities."
"People are individuals and need to be understood as such, but they cannot be understood only as individuals. They are always in relation, always in a social context."
And, of course, because I think in analogies, this immediately brings to mind a vivid image for me. Because research tends to pick a narrow focus, you get a whole load of in-depth, highly detailed pictures, like exquisitely wrought beads. But narrative inquiry provides the string that turns those beads into a beautiful necklace. Each bead has its place among the other beads, and each either complements or clashes with other beads on the string.
My head is brimming and buzzing with stuff on the subject, but I think I'll do a more complete exploration in the dissertation itself.
I'm such a geek. This stuff really gives me such a buzz!
I know I've said it before. It isn't about the learning. It's about the learner. The person.
Contented geeky sigh.