Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reflections on progressing doctoral work as a work in progress

This blog post was precipitated by responses i made over on silence and voice on Jeffrey Keefers blog.
The void in form is a beautiful haiku on how we are shaped in association, this blog expand on this further in considering how the phd thesis is extended through associations, particularly via presenting.
(Acknowledging Lennie, I. (2003). Managing metaphorically. In S. Linstead (Ed.), Text/work : representing organization and organizing representation (pp. 41-56). London, England: Routledge.
whose article introduced me to the haiku above)

My first writings to my supervisor came back with an email subject line saying "all good", made me want to open the email :)
This was an unbelievable experience: to have a supervisor with a positive orientation toward the formation of ideas. My previous experience as a student was a supervisor who saw his role as critical and shredding; in the line of what doesnt kill you makes you stronger (this by the way is a patently rubbish approach, even though at the time i thought it was good for me *sigh* ). Has taught me so much about supervision and encouragement.

My first two conferences, really got me nothing beyond my own clarity in writing better, thinking better. feedback zilch.
But still extremely useful as my own clarity was invaluable.

Most conferences treat my subject as a voyeuristic oddity. Slightly annoying but at least tells me my subject is still new knowledge.

My fourth conference provided someone with an opportunity just to pass judgement on young people/peer counselling as suspect. Yes there are some people as just want to make themselves look grand. Didnt work. Looking back it just feeds one of my current conclusions regarding violence against young people and their living in a world lacking in trust and where weaknesses rather than strengths are made larger than life. At the time i thought nothing of it. I presented with a broken foot, all other pain paled into insignificance. I really didnt care much about it at the time, but the niggle is still there. Learning to share: Please do not grandstage at conference presentations.

My third conference, a tiny little one, a seminar would be more accurate, this was more informal and positive, but the methodology (narrative) was sideways to my own, but their interest and encouragement was great, particularly a willingness to entertain that a thesis could contain imagery. I was really unwell at this one, probably undiagnosed swine flu in the days preceding.

An online presentation in a MOOC was grand, shared space with an excellent researcher and thinker Frances Bell. Again what i learned of my own thinking and of shared presentation was probably more important than feedback gained, but this felt like a learning curve on a new area of thinking that i think i will be mulling post doc as well.

My presentation to workplace seminar: I think they wondered on what planet this could be called research. Nothing constructive here except i felt pressured to put actor-network theory into modes of thinking they might recognize as valid such as discourse analysis or psychoanalytical thinking. Retrospectively this taught me of how pressured we are to make sociological excuses for doing sociology. Taught me to stay true to form.

A three minute thesis competition precipitated me into thinking conclusions, useful as I changed gear in my thinking, even though those conclusions are less important than the ones i have now.

Presentation back to my site of study. Really good opportunity to share findings, had learned from previous presentations, these people didnt get side tracked with the voyeurism. They precipitated their own "so what" ways of thinking on what was shared. the heart and purpose of an ANT analysis though i dont think i recognized this at the time. I was surprizingly nervous on this one. I knew they knew if i would be talking sense or not.

Presentations on work in progress to own phd group always invaluable= Feel the support. These people experience the journey and speak with heart. This also helped with reframing of what felt like wicked problems that got me past periods of crisis.

I am looking forward to my next conference; again topic a bit sideways, more of a teaching learning focus; but at least method might be understood. Am looking forward to what others do using the method also as this is a rarity for me.
I have also never been to a conference with a doctoral consortium before or with people i have 'met online' but not in real life.

Other challenges to my thinking included some chapter writing and text book and journal editing. Again useful in clarifying the thinking. Occassionally distracting, a sideways movement to my thesis writing but linked. Problem has been when i know i have written it but word searching the thesis doesnt find it...because it was elsewhere. Some of this i still wonder about shifting across but word counts make this difficult. Other option is to cite myself :)

Ive also playfully presented what i am studying using other media just to see how it shifts the thoughts; haiku, the twitter 140 word challenge, plain language statements...
My biggest challenge has been a research question that writhes. which part of this monster do i elect to stay with., how to tame it into a jar of 1000,000 words.
During phases of my writing i have blogged for feedback, but actually this is more often a repository of thoughts as they coagulate. However, its also been a space where others have sometimes engaged with me. There are authors who respond when mentioned, who are happy to expand their own thinking as well as that of others in this joyous thinking exercise... an Ive had moments of stained glass and sunshine in blogging where I engaged with Prof Tom Baker, replicating the classic Rollo May/ Carl Rogers argument on goodness/badness.
His response of Fur Elise brought tears to my eyes. Writing this thesis has been breathtaking at times. truly honouring. now to finish it. honouring all those that have helped it on its way.

What have been your experiences of what progressed your Phd in presenting your work to others?

1 comment:

  1. Ailsa,
    Thanks for acknowledging our work on the MOOC - you know that I love to work with you. I guess you mean the session where George Siemens invited us to speak. I also liked the session where 6 of us spoke very briefly to stimulate dialogue - that was one of my favourites;)