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Emerging Critical Scholarship in Education
Emerging Critical Scholarship in Education: Navigating the Doctoral Journey
Jean Rath and Carol Mutch
Emerging Critical Scholarship in Education: Navigating the Doctoral Journey, Edited by Jean Rath and Carol Mutch This book first published 2014 Cambridge Scholars Publishing 12 Back Chapman Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 2XX, UK British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Copyright © 2014 by Jean Rath, Carol Mutch and contributors All rights for this book reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. ISBN (10): 1-4438-5702-5, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-5702-4
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter One ................................................................................................. 1 Introduction: Navigating the Doctoral Journey Jean Rath and Carol Mutch Section I : Mastering Methodology Chapter Two .............................................................................................. 14 A Conversation with Steinbeck: Finding My Way to Postcritical Ethnography Esther Fitzpatrick Chapter Three ............................................................................................ 30 Developing a Method to Explore the Battles, Barricades and Beliefs of Drama Education Jane Isobel Luton Chapter Four .............................................................................................. 44 Parents, Policy and Playcentre: Developing a Critical Research Proposal Suzanne Manning Chapter Five .............................................................................................. 58 Get into the Groove: My Doctoral Dance Claire Coleman Chapter Six ................................................................................................ 70 Mastering Methodology: Commentary Peter O’Connor Section II : Tantalising Theory Chapter Seven............................................................................................ 78 Diasporic Chinese Youth’s Sexual Subjectification: Arriving at Critical Scholarship Alex Li
Table of Contents
Chapter Eight ............................................................................................. 91 Goldilocks and the Theorists: Selecting Conceptual Models to Explore Preservice Teachers’ Engagement with Disadvantage Jennifer Tatebe Chapter Nine............................................................................................ 106 Critically Christian? My Epistemological and Spiritual Journey as a Sexuality Researcher Teguh Wijaya Mulya Chapter Ten ............................................................................................. 123 Metaphors and Mantras: Responding to the Personal Challenges of Writing a Theoretical Thesis Tanya Wendt Samu Chapter Eleven ........................................................................................ 138 Tantalising Theory: Commentary Roger Dale Section III : Examining Ethics Chapter Twelve ....................................................................................... 146 Unmarked Territories: Ethical Challenges in Archival Research Marek Tesar Chapter Thirteen ...................................................................................... 158 Ethical Complexities in Field Work: A Journey Into Values Education in a South African School Melanie Drake Chapter Fourteen ..................................................................................... 171 Tales of a Cross-Cultural Research Journey: Navigating Potholes, Roadblocks and Dead-Ends Donella Cobb Chapter Fifteen ........................................................................................ 184 Critical Educational Field Work in Iran: Traversing an Environment of Suspicion Saba Kiani
Emerging Critical Scholarship in Education
Chapter Sixteen ....................................................................................... 194 Examining Ethics: Commentary Robin Small Section IV : Reflecting Practice Chapter Seventeen ................................................................................... 202 Giving Voice to Alternative Education Tutors: Journeying Towards Phenomenological and Poetic Methodology Adrian Schoone Chapter Eighteen ..................................................................................... 214 Understanding the Economies of Applied Theatre: A Responsive Relationship between Theory, Practice and Method Molly Mullen Chapter Nineteen ..................................................................................... 226 Writing Affectively: Queerying the Doctoral Writing Journey James Burford Chapter Twenty ....................................................................................... 240 Passing Through a Metaphorical Funnel: A Teacher-Researcher’s Doctoral Journey Martyn Davison Chapter Twenty-One ............................................................................... 251 Reflecting Practice: Commentary Barbara M. Grant
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION: NAVIGATING THE DOCTORAL JOURNEY JEAN RATH AND CAROL MUTCH
Starting points The doctoral journey is fraught with stops and starts, crossroads and blind alleys, surprises and epiphanies. All successful doctoral students navigate a pathway through these events to reach their final destination. A key aim of this book is to explore examples of these routes in ways that honour individual stories and highlight the broader issues of uniting emergent research practices with doctoral candidates’ individual reflexive projects. We have assembled a collection of chapters that draw on the lived expertise of both current and recent doctoral students, with section commentary chapters authored by experienced doctoral supervisors. Studying for any doctorate is a complex and demanding process with explicit and implicit requirements determined by the institution, yet also shaped by debates within the discipline. The paradigm differences within the field of education result in a particularly demanding disciplinary setting. This is most visible in the area of critical studies of education where the expectations of what constitutes satisfactory doctoral work are most complex and contested (Yates 2004). All the doctoral candidates included in this book work with critical topics, theories and methods; they face particular challenges—and we believe rewards—when pursuing work that will meet institutional and disciplinary expectations of “good” doctoral-level research. For the contributors to this book, the doctoral process is required to culminate in more than the award of a qualification to certify research competence. Their imperative is to demonstrate mastery of the disciplinary norms whilst simultaneously challenging dominant models and making authentic contributions to the benefit of broader society (Four Arrows 2008).
Yates (2004) argues that the contestation of educational knowledge, together with the discourse and genre requirements for systematic, selfcritical methodologies, result in a problematic domain of knowledge and practice, which is difficult for doctoral candidates, supervisors and examiners. We are aware of the isolation and even “trauma” (Lee and Williams 1999) that many candidates experience when facing issues and dilemmas during the doctoral process. Thus, a further objective of this book is to share the chapter authors’ learning experiences in the hope that these will help alleviate anxiety for, and offer encouragement to, others. It is not our intention to provide a simplistic self-help guide to clearly map a proven route to doctoral success. We agree with Barbara Kamler and Pat Thomson’s (2008) criticisms of the self-help genre’s constrained pedagogy and normalisation of existing power structures; this book seeks to offer a more complex story told in the context of doctoral candidates as engaged colleagues. Whilst the metaphor of the doctoral process as a journey is prevalent across the sector (see Pitcher’s (2011) report on the metaphorical conceptions held by candidates), our goal is to avoid the notion of planning for an easily mapped, unified progression. As Jerry Wellington (2010, 134) reminds us, the traditional structure for a doctoral dissertation “makes the process look more like a flow chart than perhaps a truer portrayal such as a spider’s web”. In order to represent a sense of the intertwined decisions that are taken during the pursuit of a doctorate we have supported authors to retain messiness and to avoid idealised tales. Furthermore, whilst our overall metaphor is of the doctorate as journey across uncertain terrain, in the spirit of understanding the doctoral process as varied and multi-faceted we have encouraged individual authors to use, and to question, a range of metaphorical descriptions (see Hughes and Tight (2013) for a critical analysis of the metaphorical terms used to describe the doctoral process). In this way the book provides a range of possible answers to the questions of how candidates experience doctoral studies, what is “critical” about each contributor’s research and how this affects what each person does as he or she researches.
The landscape This book emerges at a time of heightened awareness of the role of the doctorate, with increasing attention being paid to the doctoral experience and the doctorate as a set of social practices. Whilst the PhD has traditionally been seen as the means by which future “stewards of the discipline” are developed (Golde and Walker 2006), in recent years changes across the higher education sector have led to an evolution of all
Introduction: Navigating the Doctoral Journey
university research including diversification of the varieties of doctoral higher degrees and burgeoning numbers of doctoral candidates. Increasing scrutiny has been applied to the doctorate resulting in a noteworthy increase in the number of doctoral education focused research projects, conferences, books and articles in scholarly journals (see Michael Jones 2013, for a review of forty years of journal discussions of issues in doctoral studies). Major shifts have taken place in the conceptualisation and practice of doctoral work; not least the move away from the organising idea of “postgraduate research” and toward one of “doctoral education” (Boud and Lee 2009). A major change across higher education internationally has been a rapid growth in student numbers and diversity at all levels (see Martin Trow’s (2006) thought-provoking review of the transition from elite, to mass, to universal provision). This has resulted in a broadened doctoral intake to include a range of candidates from more diverse backgrounds and cultures than was historically the case. In Aotearoa New Zealand indigenous people are entering doctoral programmes in increasing numbers. The Tertiary Education Commission (2007) has sought to engage with MƗori groups to encourage indigenous doctoral candidates and increase recognition of indigenous knowledge within the academy. (Sue Middleton and Elizabeth McKinley (2010) note that intersections between MƗori and “Western” knowledge are acute when negotiating the completion of doctoral-level work). Challenges from trans-cultural, indigenous, feminist and other social justice oriented approaches to the accepted norms of academic endeavour have resulted in major paradigm differences within the discipline of education. As Lyn Yates (2004) points out, whilst there is broad agreement that quality research is systematic and well-designed, contributes to knowledge and achieves something that matters (either universally or specifically to an individual or group), education remains a “wide-ranging and hotly contested arena of research activity” (Yates, 2004, 71). In her quest to identify “good” educational research, she argues that difficulties are particularly severe for doctoral researchers using critical and post-critical approaches. We are sensitive to the points made by Erica McWilliam (1993) about the dangers of bringing new forms of writing to the educational thesis. She argues that the increasingly ephemeral nature of contemporary social theory produces particularly acute difficulties for doctoral candidates. They must either finish “post haste” or be condemned to a constant reworking of texts, which appear instantly out of date. She asserts (McWilliam, 1993, 202) that the traditional linear thesis form “fails to signal the embeddedness of theory in
the entire research task” and is “at odds with imperatives emanating from contemporary social theory”. Situated as they are within the nested contexts of department, institution and discipline—not to mention their personal and professional lives—doctoral candidates must perform a complex balancing act of conducting research and producing theses that show sufficient mastery of the norms to pass by disciplinary gatekeepers whilst, at same time, “doing something different”. The chapters gathered here are thus not “individualistic self-reflexive shenanigans” (Patai 1994, 62), rather they are examples of what Gary Anderson (2002, 22) calls “unfinished models of what rigorous, intentional, systematic, selfreflective practitioner research might look like”. They contribute to the broader debates within education; illustrate the unique confluence of professional understandings, academic practice and individual reflexivity for each author-as-researcher and highlight the particular issues facing doctoral candidates who seek to produce critical research that is recognisable within the university context. In recent years debates have raged about the phenomenon of professional doctorates (e.g. Scott et al. 2004) with numerous comparisons being made of varieties of doctorate (Neumann 2005) and how doctorates are evolving (Huisman and Naidoo 2006). We agree with Catherine Allen, Elizabeth Smyth and Merlin Wahlstrom’s (2002) view that the EdD has helped to redefine PhD education, making the degree more responsive to the needs of educational stakeholders. Whilst differences remain between the intention and process of professional doctorates and the PhD, we concur with Pat Drake and Linda Heath’s (2011) assertion that, particularly in the disciplinary area of education, the construction of knowledge is not limited to the type of doctoral programme. Thus, the binary categorisation of doctorates is not helpful. Rather, our focus is on the common features amongst many of our contributors—in particular that, irrespective of their subject commitments, gender, nationality or other markers of diversity, they have existing professional and personal commitments to, and knowledge of, their areas of educational expertise. Almost all chapter authors meet Drake and Heath’s (2011) definition of being practitioner researchers. That is to say, they are insider researchers who have in-depth knowledge of their particular educational community with no necessity of being employed by a particular organisation. Each author, as a doctoral candidate, has brought to the research process both his or her existing experiences and professional expertise together with a passionate commitment to make a difference—to engage with critical approaches in education in order to address problems of direct relevance to their professional interests. Most contributors are “grappling with inherent
Introduction: Navigating the Doctoral Journey
challenges of research methodology arising out of overt personal involvement” (Drake and Heath 2011, 6). As is evident in their chapters, all authors are expending both emotional and intellectual energy in order to engage authentically with their research topics in ways that will meet personal, professional, disciplinary and institutional expectations of research rigour. Undoubtedly, the institutional context plays an important role in shaping the doctoral journey and researchers have emphasised the importance of inclusive departmental research cultures in contributing to the breadth of the doctoral experience and associated learning (e.g. Deem and Brehony (2000) highlighted the importance of peer and academic cultures for all candidates). All the chapter authors conduct their research as members of the University of Auckland’s School of Critical Studies in Education / Te Kura O te Kǀtuinga Akoranga MƗtauranga. The School aims to engage in teaching, research and practice centred on the place of education and its transformative potential in New Zealand society, the Pacific region and beyond (http://www.education.auckland.ac.nz/uoa/ home/about/schools-departments/crstie). Potential doctoral candidates are drawn to the School of Critical Studies in Education by its vision of a fair and just world and the place that critical scholars can play in challenging the status quo, highlighting social and educational disparities and offering alternative solutions. They are also drawn to the way in which the School attempts to “walk the talk” by providing learning, teaching, writing and presenting opportunities that model what a community of critical scholars might look like. This book is the culmination of many of these activities in which the candidates’ initial ideas were presented, critiqued, workshopped, revised, reviewed and crafted with support from the wider school community.
The journeys Increasingly, practitioners and researchers are looking for ways in which the doctoral experience can include authentic opportunities for publication. We recognise that in addition to honing the craft skills of writing, doctoral candidates are exploring broader aspects of their emerging practices as researchers. Indeed they are writing their way toward ownership of their identities as researchers—this is demanding intellectual and emotional work (McAlpine and Lucas 2011). Kamler (2008) has argued for co-authorship with supervisors as a pedagogic practice to ensure that doctoral candidates receive adequate support to publish. However, bearing in mind Barbara Kamler and Pat Thomson’s
(2008) call for alternate approaches and the success of authentic academic practice experiences, such as Nick Hopwood’s (2010) “learning by doing” journal editorship scheme, we chose to engage doctoral authors in a structured process of proposal, draft, peer review, writing workshop, collegial review and editorial review. Our intent was to provide scaffolding and collegial support rather than formal instruction. We sought to facilitate an enriching space for participants to build upon their existing knowledge and skills in ways that explore the writing and review practices required to publish beyond the thesis dissertation (wherein any learning about dissertation writing was incidental). Throughout the production of the book, the candidates, their doctoral supervisors, colleagues and the editors interacted in supportive, but intellectually robust, ways to craft stories that were true to the author’s original intent but also would resonate with readers at different stages of the journey or in different contexts. We have sought to both produce a high quality “research output” and support a meaningful pedagogic dynamic for all involved—including the editors! The book has a fourfold structure, with sections dealing with in turn methodology, theory, ethics and reflective practice. Each section includes four chapters authored by current or recent doctoral candidates and a critical commentary by an experienced supervisor. In the first section, Mastering methodology, authors grapple with the challenges of arriving at a research methodology that accommodates the kind of personal, professional, reflective, ethical and representational commitments of critical approaches. Esther Fitzpatrick deploys a fictional account of a conversation with the renowned, North American, author John Steinbeck to examine the fitness of postcritical ethnography, to both perform and investigate the tensions inherent to her research with PƗkehƗ educators in Aotearoa New Zealand. Jane Isobel Luton draws on her extensive practitioner experience to illustrate the way in which contradictions, disappointments and moments of despair have become key entryways to her use of performative inquiry in order to place practitioners of drama education at the centre of her research. Like other chapter authors, Luton and Fitzpatrick seek to engage in a deep way with theory, practice and emotion whilst being rigorous in describing the uncertainties, complexities and challenges of their research journeys. From inclusion of this messiness emerges the importance of informal as well as formal learning in order for doctoral candidates to engage with the untidiness of early steps on the doctoral path. In their chapters Suzanne Manning and Claire Coleman, each in the early stages of the doctoral journey, take up the theme of slippage between the expected and lived experience of arriving at an acceptable methodology. Manning builds on her experience
Introduction: Navigating the Doctoral Journey
within New Zealand’s early childhood Playcentre movement, and some serendipitous exploration of the methodological literature, to illustrate her approach to arriving at a methodology far removed from her initial intentions. Claire Coleman’s transition to parenthood has coincided with her “doctoral dance” to produce a research design capable of bringing together process drama and critical pedagogy to work with and for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Here, and elsewhere in this volume, there is a focus of the doctoral process enabling the completion of “life tasks” (Levinson 1986) beyond the academic arena—a process which continues as researchers embark on their post-doctoral careers. Throughout this section, as the commentator Peter O’Connor notes, there is a theme of supervisors and candidates co-navigating the evolving terrain of doctoral-level research as well as the successful completion of an individual research project. The second section, Tantalising theory, considers the role of theory in facilitating and challenging the doctoral candidate’s route. As in the first section, the role of broader life tasks and production of a coherent self is highlighted, and, as Roger Dale points out in his commentary, there are broader academic debates at play here than the disciplinary conversations within the arena of educational research. Alex Li, near the start of her doctoral journey, writes of her exploration of, and commitment to, the epistemological and ontological underpinnings of her sexuality research with Chinese diasporic youth. Jennifer Tatebe’s imaginative use of the traditional childhood fable, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, provides a cautionary tale of selection of a theoretical framework to explain how preservice teachers engage with issues of disadvantage. Teguh Wijaya Mulya considers his personal intellectual and spiritual journey as he embarks on a reflexive project to reconcile his evolving understandings of poststructuralism, queer theory and Christian faith. Tanya Wendt Samu, writing at the end of her doctoral journey, provides a highly reflective account of how producing a theoretical thesis has enabled her to gain personal and professional leverage to encourage the kinds of social justice changes to which she is committed. We are reminded of Pat Drake and Linda Heath’s (2011, 6) statement that much of the work that emerges during such personal and committed research “requires drawing on emotional as well as intellectual resources and working out what one thinks can be a painful and messy business as well as an intellectual one”. In the third section, Examining ethics, we have encouraged authors to consider that there is no one correct answer with regard to how ethical issues should be resolved. Indeed, we recognise that maintaining tension rather than seeking resolution may on occasion be the more ethically
sound approach. As Robin Small reminds us in the commentary, formal ethical processes may be an integral component of the doctoral journey, yet they are rarely sufficiently inclusive to cover every eventuality. To help others negotiate within and beyond the requirements of institutional ethics committees, this section provides some reflective practice pointers to help doctoral candidates and their supervisors develop an ethical approach capable of helping them to determine what actions to take in the unpredictable and evolving situations they encounter. Marek Tesar’s chapter exemplifies this approach, in providing an account of the (still unresolved) complexities of ethics and truth in archival research. The remaining three chapters in this section are accounts of ethical practice in doctoral fieldwork. Melanie Drake describes her journey into values education in a disadvantaged school in South Africa. Her story shows how careful compliance with institutional ethics processes might be insufficient preparation for fieldwork, which may call upon the researcher to question personal ethics and even the nature of research itself. Donella Cobb’s focus is the challenges and frustrations of cross-cultural ethical processes in an unnamed low-income nation; she reminds us that the ethical map drawn before departing on the doctoral journey may not match the territory in the field. In the final chapter of this section, Saba Kiani reflects on the ethical issues that arose when researching in the politically sensitive context of Iran and of ethical language translation. Barbara Grant in her commentary to accompany the final quartet of chapters, Reflecting practice, remarks on the importance of thinking about being reflective both of and for practice. Each chapter author is aware of the educational and practice debates to which they wish to contribute and of the institutional and disciplinary expectations placed upon them; nevertheless, they are reflexively critical about academic norms and are prepared to take risks with their own chapter texts in order to represent the emergent approaches to critical educational research that are part of their doctoral journeys. Adrian Schoone writes of his initial discomfort in using “alternative and unexpected” methodologies; yet he has the courage to script a text that “performs what it announces” (Lather 1991, 11) by including poetic layers that require the active participation of readers. James Burford’s chapter also embraces performative textual risk—his stated aim is to disorient readers so that they will engage affectively with his dual foci of doctoral writing studies and queer studies affect—with the reader invited to experience the sense of “everydayness” of his doctoral “jaunt”. Martyn Davison’s piece also includes a strong sense of the everyday; however, his is the unsettled everydayness of a teacherresearcher seeking to reconcile his positions as researcher, student, agent
Introduction: Navigating the Doctoral Journey
for educational change and practitioner. He offers the story of his doctoral journey in the spirit of helping future teacher-researchers, who need to develop what Pat Drake and Linda Heath (2011, 31) refer to as “multiple integrities”. This need is echoed in Molly Mullen’s chapter as she addresses the challenges and rewards of adopting a critical educational standpoint to researching the work of applied theatre practitioners. The range of approaches to knowledge generation and application represented in each section arises from the need to address diverse settings and agendas. We believe that it is a hopeful sign of the richness of the emergent approaches to educational research that are necessary in order to navigate a field of complex nested contexts, shifting policies, and diverse stakeholders with evolving understandings, knowledges and interests. As our doctoral candidates complete one journey and embark on the next, they will draw on the strength and determination they have ably demonstrated and find ways to critically engage with the social and education issues that they meet on their way—and in doing so contribute to creating a more fair and just society.
Acknowledgements In Barbara Grant’s concluding commentary she emphasises the potency of the supervisor-candidate relationship in not only mapping the doctoral process but also accompanying the candidate during the years required to complete the doctoral journey. Whilst we see the authors’ contributions to this book as an additional learning opportunity beyond the supervisorcandidate dyad, we acknowledge the important role that supervisors have taken in providing feedback and guidance as part of the process of conceptualising chapter content and developing forms of writing. We would like to thank them for their support and also thank the University of Auckland’s School of Critical Studies in Education for its sponsorship of events and practical support to see the book to completion. Coralie McCormack, Iain Hay, John Morgan and Cathy Fagan each reviewed a section of the book, we and the chapter authors are grateful for the considered and helpful feedback they provided. We owe a further debt of gratitude to Sue Osborne and Diane Osborne for their work in proofreading and preparing the manuscript. We would also like to acknowledge the support from Carol Koulikourdi, who guided us through the process of publishing with Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Our thanks also to Saskia Bunce-Rath for granting permission to use as cover art her representation of a hei matau/fish hook. The hei matau is an appropriate motif for the book as a whole; in MƗori culture it signifies
abundance, strength and determination, and is believed to ensure a safe journey over water.
References Allen, C.M., E.M. Smyth and M. Wahlstrom. 2002. Responding to the field and to the academy: Ontario’s evolving PhD. Higher Education Research & Development vol. 21, no. 2: 203í14. Anderson, G.L. 2002. Reflecting on research for doctoral students in education. Educational Researcher vol. 31 no. 22: 22í5. Boud, D., and A. Lee. 2009. Changing practices of doctoral education. London: Routledge. Deem, R., and K.J. Brehony. 2000. Doctoral students’ access to research cultures—are some more unequal than others? Studies in Higher Education vol. 25 no. 2: 149í65. Drake, P., with L. Heath. 2011. Practitioner research at doctoral level: Developing coherent research methodologies. London: Taylor and Francis. [Kindle Edition]. Four Arrows. 2008. The authentic dissertation: Alternative ways of knowing, research, and representation. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Golde, C.M., and G.E. Walker. 2006. Envisioning the future of doctoral education: Preparing stewards of the discipline. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Hopwood, N. 2010. Doctoral students as journal editors: Non-formal learning through academic work. Higher Education Research & Development vol. 29 no. 3: 319í31. Hughes, C., and M. Tight. 2013. The metaphors we study by: The doctorate as a journey and/or as work. Higher Education Research & Development vol. 32 no. 5: 765í75. Huisman, J., and R. Naidoo. 2006. The professional doctorate: From Anglo-Saxon to European challenges. Higher Education Management and Policy vol. 18 no. 2: 1–13. Jones, M. 2013. Issues in doctoral studies—forty years of journal discussion: Where have we been and where are we going? International Journal of Doctoral Studies vol. 8 no. 6: 83í104. Kamler, B. 2008. Rethinking doctoral publication practices: Writing from and beyond the thesis. Studies in Higher Education vol. 33 no. 3: 283– 94. Kamler, B., and P. Thomson. 2008. The failure of dissertation advice books: Toward alternative pedagogies for doctoral writing. Educational Researcher vol. 37 no. 8: 507í14.
Introduction: Navigating the Doctoral Journey
Lather, P. 1991. Getting smart: Feminist research and pedagogy with/in the postmodern. London: Routledge. Lee, A., and C. Williams. 1999. Forged in fire: Narratives of trauma in PhD supervision pedagogy. Southern Review vol. 32 no. 1: 6í26. Levinson, D. 1986. A conception of adult development. American Psychologist vol. 41 no. 1: 3í13. McAlpine, L. and L. Lucas. 2011. Different places, different specialisms: Similar questions of doctoral identities under construction. Teaching in Higher Education vol. 16 no. 6: 695í706. McWilliam, E. 1993. ‘Post’ haste: Plodding research and galloping theory. British Journal of Sociology of Education vol. 14 no. 2: 199í205. Middleton, S. and E. McKinley. 2010. The gown and the korowai: MƗori doctoral students and the spatial organisation of academic knowledge. Higher Education Research & Development vol. 29 no. 3: 229í43. Neumann, R. 2005. Doctoral Differences: Professional doctorates and PhDs compared. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management vol. 27 no. 2: 173–88. Patai, D. 1994. When method becomes power. In Power and method: Political activism and educational research, ed. A. Gitlin, 61í73. London: Routledge. Pitcher, R. 2011. Doctoral students’ conceptions of research. The Qualitative Report vol. 16 no. 4: 971í83. Scott, D., A. Brown, I. Lunt, and L. Thorne. 2004. Professional doctorates: Integrating professional and academic knowledge. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press. Tertiary Education Commission. 2007. Tertiary Education Strategy 2007– 2012. Wellington, NZ: Tertiary Education Commission. Trow, M. 2006. Reflections on the transition from elite to mass to universal access: Forms and phases of higher education in modern societies since WWII. In International handbook of higher education, part one: Global themes and contemporary challenges, ed. J.F. Forrest and P.G. Altbach, 243í80. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer. Wellington, J. 2010. Weaving the threads of doctoral research journeys. In Routledge doctoral student’s companion, ed. P. Thomson and M. Walker, 128í48. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Yates, L. 2004. What does good educational research look like? Maidenhead, Berkshire: Open University Press.
The Editors Jean Rath’s main research interest is academic practice (teaching, research and service) and the experiences of early-career academics including doctoral candidates. She has particular expertise in the use of writing as a method of inquiry to investigate culture, memory and reflective practices. All her work is underpinned by an enduring interest in issues of identity, narrative, social justice and pedagogy. Jean is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Tertiary Teaching and Learning at the University of Waikato Te Whare WƗnanga o Waikato and is an Honorary Research Associate of the University of Oxford’s Learning Institute. Carol Mutch is currently Head of School and Associate Professor in the School of Critical Studies in Education at the University of Auckland. Part of her role is to build the research culture and outputs in her school and this book contributes to that goal. Her career has included teaching, educational leadership, policy advice, research and evaluation. She has published books, chapters and articles on educational history and policy, curriculum development, citizenship and social education and research methodologies. Her current research interests focus on the role of schools in disaster response and recovery following the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes.
SECTION I: MASTERING METHODOLOGY
CHAPTER TWO A CONVERSATION WITH STEINBECK: FINDING MY WAY TO POSTCRITICAL ETHNOGRAPHY ESTHER FITZPATRICK
In this chapter, Esther Fitzpatrick explores questions regarding methodological and ethical choices researchers need to consider in the initial stages of their study. Through a fictional scripted conversation with John Steinbeck, she highlights the tensions inherent in a doctoral journey. Importantly, she positions the doctoral researcher as a central character in the unfolding story using a postcritical ethnographic approach. Through the scripted conversation the researcher’s own beliefs, bias, and assumptions are made apparent. Fictionalising the script illuminates the message, whilst allowing the complexity of the process to be evident. It also connects the reader to the experience. Fumbling muddling Conscious of my lack I come back to Steinbeck A ghost to whom I speak A ghost whom I admire A ghost who writes on my mind. (Fitzpatrick 2013)
This chapter tells the story of how I conversed with others as I considered and designed a study to critically explore my research question: What does it mean to be a PƗkehƗ educator? Defining myself as PƗkehƗ, I represent what is usually understood as the white European partner in New Zealand’s bicultural relationship with MƗori—the Indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand. As an emerging researcher I looked to mentors/guides/critical friends to enlarge my understanding of the role I was about to undertake, represented here through a fictional conversation with John Steinbeck, the Nobel Prize winning American author. For the
A Conversation with Steinbeck
purpose of my study I required a methodology that would enable me to engage in an in-depth exploration of individual stories of contemporary PƗkehƗ educators, whilst acknowledging my central role as both PƗkehƗ and educator. I adopted a postcritical ethnographic approach. To represent my experience I scripted a fictional conversation providing me with the performative capability to connect the reader with my struggle in a critically reflexive way (Denzin and Lincoln 2011; Spry 2011b). Scripting a conversation engaged me critically with questions regarding the methodological and ethical choices I needed to consider throughout the initial stages. Fictionalising the script was a way of illuminating the message, whilst allowing the complexity of the process to be apparent. It was also a strategy for connecting the reader to my experiences in order to evoke an emotional and intellectual response (Eisner 1997; Schuck et al. 2012; Spry 2011a). Script-writing involved a cyclic integration of theory, relevant literature, personal experience, analysis and key ideas (Saldaña 2003). The process meant reducing the data corpus from the volumes of methodological readings I was engaged with, down to those ideas that resonated. I read and reread text, creatively writing and playing with ideas, to become familiar with the meaning and feeling of the words (Saldaña 2003; Sallis 2008).
A Critical Methodology The study involves the use of three ethnographic methodologies to generate rich detailed histories of being a PƗkehƗ educator: Autoethnography, Duoethnography and Performance ethnography; explained more fully in the scripted conversation. I have found these methodologies particularly useful as I explore and challenge the dominant political and powerful discourses that occur in multiethnic societies. My aim is to contribute to issues of social justice through providing and critically analysing richer stories of PƗkehƗ identity construction. A critical aspect of my research is to perform, and simultaneously investigate, these ethnographic methodologies to inform future practice. Critical ethnographic methodologies have the potential to ask and engage with important questions about our global lives (Spry 2011b), expose dynamic interactions between power, politics and poetics (Madison 2012) and produce new understandings. Further, these methodologies allow for the complexity of human behaviour, whilst also potentially disrupting the façade of normalcy (Breault, Hackler and Bradley 2012).
Postcritical Ethnography Ethnography provides me with a strategy for exploring cultures and societies while being responsive to how local understandings and perspectives influence and mediate human experience and interaction (Denzin and Lincoln 2011). Ethnography demands that I immerse myself deeply into the everyday life of PƗkehƗ to probe how PƗkehƗ “negotiate and contest meaning in the course of their interactions with each other” (Higgs 2009, 9) and with others who are non-PƗkehƗ. Critical ethnography is concerned with my ethical responsibility to pay attention to issues of unfairness or injustice with a focus on social change (Denzin and Lincoln 2011). My assumption is that the standard story of PƗkehƗ suppresses new and emerging ways of “be-coming” for both PƗkehƗ and non-PƗkehƗ; instead maintaining long-established hegemonic power structures. As a critical ethnographer I aim to explore beneath surface appearances to disrupt standard stories, and to unsettle neutral and taken-for-granted assumptions (Madison 2012, 5). Postcritical ethnography acknowledges the importance of identifying and contextualising my position as researcher. It extends the goals of critical ethnography to include “positionality, reflexivity, objectivity, and representation” (Noblit 2004, 198). As demonstrated throughout the scripted conversation, I am involved in on-going critical reflection to ensure my own beliefs, bias, and assumptions are apparent throughout the study (Madison 2012). Madison argues that postcritical ethnography is a move to contextualise the position of the researcher and that “positionality is vital because it forces us to acknowledge our own power, privilege, and biases just as we are denouncing the power structures that surround our subjects” (8). I returned repeatedly to a poem of John Steinbeck that has influenced my own practice as a teacher educator. I believed that same poem had a message for researchers in education. It is this belief that has motivated me to script a fictional conversation with Steinbeck to explore performative writing and connect the reader with my concerns on developing an ethical research practice. Steinbeck’s replies throughout the script are constructed from several fictional and nonfictional sources. Interwoven through the conversation are my own poems, stories and voices of other researchers as significant others who have spoken to me throughout this process. These layers of conversation keep the text in motion and invite the reader to engage reflexively with the process (Rath 2012). I imagine if Steinbeck and I had shared a conversation it would have begun with me sharing my favourite Steinbeck poem, and I would call him John …
A Conversation with Steinbeck
Like Captured Fireflies In her classroom our speculations ranged the world. She aroused us to book waving discussions. Every morning we came to her carrying new truths, new facts, new ideas Cupped and sheltered in our hands like captured fireflies. When she went away a sadness came over us, But the light did not go out. She left her signature upon us The literature of the teacher who writes on children’s minds. I’ve had many teachers who taught us soon forgotten things, But only a few like her who created in me a new thing a new attitude, a new hunger. I suppose that to a large extent I am the unsigned manuscript of that teacher. What deathless power lies in the hands of such a person? John Steinbeck (1955)
Scripted conversation Characters ESTHER: Doctoral candidate JOHN: John Steinbeck SHADOWS ON THE BEACH: Other significant researchers, theorists, John’s son.
Scene One It is a summer evening at a beach holiday house. Rays of early evening sunlight illuminate Esther, who is sitting on the deck mulling over what she has read and written that day for her research proposal. Enter John Steinbeck who walks across the deck and sits beside her. He relaxes back into the chair, crosses his legs, and lights a cigarette. They stare out at the ocean together and begin talking, slowly and dreamily. Somewhere on the beach, hidden from view, are other significant characters listening in on the conversation; researchers, theorists—fellow dreamers. ESTHER: (Dramatically.) I love your poem about the fireflies. I always wanted to be that teacher. To listen to the stories those children and others brought to me “cupped and sheltered in their hands like captured fireflies”. Now I am involved in a research project that involves listening to and gathering stories—about what it means to be PƗkehƗ educator.
JOHN: (Kindly and thoughtfully.) It was written for you. It was written for all teachers, educators, and researchers who are involved in the business of listening and interpreting the stories of others. “I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit” (Steinbeck 1955). Pause. John turns and focuses his gaze on Esther. JOHN: (In a sceptical tone.) But I do wonder. What is a PƗkehƗ? And why is listening to their stories worthy of your attention? ESTHER: (Sits up straight. Her face adopts a serious expression.) Where do I begin? A multivalent term, fraught with a myriad of contentious meanings and sentiments, PƗkehƗ are usually understood as the white European partner in New Zealand’s bicultural relationship with MƗori— the indigenous people of New Zealand (Bell 2009). Understanding the development of such an identity in New Zealand is a significant undertaking since it is complicated by recent globalisation, polyethnic communities and a bi-cultural relationship between two Founding Peoples; indigenous MƗori and PƗkehƗ Settler (Bell 1999). The development of an identity for PƗkehƗ is even more complicated by their history as colonists, their hegemonic position in society, and for some their ignorance of White privilege (Addy 2008). The sound of seagull cries rises and fades. Esther glances over at the shadows on the beach. These shadows shout out to her: AWATERE: You have no culture (1984) HOEY: What culture you have is borrowed or appropriated from MƗori (2004) TURNER: PƗkehƗ are in a place of internal exile (2000) ESTHER: (She turns back to John with urgency.) To answer the second question: PƗkehƗ are an emerging ethnic group who have no other home. A form of multicultural education has persisted in New Zealand that emphasises the authenticity of minority groups—further essentialising ethnic groups—and mostly ignores the existence of PƗkehƗ. The concern here is that this practice further isolates and stereotypes particular groups which can result in racism. PƗkehƗ consistently demonstrate that they struggle with articulating a positive ethnic identity and a sense of belonging (Bell 2009).
A Conversation with Steinbeck Esther stands, steps forward and talks directly to the reader. Here is a poem I wrote nearing the end of my last research project of my own journey of becoming PƗkehƗ: ONTÕS “To be” I am I was I will be The truth Travelling becoming An identity In flux in-between entangled Belonging Becoming Me (Fitzpatrick, 2011) JOHN: (Leaning forward. Mock bow.) Thank you for your detailed description of PƗkehƗ. Esther sits back down smiling. JOHN: (Quizzical look on his face.) How do you propose to go about listening to the stories of PƗkehƗ educators and interpreting them as truthfully as you might? How will you tell of those traits we also detest, tell of our failures, our self-interest and yet be ethical to your participants? As to your poem (John points to Esther): Remember as you travel through life and continue this journey of becoming, the journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. (Steinbeck  1997) Enjoy. ESTHER: (Picks up her pad and pen. She looks at the words on the page.) I am exploring the stories of PƗkehƗ educators and how being a PƗkehƗ influences our practice. This will involve three ethnographic projects: autoethnography, duoethnography and performance ethnography. Using a postcritical ethnographic framework I will be paying particular attention to how as educators we “write on children’s minds” (Steinbeck 1955). Turns to John. Reading through some survey questions last week—exploring the relationship between adolescent understandings of ethnic-racial identity
Chapter Two and school experience—I was struck with how we unconsciously write on children’s minds. This survey was given to hundreds of adolescent children in New Zealand, including PƗkehƗ. I wondered how they interpreted the following questions. Esther reads off the page. Dramatically: I have a strong feeling of hatred and disdain for the majority culture. I dislike many of the things that the dominant culture represents People from the dominant ethnic group are vicious and nasty… (Worrell et al. 2010). The sound of seagull cries rises and fades. Esther glances over at the shadows on the beach. A lone voice from the beach instructs: MOIN SYED: My recent research on the impact of the survey on participants would suggest these PƗkehƗ students would be made to feel uncomfortable and internalize the negative images portrayed about their ethnic group—or become resistant altogether (Syed, Juan, and Juang 2011). JOHN: (Leans back in chair. He shakes his head and frowns.) You are speaking in some other language? I can’t understand much of what you have said other than it involves a lot of stories about you! Why are you in the centre of this research? Is it just going to be a whole lot of navel gazing—“poor wee PƗkehƗ me”? “Where did this discontent start? You are warm enough, but you shiver. You are fed, yet hunger gnaws you. You have been loved, but your yearning wanders in new fields. And to prod all these there’s time, the Bastard Time!” (Steinbeck  2008). Pause. John laughs. Leans forward again. As to the survey questions—these remind me of what provoked me to write the “Like Captured Fireflies” poem. (John stands. Takes a step forward. A smaller shadow stands alongside him.) My eleven-year-old son came to me one day … “SON: (tone of patient suffering): How much longer do I have to go to school? JOHN: About fifteen years. SON: (despondently): Oh! Lord—Do I have to? JOHN: I’m afraid so. It’s terrible and I’m not going to try to tell you it isn’t. But I can tell you this—if you are very lucky, you may find a teacher and that is a wonderful thing.
A Conversation with Steinbeck SON: Did you find one? JOHN: I found three. “They all loved what they were doing. They did not tell—they catalyzed a burning desire to know. Under their influence, the horizons sprung wide and fear went away and the unknown became knowable. But most important of all, the truth, that dangerous stuff, became beautiful and very precious”. (Steinbeck 1955) Pause. The shadow of John’s son exits. John slowly sits down again. Sinks into chair. Esther leans forward. ESTHER: (Loud whisper.) Perhaps I misrepresented what I am doing. I am very aware of the concerns—that this type of research is sometimes misunderstood as indulgent. (She sits back into chair.) For example starting out on this research I became fascinated by the stories of my ancestors. I am now a complete ancestry on line convert. I mentioned my concern to a critical friend and her answer was “it is important to know my whakapapa” (my ancestry). (Laughs. Pause.) As part of my research I am creating a wire PƗkehƗ sculpture and while playing around with wire one afternoon I started to think about these ancestors: Esther stands and addresses the reader with emotion. Wire I am drawing out the wire It is neatly bound like my Grandma’s yarn of wool I am imagining how I will weave my wire PƗkehƗ I draw out the wire carefully Knitting, weaving, tukutuku koru I draw more wire and remember An ancestor who drew wire In Thurgoland An ancestor who used wire In Sheffield An ancestor who manipulated wire In Auckland To make my Poppa’s crib And then I think of number eight fencing wire And remember An ancestor who won a bet Building fences In Christchurch New Zealand My mother’s chicken wire Chinese bantams, Rhode Island red And then I remember running a race Across the paddocks Dodging the cow pats
22 Smeared with paspalum ZAP My first electric fence.
Esther sits down. Pours him a glass of wine. They sit in silence for a moment. Then Esther explains. Careful with her words. John sits forward drawing on his cigarette thoughtfully. I begin by telling my stories of becoming PƗkehƗ and then weave these stories in a critically reflexive way through the whole process. I begin with my story—to make transparent in the larger story how I am situated—so others can comment, juxtapose their stories against, and add to this script. This provides an opportunity for the voice of the researcher to be identified (Chang 2008) and enables me to explore personal knowledge to inform educational philosophy and pedagogical practice (Starr 2010). Ellis, Adams, and Bochner (2010) define autoethnography as “an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)” (1). Pause. Esther leans forward conspiratorially. Looking about furtively to check who is listening. She continues in a low whisper. One ethical dilemma is the tension between telling those stories (or versions of) I am proud of and those I would rather hide away, such as the story of Goldie and Me… I am sitting in a special room in Auckland library. Before me is a box that contains the history of one side of my family. I am prowling excitedly through the contents. I have always liked to play the part of detective uncovering secrets. I read a story about a great-great-uncle who was best friends with Frederick Goldie (a famous New Zealand artist in the nineteenth century). The story paints a marvellous picture of my relative, his exploits as a conservationist, gardener, photographer and painter. But what I especially enjoyed reading about was his relationship with MƗori who gifted him many treasures. Goldie also gifted my relative with several of his paintings. It was a stunning story … until I turned the page. After he died his wife burnt everything, everything, yes I know what you are asking … everything. JOHN: (Smiling.) How and why do we select particular stories to tell? This is a marvellous story. I can imagine which part of this story is the firefly cupped and sheltered in your hand and which is locked up in a box in a cupboard in a museum. “When speaking for others just remember no man really knows about other human beings. The best he can do is to suppose that they are like himself”(Steinbeck  2000).
A Conversation with Steinbeck The sound of seagull cries rises and fades. Esther glances at the shadows on the beach. Shadows from the beach instruct: RATH: Sometimes we need to learn to live with mystery, with unfinished stories, with hushed and silenced stories (Rath 2012). ANDERSON: Esther, as the researcher, I suggest you consider … x Being explicitly a full member of the research group x Engage yourself in analytic reflexivity x Ensure you are visible in published texts x Also engage with other informants x You must be committed to the agenda of improving understandings of broader social phenomena (Anderson 2006). JOHN: (Laughs.) Ah yes I like Anderson’s idea of being engaged in analytic reflexivity throughout—such as a personal journal—such an important and useful strategy. I often use a personal journal when writing, such as when I wrote the first draft of East of Eden. That particular journal was actually published in 1969. It primarily consisted of a series of letters I pretended to write to my editor (but which were never mailed). These letters helped me to prepare myself for the day’s writing. I also recorded personal thoughts, ideas for plot, characters etc., questions to follow up on and so forth … (Railsback and Meyer 2006, 190). ESTHER: (Smiles. Looks at John and nods.) Thanks for that—I have actually planned to use a personal journal—this will be an essential part of my documenting reflections, poetry, and visual art throughout the process. (They both pause and stare thoughtfully out at the darkening waters.) The second project I alluded to is a duoethnography. My aim with this project is to involve myself with three other educators, who are PƗkehƗ, to explore in a collaborative inquiry how being PƗkehƗ has influenced what we do as educators. (Referring to her writing pad.) Duoethnography is defined as a collaborative research methodology in which two or more researchers of difference juxtapose their life histories to provide multiple understandings of the world (Norris, Sawyer, and Lund 2012). Before embarking on the above project I worked with a colleague and friend for a few months writing a duoethnography. Our research relationship is described as with another rather than on another—both my colleague and I as the researchers are the site of the research. We have encountered a few ethical dilemmas while exploring how our position and experience in our families has influenced how we respond to our roles in the University. (Esther stands and a shadowy figure from the beach comes
to join her.) For example, our right to tell the stories of those we are close to, as highlighted in the following transcript: ESTHER: The dining table. SANDY: It’s not a very safe place for a lot of people. ESTHER: You talking about that dinner-time and that brought back a negative memory. You have warm memories of your family but the dinner table was not a positive memory. So when you refer to family you sometimes refer to them as the household. Were there warm memories? SANDY: Actually I feel a bit uncomfortable about what I said. … and I wouldn’t want her to think that I would write about it. [Sandy puts her finger to her lip not wanting to disclose “her” name]. ESTHER: I know what you mean. I was reading through the transcript and I thought “Oh that was not always true” This storying seems to highlight the flaws and make them stand out rather than the wholeness of her—all her goodness is not seen because her flaws are more vivid in this story. Esther sits down. The sound of seagull cries rises and fades. A shadow from the beach calls out reprimanding. NORRIS: I hope you are aware that your relationship is of paramount importance in this endeavour. Have you taken time to establish a respectful, trusting, and caring relationship? Your commitment to each other is to assist each other in the process of sharing stories; that you are receptive to each other’s stories and are open to transformation (Norris et al. 2012). JOHN: (Leans back in chair. Laughing.) I’ve never heard of Duoethnography before—sounds to me like a good excuse to get paid for sitting in a bar with a mate for a gossip! (Pauses. Leans forward. Serious.) But what really worries me is who is protecting the stories of those who you and your colleagues are in relationship with? What right do you have to disclose their stories? (Leans back again. Looks off into the distance remembering.) Ha! But in saying that I did enjoy writing about the character Kate in East of Eden, modelled after my second wife. She was evil incarnate! It actually helped me to pull myself together after one of the lowest points in my life (Steinbeck 1990). ESTHER: Yes, the concerns you have highlighted cause unease for my colleague and me as well. (Pause.) Norris and Sawyer, who coined the term duoethnography, recognise the potential harm of disclosing the stories of others who are in relationship with the storyteller as the most
A Conversation with Steinbeck problematic aspect one must consider. Cognisant of this issue, they suggest I tell the story without placing any judgments on the Other and that I ensure I make it explicit that the story is told from my point of view (Norris et al. 2012). The sound of seagull cries rises and fades. The shadowy voices from the beach call out in warning. MIENCZAKOWSK: … be faithful and do no harm (Mienczakowski 1996). MADISON: What matters is that the researcher is always aware of the consequence of the message (Madison 2012). ESTHER: (Contemplatively.) Perhaps, here my Christian upbringing still speaks to me “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12.) (She leans over to John and whispers.) I too, have stories I am not prepared to publish on the world stage. (Pause. Sits up and reads off page.) The last project is Performance Ethnography. Saldaña (2003, 218) describes Performance Ethnography as a methodology that involves presenting to an audience, the dramatization of “research participants’ experiences and/or researchers’ interpretations of data”. This gives me an opportunity to work creatively with the data and present it in a palatable form for people in the academy, and outside the academy, to engage with and respond to (Ackroyd and O’Toole 2010). JOHN: (Sits up in chair excitedly.) I can’t wait for this. What a wonderful way to take the richness and complexity of life’s stories and re-imagine them for others to respond to. Here is a way to take the fireflies that have been gifted to you and share them with the world. Just remember creativity in your writing and your research requires a high level of attention to questions of responsibilities. ESTHER: (Nodding in agreement. Looking over to John.) Yes, I completely agree and am aware of the centrality of questions of power (Ackroyd and O’Toole 2010, 27). (Smiling.) Thank you again for watching over me. (Pause.) I’m quite excited now my proposal has been accepted and the formal ethics procedure completed. One of the ideas is to create composite characters to increase anonymity of individuals for the final script. (Speaking to a ghostly figure on the beach.)… Yes I know what you’re thinking Richard Sallis … I won’t take words or incidents out of context and although the scenes will be fictionalised they will represent themes that emerge from the data. Exeunt John Steinbeck and others. The sun slips below the horizon.
Scene Two—In Closing Esther is seated at desk, writing. Light spilling from the reading lamp reveals the reflective look upon her face. Dear Reader Constructing a fictional conversation between Steinbeck, other researchers and myself engaged me personally with the ethical tensions inherent in ethnographic research at the start of my journey. As a postcritical ethnographer I positioned myself as the central character in the unfolding story to reveal the struggle of the novice. Conversing with experts in the field and linking their ideas to my own stories, in a critically reflexive way provided me with an opportunity to begin to hear my own voice and construct a methodology that I believed could effectively explore the research question and was fundamentally an ethical process. Scripting a fictional conversation gave me a space to play, to imagine and consider in creative ways how these writers and researchers would respond to my ideas. The words of these writers were no longer text-bound, but became part of an unfolding conversation as I imagined them in dialogue with me. When performing the script with and for others we have together embodied the experience of the research process. My hope is that as the reader, you too have begun to play, and imagine if … The sound of seagull cries rises and fades. The lights dim. Acknowledgement and appreciation for permission granted to use material from Steinbeck (1955) from Craig Hamilton, Editorial Assistant, CTA Communications, 27th March 2013.
References Ackroyd, J. and J. O’Toole. eds. 2010. Performing research: Tensions, triumphs and trade-offs of ethnodrama. Staffordshire, England: Trentham. Addy, N. 2008. White privilege and cultural racism: Effects on the counselling process. New Zealand Journal of Counselling vol. 28 no. 1: 10–23. Anderson, L. 2006. Analytic autoethnography. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography vol. 35: 373–95. doi: 10.1177/0891241605280449 Awatere, D. 1984. Maori Sovereignty. Auckland: Broadsheet Publications.
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Bell, A. 1999. Authenticity and the project of settler identity in New Zealand. Social Analysis vol. 43 no. 3:122–43. —. 2009. Dilemmas of settler belonging: Roots, routes and redemption in New Zealand nat ional identity claims. Sociological Review vol. 57: 145–62. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2008.01808.x Breault, R., R. Hackler, and R. Bradley. 2012. Seeking rigor in the search for identity: A trioethnography. In Duoethnography: Dialogic methods for social, health, and educational research, ed. J. Norris, R.D. Sawyer and D. Lund, 115–36. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. Chang, H.V. 2008. Autoethnography as method. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. Denzin, N.K., and Y.S. Lincoln. eds. 2011. The SAGE handbook of qualitative research, 4th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Eisner, E.W. 1997. The promise and perils of alternative forms of data representation. Educational Researcher vol. 26 no. 4: 4–9. Ellis, C., T.E. Adams, and A.P. Bochner. 2010. Autoethnography: An Overview. [Art. 10]. Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum Qualitative Social Research vol. 12 no. 1. Fitzpatrick, E.M. 2011. Being and becoming PƗkehƗ: A narrative inquiry into children’s stories describing what it means to be PƗkehƗ. MEd Thesis, The University of Auckland, Auckland. Higgs, J. 2009. Writing qualitative research on practice. In Practice, education, work and society, ed. J. Higgs, D. Horfall, and S. Grace, 115–26. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers. Hoey, D. 2004. Chapter 12: There will always be a Taupo: Some reflections on PƗkehƗ culture. In Cultural studies in Aotearoa New Zealand, ed. C. Bell and S. Matthewman, 188–204. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Madison, D.S. 2012. Critical ethnography: Method, ethics, and performance, 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Mienczakowski, J. 1996. An ethnographic act: The construction of consensual theatre. In Composing ethnography: Alternative forms of qualitative writing, ed. C. Ellis and A.P. Bochner, 244–64. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press. Noblit, G.W. 2004. Reinscribing critique in educational ethnography: Critical and postcritical ethnography. In Foundations for research: Methods of inquiry in education and social sciences, ed. K. deMarris and S.D. Lapan, 181–201. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Norris, J., R.D. Sawyer, and D. Lund. eds. 2012. Duoethnography: Dialogic methods for social, health, and educational research. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. Railsback, B. and M.J. Meyer. 2006. A John Steinbeck Encyclopedia. http://www.scribd.com/doc/55703659/A-John-Steinbeck-Encyclopedia Rath, J. 2012. Autoethnographic layering: Recollections, family tales, and dreams. Qualitative Inquiry vol. 18 no. 5: 442–48. doi: 10.1177/ 1077800412439529 Saldaña, J. 2003. Dramatizing data: A primer. Qualitative Inquiry vol. 9 no.2: 218–36. doi: 10.1177/1077800402250932 Sallis, R. 2008. From data to drama—the construction of an ethnographic performance. Drama Australia Journal vol. 31 no. 2: 7–20. Schuck, S., P. Aubusson, J. Buchanan, and T. Russell. 2012. Telling tales out of school: Sharing the stories of beginning teachers. Netherlands: Springer. Spry, T. 2011a. Body, paper, stage: Writing and performing autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast. —. 2011b. Performative autoethnography: Critical embodiments and possibilities. In The SAGE handbook of qualitative research, ed. N.K. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln, 497–512. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publishers. Starr, L.J. 2010. The use of autoethnography in educational research: Locating who we are in what we do. Canadian Journal for New Scholars in Education/Revue Canadienne des jeunes chercheur(e)s en education vol. 3 no. 1. Steinbeck, J.  2008. Sweet Thursday. New York, NY: Penguin. —. 1955. Like captured fireflies. California Teachers’ Association Journal vol. 51 (November). —.  2000. The winter of our discontent. New York, NY: Penguin. —.  1997. Travels with Charley: In search of America. New York, NY: Penguin. —. 1990. Journal of a novel: The East of Eden letters. New York, NY: Penguin. Syed, M., M.J.D. Juan, and L.P. Juang. 2011. Might the survey be the intervention? Participating in ethnicity-related research as a consciousness-raising experience. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research 11: 289–310. doi: 10.1080/15283488.2011. 613581 Turner, S. 2000. Colonialism continued: Producing the self for export. In Race, colour and identity in Australia and New Zealand, ed. J. Docker
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and G. Fischer, 218–28. Sydney, Australia: University of New South Wales. Worrell, F.C., B.J. Vandiver, W.C. Cross, and F.C. Fhagen-Smith. 2010. The Cross scale of social attitudes. Unpublished scale. Berkeley: The University of California. The author: Esther Fitzpatrick is a doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland. Inspired by her colleagues at the university, who research identity and draw on critical art-based methodologies, she comes to doctoral study after years of teaching primary and tertiary students. She has researched arts pedagogy throughout her career as a teacher and now integrates these strategies into her practice as a lecturer (see Fitzpatrick 2011).
CHAPTER THREE DEVELOPING A METHOD TO EXPLORE THE BATTLES, BARRICADES AND BELIEFS OF DRAMA EDUCATION JANE ISOBEL LUTON
In this chapter Jane Luton shares some of the highlights from her search to examine the tensions in drama education praxis. Jane reveals how her quest contains serendipitous moments; when theory or practice light up the darkened stage. Discovering arts-based research and performative inquiry she places her participants centre stage to enable them to perform their stories. Researchers will gain an insight into the development of a method specifically designed to enable the skills of the elite respondents to be applied. A few performative moments will also be shared.
An Introduction to drama education Becoming a practitioner I became a drama teacher in 1989 entering the profession, like many, “sharing a desire to teach, a love of theatre and a passion to work in drama in education” (Schonmann and Kemp 2010, 327). My twenty years in drama teaching has been interesting, and has brought me pleasure and joy. However, it has also been physically and emotionally draining for a number of reasons. Drama is often regarded as a “Cinderella subject” (O’Connor 2011) and, like Cinderella, it is often the poor relation when it comes to resources and perceived value. Detractors believe it is “not theatrical enough to be real theatre, too playful to be real learning and too ephemeral to be of real value” (O’Connor 2009, 21). This requires drama teachers to constantly advocate for the importance and value of their subject and pedagogy. Recent studies have acknowledged that many drama teachers suffer from a “loss of ideals and the hyper-judgement of the self” (Gallagher, Freeman, and Wessells 2010, 8), which has been termed “melancholia” (Gallagher 2012). As drama teachers often struggle
Developing a Method to Explore the Battles of Drama Education
to justify, to parents, students and colleagues, what they do whilst producing school productions and authentic learning opportunities, so many “wither under the weight” (2012 np.). This is not a modern problem, the first published drama educationalist, Harriet Finlay-Johnson, displayed “constant diplomacy in the face of what was, at times, sheer ignorance on the part of officials and other critics” (Bowmaker 2002, 77) towards her pedagogy. Her biographer describes the tear stains she found on FinlayJohnson’s archival material (Bowmaker 2002, 113).
The pedagogy In what ways is this pedagogy different from the many others that exist within the educational system? The praxis of educational drama within schools is much more than an academic subject; it is valued by practitioners as contributing to the development of young people (Kempe and Nicholson 2001, 32). Communication skills, thinking skills, empathy and insight into the human condition (Kempe and Ashwell 2000; Neelands and O’Connor 2010) are inherent in the practice of drama in education. Drama uses both cognitive and kinaesthetic learning styles to explore, create and present ideas. For some practitioners the importance of drama lies within the process, the doing and the discovery. For others the product, often viewed by an audience, is the ultimate goal. Its strengths often lie within its eclecticism (Kempe and Nicholson 2001) as it draws on a diverse range of methods, resources and theories.
The difficulties in practice This potentially positive pedagogy asks much of its practitioners. Not only does it require subject knowledge and experience, it demands huge reserves of energy, personal involvement and commitment. Many drama teachers continue to teach, facilitate, direct and support their students even when feeling emotionally and physically exhausted. It is a feeling that I can relate to, but if I admit to a sense of melancholia or if I share worries I am concerned that I will be perceived as, “incompetent or inadequate” (Neelands 1996, 159). I am not alone in this concern as feelings of melancholia are frequently, “papered over in our compulsion to advocate for the form and subject of drama in schools” (Gallagher et al. 2010, 6). As drama teachers we often blame ourselves for things that are not perfect in our practice. The praxis itself has no unified agreement on what and how it should be delivered and many theorists and practitioners have engaged in vociferous arguments about its content and form. At times
drama education can seem like a battlefield and it has thus been described by some of its exponents (Bolton 1986, 70; O’Toole, Stinson, and Moore 2009).
Beginning the doctoral journey Finding the question Each time I questioned my delivery of drama within a classroom I was engaging in my critical walk. With the guidance of my supervisor, Peter O’Connor, drawing on my experiences as an educational drama practitioner and finally listening to my own drama melancholia, a research question emerged. I was surprised and intrigued to discover there is little exploration within the academy of the difficulties that drama practitioners face in delivering their chosen pedagogy. I discovered that some researchers are beginning to focus on the feelings of teachers, because “much of the work of teachers is about how they express their identities and personalities within the classroom” (Wales 2009, 262). I wondered would it be possible to explore how drama practitioners sustain their passion for their subject even if faced with feelings of melancholia? This question did not come to me easily. I wrote several pieces for my supervisor around issues within educational drama which had left me frustrated and increasingly emotional about my relationship with the pedagogy. One afternoon the first breakthrough came, when I discovered an acknowledgement that emotions are a valid part of academic research. A tingle of excitement ran through me when I read that, “new opportunities in research may appear when we accept that emotions are not separable from the reasoning and decision making processes” (Bacon 2006, 140–41).
Finding a method My second breakthrough came after seeing the performed research of George Belliveau and Joe Norris, Canadian researchers who visited and presented keynotes at the first and second Critical Studies in Drama in Education International Symposium at the University of Auckland. To discover that data could be both generated and disseminated through drama was like seeing a light illuminate a darkened stage. It revealed a dramatic space in which my research questions could be explored. The concept of performance to explore our world is hundreds of years old. Shakespeare frequently visualised the world as a stage (Shakespeare,
Developing a Method to Explore the Battles of Drama Education
1599), while Goffman (1959) used performance as a metaphor to describe people’s public behaviour. Victor Turner labelled human beings as, “Homo Performans” (Turner 1986, 77–82) meaning that humans are not just thinking beings but ones who need to perform throughout their lives. Helen Nicholson (2003) describes the body as a “space of possibilities” (91), one which “archives our lives performatively” (90). Our bodies both enable performance and are imprinted with our experiences. I realised that it would be important in my research to capture not only the spoken answers but also the unspoken language through which thoughts and feelings are revealed. I began to appreciate that, allowing practitioners, who use embodiment in their practice, the opportunity to move and reenact might deepen the stories they are able to tell. I became convinced that ethnographic performance and play-building would be an integral part of my research. Ethnographic performance uses drama as a means to disseminate data and employs the participants as characters within the performance (Saldaña 2006, 181). Play-building, developed by Joe Norris develops “evocative texts” (Norris 2009, 21) which engage the audience to make meanings for themselves. Using drama to explore questions belongs to the field of performative inquiry (Fels 2011, 339–43), which was proposed by Haseman as the third and “new paradigm of research” (Barrett and Bolt 2007, 151). It allows researchers to draw on their own area of expertise as a research method. As a drama teacher I could use my own knowledge of the practice to create a research tool. A problem was how best to develop this performative methodology to suit my purpose. Playbuilding usually involves several people working together through dramatic form to examine an issue or explore a text. I knew that I wanted to use one participant, in a dyadic process; so, began to search for a way to bring together the concept of an interview with a focus on embodiment. However Peter Brook, a dynamic theatre practitioner who has challenged notions of theatre for over 50 years, defines theatre as the taking of: …any empty space and call[ing] it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged. (Brook 1968, 11)
Grotowski too, defines theatre as “what takes place between spectator and actor” (Grotowski 1964, 982). Thus, I felt that these embodied reflections could take place between one participant and one observer in a shared and almost empty space.
Finally I had both a method, albeit one that needed development, and my question. The research would acknowledge that drama teaching is a difficult and challenging pedagogy, and that teachers are often exhausted and emotionally drained by its implementation. It would place practitioners at the centre of the research and use drama to research drama. I would approach published drama theorist-practitioners who had directly influenced my own practice and find out what sustains them in their praxis through difficult times. After all, they not only practice their art but construct its theories, terminologies and processes. The next step was to consider ethics.
Ethics The ethics process contained some challenges which had to be worked out before a request for formal ethical clearance could be submitted. Firstly, as participants would be chosen because of their standing within the community of drama in education, there could be no anonymity. However, it was still important to ensure that their confidentiality would be respected and no matters of a sensitive nature would be exposed. The second issue concerned the need to capture the embodied reflections on video to provide data about the use of voice, body, movement and space. It was decided that, to protect the participants, the videos would be seen only by me, the participant concerned, and my two supervisors. I would transcribe all the data myself using a voicerecognition software programme which, as I captured the spoken and unspoken language, would generate deeper, richer data. The third ethical issue to be addressed was that my supervisor was to be a participant in the research. The risk was that the ethics committee might be perceive that he could influence the mediation of his data. To mitigate this possibility, all the participants would be treated in the same manner, with each receiving copies of their transcripts and each having the right to edit or withdraw their data before scripting of the performance.
Naming the method After calling this method an interactive interview, I realised that this did not capture the dual nature of the method; the embodiment and reflection by the participants as they share their responses to the research question. Again, it was a moment when a piece of theoretical writing illuminates and clarifies. Turner’s concept that, through performance as humans, we begin to know ourselves thus becoming, “reflexive” (Turner
Developing a Method to Explore the Battles of Drama Education
1986, 81) gave rise to the naming of my doctoral research method. I felt that “embodied reflections” captured the performative and reflexive quality of the approach. So, I was ready to begin my research using a performative approach which would draw on my own experience as a drama practitioner. This was to become an international piece of research with participants from New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada. My research journey would return me both metaphorically and literally to the very beginnings of my own practice.
A critical approach Brecht: theatre as a laboratory My research assumes that all is not well in the field of educational drama. Theatre has always been a means through which its practitioners can challenge and inspire their society. One such practitioner has been Bertolt Brecht. As a playwright and director, Brecht believed in stimulating his audience to action. He was described as using his “theatre as a laboratory to experiment with plays and players” (Weber and Munk 1967, 103). Brecht felt that each person had the power to change their world (Rorrison 1987, xx). He told stories in episodic form through the use of non-naturalistic conventions. He challenged the audience to think about the issues under consideration by making careful choices about his subject matter. His plays used song, tableau, gestures, third-person narration, historification and other devices. Using this form, which acknowledged its theatricality, he dismissed the concept of an audience sitting in a darkened auditorium watching reality through a picture frame, allowing emotion to wash over them. By preventing the audience from sinking into reality and emotion he sought to engage them in critical analysis. Brecht called this, “epic theatre” whose purpose was to promote and “help change the world” (Rorrison 1987, xxi). Understood in this way, drama becomes a natural choice to provide a critical approach to explore issues within educational drama.
Framing, distancing and metaphors One of the strengths of drama is that issues can be explored through framing and distancing by employing metaphors, analogies (Ackroyd and O'Toole 2010, 5) or a contextualised situation. For the dramatic context to be effective for those involved there has to be an agreement to accept and
engage in the act of imagination. In the embodied reflections of my research, the participant imagines that they have been asked to contribute to a new Museum of Educational Drama and Applied Theatre (MEDAT). Acting as a facilitator and representative of the archivist, I guide the participant through the process to create virtual and actual displays using drama techniques, elements, and conventions. Through this agreed act of imagination, the empty space becomes an interactive museum using only a few chairs, a table and some simple props. These embodied reflections are recorded on video to contribute to a richer set of data, which ensures that not only the content of the speech can be analysed, but also body language, vocal delivery and use of space and objects. Both context and the use of conventions allows for distancing and reflection on the part of the participant.
An act of imagination During the embodied reflections the participants commit to the framing device as if the museum would be constructed. At times during the research process it has been difficult to remember that this museum does not, and will not, actually exist—so involved have we become in its planning. The following brief dialogue demonstrates a shared moment of suspension of disbelief, as the participant, John, discusses his ideas for a particular museum display. JOHN: Sorry we’ve been coming up against the formative structure of this whole exhibit. RESEARCHER: Money will be no object. JOHN: That’s a relief because it’s going to be very expensive (John gives a big smile).
This moment demonstrates the ways in which, as drama practitioners, we are called upon to think on our feet and introduce ideas which can either disrupt or enable the drama to continue. The drama participants are able to work within the defining boundaries that are set by the researcher as facilitator. The concept that money was no object caused Andy to reply with a laugh, “we really are in the realms of complete fantasy” (personal communication Kempe 2013). However, this boundary permitted the participants to create imaginative possibilities. The solution became an addition to the introduction of each embodied reflection which followed.
Developing a Method to Explore the Battles of Drama Education
Metaphors of teaching drama The use of metaphors enables me to capture embodied responses to drama practice. I had begun with the metaphors of battles and barricades to capture the tensions within drama practice. These images are used frequently in published work concerning praxis (O’Toole et al. 2009). Another metaphor was inspired by two sources, firstly a reflection that “teaching drama is a lot like walking an educational tightrope” (Doyle 1993, 48) and secondly, by a humorous cartoon. Being an admirer of the work of cartoonist Gary Larson, I had found one of his images particularly resonant of what it means to be a drama theorist/practitioner. A dog called Rex unicycles on a tightrope high above a circus ring, a hula hoop around his middle, juggling four balls, a cat clenched between his jaws and balancing a vase on his head. The audience watches from below. The caption beneath the image states: High above the hushed crowd, Rex tried to remain focused. Still, he couldn’t shake one nagging thought: he was an old dog and this was a new trick. (Larson)
The participant is shown this image and asked to imagine that they are on the tightrope as Rex. In role as a journalist, I begin by asking, “Rex what was it like to be up on that tightrope?” As the participant engages with the metaphor, embodying the role of Rex, other questions evolve. These allow the participant to identify what the objects being juggled represent in drama praxis, what it feels like to perform their role in front of an audience, to question what it takes to balance on the tightrope and what advice can be given to others who follow. The participant is asked to identify their own nagging thoughts. This image of Rex has generated valuable data and permitted participants to play with the idea of performing a potentially dangerous feat, high above a crowd. Speaking metaphorically as juggling tightrope performers, they express their own feelings and thoughts about what it is to be a drama practitioner, often engaged in a very public praxis. An important part of the analysis process is scripting. The following scenario has been juxtaposed and scripted from three participants, Peter O’Connor, John O’Toole, Ron Price and my own embodied response.
Data in script form [Imagine the four participants standing by the ladder which leads to a tightrope suspended above them. They have just descended from the tightrope and speak to a reporter with a microphone.] RON: There are lots of balls up in the air … you’re working as a teacher you’re working as a director you’re working as a designer you’re working as a technician, all those balls will be up in the air. JANE: It’s juggling all those things that schools want you to do: all the assessment material, all the paperwork. RON: It’s huge; it’s a massive, massive, juggling job. JOHN: You’re always juggling possibilities and pragmatics. RON: I’m an old dog on the tightrope learning new tricks. You’ve got to remain a reflective practitioner. JANE: New tricks—I like to think I’ve picked up new tricks; embraced new ideas, methods. RON: I am still learning, I love new ideas. JOHN: I like juggling stuff. On the other hand I don’t like heights much. JOURNALIST: What did it feel like to be on the tightrope? PETER: It would be boring if you just walk straight across wouldn’t it? So when you’re walking a tightrope you’ve got to kind of make it [gestures] ‘dramatic’. JANE: Having good people to work with makes walking the tightrope easier. At least you know that there are other people, walking the tightrope with you. PETER: And the tightrope only works if it’s really tight, you actually begin to enjoy the tension. JOHN: In one sense I crave the spotlight but part of me wants to get to the other end as quickly as possible. JOURNALIST: And…does it matter if you fall off or drop anything?
Developing a Method to Explore the Battles of Drama Education
JOHN: Of course it matters, but there are not many things that we juggle with that can’t be replaced, picked up, dusted down, mended or done in a different way. PETER: So tightrope walking is quite fun really… I think. JOHN: You need to fall off the tightrope sometimes to help you balance better next time. PETER: Yeah. Don’t worry about falling off or dropping stuff… it happens all the time… [Smiles and nods his head].
In this scenario, the participants, who were separated in time and space, can be brought together in the contextualised situation. By placing the responses in a dialogue their beliefs and opinions can be clearly compared and contrasted. It is a metaphor that the participants work with easily; it captures the tensions of the drama education journey as well as the many and varied tasks practitioners are required to do in their work. There is a shared sense that falling off the tightrope may not be so disastrous and may even be exciting. One of the participants evidently relished his time on the tightrope. He delivered his answers to the imagined reporter with smiles, nodding his head and displaying a dawning realisation that falling off the tightrope, if one did, added to the excitement for both the audience and artist.
Metaphors of power The image of Rex on the tightrope, juggling several objects, also acts as a metaphor for the researcher–participant relationship. Ackroyd and O’Toole remind us that: There is often a problem in the power dynamics between the researcher and the research participants, especially if the participants perceive themselves as less empowered and carry less cultural capital. (2010, 55)
Yet in this research it is the researcher who feels like one of the audience—I am in awe of Rex. When approaching my “elite respondents” (Burke and Innes 2007) it has been difficult at times to not feel like a starstruck teenager, and to accept that I, too, am an experienced drama practitioner who has also walked the tightrope. Here both participant and researcher have a shared language and practice of drama in education, albeit varied experiences and differing philosophies.
Conclusion Twenty years ago, sensing that the practice of drama in education was problematic, Hamilton asked how drama teachers could be “helped to live with the incoherence and contradictions that prohibit them in their daily teaching lives?” (Hamilton 1992, 35). Eighteen years later, Gallagher et al. asked: How can disappointment act as an invitation to question, an invitation to new learning, invention and becoming? … How can we give words to these ideals, to open them up and air them out in order to figure out what drives us and drives us to despair? (Gallagher et al. 2010, 21)
My research aims to provide an opportunity to acknowledge the contradictions, the disappointments, and the despair in order to identify how practitioners confront these battles. It explores what drives practitioners to keep looking “beyond the barricades” and seeks to humanise the theory behind the practice, providing richer, deeper, emotional understandings of the pressures that sit just below the surface of drama in education. I hope to discover more vibrant and positive metaphors with which to describe educational drama experience, and I know that this research process has already begun to reignite my own love of practice as I engage with, and facilitate, elite drama practitioners through the embodied reflections. For, as Saldaña asks, “what could be more compatible than employing the art form to exhibit research about a participant’s relationship with the art form?” (Saldaña 2006, 184).
Acknowledgements My grateful thanks are extended to my participants who suspended their disbelief and helped create the museum of educational drama and applied theatre: Dr Peter O’Connor, Dr John O’Toole, Dr Andy Kempe, Dr Jonothan Neelands, Dr Lynn Fels, Mr Ron Price and for insights into performativity, Dr Adrienne Sansom.
References Ackroyd, J., and J. O’Toole. eds. 2010. Performing research: tensions, triumphs and trade offs of ethnodrama. Stoke-on-Trent, UK: Trentham Books. Bacon, J. 2006. The feeling of the experience: A methodology for performance ethnography. In Research methodologies for drama
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education, ed. J. Ackroyd, 139–47. Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom: Trentham Books. Barrett, E., and B. Bolt. eds. 2007. Practice as research [electronic resource]: approaches to creative arts enquiry. London: I.B. Tauris. Bolton, G. 1986. Selected writings. London: Longman. Bowmaker, M. 2002. A little school on the Downs. Bognor Regis, UK: Woodfield Publishing Limited. Brook, P. 1968. The empty space: London, UK: Penguin Books: Pelican. Burke, A., and P. Innes. 2007. Interviews as a methodology for performance research academic interviews—an invitation for discussion Documenting and researching modern productions of Greek drama: Six essays in classical receptions in late twentiethcentury drama and poetry in English. http://www2.open.ac.uk /ClassicalStudies/GreekPlays/essays/burkeacademic.htm Doyle, C. 1993. Raising curtains on education: Drama as a site for critical pedagogy Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey, Greenwood Publishing Group. Fels, L. 2011. A dead man’s sweater: Performative inquiry embodied and recognized. In Key concepts in theatre/drama education, ed. S. Schonmann, 339–43. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Gallagher, K. 2012. Evolving discourses, permeable borders, complex relations and interpretive eclecticism: Drama education’s ongoing movement. Paper presented at the International Drama in Education Research Institute, Limerick, Ireland. Gallagher, K., B. Freeman, and A. Wessells. 2010. “It could have been so much better”: The aesthetic and social work of theatre. Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance vol. 15 no. 1: 5–27. Goffman, E.  1990. The presentation of self in everyday life. London: Penguin. Grotowski, J. 1964. The theatre’s new testament. In Dramatic theory and criticism, ed. B. Dukore, 978–95. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Hamilton, J. 1992. Drama and learning: A critical review. Geelong, VIC: Deakin University Press. Kempe, A. 2013. Embodied reflection. Reading, UK. Kempe, A., and M. Ashwell. 2000. Progression in secondary drama. Oxford, England: Heinemann. Kempe, A., and H. Nicholson. 2001. Learning to teach drama 11-18. London and New York: Continuum.
Larson, G. The complete far side: 1980–1994. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel. Neelands, J. (1996). Reflections from an ivory tower: Towards an interactive research paradigm. In Researching drama and arts education: Paradigms and possibilities, ed. P. Taylor, 156–66. Basingstoke, UK: Falmer Press. Neelands, J., and P. O’Connor. eds. 2010. Creating democratic citizenship through drama education: The writings of Jonathan Neelands. Stokeon-Trent, UK: Trentham Books. Nicholson, H. 2003. The performance of memory: Drama, reminiscence and autobiography. NJ (Drama Australia Journal) vol. 27 no. 2: 79– 92. Norris, J. 2009. Playbuilding as qualitative research: A participatory artsbased approach. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. O’Connor, P. 2009. Remembering horses drawn in sand: Reflections on drama education on the edge. NJ Drama Australia Journal vol. 33 no. 1: 19–39. —. 2011, June 3, 2011. [Re [Dramanet] New Level Two standards, for 2012]. http://artsonline.tki.org.nz/Communities/Dramanet O’Toole, J., M. Stinson, and T. Moore. eds. 2009. Drama and curriculum: A giant at the door. Dortrecht, Holland: Springer Science + Business Media B.V. Rorrison, H. ed. 1987. Introduction to Brecht, Plays one. London: Methuen. Saldaña, J. 2006. Ethical issues in an ethnographic performance text: the “dramatic impact” of “juicy stuff”, research in drama education. The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance vol. 3 no. 2: 181–96. Schonmann, S., and A. Kempe. 2010. An anthology of voices: An analysis of trainee drama teachers’ monologues. British Journal of Educational Studies vol. 58 no. 3: 311–29. Shakespeare, W. 1599. As you like it. Harmondsworth, England. Turner, V. 1986. The anthropology of performance. New York: PAJ. Wales, P. 2009. Positioning the drama teacher: exploring the power of identity in teaching practices Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance vol. 14 no. 2: 261–78. Weber, C., and E. Munk. 1967. Brecht as director. TDR (1967–1968) vol. 12 no. 1: 101–07.
Developing a Method to Explore the Battles of Drama Education
The author: Jane Luton is a doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland. As a passionate drama teacher she feels a sense of melancholia. This inspires her recent research which draws on her practical knowledge of educational drama. She has co-authored the Level 2 and 3 Drama Study Guides (2013, ESA NZ) which are designed to help both students and teachers through the New Zealand Achievement standards to create authentic work.
CHAPTER FOUR PARENTS, POLICY AND PLAYCENTRE: DEVELOPING A CRITICAL RESEARCH PROPOSAL SUZANNE MANNING
Getting started on a PhD can be challenging and rarely follows the path imagined by a newly enrolled student. In this chapter Suzanne Manning shares her personal “start-up” story as encouragement for those who are working through the process themselves. She describes how her research topic was refined, how the literature review became more “critical”, and how an appropriate methodology was selected. In showing how all these elements interrelate, Suzanne highlights the way real life can detract from an idealised PhD process, and yet still be effective within it.
Introduction I’ve always been interested in issues of social justice. The questions for me have been how act to improve the world instead of getting depressed about the magnitude of the task; what tools are available for doing something about inequality; and how can I best use my strengths to make a difference? Seeking answers to these questions led me for many years to volunteer my services within Playcentre1, a parent cooperative which provided early childhood education (ECE) for my young children, a network of friends for me, and training in early childhood and adult education. I stayed on as a volunteer administrator and educator long after my children had left for school, because of the benefits that involvement had for me and for many parents who were supported, encouraged and developed through participation in Playcentre. I felt I was making a difference to my community through this work. Eventually this led to further study in education at university and onto a doctorate. In this chapter I outline my journey towards developing a PhD proposal. The first section introduces the context of early childhood education in Aotearoa
Parents, Policy and Playcentre
New Zealand followed by a discussion of how my topic was defined, the critical literature review was produced, and the methodology chosen. The conclusion is a reflection on the important features of my journey so far. It is not my intention to give a thorough introduction to this doctoral study. I focus instead on the process of developing a PhD proposal and defining what it means to be critical in the context of my study, in the hope that it will be useful for other doctoral students.
ECE context in Aotearoa New Zealand The year 1989 was a landmark year in education in Aotearoa New Zealand. Reviews of all education sectors resulted in massive restructuring of education administration. The policy reforms for ECE were announced in the document Before Five (Department of Education 1988). At this time the diverse ECE services were brought together under universal regulations within the newly created Ministry of Education, a structure that still exists today. Prior to the Before Five reforms, government support for ECE was fragmented and unequal. The government policy position favoured halfday sessional services, the two main services being kindergarten and Playcentre, which originated in the 1890s and the 1940s respectively. Kindergarten, originally based on Frobellian principles like other kindergartens around the world, catered for three- and four-year-olds in mostly purpose-built centres, using kindergarten-trained teachers. Playcentre was a parent cooperative where the parents were the educators and managers of the centre, and catered for all ages up to six years in a variety of community halls, converted houses and purpose-built centres. Both were funded through the Department of Education, although through different policy mechanisms, and with a greater proportion of funding going to kindergarten. Te Kǀhanga Reo, a MƗori ECE service2, originated in the 1980s and was funded minimally through the Department of MƗori Affairs. Childcare centres that operated for full days were tolerated but not encouraged by the government, with some funding available through the Department of Social Welfare (for a history of ECE services in Aotearoa New Zealand see May, 1997, 2009). The Before Five reforms brought together all ECE services on a relatively equal footing, and the preference given to sessional services over full-day services slowly disappeared. There was a new emphasis on ECE as education rather than childcare, which was more acceptable to policy-makers who have traditionally preferred children to be cared for by mothers in the home (Farquhar, 2008;
May, 2009). A definite policy shift had occurred, and ECE was now firmly on the government agenda. One decade on, the ECE Strategic Plan, Pathways to the Future: NgƗ Huarahi Arataki (Ministry of Education, 2002), introduced a new divide into official ECE discourse. Services were classified as “teacher-led”, i.e., kindergarten and childcare centres, or “parent-led”, i.e., Playcentre and some Kǀhanga Reo. New policies during the 2000s confirmed that the government’s preference was for “teacher-led” services, on the grounds that quality education occurs in centres with qualified teachers. One such policy was the “20 Hours Free ECE”, designed to move ECE towards universal provision for three- and four-year-olds by providing a fee subsidy to services for children of this age group. The subsidy was to be available for community-based, teacher-led services only, although this was quickly extended to privately run services because of the vocal protests engendered. The rhetoric was that “quality” ECE was of benefit to children, and the government was prepared to fund this. An unintended consequence of excluding Playcentre from the policy was a perception that the government was labelling Playcentre as “not quality” (Woodhams 2007), although persistent pressure and a change of government led to Playcentre being included in the funding from 2010. Then again, in 2011, a government ECE Taskforce recommended targeting funding support to “quality ECE”, defining this as only occurring in “teacher-led” services (ECE Taskforce 2011). Parents, even in supported environments such as Playcentre, appeared to no longer be seen by the government as capable ECE providers, despite the fact that this had once been the dominant discourse which had been used to justify the lack of funding for childcare. In the words of Sandy Farquhar (2008, 53): Intensified interest in early childhood—from government, parents, and employers—focuses primarily on the provision of early childhood education services outside of the child’s home and increasingly in institutions. It would be facile to suggest that parents are no longer capable of raising their children on their own, and that early intervention and institutional care by experts are required.
It was this change in the ECE discourse, particularly around the role of parents as providers of ECE and the effects that this had on Playcentre, that I decided would be the focus of my study. However, the path to this decision was not a straight line, but rather a process that could be likened to a child learning through play: it might look like “just having fun”, yet there is still learning going on.
Parents, Policy and Playcentre
What to be critical about? In order to be accepted as a doctorate student, it was necessary for me to state my topic. Inspired by the work of Glenda MacNaughton (2005), I boldly stated in my PhD application that I wanted to study discourses of sharing within ECE, taking a poststructuralist approach. This involved some of the issues around fairness, equality and equity that I had seen at Playcentre, and I was wondering about how such concepts as fairness were transmitted to our youngest community members. “Sharing”, as a significant part of a young child’s learning at a centre, seemed a good way of approaching this topic. I anticipated a similar study format to my master’s thesis (Manning 2008) which would be to undertake naturalistic observations in some ECE centres, then analyse the data using a theoretical perspective that was yet to be decided, although likely to be a sociocultural theory, and write a thesis from the findings. That was the last time my doctorate was so straightforward. An early conversation with my supervisors highlighted my confused thinking. I was using the language of human rights discourses rather than discussing the workings of power, usually a theme in poststructuralist work. This started a period of directed reading, and I was guided towards democratic theory to explore sharing not as an individual practice but as a way of a community making decisions about how to share resources. Previously, I have found that the best way for me to make sense of new ideas is to write about them—using “Writing as Inquiry”, as Laurel Richardson (2000) terms it. Therefore, when my supervisor was organising a history of education conference3, I decided to write a paper that applied democratic theory to my prior knowledge of Playcentre and its recent history (Manning In press). What started as a tangent quickly became the main project for me. I realised that I enjoyed researching history and policy, and was interested in looking at how political decisions affect people in their everyday life. Such a focus would allow me to draw on my experiences from almost two decades, but also force me to take a fresh look at the history. I could be critical in my approach by asking who benefits through the way policy has developed, who is disadvantaged, and how we as educators and parents are constrained by our history and context. Furthermore, focusing on the collective would resolve my unease about the potential of being critical of individuals (teachers, parents and managers), which was likely to happen in the study as originally envisaged. My project moved from “sharing in an ECE environment” to “the history of ECE policy since the 1989 Before Five reforms, and the effects on Playcentre”. It felt like a word game where you change one
letter at a time in a logical sequence, and end up with a completely different word!
A critical literature review Deciding on an approach The obvious first step for the new study direction was to find what had already been said about ECE policy and the two decades of history under consideration. I had written literature reviews before, so I naively thought that this part of the doctorate would be easy. There was a wealth of literature available which documented the ECE policy history of the 1990s and 2000s (e.g., Dalli 1993; May 2009; Mitchell 2005), although a definite gap in this literature was the effect of policy on Playcentre. For the literature review I set out to tell the history of the two decades under consideration, allowing me to get an overview of the sequence of events. My supervisors agreed that I had done a good job of this, but did not agree that this was what was required of a literature review. They made the point that a literature review is more than a narrative. In a critical literature review the literature is examined for the quality of its conclusions; gaps and silences are identified, and underlying premises are exposed. In this way the literature review carves out a space for the study, and justifies the necessity for the proposed research (Fink 2010). My literature review, whilst well written and informative, did not do those things. I did not share my second attempt with my supervisors, as looking at the draft I realised that it was another straightforward narrative. Much pondering later, my third attempt was an improvement. I moved from a sequential ordering of events to categorising the literature in terms of different approaches to policy studies. This arose from the decision to use a methodology which emphasised a particular philosophical approach (I explain the methodology further in the next section), and so it became important to survey the literature with a view to comparing the underlying philosophies. When I examined the literature in terms of the policy analysis approach used, very little appeared to look at problem representations or to question the overall premises of the policy direction. The focus was rather on how well the proposed policies met the overall goals, with no critical analysis of the goals themselves. The gap that my study could contribute towards filling was made obvious by applying this perspective. Further, there was a growing number of studies that took a poststructuralist approach (Buchanan 2011; Duhn 2006; Farquhar 2010; Gibbons 2007), so my study could also be seen as adding to this area of contemporary
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scholarship. My supervisors approved of the new version of my literature review, and I was very happy when my supervisor sent back this comment: “You now have a literature review Suzanne – you've got it! I think getting that distinction between an essay and a lit review is one of the hardest things for people to get right” (Maxine Stephenson, personal communication, 9/9/12). Note to supervisors: encouraging comments are always appreciated!
Flow-on effects from the critical literature review A major benefit of working on the literature review was to clarify my focus of interest. I had a vague concern regarding the increasing pressure put on parents to use institutional childcare for their children, resulting from my prior experiences. Although I already knew of some academics who had contributed to consideration of this topic, on revisiting the literature I realised how much I had missed. In particular there was a need to familiarise myself with the growing body of work exploring the topic from a poststructuralist perspective. This literature helped me acquire the appropriate language to articulate my concerns and to clarify that analysis of changing perceptions of parental provision of ECE was to be a major theme in my study. Through engaging with literature that seemed most relevant or made most sense to me, I also developed a clear epistemology. I tended to agree with those researchers who took the position that knowledge is constructed, that there are multiple and conflicting knowledges, and that the production and use of knowledges is intimately connected with power. Such an epistemology fitted well with my social justice theme, an important consideration according to James Scheurich: [E]nactment of an epistemology can no longer be founded on picking the best epistemology in terms of which one brings the researcher closer to some sort of foundational truth or in terms of which one coheres most closely to some postfoundational standard or criterion. It is now based on which epistemology best expresses the politics of the researcher. (Scheurich 1997, 49–50)
One implication of this was that the methodology would have to reflect my epistemology. I had discovered how much politics, epistemology and methodology were interwoven in critical research.
Choosing a critical research methodology Discovering Carol Bacchi’s “What’s the Problem Represented to Be?” approach Although it can be exciting to move into a new area of study, in my case history and policy analysis, this also poses the challenge of using unfamiliar methodology; and not only using, but choosing a methodology in an unfamiliar field. I was faced with the question of how one actually does critical policy analysis and what methodologies are available for poststructuralist work. This quote from Emma Buchanan’s master’s thesis sums up what I was feeling at this point: I became aware that some scholars are reluctant to outline specific analytical procedures for Foucauldian discourse work. … Graham (2006) … noted the difficulties that analytical non-specification can pose for new researchers attempting ‘to find coherent descriptions of how one might go about discourse analysis using Foucault’ (2). … As one of those new researchers referred to by Graham (2006), I was, as she had described, having difficulty identifying what to specifically do in order to analyse the selected discourse data. (Buchanan 2011, 64–5)
For answers I turned to the literature, reading widely on a variety of methodologies and hoping for serendipity. This occurred for me when I followed through some references from a thesis, and so discovered Carol Bacchi, a Canadian/Australian academic interested in feminist policy studies. She wrote Women, policy and politics (Bacchi 1999) which explained her approach to policy studies. Later she authored a second book that made the approach more explicit using six guiding questions, which was obviously written for students wishing to apply her approach to their own studies (Bacchi 2009). She called this a “What’s the problem represented to be?” (WPR) approach to policy studies, an approach broadly situated in a post-structural paradigm. When I first read about the approach, it felt like a new pair of shoes that fitted just perfectly the first time I tried them on. In Bacchi’s WPR approach, the focus is on the representation of problems contained in the policy. It starts from the premise that a policy solution is designed to fix a “problem”, but denies that social problems exist as concrete entities prior to the policy, waiting to be discovered and fixed. In a WPR approach, all problems are seen as constructed. The fundamental difference between policy solutions, then, is how the problems are constructed, or how the problem is represented. This distinction matters, because it affects people in the real world. Policies to
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address the issue of rape, for example, will differ depending on whether it is women’s behaviour or men’s behaviour or society’s behaviour that is represented as the problem. The WPR approach does not deny that disturbing and unjust behaviours are present in the world or that we should try to do something about them. However, a value of the approach is being able to point out that different problem representations embedded within policies have different end effects, and different groups of people will be affected in different ways. As an example, in her first WPR book Bacchi (1999, 98–103) shows how some feminist policies have actually adversely affected women, the very people that the policies were designed to help (for example see her discussion on employment affirmative action policies). The guiding questions posed in Bacchi’s second WPR book (2009) direct the researcher to identify the way the social problem(s) are represented in a policy document or similar text and to ask questions about how key concepts came to be dominant in the contemporary discourse, which concepts are contestable and contested, and which are uncontested. These questions are based on Foucault’s methods of archaeology and genealogy, where the researcher traces the origins of concepts and the webs of power that created conditions for their emergence. The analysis then turns toward the lived effects of the problem representations and their solutions. Groups which benefit from the particular problem representation are identified, including those who are disadvantaged by it, along with an examination of how specific groups are produced as subjects such as the “working mother” or the “welfare Dependent”. The problem representation will also be part of a wider discourse that specifies what can or cannot be said about the subject and by whom, and this is also to be analysed. For example, it is acceptable in family policy to talk about how “children come first”, but not “women come first”, and this has real implications for how women are expected to live their lives. Finally, the researcher is encouraged to think of how the problem representation can be challenged or rethought, and what would be the effects of such rethinking. Bacchi is also adamant that the analyst’s own problem representations should be subject to a WPR approach in a reflexive loop.
Evaluating the methodology There were many things that attracted me to Bacchi’s WPR approach. It had a post-structural basis, which was something I was concerned I may have to drop from the redesigned study. It had its basis in texts and the language used in the texts—another interest of mine—but did not focus on
the micro level of the language as many critical discourse analysis techniques appeared to do. Since I was interested in a two-decade period of history, such detailed analysis would have generated too much data to be manageable. I also liked the way that, although abstract problem representations were the subject of analysis, so too, were the lived effects of those abstractions, and those lived effects were compared and a judgement made in favour of the most disadvantaged in society. To me, this was a way to escape the criticism of relativism levelled at a constructivist epistemology where “right” and “wrong” do not exist and there is merely “difference”. In a similar way it avoided the criticism that post-structural analysis reduces complex life issues to text and ignores our embodied nature of being in the world. A WPR approach analysed problem representations and solutions together, both the discourses and the embodied and lived effects of policy. The approach epitomised what I have come to associate with being critical. Nothing was taken for granted, everything was challenged and questioned, even one’s own conclusions. The questions were designed to prompt analysts to look at policy from many different perspectives and to look as much at what was not there as at what was included. Bacchi’s stated objective was to unsettle the status quo surrounding a particular policy or set of policies, because it is only by such unsettling that change can be brought about to achieve greater social justice for marginalised groups in society. As an old maxim says, “nothing changes if nothing changes”. The injunction to apply the WPR approach to one’s own conclusions and analysis emphasised the reflexivity that I knew would be required for this study, stemming from my life experiences to this point. As a mother who had been actively involved in my three young children’s education and heavily involved in Playcentre (a parent cooperative), I started the doctorate with definite views on the ability of parents to provide ECE. I felt that in many ways the policy direction in Aotearoa/New Zealand was undermining the basis on which my identity as a “good mother” had been built. For me, I was a “good mother” because of fully immersing myself in childrearing (acknowledging here the socio-economic privilege that allows me to have such a choice). For the government, seemingly regardless of which political party was in office, I was only a good mother because I had taken my children to an ECE centre. This ignored everything else I had been doing, perpetuating the discourse of “mothering as nothing” (Kahu and Morgan 2008). My challenge therefore, was to conduct a study that was scholarly and critical and acknowledged my starting point, but did
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not degenerate into unjustified criticism or simply a diatribe against the way things were. I wanted to do research, not write a polemic.
Bringing it all together Whilst I was aware that articulating research questions usually comes prior to selecting a methodology (e.g., Gorard and Taylor 2004; Kincheloe and Berry 2004), such a tidy linear process was not productive for me. Instead, the development of the PhD proposal involved simultaneous investigations of literature, epistemology, methodology and research questions. It was only through combining the critical literature review with Bacchi’s WPR approach that I was able to formulate my research questions. Even when the general content of the research questions had become evident, framing the questions themselves was a difficult process. Part of my dilemma was whether to have general aims or more specific research questions. On reading successful theses, however, I found that specific research questions helped me focus on the complex issues the author was discussing by reminding me of their primary objectives. I therefore decided to write my own specific questions. However, to fit the aims and epistemology of the research, the questions needed to be open ended with a sense of social, political and historical context, and still allow for unanticipated directions. After a challenging piece of thinking, these were the questions that I decided upon: – How does ECE policy in Aotearoa New Zealand since the late 1980s represent parents in terms of their ability to be competent educators of their young children? – How and in what ways have these representations changed over time? – What social, political and economic factors have influenced the changes in such representations? – What have been the impacts of ECE policy in Aotearoa New Zealand on Playcentre, and how is this connected to the representation of parents as educators? It would be great to have the benefit of hindsight and inform you, the reader, as to how useful or appropriate those questions were. Unfortunately that hindsight is not yet available; however, a time of uncertainty has been resolved and I am now ready to embark on the practical part of the research, which I look forward to as a stimulating activity.
Concluding reflections At the time of writing I have an approved PhD proposal, and it is time to try out the WPR approach to analyse my selected policies. It has taken two years of part-time study to get this far; I am unconcerned as to whether this is a “long time” or not, it simply is the length of time it has taken me to work through all the issues, and I know it is not an unusual time frame (e.g., Rountree and Laing 1996; Waring and Kearins 2011). I did learn from the experience of undertaking a master’s thesis that time taken preparing the theoretical and methodological ground is always well spent. I had also learnt about my need for deadlines to counter my superb skills of procrastination, so I now work with my supervisors to set these deadlines. As a mature student in the midst of family life, living in a different city to the University, strategies to help me be productive are essential. I am also unconcerned that my proposed PhD study is radically different to what was originally envisaged. This appears to be a common occurrence and a part of the learning process, a process much broader than what originally envisaged. As a fellow postgraduate student once said to me, “a lot is learnt through writing a thesis, and only some of it is about the content” (Paulene Gibbons, personal communication 2007). Thesis advice literature agrees, for example Rountree and Laing (1996, iv) say that “[w]riting a thesis is much more than an intellectual challenge” and the authors in Waring and Kearins’ book of thesis survivor stories “learned a lot about research and scholarship, and about themselves in the process” (2011, 8). My final comment is regarding the critical importance of supervisors, another area where I coincide with the thesis advice literature. Simply put, my belief is that relationships between supervisors and students are crucial to the doctoral process and should never be underestimated, by any of the parties involved. So, I would like to thank my wonderful supervisors— Maxine Stephenson, Iris Duhn and then Sandy Farquhar—for their patience, encouragement, knowledges and challenging perspectives. He manga wai koia kia kore e whitikia. It is a big river indeed that cannot be crossed.
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References Bacchi, C.L. 1999. Women, policy and politics: The construction of policy problems. London, UK: Sage. Bacchi, C.L. 2009. Analysing policy: What’s the problem represented to be? Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia. Buchanan, E. 2011. Assessment in New Zealand early childhood education: A Foucauldian analysis. Master of Education thesis, Victoria University, Wellington. Dalli, C. 1993. Is Cinderella back in the cinders? A review of early childhood education in the early 1990s. New Zealand Annual Review of Education vol. 3: 223–52. Department of Education. 1988. Before Five: Early childhood care and education in New Zealand. Wellington, NZ: Department of Education. Duhn, I. 2006. The making of global citizens: Traces of cosmopolitanism in the New Zealand early childhood curriculum, Te WhƗriki. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood vol. 7 no. 3: 191–202. ECE Taskforce. 2011. An agenda for amazing children. http://www.taskforce.ece.govt.nz/reference-downloads/ Farquhar, S. 2008. Early childhood care and education: From advocacy to institution. In NgƗ Kaupapa Here: Connections and contradictions in education, ed. V.M. Carpenter, J. Jesson, P. Roberts and M. Stephenson, 46–56. South Melbourne, VIC: Cengage Learning Australia. —. 2010. Ricoeur, identity and early childhood. Blue Ridge Summit, PA: Rowman & Littlefield. Fink, A. 2010. Conducting research literature reviews: From the internet to paper (3rd edn). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Gibbons, A.N. 2007. Playing the ruins: The philosophy of care in early childhood education. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood vol. 8 no. 2: 123–32. Gorard, S. and C. Taylor. 2004. Combining methods in educational and social research. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press. Kahu, E. and M. Morgan. 2008. Making choices: Contradictions and commonalities in the valuing of caring and working by government policy and first time mothers. New Zealand Research in Early Childhood Education vol. 11: 1–17. Kincheloe, J.L. and K.S. Berry. 2004. Rigour and complexity in educational research: Conceptualizing the bricolage. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.
MacNaughton, G. 2005. Doing Foucault in early childhood studies: Applying post-structural ideas. New York, NY: RoutledgeFalmer. Manning, S. 2008. Playcentre parents-as-educators: Links between background experiences and teaching practice. MEd, Victoria University, Wellington. Manning, S. In press. Democracy meets rangatiratanga: Playcentre's bicultural journey 1989-2011. History of Education Review. May, H. 1997. The discovery of early childhood: The development of services for the care and education of very young children, mid eighteenth century Europe to mid twentieth century New Zealand. Auckland and Wellington: Auckland University Press/Bridget Williams Books with NZCER. May, H. 2009. Politics in the playground: The world of early childhood in New Zealand (Rev. edn.). Dunedin, NZ: Otago University Press. Ministry of Education. 2002. Pathways to the future: NgƗ huarahi arataki. Wellington, NZ: Learning Media. Mitchell, L. 2005. Policy shifts in early childhood education: Past lessons, new directions. In Education policy directions in Aotearoa New Zealand, ed. J. Codd and K. Sullivan, 175–98. Southbank, VIC: Thomson Dunmore Press. Richardson, L. 2000. Writing: A method of inquiry. In Handbook of qualitative research, (2nd edn.) ed. N.K. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln, 923í48). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Rountree, K. and T. Laing. 1996. Writing by degrees: A practical guide to writing theses and research papers. Auckland, NZ: Addison Wesley Longman. Scheurich, J.J. 1997. Research method in the postmodern. London, NZ: Falmer Press. Stover, S. ed. 1998. Good clean fun: New Zealand's Playcentre movement. Auckland, NZ: Playcentre Publications. Waitangi Tribunal. 2012. Matua rautia: The report on the Kǀhanga Reo claim. http://www.waitangitribunal.govt.nz. Waring, M. K. Kearins. eds. 2011. Thesis survivor stories: Practical advice on getting through your PhD or Masters thesis. Auckland, NZ: AUT Media. Woodhams, M. 2007. Looking a gift horse in the mouth: Examining Labour’s “20 hours free” early childhood education policy. New Zealand Annual Review of Education vol. 17: 169–85.
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See Stover (1998) for a history of Playcentre’s first 50 years, which is also outlined in May (2009). ii The Kǀhanga Reo National Trust dispute the fact that they are solely an ECE service, with their focus on cultural revival and whƗnau development—see the recent Kǀhanga Reo Treaty claim (Waitangi Tribunal 2012). Whilst I am sympathetic to this standpoint, as NgƗ Kǀhanga Reo are not the focus of my study I refer to them as an ECE service for simplicity. iii Experiencing Education: Australian and New Zealand History of Education Conference, 6–9 December 2011, held at University of Auckland, Epsom Campus.
The author: Suzanne Manning was going to complete her science PhD in her mid-twenties, but life and then children got in the way. She discovered her passion for education through involvement in Playcentre, a parent cooperative and early childhood service, becoming politicised along the way. She is a regular contributor to the Playcentre Journal and the National Council of Women NZ Circular. Suzanne is now doing her PhD in her mature years so that she can join the ranks of university academics as a “critic and conscience” of society.
CHAPTER FIVE GET INTO THE GROOVE: MY DOCTORAL DANCE CLAIRE COLEMAN
In this chapter, Claire Coleman employs the metaphor of dance to describe and reflect upon her research journey so far. Sashaying and shimmying through the motivations that inspired her, the research plan itself and the way in which the overarching daily dance of life cuts in on even the best choreography. She invites doctoral students to recognise themselves at the centre of the PhD as an aesthetic and affective experience. Students will acknowledge the intricacies of undertaking a PhD within a critical frame and the influence of every partner, step and stage of life upon it.
Get up and Move an education that as much as possible keeps on preserving the girl you were, without allowing maturity to kill her (Freire 2007, 68)
‘I am bored!’ I thought as I joined the class of five-year-olds, clad in pink leotards and ribbons sweeping our arms gracefully aloft and painting rainbows in the sky. The conformity of everyone’s movements, the tedious classical music and incessant repetition for perfection led to one clear conclusion: this was not for me! So, aged five I defected to jazz dance with its willingness to embrace flexed feet and wiggling hips. Since then dance has remained important to me, evolving into a metaphor for my doctoral journey. As a child I was loud, opinionated and happy to question established authority whenever I didn’t understand or agree. However, as Freire warns above, this freedom may be eroded by experience in the world and the influence of its social structures. Certainly, as I grew up and moved through the education system I lost sight of this feisty little girl. However, as a beginning teacher I remembered her as I reflected on my experiences as a child and came to recognize some of the restrictive and oppressive
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effects of my education. Historical materialism helped me to appreciate this process, by providing an appreciation of how historical social relations mediate all interactions, which alter the understanding of that reality for each individual (Anyon 2011; Szelenyi 2009). This suggested to me that perhaps social pressures have less impact on our lives as children because we are more interested in engaging with the immediate environment and other people. In turn this led me to wonder might children be more able to empathize than adults due to a greater sense of connection to the world? I began my research journey by completing a Masters degree. I explored the use of process drama to engage 15-year-old Pasifika boys with social studies. Process drama employs both naturalistic techniques of drama such as role-play and other theatrical (distanced) techniques; it focuses not on a performance but the experience of the participants (O’Toole 2008). This Masters research indicated that the students internalized the low expectations society held for them (Macfarlane 2007) which significantly influenced their engagement with the world (Coleman 2010, 85; Cummins 2003). A number of students told me either directly or by implication that they were not clever and that school was not for them. My research demonstrated that these students found that when enacting a role in the drama they could “pretend to be smart” (Coleman 2010). The joy they expressed when working in character and their surprise at the discovery of an alternative version of themselves led me to consider what factors in their lives had contributed to their negative real world identities and how process drama perhaps offered them an alternative. I recognised my ultimate concern was how students form their identity and beliefs; more specifically the influence of dominant ideologies and how they work to replicate existing social structures. This stimulated my interest into what informed their self-perceptions, what effect they had and how they might be transformed, all of which led me to critical pedagogy. After reading Freire (2005) I revisited how my own beliefs had been formed and shaped. This reading and self-reflection correlated with critical pedagogy, which seeks to foster an individual’s capacity to find a place in the world and effect change. Critical pedagogy emphasises that “people do not exist apart from the world” (Freire 2005, 85), but are in constant interaction with it and in that interaction, transformation can occur. Each individual cannot operate in a vacuum divorced from our own cultural heritage or social awareness. Thus, working in drama may give opportunities for people to consider beyond their regular behaviours in order to explore beyond their everyday experiences.
Making connections I immediately connected process drama with my feelings about the value of drama and its potential for allowing us to metaphorically walk in other people’s shoes (Heathcote and Bolton 1995). As pedagogy it places students at its centre, drawing on their expertise, knowledge and questions to extend, develop and create the drama. The drama world might be a place where people explore and play with ways of being without the consequences of the real world. This provides a metaphorical dance floor, where the usual dances can be broken down and rearranged, steps created, music made and costumes cast off. Here each participant is always both spectator and actor, and he or she can never completely forget their real selves. Furthermore, since the drama is not without social constructs of its own, how transformative can any drama really be? Having worked with process drama and read the supporting literature (O’Neill 1995; Wagner 1999), in my doctoral research I will explore the idea that process drama can provide an opportunity to explore beyond the real world and be a potential partner to enact the principles of critical pedagogy.
The question of the question My central question focuses on whether process drama might provide an opportunity to understand how society imposes structures of behaviour; to enable people to reconsider those behaviours and, as a result, change them. I wish to explore the potential of process drama to reconnect people with their shared humanity, providing a safe space where participants can imagine and question in order to find who they truly are and what they really believe. My intention is to allow participants to reconsider their beliefs and be open to changing continually through thoughts, actions and reflections. To investigate these broad concepts I will explore the worlds of critical pedagogy and process drama as places of potential transformation. To this end, my research aims are: x To explore critical pedagogy and process drama in praxis, and to examine the potential of process drama to realise the core aims of critical pedagogy; x To establish meaningful constructions of how students involved in process drama negotiate their identities, understandings of the world and experience of education.
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I contend that process drama and critical pedagogy share a common philosophy of education. Each are concerned with the ability of individuals to recognise and create their own worlds (Giroux 2004; Heathcote and Bolton 1995) and with valuing students as collaborators who are engaged in active, embodied learning. However, it is unclear how these commonalities might work in practice and where disagreements between the two pedagogies may lie. Critics assert that process drama, though practical and engaging, lacks explicit theoretical connection (Bowell and Heap 2005), and is so focused on curriculum that it serves to reinforce dominant discourse (Ackroyd 2000). On the other hand, critical pedagogy stands accused of being wordy, dominated by white, male Western voices and difficult to integrate into mainstream schooling (Lather, cited in Breuing 2011); it has been perceived by some as simply too theoretical for practical application (Carmen and Gore 1992). My research seeks to explore the strengths of both approaches. Process drama as a practical and personally reflective practice may offer new possibilities for engaging with critical pedagogy and give it the rigorous practical base it requires.
Previous performances – Tangoing with the texts Critical pedagogy This research builds upon significant work that has influenced my own study. For example, Peter McLaren’s Life in Schools (1989a) tells of his early experiences teaching in Toronto schools and connects with the theories of critical pedagogy. This engaging work describes how social constructs within schooling impacted on the classroom. McLaren advocates critical pedagogy to “disclose and challenge the role that schools play in our political and cultural life” (McLaren 1989a, 168). He describes how students were simplistically labelled and poor achievement was attributed to a lack of individual effort rather than the influence of the educational environment (McLaren 1989a). This was echoed in my experiences teaching capable and thoughtful students who were considered disengaged because their passions didn’t match those of the school. Another major influence has been Freire’s (2005) Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which laid the foundations of critical pedagogy and was later developed by Kincheloe (2003; 2008), McLaren (1989b), Shor (1992) and Giroux and McLaren (1989). Freire argued that, through active dialogue with the world, people gained awareness of the social construction of reality and could then take action to change it. Authentic dialogue for
Freire exists when people have the cultural literacy to engage meaningfully with the world, not merely parrot established views. Critical pedagogy is grounded on a social and educational vision of justice and equality and “takes the problems and needs of the students themselves as its starting point” for learning (McLaren 2003, 242).
Process drama Process drama evolved from the work of Dorothy Heathcote and was developed into a theoretical framework by O’Neill and O’Toole (Bolton 2006). Process drama participants create roles and improvise in response to a problem, question or other stimuli. Often the teacher joins in, and may take a role that has equal or lesser status to that of the students. The teacher does not lead the drama as students are allowed to direct the path of inquiry (Simpson and Heap 2002). Hence the normal classroom power relationship is disrupted which may allow for a more collaborative teacher–student relationship to develop (Aitken 2007).
Partners in dance I discovered that, in their different ways, Clar Doyle and Edward Errington had already begun to investigate links between the process drama and critical pedagogies. In Clar Doyle’s (1993) book Raising curtains on education: drama as a site for critical pedagogy, he suggests that “critical drama should be praxis in the full sense of the word: a place to act out reflective theory” (Doyle 1993, Location 1114). Doyle asks how drama might connect to critical pedagogy and recognizes that it offers an opportunity to go beyond the world as we know it (Doyle 1993). However, his work reveals an adherence to conventional concepts of classroom and performance-focused drama as it involves studying existing texts with the student as spectator rather than participant. This approach upholds the hierarchy of the traditional classroom and privileges the cultural capital of existing texts. Participants are required to respond critically to the existing realities rather than create new realities for themselves (Doyle 1993). Many process drama theories indicate a belief in the value of drama for experimentation and exploration, which is not always fully realised by the practical activities. While they offer a glimpse of a new way of dancing, they remain tethered to old, familiar steps. Doyle’s book (1993) suggests using plays for critical literacy, but stops short of handing the responsibility for learning to the students themselves. Students are still expected to perform their responses to audiences, which may inhibit
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exploration and reduce creativity to acceptable levels for the audience. Hence, whilst building theory to support the potential for drama as critical pedagogy, its practical examples are hidebound by the structures of traditional theatre. Errington’s (1992) book Towards a socially critical drama education takes a slightly different, yet complementary, approach to Doyle’s work. Errington calls for the development of a drama where “[s]tudents would be made aware of their impact on the world, as social contributors to its formation” (Errington 1992, 42). He contends that the ability to manipulate the world in drama can exemplify the flexibility of society as a social construction. While rejecting process drama as capable of creating meaningful group change, he does argue that it offers a space where the narratives of minority groups can be recognized, explored and acted upon. The works of Doyle and Errington have helped me to understand the potential relationship between process drama and critical pedagogy. My PhD research has developed as a way to consider the underlying principles of the two and the interplay between their frameworks. It will explore their practical applications and focus on how process drama, informed by critical pedagogies, might enable students to not only make sense of their lives but also take action.
Choreographing: The research design Critical research demands methods that seek to understand people; it considers reality to be subjective, constructed and diverse (Sarantakos 2005). I adopt a qualitative methodology that seeks to interpret events in relation to the beliefs people hold within natural settings, provide a “thick description” and support the interaction of the researcher with the area of study (Geertz 1993). By using the dance metaphor I have positioned myself as researcher–choreographer (Janesick 2010), a co-coordinator who holds a few key founding principles but still aims for as unlimited a view as possible. This reflects my interests as a practitioner doing research and honours my nosy five-year-old self forever asking questions. Participants will be full collaborators as the research evolves to gain an intuitive understanding of what is going on during the drama and in students’ lives (Stake 2010). Using a flexible case study approach allows the research to remain open to emerging and unforeseen discoveries (Denzin and Lincoln 1994) and offers a holistic way to understand real life situations (Merriam 1998; Stake 1995). I do not intend to produce certainty but rather to create meaningful opportunities for dialogue and praxis (Elliot 2007; Ramaekers
2007). My ddoctorate craffts a collectivee case study bbringing togetther three smaller casee studies; wiith no one caase privilegedd over anotheer. I will review finddings in each case and mo ove iterativelyy through thee data to examine how w each case relates r to and d influences eeach other casse. In this manner the smaller case studies work k together refflecting back, into and upon one annother to gennerate detailed d and contextuual data (Stak ke 2005). Figure 1 reppresents this multi-reflective m e cycle. Fig. 1: Cumuulative case studdy design
Differing dances: d Thee three casee studies The firstt case is a doccument analyssis of the welll-known proceess drama The Seal W Wife by Cecilyy O’Neill (199 95). This dram ma is frequen ntly used, well receiveed and extenssively written n about and ccited as an exemplary process dram ma (Ackroydd 2008). This case study i s informed by b critical discourse annalysis as a way w to value and analyse communicatiion while resonating w with critical theory, arguiing that langguage reflectss specific social practtices and is inextricably political p (Gee 2009, 25). This T case study will challenge the ideology in which thee data is loccated and acknowledgge that texts can generatee multiple m meanings (Leaary 2010; Punch 2005). To return too the metapho or of dance, T The Seal Wife is akin to a classical dance work being considered for reviival for which I must consider its creation, conttext and audieence. The secoond case invoolves observin ng a class usiing the Mantlle of The Expert (MO OTE). MOTE is i an increasin ngly accepted form of proceess drama in the UK w which has beeen adopted by b several schhools in New w Zealand (Aitken 20007). In a MO OTE process, drama studeents are often n cast as experts in reeceipt of a com mmission from m a fictional cclient, which they t need
Get into the Groove: My Doctoral Dance
to address within the drama. This case allows me to focus on the most common current use of process drama in New Zealand schools. This MOTE metaphoric dance is hip-hop; it is expressive and popular but requires strict planning and dramatic techniques. The third case is a participant-observation study of a process drama unit in a New Zealand school. I both devise and facilitate the unit in ways that collaborate with and draw upon the understandings of the students. I have to explicitly consider the principles of critical pedagogy during the process drama and reflect upon my own practice. This final part of the cumulative case study operates as a contemporary piece of dance— flowing and transforming as it evolves. In the spirit of Freire, I welcome collaboration and questioning, the messiness of life and unforeseen discoveries and connections. The research values equally the multiple realities represented by all involved: the researcher, students, teachers and creators of the three process drama works. Participants are co-researchers—co-choreographers/dancers who offer alternative viewpoints to corroborate or contrast with my own experience (Stake 2006).
Dilemmas A major design concern has been the potential of process drama to subtly lead participants in a certain direction. I am aware that, as Freire warns, attempting to liberate the oppressed without their authentic participation is continuing to treat them only as objects (Freire 2005, 65). While tempted to guide students towards views I deem more socially responsible, participants must be free to “be the bad guy”, to change or to reassert their original beliefs according to their own evolving understandings, which may not agree with the views I hold (Ackroyd 2000). As an adult, a teacher and a researcher, I have an inherent level of authority. While working alongside participants to encourage a sense of community and deepened understanding (Stake 2010) I must be sensitive to students’ needs, allowing them to determine how best to process, question and explore issues that are of abiding concern to them (Greenwood 1999).
My personal dance: Challenges and changes When considering the challenges and changes so far in my doctoral journey, I note the shifts in tempo, the need for a flexible dance style and some irreversible changes. Initially it seemed that I would be on track to
complete my thesis in three years. This careful choreography is typical of my organised and well-planned approach; I rely upon preparation, organization and rehearsal before performing the part of doctoral student. Despite my best-laid plans, life had other ideas. In 2011 when health issues resulted in a need to start a family immediately, my wellchoreographed doctoral dance was restyled as my son was born three weeks after my PhD proposal was submitted. Since the arrival of this new dance partner my choreographed movements through the PhD have included a new dimension. For me, embarking on the doctoral journey was like becoming a parent; with the pattern of my daily dance becoming almost unrecognisable as I find myself experimenting with steps I never realised I could master. There are no set moves of how to be a parent or how to be a PhD student. Both journeys involve all the complications of life, work and relationships and each is unique to the individual. With relief I realise that some new dance phrases have already become familiar, creating the space and energy for innovation in others.
Reflecting and reworking If I become disheartened and begin to lose the rhythm of my doctoral dance, I recall the feisty young girl and am reminded of why I want to do this research—I want to make space to honour the uniqueness of each student, to contribute to the broader meanings of education, and to bring the two worlds of “intuitive, practical knowledge” and “the domain of critical education theory” together in a useful way (McLaren 2003, xxxi). In alignment with the principles of critical pedagogy and process drama, I wish to dance to whatever music and space is available as best I can, replacing fears about the final performance with excitement about the process. Acknowledging myself as a being continually in the process of becoming an “unfinished reality” (Freire 2005, 84). My role within this research and the impact of parenthood on my day-to-day life means that I must continually adapt, reconsider, reflect and then act. My research in both its journey and completion reflects a renewed personal understanding that the world is dialectical and ever-changing (Szelenyi 2009). One of the hardest lessons I continue to learn is to take it easy on myself and celebrate the small victories. I find that, despite the complicated choreography, my proposal is finished and I have been granted ethical approval. Being passionate about my life and work is vital to parenting and to doctoral research; this is the fuel that drives me forward whether negotiating a lengthy ethics approval procedure or
Get into the Groove: My Doctoral Dance
nursing a sick baby. The dance steps are made in constant negotiation between passion and practicality, time and imagination, the individual and the group. Now, I have welcomed my own little dancer—already happily swaying to mummy’s singing, I strive to help make a world in which he can create his own dance and never grow out of being truly and uniquely himself.
References Ackroyd, J. 2000. Applied theatre: Problems and possibilities. Applied Theatre Researcher, 1. http://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_ file/0004/81796/Ackroyd.pdf —. 2008. Applied theatre: An exclusionary discourse. Applied Theatre Researcher (IDEA 8). http://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_ file/0005/…/01-ackroyd-final.pdf Aitken, V. 2007. The “relationship manager”: Towards a theorising of the teacher-in-role/student relationship. Journal of Artistic and Creative Education vol. 1 no. 1: 86–105. Anyon, J. 2011. Marx and education. New York, NY: Routledge. Bolton, G. 2006. Introduction. In Structure and spontaneity: The process drama of Cecily O'Neill, ed. P. Taylor and C. D’Warner, xi–xii. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books Limited. Bowell, P. and B. Heap 2005. Drama on the run: A prelude to mapping the practise of process drama. Journal of Aesthetic Education vol. 39 no. 4: 58–69. Breuing, M. 2011. Problematizing critical pedagogy. International Journal of Critical Pedagogy vol. 3 no. 3: 2–23. Carmen, L. and J. Gore. 1992. Feminisms and critical pedagogy. New York, NY: Routledge. Coleman, C. 2010. Engaging dramatically: A reflective practitioner case study into whether the use of process drama to teach social studies engages Year 10 Pacifika boys. (Masters of Education), University of Sydney, Sydney. Cummins, J. 2003. Challenging the construction of difference as deficit: Where are identity, intellect, imagination, and power in the new regime of truth? Pedagogies of Difference: Rethinking Education for Social Justice, 39: 41–60. Denzin, N.K. and Y.S. Lincoln. 1994. Introduction: Entering the field of qualitative research. In Handbook of qualitative research, ed. N.K. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Doyle, C. 1993. Raising curtains on education: Drama as a site for critical pedagogy. In Critical studies in education in culture series, ed. H.A. Giroux and P. Freire [E-kindle].Westport: Bergin & Garvey. Elliot, J. 2007. Education research as a form of democratic rationality. In Philosophy, methodology, and educational research, ed. D. Bridges and R. Smith, 149–65. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. Errington, E. 1992. Towards a socially critical drama education. Geelong, VIC: Deakin University. Freire, P. 2005. Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group. —. 2007. Daring to dream: Toward a pedagogy of the unfinished. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers. Gee, J.P. 2009. Discourse analysis: What makes it critical? Madison, Wisconsin: Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Geertz, C. 1993. The interpretation of cultures: Selected essays. London, UK: Fontana Press. Giroux, H. 2004. Critical pedagogy and the postmodern/modern divide. Teacher Education Quarterly (Winter): 31–47. Giroux, H. and P. McLaren 1989. Critical pedagogy, the state, and cultural struggle. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Greenwood, J. 1999. Journeys into a third space: A study of how theatre enables us to interpret the emergent space between cultures. (Doctor of Philosophy), Griffith University. Heathcote, D. and G. Bolton. 1995. Drama for learning: Dorothy Heathcote’s mantle of the expert approach to education. Portmouth, NH: Heinemann. Janesick, V. 2010. Oral history for the qualitative researcher: Choreographing the story. New York, NY: Guilford Press. Kincheloe, J. 2003. Teachers as researcher: Qualitative inquiry as a path to empowerment, 2nd edn. London, UK: RoutledgeFalmer. —. 2008. Critical pedagogy primer (2nd edn). New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing. Leary, Z.O. 2010. The essential guide to doing your research project. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Macfarlane, A.H. 2007. Discipline, democracy and diversity. Wellington, NZ: NZCER Press. McLaren, P. 1989a. Life in schools: An introduction to critical pedagogy in the foundations of education. New York, NY: Longman. —. 1989b. On ideology and education; Critical pedagogy and the cultural politics of resistance. In Critical pedagogy, the state and cultural
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struggle, ed. P. Mclaren and H. Giroux, 174–202. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. —. 2003. Life in schools: An introduction to critical pedagogy in the foundations of education (4th edn). Boston, MA: Pearson Education. Merriam, S.B. 1998. Qualitative research and case study applications in education (2nd edn). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers. O’Neill, C. 1995. Drama worlds: A framework for process drama. Portsmouth, UK: Heinemann. Punch, K. 2005. Introduction to social research: Quantitative and qualitative approaches (2nd edn). London, UK: Sage Publications. Ramaekers, S. 2007. No harm done: The implications for educational research of the rejection of truth. In Philosophy, methodology and educational research, ed. D. Bridges and R. Smith, 241–57. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub. Sarantakos, S. 2005. Social research (3rd edn). New York, NY: Pearson Education. Shor, I. 1992. Empowering education: Critical teaching for social change. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Simpson, A., & Heap, B. (2002). Process Drama: A way of changing attitudes. Stockholm: Save the Children Sweden. Stake, R. 1995. The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. —. 2006. Multiple case study analysis. New York, NY: Guilford. —. 2010. Qualitative research: Studying how things work. New York, NY: The Guilford Press. Szelenyi, P. (Producer). 2009, 27th December 2011. Marx’s theory of historical materialism lecture 11. Yale University—Foundations of Modern Social Thought. [Video Lecture] Wagner, B.J. 1999. Dorothy Heathcote: Drama as a learning medium. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. The author: Claire Coleman has worked in drama education for a number of years in both school and community settings. Her inklings about drama education and passion for research were crystallised by her Masters research. Her sometimes frustrating experiences as a student and teacher and subsequent questions led her to the critical theories of Friere. As a teacher she is keen to engage in research that relates to, and reflects upon, opportunities for students in today’s schools. She has recently completed the second of her PhD case studies and given birth to baby number two.
CHAPTER SIX MASTERING METHODOLOGY: COMMENTARY PETER O’CONNOR
There is perhaps nothing more daunting for a supervisor than having a prospective doctoral candidate arrive at the first meeting with a fully formulated question and methodology. Having said that, I guess it’s even worse when they arrive with the answer as well, or the answer they are hoping and planning to get so they can advocate for a cause they passionately believe in. I recognise that it is imperative, of course, not to dampen down the enthusiasm and to congratulate the student for his or her thought and preparedness. A doctoral journey however, is much more complicated and richer than merely following through on initial plans. To my mind, the best doctorates start in an awful muddle, fuelled by a candidate’s burning passion to find out something that neither they nor the supervisor can quite put into words in those first meetings. The thesis then gradually takes shape through talking, reading and in the act of writing. Initial plans in this scenario quickly disappear, and a thesis emerges. When I started my own PhD over fifteen years ago, I remember honing the question down for months with my supervisor. He would always begin each of our supervisions with the devastating question, “So, what is your thesis about?” For the first year I’d gulp and take an eternity to get out garbled sentences, until eventually I could answer it in one sentence without flinching. Once I had my question, I worked through literature reviews and chose my methodology. In those days, the fashion in Education doctorates was to engage in reflective practice methods. I was deeply attracted to this approach because it seemed it was largely writing about myself. This was at a time when Education theses were just beginning to allow the word “I” in them. My wife, trained in sociology, was horrified that I could place myself in the research. Today, thankfully there is even greater scope for doctoral candidates to use a wide range of
Mastering Methodology: Commentary
methodological approaches and situating yourself in the research is commonplace. When I first started supervising I used to say to students that a doctoral proposal was simply about stating what they wanted to find out (the question), how they were going to find it out (the methodology), how they were going to present what they had found out and what sorts of worries they might have about finding out about these things (the ethics). I would work with the students in a linear fashion through each of these stages of preparing their proposal. However, as each of the authors in this section so elegantly demonstrate, it no longer works like that. Thankfully, a contemporary doctorate is not that linear. The complex relationship between the question (more frequently now the set of aims for the study) and the methodology means that decisions about either one directly impact on the other; making it impossible to determine one without considering carefully the impact on the other. In her chapter in this section, Suzanne Manning says that in her thesis, “the development of the PhD proposal involved simultaneous investigations of literature, epistemology, methodology and research questions”. She suggests this is uncommon, yet I would argue this is a widely accepted practice for many people engaged in qualitative research in education.
Research paradigms When I had to select a methodology for my doctorate, it was couched as a straightforward choice of qualitative or quantitative or a mix of both. The choice was made easier because, for a number of years, arts researchers had engaged in a sneering condescension of those unfortunate positivists who, it was felt, could never capture the beauty and wonder of the world through mere numbers. This bravado helped to hide the fact that I was barely numerate. Now, arts researchers, including myself, acknowledge the power and the grace of quantitative research and are increasingly using it in mixed method approaches. Two of the authors in this section write however, of a third paradigm in research. They argue that both words and numbers are limiting, and offer the arts as an alternative way of generating, mediating and representing data, instead of, or alongside, words and numbers. For Esther Fitzpatrick this means that she creates and resolves her question as she sculpts with number eight wire, writes poetry and a play script. For Jane Isobel Luton the “embodied reflections” she uses to generate her data are mediated through script writing into a performance ethnodrama. Searching for a metaphor for her thesis, Claire Coleman uses dance to describe the relationship between
process drama and critical pedagogy. She uses the same metaphor to describe how she sees her research activities variously as dancing or choreographing. Manning’s thesis appears, on the surface, to be more traditional. Yet her search for serendipity resulted in her using Carol Bacchi’s “What’s the Problem Represented to be” (WPR) approach. Manning asserts that she wanted a thesis that was rigorous and critical, not polemical, and her stumble upon Bacchi’s work clearly has provided her with the framework to undertake such work. In planning and writing about methodology, many doctoral candidates initially fall into the trap of conflating methodology with methods and merely describe the research tools they will use to either collect or generate data. Focus groups, one-on-one interviews, observations and an ever-growing range of tools are well known to most beginning researchers. Yet this is only a small part of any research methodology. The manner in which the data will be used, how it will be analysed and theorised, is the important next step in the process. There are a growing number of choices students can make and this is reflected in the choices made by each of the researchers in this section. For Fitzpatrick and Luton, the scripting and arts-based approaches become a means for mediating and analysing the data as they find ways to represent their findings in artistic form. The final arts pieces are the theorised, synthesized products arising from their research. For Coleman, her multiple case study leads her to describe the reflective cycle as a “dance fusion rather than a step-by-step linear approach”. Of all the contributions in this section, Manning’s is the most explicit in explaining the importance of moving beyond analysis to an active and critical engagement with theory to produce research at doctoral level.
Pushing the methodology boundary Doctoral theses are required to offer a unique contribution to the field under investigation. Some new knowledge must be created through the process of research. Increasingly I find in my students’ work a deep questioning of established research methods and a willingness to engage with, and adopt, innovative, more flexible approaches. It means that doctorates have become far more diverse, they do not have to follow a formulaic template and increasingly they reflect the personality of the student. Nowadays it is rare to find a “methodology” chapter in most education theses I examine, instead it is woven seamlessly through the fabric of the writing.
Mastering Methodology: Commentary
The theses discussed in this section are framed within the unique story of each writer’s own life and as Krieger suggests, “We ought to acknowledge more honestly than we do, the extent to which our studies are reflections of our own inner lives” (cited in Merchant and Willis 2001, 71). For, as Sears notes, “qualitative research is an inquiry into the personal worlds of others that, if one is fortunate, becomes a journey into oneself” (cited in Merchant and Willis 2001, 80). Perhaps what is most refreshing for me about this collection is the willingness of the writers to situate themselves honestly in their work, especially the manner in which the motivation for the research is so personally situated. The chapters reveal a determination by the authors to reframe the relationship between the researcher and the researched. The scientific models, once so dominant in educational research, which sought to separate the two roles, are re-visioned by the creation of research partnerships that strive for an investigative process where both researcher and participants are actively engaged in all aspects of the research.
Methodology and ethics It is difficult at times for supervisors and doctoral candidates to consider ethics as more than a bureaucratic nightmare that needs to be endured. In Education theses this problem is often exacerbated by university ethics committees using scientific research models which do not translate readily to the Education world. However, ensuring that the research addresses ethical issues is about far more than complying with a technical nuisance. Ensuring that all participants are safe and protected within the research process is vital to the development of a sound methodology. The proper consideration of ethics, within and beyond institutional approval processes, requires the supervisor and the candidate to consider the power issues inherent in the research and how these might be mediated. The question of how the participants might gain from the research is increasingly important for candidates to consider and it includes how they will be informed of the research findings, conclusions and recommendations. Therefore, methodology considerations in any thesis must now include everything from how data is generated, to how it is represented and then presented back to the communities from which it has arisen.
Critical methodologies Brown and Strega argue that, “[t]raditional social science research, whatever its intentions, has silenced and distorted the experiences of those on the margins, taking a deficit-informed approach to explaining their lives and experiences. The histories, experiences, cultures, and languages (the ‘ways of knowing’) of those on the margins have historically been devalued, misinterpreted, and omitted in the academy, where, as noted, only certain conceptualisations of information are counted as ‘valid’ (objective and therefore authoritative) knowledge” (2005, 11). The critical research methods represented in this section of the book enact a concept of research which moves beyond the deficit models that explain by distorting the worldview of the marginalised. Instead, they engage in processes so the marginalised might be the authors of their own stories, as co-researchers and equal collaborators. The research described in this section responds to a growing urgency to find research methods that spring from the need for social justice, that require different kinds of knowledge and more congruent ways of creating that knowledge from marginalised worlds. Therefore, each of these chapters reveal the care and concern these doctoral researchers have for both their research and, even more importantly, for the participants in that research. They also demonstrate concern for wider and significant social, cultural and political issues. In many ways, these chapters are an answer to the call by Norman Denzin for: The need for a civic, participatory social science—a critical ethnography that moves back and forth among biography, history, and politics—has never been greater. Such a performative discourse, grounded in the sociological and ethnographic imagination can help individuals to grasp how the fascist structures of the neoliberal world order, the global empire, relate to one another. (Denzin, 2003 225)
All the chapter authors are motivated by a desire to have research make a positive difference in the world. All, in some manner, address matters of social justice and it is this which makes their research critical and critically important.
Mastering Methodology: Commentary
References Brown, L. and S. Strega. 2005. Research as resistance: Critical, indigenous, and anti-oppressive approaches. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press. Denzin, N. 2003. Performance ethnography. Critical pedagogy and the politics of culture. London: Sage Publications. Merchant, B. and A.I. Willis. eds. 2001. Multiple and intersecting identities in qualitative research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc. The author: Associate Professor Peter O’Connor is the Director of the Critical Research Unit in Applied Theatre in the Faculty of Education at The University of Auckland. His research speciality is in the use of applied theatre in marginalised and disenfranchised communities.
SECTION II: TANTALISING THEORY
CHAPTER SEVEN DIASPORIC CHINESE YOUTH’S SEXUAL SUBJECTIFICATION: ARRIVING AT CRITICAL SCHOLARSHIP ALEX LI
In this chapter, Alex Li offers an overview of her first-year doctoral experience. As she presents her research outline, including a critical literature review, theoretical frameworks, proposed methodologies and ethical considerations, she also introduces to readers a personal account of her doctoral journey so far, where she reflects on how she has arrived at a place of identification with critical scholarship. She identifies some of the exhilarating and/or painstaking moments in critical research, and encourages new/emerging researchers to develop a personal commitment to the epistemological and ontological underpinnings of their research.
Introduction This is only the beginning, a beginning that promises growth in strength, either strength in succeeding, or strength in dealing with not succeeding. —Alex Li, Doctoral work journal, March 2012
I’m a Chinese woman who has lived in New Zealand for 11 years. I had never thought about what this meant until I did my Master’s thesis on New Zealand women’s sexual bodies. As fulfilling as the experience was, it dawned on me as I was interviewing the participants, that I was not one of “them”; I was not a New Zealand woman. That was the first time my racial “otherness” emerged as an intellectual task for me—I learned I could not, and did not want to, exclude this racial identification from my identity as a researcher. So, how should I incorporate the two? My doctoral project occurred to me as a nexus on which the two identities meet: to understand Chinese youth’s experience with sexuality in New Zealand is to understand myself as a racial and sexual subject. I
Diasporic Chinese Youth’s Sexual Subjectification
decided being personal (and thus political) was an ideal way for my journey as a researcher to begin, and, to be a critical researcher, one must be acutely conscious of his/her own social positioning. Indeed, for me, being Chinese and being a critical researcher are preconditions for each other. My project concerns how young diasporici Chinese become sexual subjects in New Zealand through sexuality education, which includes formal and informal sexuality education. I adopt a critical framework in order to explore Chinese youth’s agency, and open up critical ways of representing their sexuality that are alternative to homogenizing presumptions of Chinese sexuality. This allows me to challenge a biased profile of Chinese youth’s sexuality seen in existing research, to gain a better understanding that attends to the sociocultural workings of its “Other-ization” and problematization, and consequently, to develop implications for provision of targeted sexual health services and design of sexuality education programmes. In this chapter, I present an outline of my first year doctoral journey, including literature and the theoretical framework, interwoven with my personal reflections. I hope that my readers will see not only a doctoral student, but also a young Chinese woman with frustrations and joy derived from the very aspiration of becoming a critical researcher.
Exploring literature: starting the journey I see it now, how it all connects…If my brain could move it would be shaking from the excitement of “discovery” right now, though this is probably something I would’ve have experienced weeks ago, had I been reading as much I should’ve. —Alex Li, Doctoral work journal, August 2012
The first academic task I started on was the literature review, which consisted of ongoing searching, cataloguing, reading, note taking, (attempted) sense making, and (painstaking) writing. Quite a few months down the track I managed to see an argument emerging out of the ocean of literature I had been swallowed in. The months prior to this eureka moment felt somewhat like putting a puzzle together, except that I had to find the right pieces first myself, hidden amidst a pile of them—many ended up discarded, but you didn’t know that until you picked one up, looked at it, understood what it was saying, and considered if it was needed to complete a picture that had not yet taken shape. It was a frustrating time, but by no means wasted time. Eventually, the pieces came together, as my supervisor kept telling me: “reading makes new learning”.
Through extensive reading, I was able to develop the following arguments which form the main theoretical structure of my thesis.
Challenging the profile of diasporic Chinese youth In prior research, Chinese diasporic youth have been predominantly understood as sexually conservative, and simultaneously “reckless” (see Simon-Kumar 2009). I identify this polarised profile as an exotic Other, where the two seemingly self-contradictory representations work to “exotify” Chinese youth as a group other to their white counterparts in sexuality. I challenge this profile and the underlying assumptions with research evidence. I argue that the assumption of Chinese sexual conservatism is based on a common perception of Chinese youth as ideal pupils, highly invested in academic pursuits, their sexual interests strictly prohibited by parents (Wu and Singh 2004). This assumption is, in turn, “affirmed” by research that problematically relies on Western paradigms as a normative standard (Greenfield 1997) and concludes that Chinese youth are more conservative in various sexual practices and values (e.g., Song et al. 2005). However, this perception may be biased as research indicates there is a disparity between Chinese young people’s private sexual practice and public expression or reported sexual attitude, possibly due to Asian cultural norms that decree against public sexual expression or direct discussion of sexuality (Chan 2008). Moreover, these restrictive constructions of Chinese youth’s sexuality “operate as oppressive discourses”, denying agency and individuality (Archer and Francis 2005, 176). Another basis of assumed Chinese sexual conservatism is a view that sexuality in China is historically repressed, and research often affirms such an understanding. Quite the contrary: there was profound respect for human sexuality in ancient China, as observed in legends, historical art and literature (Ng and Lau 1990), and sex as a somatic/bodily practice was readily accepted as an integral part of one’s being (Ruan and Matsumura 1991). Additionally, in cases of diasporic Chinese, traditional sexual values intersect with the process of acculturation, where a range of sexual subjectivities which diverge from ‘conservatism’ could be produced, such as more egalitarian gender role attitudes (Kim, LaRoche and Tomiuk 2004) and more liberal sexual practice (Zhou 2012) observed among overseas Chinese women. This illuminates alternative possibilities for how sexuality could be experienced and constructed among modern Chinese, against a monolithic understanding of it being repressed and conservative.
Diasporic Chinese Youth’s Sexual Subjectification
A view of Chinese youth as sexually “reckless” is particularly implied in research driven by a public health agenda that focuses on negative consequences of Chinese youth’s sexual activeness, such as unplanned pregnancy, abortion, Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS (e.g., Burchard, Laurence and Stocks 2011). In the context of New Zealand, the considerable media attention and research interest around Asian women’s pregnancy termination in the last decade have fostered a biased construction of Asian women as sexually “reckless” and “promiscuous” (see Simon-Kumar 2009). In contrast, “alternative constructions of Asian women’s sexual agency that are equally valid” (Simon-Kumar 2009, 3) are only minimally documented. A number of factors are believed to contribute to the perpetuation of this construction. Firstly, as Simon-Kumar (2009) critiques, mainstream scholarship adopts an Eurocentric framework, which tends to accentuate non-Western groups’ differences as racial/ethnic/gendered others; sexuality of minorities is often rendered as problematic, and questioned against these normative frameworks. Secondly, some research assumes a direct link between young people’s acquisition of sexual knowledge and practice of safer sex, posing Chinese young people’s sexuality as “at risk” due to their reported lack of sexual health knowledge (Burchard et al. 2011; Song et al. 2005). This assumption is problematic as it neglects young people’s subjective agency in conceptualising sexual knowledge: a knowledge/practice gap is observed in sex education worldwide, where young people do not necessarily practise safer sex despite possessing sufficient knowledge of disease prevention (Allen 2001). It also overlooks social, structural and contextual determinants that impede safer sex practice, such as gendered power relations and gender role expectations in sexual relationships (Chapman De Bro et al. 1994).
Sexuality education, in and beyond the classroom Another major body of literature I draw from is sexuality education, as I’m interested to know how Chinese young people make sense of their experience with sexuality education and thereby develop their sexual subjectivity. Here, sexuality education includes both formal, school-based education and informal sexuality education young people engage in with media, family, peers and other social contexts. Critiques of school-based sexuality education highlight its function as a vehicle of regulative power, working to construct normative youth sexuality and to produce a particular type of sexual being (Allen and Elliott 2008). Current school-based sexuality education tends to adopt a
sole focus on preventing negative outcomes of sexual behaviours, and by doing so, works to produce young people as de-eroticized, asexual beings (Allen and Elliott 2008; Bay-Cheng 2003). Another issue in sexuality education schooling is the naturalization of compulsory heterosexuality and marginalization of individuals perceived as a sexual Other (Epstein, O’Flynn and Telford, 2003). In the official curriculum as well as in its informal sexual culture, school serves as a heteronormalising space, where non-normatively heterosexual young people, including LGBT and queer youth and those outside heterosexual gender norms, are made invisible or inadequate throughout schooling years (Bay-Cheng 2003). Similarly, other social locations have regulative power on youth’s sexuality. However, resistance is always possible in the realm of power (Foucault 1979). For example, despite strong family discipline that characterizes Chinese migrants’ familial relationships, some Chinese young people develop a double life as a strategy to resolve the conflicts between conforming to familial norms and exercising autonomy as a sexual being (Chan 2008). Some Chinese boys show their agentic refusal of a typical “feminized” Chinese masculinity by associating with a multiethnic peer group and taking on a “laddish” masculinity (Archer and Francis 2005). Young Chinese women’s voluntary consumption of pornographic materials can also be seen as practice of their sexual agency, and even resistance against the repressive male gaze that pornography is presumably centred on (Ho and Tsang 2002). Together with schools, these different social worlds embody multiple individualities and memberships that young people mobilise and negotiate, allowing for minority youth “to be seen simultaneously as both powerful and powerless along different axes of their social being” (Epstein, O’Flynn, and Telford 2003, 61).
Wrestling with theories: consolidating my position(s) Too often I wonder just exactly how I managed to get to where I am given how little I know. —Alex Li, Doctoral work journal, June 2012
With a background in feminist psychology, I initially didn’t think engaging with a critical framework would be particularly intellectually daunting. However, I soon realized I felt this way because I did not know enough. Crossing over from psychology to inter-disciplinary research is disorienting. But at the same time it is exhilarating, as learning a new language always is, except that in this case, the different languages often do not translate. Sexuality as a research topic occupies a peculiar place in scholarship: researchers from across various disciplines and paradigms
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have attempted to understand, predict, or even control it. The vast field of literature on sexuality is a battle rather than a conversation—studies depart from a number of different ontological interpretations of sexuality and epistemological understandings of sexuality and all claim “truth” value. If this metaphor works, as a new sexuality researcher venturing into the field, I for quite some time attempted to achieve a truce between mainstream psychology and critical studies, only to realize it is impossible, and that I had to “pick a side”. Before taking up my current Butlerian theoretical framework, I tried to use an ecological model to account for the layers of influence Chinese youth are subjected to in terms of sexual development (e.g., socio-political, institutional, interpersonal). My supervisor was not convinced. In fact, neither was I. As she pointed out to me, despite my previous exposure to feminist research, I was still reluctant to let go of mainstream psychology theories, a language I was more familiar and comfortable with. Making a transition to a critical world view felt unsettling, especially when this framework is known for its fluidity, uncertainty and defiance of anything taken for granted. However, this is the very appeal of critical research—its unsettledness affords subversive power. As I started reading Butler’s conceptualisation on subject and subjectification, my critical stance on the existing research found resonance and took on a theoretical voice. I recognized Butler offers what my literature review was leading up to but has yet to formulate an argument on, the notion of agency: isn’t this exotification in existing research an indication of these Chinese young people’s subjection to racialised and sexualised power relations as an ethnic minority in a Western country? If so, how do they negotiate, resist and subvert such discursive positioning? Where does their agency lie? Informed by my newly determined theoretical perspective, my research question took on its final form (so far)—how do Chinese diasporic youth become sexual subjects in New Zealand? By asking this question, I’m interested in not only how these youth are shaped by, or subjected to, the power relations they’re situated in, but also how they engage in negotiation, resistance and subversion within constraints of possibilities, and how some hegemonic meanings of discourses could be unsettled in this process. This short question marks my epistemological position solidified and embraced, but it does not signal the end of my conceptual struggles. Indeed, being a critical researcher is about questioning any determined ending, any comforting conclusion that at one point you think you may have reached, and letting yourself remain open to more challenge, more doubt, and in turn, an ownership of a state where you remain constantly unknowing.
Paving the main foundation of my research are two theoretical concepts: diaspora and subjectification.
Diaspora Diaspora is a term historically referring to “displaced communities of people who have been dislocated from their native homeland through the movements of migration, immigration, or exile” (Braziel and Mannur 2003, 1). In contemporary globalist discourses, the term found new currencies which “confound the once (presumed to be) clearly demarcated parameters of geography, national identity, and belonging” (Braziel and Mannur 2003, 1). William Safran’s (1991) theorizations provide an understanding of diaspora my research is based on: diasporas “retain a collective memory, vision, or myth about their original homeland—its physical location, history, and achievements”; “they believe that they are not—and perhaps cannot be—fully accepted by their host society and therefore feel partly alienated and insulated from it”; and “they continue to relate, personally or vicariously, to that homeland in one way or another, and their ethnocommunal consciousness and solidarity are importantly defined by the existence of such a relationship” (83–84). My research sample consists of ethnic Chinese young adults from primarily two diasporic backgrounds: immigrant youth including those who are children from Chinese immigrant families in New Zealand, and international students, sojourners in New Zealand primarily for educational purposes. Immigrant youth are situated in relation to a diasporic community, which is rooted in (re-)production of social/historical memories symbolised by social practices and cultural icons; simultaneously, their construction of “self” involves recognition and negotiation of the transitioning to “becoming a fully pledged member of the host society” (Davidson and Kuah-Pearce 2008, 1). Their transnational identities are subject to ongoing construction and reconstruction (Davidson and Kuah-Pearce 2008). Different from Chinese immigrant youth, international students are more likely to perceive their diasporic status as temporary. The majority of them are also in New Zealand without family. These factors could potentially distinguish Chinese international students from Chinese immigrant youth in terms of identity formation, including formation and construction of their sexual selves.
Diasporic Chinese Youth’s Sexual Subjectification
Subjectification Another key theoretical basis for my research is Judith Butler’s theorization of subjectification. Butler views the “subject” as an ever changing, dynamic product of an ongoing process of being subjected to, and simultaneously subverting power (Butler 1995); subjectification refers to this process of becoming. Butler makes a particular point of how subjectification works on the subject (Davies 2006) and in turn, how subjects are able to intervene and unsettle hegemonic meanings of discourses through performativity (Butler 1997a). This is important to my research project, where I’m interested in not only how young diasporic Chinese become sexual subjects through being shaped by, and situated in, power relations, but also how they negotiate with the constraints of these possibilities via resistance and subversion. Based on Butler’s theorization of power, I look at young diasporic Chinese as situated in discursive relations of power that constitute them sexually (Butler 1997b). This power exists in terms of relations that permeate all aspects of social realities, regulating social practices through societal institutions (Foucault 1978), and producing meanings, desires, behaviors, as well as conceptions of normalcy and deviance (Foucault, 1979). To become viable sexual subjects, individuals need to subordinate themselves to the vast field of power where sexual norms (e.g., heteronormativity) are embedded, and recognize what they have been discursively named (e.g., sexual identities) by performatively enacting it. This submission to power provides conditions of subjecthood, because “to become subject to a regulation is also to be brought into being as a subject precisely through being regulated” (Butler 2004, 41). For example, through complying with particular traditional gender roles, a Chinese young woman recognizes herself and is recognized by the position she is named, a position associated with her racial and gender identifications (i.e., Chinese, woman); in taking up this position, she becomes a subject (Butler 1997b). Through this exchange of naming and recognition, discourse exercises its constitutive effects on a subject through the terms in which recognition takes place. However, power does not determine the subject: Butler’s subject has agency, in which they are able to subvert the power acting upon and enacted by them (Davies 2006). Therefore sexual subjects have the potential to appropriate and subvert what they have been recognized as, using the very terms that constitute them in realizing their sexual subjecthood (Butler 1993): while a Chinese young woman could performatively enact a “good” Chinese female sexuality (e.g., sexually passive, chaste, subordinate, heterosexual), she can alternatively respond
to the dominant discourse in ways that undermine it, by appropriating what is recognized of a “bad” sexual subject (e.g., sexually active, nonheterosexual); the very position that constitutes her allows her the agency of disobedience. Agency is therefore not “the property of an a priori, rational, self-knowing subject”, but a subject’s ability to “deploy discursive performatives that have the potential to be constitutive” (Youdell 2006, 519). Subordination and resistance are inseparable in the performative constitution of the subject: young diasporic Chinese are constantly being constituted by a dual mechanism of simultaneous submission and mastery, in an ongoing process of becoming sexual subjects (see Davies 2006). In order to be recognized, Chinese diasporic youth have to willingly take up the power imbedded in the complex discursive intersection of race and sexuality, which both limits and activates the conditions of possibility for subjectification. Through recognizing and claiming their “otherness”, redefining and negotiating new sexualities becomes possible.
Money matters and more: reflecting on the journey What choices do I have but to keep on going, trying, and hoping, for the long expected and absent big “up”? Or maybe there's never really any BIG “ups”, only small ones, small but sufficient to save one from complete despair, and to make one decide to keep hanging in there, before the next moment arrives where one can say ‘I’m so glad I’m doing this.” —Alex Li, Doctoral work journal, March 2012
During my first year, there were a few months before I managed to get a scholarship when I struggled financially. Money matters may appear trivial on the grand scale of academic pursuit, but I was surprised to find otherwise. This period was frustrating not only in the sense of financial hardship, but also because this concern with money was becoming a constant weight on my mind. I could not concentrate on reading and writing, and my academic progress stagnated. It seems a harsh reality that for most scholars in critical studies, funding is often more limited than for those from the more “mainstream” or “practical” disciplines, such as medicine or engineering. The funding difficulty mirrors the academic chasm critical studies are situated in: always on the edge, always challenging the norms, always resisting power, and in turn, not rewarded with what power grants the “good” citizens in the realm of academia. In this sense, our very undertaking of queer and sexuality studies is queer; our “playing” with knowledge parallels the power games in reality. Seeing this, I realize that being in critical studies
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calls for far more than intellectual investment; it requires a personal commitment to the epistemological and ontological underpinnings of my research, as well as becoming accustomed to a less lucrative reality where I may have difficulties securing financial support. However, I do not regret any of my choices, because they led me to a realm of knowledge that transforms me; it is a kind of transformation that cannot be undone. Having progressed into the second year of my doctorate with a theoretical frame set up for my research, I am currently working on methodology and negotiating ethics committee requirements. Addressing these immediate concerns is among many other tasks laid out ahead of me at the moment. Time seems pressing as always, and I’m far behind my planned timeline (like most other fellow students—I tell myself this as consolation). Fortunately, after one year of ups and downs in this relationship with my doctoral research, I now feel more ready for the challenges and rewards brought by being a critical researcher. Doing a doctorate is stressful, but it is no more stressful than any other venture that require one’s devout passion and perseverance. Bottom line is, I get to do what I love. I’m lucky. It's like reaching the end of a tunnel that is months longer than I expected, the binding and blinding dark cloud finally lifted, my limb waken from paralysis and my vision once again clear. I miss this energy so. —Alex Li, Doctoral work journal, July 2012
References Allen, L. 2001. Closing sex education’s knowledge/practice gap: the reconceptualisation of young people's sexual knowledge. Sex Education: Sexuality, Society and Learning, vol 1 no 2: 109–22. Allen, L., and K. Elliott 2008. Learning and teaching sexualities in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In Nga Kaupapa Here: Connections and contradictions in education, ed. V. Carpenter, J. Jesson, P. Roberts and M. Stephenson, 168–178. Melbourne, VIC: Cengage Learning. Archer, L. and B. Francis 2005.“They never go off the rails like other ethnic groups”: Teachers’ constructions of British Chinese pupils’ gender identities and approaches to learning. British Journal of Sociology of Education vol. 26 no. 2: 165–82. Bay-Cheng, L. Y. 2003. The trouble of teen sex: The construction of adolescent sexuality through school-based sexuality education. Sex Education: Sexuality, Society and Learning vol. 3 no. 1: 61–74. Braziel, J. E. and A. Mannur 2003. Nation, migration, globalization: Points of contention in diaspora studies. In Theorizing Diaspora: A
Reader, ed. J. Evans Braziel and A. Mannur, 1–23. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Burchard, A., C. Laurence, and N. Stocks 2011. Female international students and sexual health: A qualitative study into knowledge, beliefs and attitudes. Australian Family Physician vol. 40 no. 10: 817–20. Butler, J. 1993. Bodies that matter: On the discursive limits of “Sex”. New York: Routledge. —. 1995. Contingent foundations: Feminism and the question of “postmodernism”. In Feminist Contensions: A Philosophical Exchange, ed. S. Benhabib, J. Butler, D. Cornell and N. Fraser, 35–57. New York, NY: Routledge. —. 1997a. Excitable speech: A politics of the performative. London, UK: Routledge. —. 1997b. The psychic life of power. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. —. 2004. Undoing gender. London, UK: Routledge. Chan, C.S. 2008. Asian American women and adolescent girls: Sexuality and sexual expression. In Lectures on the Psychology of Women, 4th edn., 221–31). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Chapman De Bro, S., S. Miller Campbell, and L.A. Peplau 1994. Influencing a partner to use a condom: A college student perspective. Psychology of Women Quarterly vol. 18 no. 2: 165–82. Davidson, A. P. and K.E. Kuah-Pearce 2008. Introduction: Diasporic memories and identities. In At home in the Chinese diaspora: Memories, identities and belongings, ed. K.-P.K. Eng and A.P. Davidson,1–11. Basingstoke, Hampshire. Davies, B. 2006. Subjectification: The relevance of Butler's analysis for education. British Journal of Sociology of Education vol. 27 no. 4: 425–38. Epstein, D., S. O’Flynn, S., and D. Telford 2003. Silenced sexualities in schools and universities. Stoke on Trent, UK: Trentham Books Ltd. Foucault, M. 1978. The history of sexuality, Vol. 1: The Will to Knowledge, trans. R. Hurley. New York, NY: Pantheon Books. —. 1979. Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison, trans.A. Sheridan. New York, NY: Vintage Books. Greenfield, P.M. 1997. Culture as process: Empirical methods for cultural psychology. In Handbook of Cross-cultural Psychology, ed. J.W. Berry, Y.H. Poortigna, and J. Pandey, 301–46). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
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Ho, P. S. Y., and A.K.T. Tsang 2002. The things girls shouldn't see: Relocating the penis in sex education in Hong Kong. Sex Education: Sexuality, Society and Learning vol. 2 no. 1: 61–73. Kim, C., M. LaRoche, and M.A. Tomiuk 2004. The Chinese in Canada: A study in ethnic change with emphasis on gender roles. The Journal of Social Psychology vol. 144 no. 1: 5–29. Ng, M. L., and M.P. Lau 1990. Sexual attitudes in the Chinese. Archives of Sexual Behavio vol. 19 no. 4: 373–88. Ruan, F., and M. Matsumura 1991. Sex in China: Studies in sexology in Chinese culture. New York, NY: Plenum. Safran, W. 1991. Diasporas in modern societies: Myths of homeland and return. Diaspora vol. 1 no. 1: 83–99. Simon-Kumar, R. 2009. The “problem”of Asian women's sexuality: Public discourses in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Culture, Health & Sexuality vol. 11 no. 1: 1–16. Song, A., J. Richters, J. Crawford, and S. Kippax 2005. HIV and sexual health knowledge and sexual experience among Australian-born and overseas-born students in Sydney. Journal of Adolescent Health vol. 37 no. 3: 243. e249-243. e214. Wu, J., and M. Singh 2004. Wishing for dragon children: Ironies and contradictions in China's education reform and the Chinese diaspora’s disappointments with Australian education. Australian Educational Researcher vol. 31: 29–44. Youdell, D. 2006. Subjectivation and performative politics—Butler thinking Althusser and Foucault: Intelligibility, agency and the racednationed-religioned subjects of education. British Journal of Sociology of Education vol. 27 no. 4: 511–28. Zhou, Y.R. 2012. Changing behaviours and continuing silence: Sex in the post-immigration lives of mainland Chinese immigrants in Canada. Culture, Health & Sexuality vol. 14 no. 1: 87.
For my research, I use “diaspora” in its geographical sense instead of a conceptual sense. Here it refers to the physical dislocation away from a real or imagined homeland, which unifies my sample group.
The author: Alex Li is a doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland. With a background in critical psychology, she is influenced by poststructualist feminism and has a history of doing sexuality and gender research. For her doctoral research, she is focused on exploring the intersectionality of race and sexuality, and the role of agency in youth sexuality. She sees her research topic as informed by her personal trajectories as a young Chinese immigrant in New Zealand.
CHAPTER EIGHT GOLDILOCKS AND THE THEORISTS: SELECTING CONCEPTUAL MODELS TO EXPLORE PRESERVICE TEACHERS’ ENGAGEMENT WITH DISADVANTAGE JENNIFER TATEBE
This chapter explores the role of theory in educational research. Jennifer Tatebe draws on the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears as a metaphor to describe her selection of a theoretical framework and her discovery of a particular theorist whose work inspired the development of two original conceptual models to explain how preservice teachers engaged with issues of disadvantage during their preservice teacher education (PTE) programmes. Jennifer’s “theoretical” Goldilocks story locates theory as an important guide in the research process; reassures doctoral candidates to take their time in selecting a theoretical framework; and encourages others to design their own conceptual and theoretical models to extend their empirical (and theoretical) analysis.
Introduction For many, the childhood story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a familiar fairy-tale. Goldilocks wanders into the forest and comes across the house of the three bears. With no one home, she enters the house. Feeling hungry, she samples three bowls of porridge: one bowl is too hot, the other too cold, but the third is “just right”. Feeling tired, Goldilocks seeks some rest drawing a similar conclusion about the chairs and beds. Two of the chairs and beds are too large, while the third is again “just right”. When the papa, mama, and baby bear return home, they find their porridge eaten, a chair broken, and Goldilocks asleep in baby bear’s bed. Upon waking, Goldilocks sees the bears and runs away—never to return.
While often regarded as a cautionary tale to warn children about the dangers of wandering away from home, Goldilocks, as interpreted here, is also a story of “best fit”. In this chapter, I employ the fairy-tale to describe the theoretical challenges I encountered during my doctorate. This chapter follows fairy-tale conventions. The first half sets the scene for my theoretical journey. The story begins with further information about my research followed by a discussion of other scholarship investigating disadvantage and other forms of inequity in education. With additional contextual knowledge of my research, my journey of theoretical discovery commences. The second half of the chapter chronicles my initial engagement with theory. I describe my foray into what was, in all honesty, relatively unfamiliar territory/space/domain. While other beginning doctoral students appeared to my eyes to be familiar with the likes of Foucault, Bourdieu, Bandura, Vygotsky, and Freire, my knowledge of these names, and their work, was limited. I read widely, and arguably, slowly. My eventual discovery of Nancy Fraser’s theory of justice was the critical tipping point in my theoretical development, and is central to my own theorising of my participants’ engagements with disadvantage during their one-year postgraduate teacher education programmes. Following fairy-tale conventions, I conclude my “theoretical” version of Goldilocks with a few words of wisdom for doctoral candidates seeking direction/guidance on tackling theory.
Part one: Once upon a time Once upon a time, I naively believed I would conduct and write up the study I had developed for my PhD application. One comment in the first week of my PhD put an end to this misguided idea. I was waiting at the university gates for a group of other international students who were enrolled in a range of New Zealand primary and secondary preservice teaching education (PTE) programmes. On this particular day, my colleagues had been introduced to New Zealand’s decile system of categorising schools. With a look of exasperation, one American student looked at me and said, “we heard about these low-decile schools today…they sound bad. I just don’t wanna get shot.” She went on to share her fear of being placed at a low-decile school for one of her fieldwork placements. Residing in New Zealand for just five days, at that time I had no idea what low-decile schools were. I quickly discovered that the decile system determines New Zealand’s national school funding model. Originally intended to address educational inequity, school decile ratings reflect the proportion of enrolled students from low socio-economic
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communities. Based on five socio-economic indicators, decile 1 schools are the “10% of schools with the highest proportion of students from low socio-economic communities”. Decile 10 schools are the “10% of schools with the lowest proportion of these students” (Ministry of Education, 2010a). The other international students in the group echoed the American student’s negative comments about low-decile schools. Their use of words such as “welfare”, “bad”, and “rough” to describe low-decile schools were hard to ignore. I was intensely intrigued…how could seven international students from different countries all conclude that low-decile schools were “bad”? In light of this experience, I decided to alter my research topic. My new study would examine how preservice teachers acknowledge and engage with socioeconomic disadvantage during their one-year postgraduate PTE programmes. I approached this critically, with the understanding that my topic would likely involve the analysis of social, economic and political factors that impact on education. Working critically for me means exploring my topic from different perspectives in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the issue. One aspect of conducting this inquiry was becoming familiar with a new field of research. This task required wide reading in the areas of teacher education preparation, policy, inequity in education, and the context of New Zealand as each issue informed and shaped my research.
Preparing for the journey An international review of research highlighted for me the complexity and tensions related to issues of inequity and education. One strand of research aligns educational concerns with broader social and economic policies that result in differential access to social, economic, and community resources. This holistic approach to education connects multiple aspects of well-being such as adequate access to food, housing, medical attention and employment as important influencing factors of children’s school experiences (Anyon 1994; Berliner 2005; Rist 2000). This line of research illustrates how concentrations of social, economic, and political disadvantage in society are replicated in schools (Frankenberg 2013). As Carter and Welner (2013) explain, a key issue raised by such research is that “educational disparities and intergenerational economic inequality are highly correlated with skin color, ethnicity, linguistic and social class status” (1). Other studies identify how educational inequities originate and are perpetuated within the education system. For instance, how differentiated
curriculum and teaching practices mirror students’ socio-economic status (Gamoran 2002; Oakes 1992). The concern is that differential curriculum and teaching practices contribute to achievement and opportunity gaps between affluent and socio-economically disadvantaged students. Due to the inherent association between learning and teaching, it is unsurprising that the persistent underachievement of disadvantaged and diverse students has identified teacher education as a potential solution to increasing levels of inequity in schools (Howard and Milner 2013). Other “hot topics” include: studies of teacher quality (Cochrane-Smith and Fries 2011); multicultural education or diversity (Sleeter and Milner 2011; Wilkins 2001), and culturally responsive teaching (Gay 2010). Another strand of teacher education research focuses on teacher preparation for the specific context of teaching in disadvantaged schools (Matsko and Hammerness 2013). Researchers in this field are exploring different methods of teacher preparation in order to best serve disadvantaged students. Academic debates regarding how to achieve this goal are ongoing. Numerous modes, methods, practices and suggestions have been advanced. For example, Haberman (1971, 1994, 2012) is a strong critic of traditional programmes’ ability to prepare teachers for working in disadvantaged schools. He strongly advocates for the development of specialized urban education programmes designed specifically to prepare teachers for teaching disadvantaged students in disadvantaged schools (1995). Haberman has suggested altering PTE admission policies (1991), content and delivery (1996, (with Stinnett) 1973), and emphasizing the importance of dispositions on the ability to teach (1991) as part of successful urban education programmes. Other researchers have proposed a variety of alternate modes and sites of learning. They include community-based models (Catapano and Huisman 2010), and inclusion of service-learning as part of PTE curriculum (Conner 2010), and teacher residencies (Darling-Hammond 2008; Keller 2006), and the well-known, yet contentious, Teach For America and Teach for All Network programmes (Decker, Mayer, and Glazerman 2004; Heilig and Jez 2010; Kopp 2008). The New Zealand context exemplifies the persistent tension between research identifying growing levels of inequality and educational responses to these concerns. The country faces several key demographic challenges. The first is the persistent trend of high child poverty rates (OECD 2011). The second is on-going cultural and ethnic diversification (Statistics New Zealand 2008, 2011). Both contribute to the third challenge—continued evidence of an inequitable education system. Data illustrate significant socio-economic disparities between high and low
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academic achievers (Ministry of Education 2010b; OECD 2011). Responses to these issues have been two-fold. To address inequities within the state education system that represents 97% of all New Zealand schools, the Ministry of Education has developed the decile system to allocate school funding according to the socio-economic status of the communities they serve. The system however, presents a highly contentious issue due to its common misuse as an indicator of school quality and student achievement (Donnelly and New Zealand Parliament Education and Science Committee 2003; Thrupp 2009). The second response has been renewed focus on teacher education reflecting neoliberal policies, globalization, and evidence of teaching quality as a significant factor in raising student achievement (Cochran-Smith 2013; Hattie 2008). Prior research identifies the wide-reaching implications of social and economic inequities that impact on disadvantaged students and schools. Absent from research investigating the relationship between widening social and economic disparities and education is an understanding of preservice teachers’ knowledge, understanding and engagement with issues of disadvantage. My research addresses this gap in research by establishing how and why participating New Zealand preservice teachers understand and engage with the concepts of disadvantage and poverty during their PTE programmes. My study also contributes to a limited body of New Zealand research examining the preparation of teachers for teaching in low-decile schools. The discussion about my study’s origins and rationale, along with a review of the literature contextualises my research and sets the scene for my journey into the unknown territory of theory. The remaining parts of the chapter outline the challenges I experienced in selecting a critical framework and a key theory to underpin my research.
Part two: In a land far, far away Into the unknown Armed with a research topic and developing knowledge of the related teacher education literature, my next task was to select a theoretical framework. As signalled earlier, my prior theoretical knowledge was limited. My initial strategy was to follow my supervisor’s instructions: start reading. After realizing how much reading about theory was possible, I devised a more strategic plan to select a theoretical framework. The process of identifying keywords to describe my study directed my reading towards critical theory. My study is about inequality (in this case,
specifically socio-economic disadvantage), education, and social justice. This list was in direct alignment with critical theory’s emphasis on social justice, empowerment, and emancipation. Similarly, the process of critique and the concept of challenging the status quo associated with critical theory also resonated with my research. Kinceheloe and McLaren’s (2002, 90) explanation of critical theory was particularly useful. In their words: A critical social theory is concerned in particular with issues of power and justice and the ways that the economy; matters of race, class, and gender; ideologies; discourses; education; religion and other social institutions; and cultural dynamics interact to construct a social system.
Reading Kincheloe and McLaren’s chapter deepened my resolve to use a critical framework. I was particularly attracted to critical theory’s ability to locate what happens in education within wider social, economic, and political contexts, and to connect with forces that influence the processes of teaching and learning in schools. Now happily able to respond to questions about my critical framework, I faced my most significant challenge—selecting a key theorist whose work would organize and structure my thesis and extend the analysis of my research findings.
Lost in the woods Metaphorically speaking, I assumed the role of Goldilocks in my search for a theory to understand and explain how my preservice teacher participants engaged with issues of disadvantage during their PTE programmes. I felt lost wading through books and articles by the “big name” theorists. Reading theory is really hard work. Pierre Bourdieu is a favourite amongst many academics in my Faculty, including my supervisors, so a reading of his work seemed only natural. However, after careful analysis, I realized that although Bourdieu’s concept of “habitus” and his social and cultural capital reproduction theory were useful in explaining the contrasting social and economic backgrounds of preservice teachers and their school students, I needed more. I was searching for a theory that offered the power to explain a variety of socio-economic inequalities in more depth. So, I kept reading. Next, I discovered the late Jean Anyon’s (2005) book, Radical possibilities: Public policy, urban education, and a new social movement. I read the book cover to cover. Anyon provided a comprehensive view of how social and economic policies influence, create, and perpetuate inequalities in communities and schools. Most powerful were the explicit connections she drew between the wider social, economic, and political
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factors that are relevant to education. But, despite examining inequality concerns that directly influence education and schooling, Anyon’s work was, like Bourdieu’s, not quite “right”. This was not an issue of context. The points Anyon raises about tax policies, and inequalities in education, skills and training, employment, housing, and transportation in America are all transferable and applicable to the New Zealand context. Although I was intensely drawn to Anyon’s writing, I realized that her discussion of social and economic policy contextualised the issues of disadvantage but did not fully explain my participants’ experiences, opinions, and ideas about disadvantage in my data. I continued to read more theory. It is here that my story departs from the fairy-tale. I did not find a theory to “fit” my research on my third try. That would have been truly magical. I read many more books and articles until I came across Nancy Fraser’s (1995) article “From redistribution to recognition? Dilemmas of justice in a ‘postsocialist’ age”. Fraser’s social justice model was, in Goldilocks’ words, “just right”. Why? There were several reasons. First, the issues of ethnicity, culture, and disadvantage were intertwined in my participants’ discussions of teaching disadvantaged students in low-decile schools. Often, preservice teachers in my research discussed culture and disadvantage interchangeably. Fraser’s concepts of recognition and redistribution allowed me to discuss examples of cultural and socioeconomic injustice present in my data while also providing a means of explaining how the two types of injustice intersect. Secondly, in contrast to many other academics and researchers who problematize an issue and then call for further research on the topic, Fraser provided “remedies” to the cultural and economic injustices she identified in her theorising which were readily identifiable and applicable to New Zealand’s past and current responses to educational inequality. Third, Fraser has continued to revise her theory of justice. On-going development of the theoretical recognition–redistribution model led to the addition of a third political dimension to her theoretical model: representation. Fraser’s concept of participatory parity describes the complex web of social, economic and political factors, values and practices that determine who is included or, excluded from making claims of injustice. I brought the article with me to my next supervision meeting—neither supervisor was familiar with her work. Fraser was then well known in other disciplines but not in education. Fast-forward a few years to 2012, and there is a proliferation of education references to Fraser’s work. With a theoretical framework and key theorist selected, the next step in designing my research was to address the methodological constructs of my study.
Emerging from the house in the woods After resolving my theoretical dilemma, I began contemplating the logistical aspects of my research design. However, I had not yet escaped from the “house in the woods” or the theoretical obstacles in my doctoral journey as my theoretical framework directly influenced my methodological decisions. A critical theoretical framework required a methodology that aligned with social justice key principles. Jennifer Greene’s (2007) conceptualization of mixed methods research, underscored by a prominent orientation towards social justice was the perfect fit. Greene describes how mixed methods research can be employed to focus on engaging with difference and diversity, “unsettling the settled; probing the contested; [and] challenging the given” that strongly resonate within both theoretical and methodological approaches (21). Several logistical reasons supported my use of a mixed methods study design. Mixing methods provides the flexibility to choose the most appropriate strategies to address the research questions while offering the ability to adapt to changing research dynamics, institution-specific factors, and data-collection challenges. It also balances multiple perspectives and insights, and thus a deeper analysis of the phenomenon, with the need for the convergence of results for purposes of triangulation and reliability to enhance the validity of findings (Denzin 1997). I thus conducted a national-scale research project that included multiple groups involved in New Zealand PTE programmes. I invited institutions and programmes, teacher educators, and preservice teachers to share their thoughts, opinions, and perspectives on how one-year Graduate Diploma (GradDip) secondary preservice teachers understand and engage with disadvantage. The inclusion of multiple participant groups required the use of different methods. Analysis of institution and programme documents, interviews with teacher educators, and preservice teacher surveys inform my research. Yet, prior to successfully collecting my data, the nature and scope of my research required overcoming several ethical considerations.
Through the forest My research required the successful navigation of three ethical challenges. The first was gaining institutional approval to conduct my research. An accepted ethics proposal at my host institution (University of Auckland) was forwarded to all universities offering GradDip secondary programmes as part of the formal invitation to participate in my study.
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Three institutions accepted my invitation while the fourth required approval through its own ethics committee process. This step was easily completed while also providing immediate insight into the differences in university policies and procedures. With the necessary ethical approval, the second ethical challenge was gaining site access to university staff and preservice teachers. Again, the process varied by institution. I engaged in conversations with a range of key institution figures from Deputy Vice Chancellors to lecturers. These additional levels of approval often led to helpful discussions with those involved in teaching in PTE programmes. Privacy and confidentiality issues were the third ethical consideration. The research design incorporated numerous measures to ensure the anonymity of all participant groups. Key measures taken to maintain the confidentiality of participants included: the use of pseudonyms to identify participating institutions and academic staff, and the use of online technology such as Survey Monkey software to collect survey data anonymously. Additionally, all the institutions forwarded my research information to their preservice teachers through their own internal communication channels as per their institution privacy policies. Respecting each institution’s internal policies and procedures was part of working critically. Working within the confines of institutional policy acknowledges the structures and limitations placed on institutions and those in leadership roles. I am continuing to gain further knowledge, insights, and appreciation of the limitations placed upon institutions, programmes, and individuals working in PTE programmes. This research attests to the complexity of the processes of teaching and learning. By successfully resolving the theoretical and ethical challenges I encountered, I symbolically emerged from the house in the woods ready to “run away” or launch my study by collecting data.
A fork in the road I encountered one final challenge after completing a full year of data collection: how to interpret such a large amount of data. The magnitude of data was compounded by the multiple types of data. I made good use of the available technology to analyse the institution and programme documents, staff interview transcripts and preservice teacher surveys. Survey Monkey’s text analysis, filters, and cross tab tools were also helpful in my initial analysis of survey data. However, NVivo qualitative software proved to be the most valuable tool by allowing me to store, organize and code all three types of data. My dilemma was that I seemed unable to fully explain my data. I coded and re-coded my data. I reviewed different types of data independently. I then integrated all the data and
coded it sevveral more tiimes. It just wasn’t workiing. My dataa analysis phase was thhe low point of my doctoraate; yet, it alsso turned out to be one of the highliights. Feeling frustrated, I took t a break ffrom NVivo and a began reading agaiin. I came across severral articles that t explaine d various asspects of preservice tteachers’ deveelopment on scales or cattegories. Afteer further reading I reeturned to myy research plaan and revisit ited Fraser’s theory t of justice: it jjust “clickedd”. I began to explore different meethods of integrating Fraser’s theorising into an original conceptual model. I developed thheoretical coddes based on the key conceepts of Fraserr’s theory of justice. T Then I re-codded my data… … again. Thiss time, my th heoretical coding maggically transfoormed the daata into moree meaningful units of analysis. I hhad finally fouund a way to bring b data toggether. For thee purpose of this chappter, a modifieed version of my conceptuual theoretical model is presented inn Figure 1. Enttitled, the Con ntinuum of Eng ngagement, it illustrates i how my preeservice teachher participants understood, and more im mportantly engaged witth the conceptt of disadvantaage. Fig. 1: The Continuum off Engagementt
ness, and Conceptuually, the thhree categoriees of Avoidaance, Awaren Action are located on a bi-directionall spectrum off engagementt. The bidirectional aarrows situateed along the to op of the moddel and in-bettween the three concepptual categoriees are of criticcal importancce to the explaanation of my researchh findings. After A multiplee iterative annalyses of my m data I discovered that preservvice teachers’’ engagemennts with disaadvantage oscillated between thee categories. Prior perssonal experiience in disadvantaged settings, along with PTE courssework and practical fieldwork exxperience, andd the influencee of other teacchers (i.e., meentors and colleagues) were key inffluences in preeservice teachhers’ engagem ment with the concept of disadvantaage. A small proportion of participants avoided the issue of disad dvantage, and equity concerns in general. Com mments such as, “all scho ools have
Goldilocks and the Theorists
advantages and disadvantages” is representative of this groups of participants’ perspective on disadvantage. Participants in the Avoidance category were blind to structural inequities that impact on disadvantaged students, families, and schools. The majority of preservice teachers are situated in the next category, Awareness. At this stage, preservice teachers recognize inequities within the education system. They often discussed the difference in available teaching and schools’ resources. The smallest proportion of preservice teachers entered the third and final category of Action. Here, participants translated their awareness of disadvantage into further investigation of the root causes of disadvantage, and demonstrated emergent awareness of different strategies to address forms of educational inequality in their teaching practice. My conceptual model is also strongly informed by Fraser’s theorising. Fraser’s concepts of recognition and distribution are at the heart of the theoretical coding that assisted me to organize and analyse my data. I was able to integrate my theoretical coding into the Continuum of Engagement. Participants who were able to identify Fraser’s injustices of misrecognition and “maldistribution” were placed in the Awareness category. Meanwhile Fraser’s affirmative and transformative remedies corresponded with the Action category. Developing my own theoretically based conceptual model undoubtedly has enhanced the analysis of my data.
My happily ever after The story of my theoretical journey contributes to scholarship that identifies the importance of theory in educational research (Anyon 2009; Fraser 1995). As Anyon (2009) explains, theory empowers research. In her words, theory “deepens our research process and raises the level of our studies’ meanings, significantly extending and enriching the yield of our empirical work” (5). It is my hope that this chapter provides encouragement to other doctoral candidates tackling the often daunting task of reading theory and selecting a theoretical framework. In sharing my “discovery” of theory, I offer the following three pieces of advice. First, approach the issue of theory as a journey—read and then read some more. The path may take a few unexpected turns, but even discarding particular theories will help you to find out which is the “right” one. My second piece of advice is: take your time building your theoretical knowledge and selecting a critical framework. Avoid letting anyone, especially you, compare your doctoral journey to anyone else’s. Every person’s journey is unique. It took me almost a year to discover Fraser’s theorising. Finally, I hope that this chapter encourages other doctoral
candidates to explore the possibility of developing their own conceptual or theoretical models to analyse and explain their data. As my story has demonstrated, even when you find the right theory, the space and opportunity exists for on-going theorising and the extension of ideas to achieve the best fit for your particular study. Keep your eyes on the prize: your “happily ever after” is the completion of your doctorate. Reading and engaging with theory is an important part of this process.
References Anyon, J. 1994. Teacher development and reform in an inner-city school. Teachers College Board vol. 96 no. 1: 14–31. —. 2005. Radical possibilities: Public policy, urban education, and a new social movement. New York, NY: Routledge. —. 2009. Critical social theory, educational research, and intellectual agency. In Theory and educational research: Toward critical social explanation, ed. J. Anyon, 1–23. New York, NY: Routledge. Berliner, D. 2005. Our impoverished view of educational reform. Teachers College Record vol. 108 no. 6: 949–95. Carter, P.L. and K.G. Welner. 2013. Closing the opportunity gap: What America must do to give every child an even chance. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Catapano, S. and S. Huisman. 2010. Preparing teachers for urban schools: Evaluation of a community-based model. Penn GSE Perspectives on Urban Education vol. 7 no. 1: 80–90. Cochran-Smith, M. 2013. Introduction: The politics of policy in teacher education: International perspectives. The Educational Forum vol. 77 no. 1: 3–4. doi: 10.1080/00131725.2013.739013 Cochran-Smith, M. K. Fries. 2011. Teacher education for diversity: Policy and politics. In Studying diversity in teacher education, ed. A. Ball and C. Tyson, 339–62. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Conner, J. 2010. Learning to unlearn: How a service-learning project can help teacher candidates to reframe urban students. Teaching and Teacher Education vol. 26 no. 5: 1170–77. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2010.02.001 Darling-Hammond, L. 2008. A conversation about Teach for America: A future worthy of teaching for America. Phi Delta Kappan vol. 89 no. 10: 730–36. Decker, P., D. Mayer, and S. Glazerman. 2004. The effects of Teach for America on students: Findings from a national evaluation. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research Inc.
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Denzin, N.K. 1997. Triangulation in educational research. In Educational research, methodology, and measurement: An international handbook, ed. J. Reeves, 318–21. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Donnelly, B., and New Zealand Parliament Education and Science Committee. 2003. Inquiry into decile funding in New Zealand state and integrated schools, 16. Wellington, NZ: New Zealand Education and Science Committee. Frankenberg, E. 2013. The role of residential segregation in contemporary school segregation. Education and Urban Society vol. 45 no. 5: 548– 70. Fraser, N. 1995. From redistribution to recognition? Dilemmas of justice in a “postsocialist” age. New Left Review vol. 212: 68–93. Gamoran, A. 2002. Standards, inequality and ability grouping in schools. (Vol. 25.) Edinburgh, Scotland: Centre for Educational Sociology, University of Edinburgh. Gay, G. 2010. Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Greene, J. 2007. Mixed methods in social inquiry. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Haberman, M. 1971. Twenty-three reasons universities can’t educate teachers. Journal of Teacher Education vol. 22 no. 2: 133–40. —. 1991. The pedagogy of poverty versus good teaching. The Phi Delta Kappan vol. 73 no. 4: 290–94. —. 1994. The Top 10 Fantasies of School Reformers. Phi Delta Kappan vol. 75 no. 9: 689–92. —. 1995. The dimensions of excellence in programs preparing teachers for urban poverty schools. Peabody Journal of Education vol. 70 no. 2: 24–43. —. 1996. Selecting and preparing culturally competent teachers for urban schools. In Handbook of research on teacher education (2nd edn), ed. J. Sikula, T. Buttery and E. Guyton, 747–60. New York, NY: Macmillan Library Reference. —. 2012. The myth of the “fully qualified” bright young teacher. American Behavioral Scientist vol. 56 no. 7: 926–40. Haberman, M. and T.M. Stinnett. 1973. Teacher education and the new profession of teaching, 71–91. Berkeley, CA: McCutchan Pub. Hattie, J. 2008. Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London, UK: Routledge. Heilig, J.V. and S.J. Jez. 2010. Teach for America: A review of the evidence. Boulder, CO: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit.
Howard, T. and H. Milner. 2013. Teacher preparation for urban schools. In Handbook of urban education, ed. M.H. and K. Lomotey, 199–216. New York, NY: Routledge. Keller, B. 2006. “Residencies” set up to train urban teachers at school sites. Education Week vol. 26 no. 10: 14. Kincheloe, J. and P. McLaren. 2002. Rethinking critical theory and qualitative research. In Ethnography and schools: Qualitative approaches to the study of education, ed. Y. Zou and E. Trueba, 87– 138. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. Kopp, W. 2008. Building the movement to end educational inequity. The Phi Delta Kappan vol. 89 no. 10: 734–36. Matsko, K. and K. Hammerness. 2013. Unpacking the “urban” in urban teacher education: Making a case for context-specific preparation. Journal of Teacher Education online. doi: 10.1177/0022487113511645 Ministry of Education. 2010a. Decile ratings. http://www.minedu. govt.nz/NZEducation/EducationPolicies/Schools/SchoolOperations/Re sourcing/ResourcingHandbook/Chapter1/DecileRatings.aspx —. 2010b. NCEA attainment. http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/ statistics/schooling/ncea-attainment/ncea-achievement-data-roll-based/ ncea-attainment Oakes, J. 1992. Can tracking research inform practice? Technical, normative, and political considerations. Educational Researcher vol. 21 no. 4: 12–21. OECD. 2011. Doing better for families: New Zealand. OECD Publishing. doi: 10.1787/9789264098732-en. Rist, R. 2000. Student social class and teacher expectations: The selffulfilling prophecy in ghetto education. Harvard Educational Review vol. 70 no. 3: 257–301. doi: 60965246 Sleeter, C.E. and H.R. Milner. 2011. Researching successful efforts in teacher education to diversify teachers. In Studying diversity in teacher education, ed. A. Ball and C. Tyson, 81–103. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Statistics New Zealand. 2008. National ethnic population projections: 2006 (base)–2026 update. http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/ population/estimates_and_projections/NationalEthnicPopulationProjec tions_HOTP2006-26.aspx —. 2011. National population estimates: December 2010 quarter. http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/population/estimates_ and_projections/NationalPopulationEstimates_HOTPDec10qtr.aspx
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Thrupp, M. 2009. High visibility. New Zealand Education Review vol. 14 no. 5: 6–7. Wilkins, C. 2001. Student teachers and attitudes towards “race”: The role of citizenship education in addressing racism through the curriculum. Westminster Studies in Education vol. 24 no. 1: 7–21. doi: 10.1080/713606529 The author: Jennifer Tatebe is a doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland. She is a former secondary school teacher with experience teaching in England and Canada. Her research interests focus on poverty, inequity, and teacher education with emphasis on the preparation of teachers for teaching diverse students in disadvantaged school settings.
CHAPTER NINE CRITICALLY CHRISTIAN? MY EPISTEMOLOGICAL AND SPIRITUAL JOURNEY AS A SEXUALITY RESEARCHER TEGUH WIJAYA MULYA
In this chapter Teguh Wijaya Mulya narrates his personal journey(s)— academic and spiritual—in the first year of his doctoral study. He details the excitement and struggles in embracing poststructuralism and queer theory to comprehend the knowledge in the field of sexuality. Unexpectedly, these theoretical frameworks further excavated the epistemological foundations of his Christian faith. How can queer theory be “reconciled” with Christianity? As Teguh embarks on this adventure, he invites other doctoral students to travel with him, particularly those who find that PhD is a life-changing journey in which their basic beliefs are turned upside-down. I’ve come to change everything, turn everything rightside up… Do you think I came to smooth things over and make everything nice? Not so. I’ve come to disrupt and confront! —Jesus Christ (Luke 12: 51–53. The Message Bible, Peterson 2005, 1432)
Introduction I came to New Zealand for doctoral study in 2011 on a government scholarship. I wished to study sexuality education and accumulate knowledge that would be useful for my country—Indonesia. It was as though I simply wanted to read as many books as possible, and bring this neat pile of knowledge home with me. However, after one year as a doctoral student I have realised that instead of being stacked nicely awaiting transportation home, my knowledge has been disrupted and complicated—old books have been thrown away, new books cannot fit the current categorisations, and stacks of books have collapsed.
The first part of this chapter provides a glimpse of my pre-New Zealand background, particularly the national and religious discourses which shaped my sexual subjectivity. Then I discuss my navigation in the field of sexuality study, and how it affects my ontological and epistemological assumptions. Lastly, I share my spiritual journey as I try to figure out how my faith can walk side-by-side with my critical adventure. I hope my narrative brings simplicity and complexity, hope and despair (temporary), answers and (further) questions to my readers.
Sexuality in Indonesia Sexuality is an intriguing mystery for me. I recall the so-called “naughty boys” group in my junior high-school class talking about pornography and masturbation during break-time. I tried to listen to their talk, while carefully staying away. I was always fascinated by the excitement of the strange sexual feelings I began to have. But there was no space for me—a high-achieving student, church minister’s son, almost always teacher’s pet—to talk and ask questions about sexuality. Silence is the historical stance for approaching youth sexuality in Indonesia, and it is still dominant now (Parker 2009). For instance, Indonesian parents generally do not discuss sexuality with their children (Smith-Hefner 2006; Utomo and McDonald 2009). Sexuality education is absent from the national curriculum. The word “sex” is formally mentioned only in a single lesson under biology, namely “reproductive physiology” (e.g., Parker, 2009; Smith-Hefner, 2006). The government has explicitly rejected calls to incorporate sexuality education into the Indonesian educational system. In 2010, the Minister of Education, Muhammad Nuh stated: In my view, sex education is not needed at school. In terms of sex, all societies have their own knowledge naturally without being taught by anyone. So I disagree with the suggestion of sex education at school. (Burhani 2010, ¶ 2, 6)
Government-based sexuality education programmes available for youth are organised by Badan Kependudukan dan Keluarga Berencana Nasional (BKKBN, or National Board of Population and Family Planning) under the Ministry of Health. Although not specifically targeting youth, BKKBN has a Directorate of Youth Resilience Development (Direktorat Bina Ketahanan Remaja) which coordinates reproductive health campaigns for youth (Direktorat Bina Ketahanan Remaja, 2011). These campaigns largely perpetuate a prohibitive discourse by reiterating “danger and
control” themes such as unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and HIV/AIDS. In these programmes, youth are encouraged to abstain completely from sex (see BKKBN Jawa Timur 2009), because sex is only for married (heterosexual) couples. In Indonesia, sexual activity is expected to be located only within legally recognised marriage. Any sexual practices outside of wedlock are socially sanctioned as immoral, dangerous, entailing health risks, and needing to be strictly controlled by the state. For instance, when a nonmarried heterosexual couple is suspected of engaging in consensual sexual activity, either in their own home, student boarding house, motel, or elsewhere, the neighbours or police can conduct mass raids to stop the activity (see Padang 2012; Wibisono 2012). There are also media reports of random police inspections at internet cafes and schools to check whether youths possess condoms in their schoolbags, or pornographic material in their laptops, mobile phones, or other gadgets. Furthermore, these negative portrayals of sexuality are imbued with divine endorsement through religious institutions. Hard-line Islamic groups such as Front Pembela Islam (Front of Islamic Defenders), Majelis Ulama Indonesia (Indonesian Council of Ulama), and Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (Party of Welfare and Justice) stand behind political and social action enforcing sexual norms (Parker 2009). They successfully prevented Lady Gaga’s 2012 concert in Jakarta by arguing that her performances oppose Indonesian religious values (Liu 2012); cancelled the 2010 ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Intersex Association) Congress in Surabaya (Akbar 2010); and legitimated the long-debated 2008 Anti-pornography Bill (Parker 2009), among other actions. Christian groups (approximately 8.7% of Indonesia’s population) (Ministry of Religious Affairs 2005), are not involved in overt political action as such, but they play a role as disciplinary agents by continuously portraying youth sexuality as sinful and by promoting sexual abstinence. Prominent in this field is Dr Andik Wijaya, who conducts seminars, workshops, counselling, and youth programmes to promote heteronormativity and sexual-abstinence-until-marriage among Indonesian Christians (Yada Institute 2011). In my 25-year Christian journey, after being deeply involved in five churches in three different cities, I conducted research and interviewed various Christian leaders. I found—regardless of denomination— there is almost no alternative to these discourses. This is the context in which my understanding of sexuality developed. I chose to stay silent, stay abstinent, stay normal. Nevertheless, my interest in this mysterious subject grew. Eventually, I decided to focus on sexuality for my doctoral study.
Epistemological turn: From firm foundation to shaky foundation The first few months of my doctoral study were a honeymoon period. I moved to a beautiful new country. I began a new and very interesting field of study with a new theoretical approach. I celebrated my access to thousands of books and journals by borrowing and reading as many as I could. This was a luxury compared to my access to literature in Indonesia. I fell in love with the various critical theories I read—completely new territory for someone previously educated and employed in traditional mainstream psychology. I was drawn into a new ontological and epistemological universe. I was particularly fascinated by Michel Foucault’s works on power, resistance, and subjectivity. For Foucault, power is relational, impersonal, and pervasive. It does not merely constrain individuals, but is also productive and enabling (1978). Power operates through various invisible strategies and systems of examination, surveillance, discipline, training, and correction; in order to govern and normalise the subject (Foucault 1979). Subjectivity is continually constituted within the omnipresent nexus of power relations. Power categorizes the subjects, attaches to them a certain identity, and imposes “laws of truth” in which the subject must recognize and be recognized by others (Foucault 1982). To maintain one’s existence as socially intelligible, the subject must engage in continual acts of re-enacting, reproducing, and reiterating norms so that they congeal and appear commonsensical—what Butler (1990) called “performativity”. However, although the process of subjection inevitably involves subjugation to norms, the subject is also a social agent who is able to reflect on discursive practices operating upon them, and therefore is capable of resistance (Weedon 1987). In this continuous process of becoming, the subject can exercise various agentic disruptions to norms by cultivating new forms of subjectivity (Foucault 1982, 1985, 1986). While reading these works, I kept thinking of how I became myself; especially how I became a sexual and religious subject within various religious, cultural, and academic discourses operating upon me. I was also captivated by queer theory, which takes Foucauldian poststructuralist work to a radical stage. It problematises the taken-forgranted, the normative, the familiar knowledges and practices such as sexual categories, identities, and assumptions (Hennessy 1994; Jagose 1996; Wittig, 1992). The queer literature I read demonstrated that the notion of sexual identity is discursively constructed, repeated performatively (Butler 1990), and fractured and inconsistent (Sedgwick 1991). It seeks to
disrupt, transgress, and denaturalise normative performances which constitute our commonsense (Jagose 1996; Sullivan 2003). I then started to question my rationality, my commonsense, and my assumptions. Previously—within mainstream psychology—I believed knowledge to be an objective reflection of reality and that the foundation of truth is rationality. Social realities could be reduced into quantifiable and controllable variables which were related to each other mechanistically. Thus, the purpose of research was to find the universal principles/mechanisms governing these variables. However, once I engaged with poststructuralist and queer literature, I realised that social reality could be understood differently. It is messy, and loaded with conflicting forces. Knowledge, as a historical and political product, is constructed through discourses, and often generates oppressive actions. There is no discourse-free truth. Knowledge is shaky. Thus, my research aims to problematise these social constructions. How did I choose Foucault and queer theory as my theoretical framework? When I sought the answer to this question, I found that the question itself is not really correct. I did not independently “choose” my theoretical framework; rather my decision is entangled in certain discursivities. I am not an autonomous researcher freely determining my research approach. I am constrained and (enabled) by discourses available to me within my relationships with literatures, school, supervisors, and fellow students. Just as my “choice” to be a Christian is not simply a rational decision independent of my context (a Chinese-descendant Indonesian; born in the 1980s; with parents who converted to Christianity and then entered the ministry; who went to a Christian-majority secular school). With this awareness, I am unable to claim simple and individualistic reasons to explain why I chose Foucault and queer theory. I related to these theories and their explanative power enticed me; I took them on board. I take this theoretical framework to critically read Indonesian sexuality literatures. I have located two groups of research in my exploration in this field. The first mainly considers health concerns as the principal axis of researching youth sexuality, and thus, positions sexuality education as a means to control risks. I find these studies perpetuate normative discourses of youth sexuality; as they are based on (and try to prove) some normative assumptions. The discourse of danger is assumed as the only important focus for youth sexuality; consequently, the purpose of study is merely to prevent or manage health risks (for instance, see Diarsvitri et al. 2011; Utomo and McDonald 2009). Other studies assume that youth are vulnerable, irresponsible, and unable to make informed decisions and
therefore, they need to be protected through education. These studies mainly report sexuality education initiatives in terms of their effectiveness in preventing STIs, HIV/AIDS, and unwanted pregnancy (Diarsvitri and Dwisetyani 2011; Pohan et al. 2011). The second, less explored, research area focuses on critically challenging dominant understandings about youth and sexuality in Indonesia. These studies demonstrate that Indonesian sexual norms are enmeshed in complex interplays of religious discourses (Bennett 2005b; Kholifah 2005), patriarchal culture (Beazley 2008; Parker 2009), postcolonialism (Butt and Munro 2007), racism (Munro 2012), heteronormativity (e.g., Blackwood 2008; Boellstorff 2007; Wright Webster 2008), and dominated by adult-perspective knowledge (e.g., Harding 2008; Holzner and Oetomo 2004; Smith-Hefner 2006). This research area also reveals how Indonesian youth engage with and negotiate these normative sexual discourses, and constitute their subjectivities in complex and multiple ways. Some studies identify various strategies of negotiation and resistance of young Indonesian women, such as practising clandestine courtship (Bennett 2005a), refusing to wear hijab (Parker 2009), giving alternative meanings to their experiences of pregnancy (Butt and Munro 2007), and creating spaces to make autonomous decisions regarding their bodies and sexualities (Kholifah 2005). My study aims to contribute, extend, and complicate knowledge in this second area of research. These studies elucidate sexual subjectivities of various Indonesian youth, however, no study to date has narrated Indonesian Christian youth’s engagement with normative sexual discourses and how their engagement can inform sexuality education theory and practices. As a unique group with certain ontological beliefs, historicity, and social locations, Indonesian Christian communities develop their own ways of sense-making, along with their norms and resistance strategies. It is these unexplored narratives that I am interested in investigating. For my PhD project I am studying the community I love, the community in which I have always invested my time and energy, which shaped who I am and who I want to be. And, even better, I am studying this community with a theoretical framework that really excites me. However, as the honeymoon euphoria slowly fades and I come back to the reality of my daily life, I realise there is something standing in my way and it is no small thing. The more I read poststructuralist and queer texts, the more I feel related to them: they make sense to me. But at the same time, I have find my (current version of) Christian faith is no longer relevant.
Spiritual turn: Wrestling with (the queer) God As an Indonesian-raised Christian I was exposed to only one way-ofbeing Christian. This way-of-being was sustained by the inscription of certain interpretations of the Bible on my everyday religious practices. I was often told: “This is the truth, it comes from God himself, accept it. It is coherent, sacred, and higher than any human knowledge.” How, then, did this certainty face the radical deconstructive nature of queer theory? I explored the intersection of queer theory and Christianity. Within a few internet searches, I found myself downloading articles and books under new tantalising keywords: “queer theology”. Queer theologians advocate opposition toward hegemonic knowledge, based on the belief that theology is basically queer. As noted by Loughlin (2008), queer theology’s attempts to disrupt mainstream theology are not new; all theologies are always strange, marginalised, and therefore potentially transgress mainstream human ideology as they always refuse to conform “to the pattern of this world” (Romans 12:2). Theology’s paradoxical approach to theorise the incomprehensible mystery of God is also similar to queer enthusiasm for generating, while simultaneously problematizing, knowledge (Loughlin 2008). This questioning of norms is identified by Althaus-Reid and Isherwood (2007) as the principal characteristic of queer theology. For instance, queer theologians deconstructed the normative image of (male, asexual) Jesus that was created by powerful-decent-white-straight-male theologians (Goss 1993; Jantzen 2001) and offered alternative images such as a transvestite Jesus (Liew 2009). They did it by stripping off heteronormative and other normative ways of thinking from theology (Althaus-Reid 2000, 2003). In this endeavour, various queer theologians have reframed their reading of the Bible, and queered some Christian doctrines such as sin, redemption, fidelity and marriage, bisexuality, and sex work. As I did with studies on Indonesian sexuality, I took my queer theological framework to examine recent studies in sexuality and Christianity. Again, I found two major—but loosely categorised—groups. The first is studies which describe sexual experiences of Christian youth as a generalised group and how churches respond to sexuality. There are studies reporting church youth’s sexual attitudes (e.g., Eriksson et al. 2011), sexual behaviour (Crawford et al. 2011; Rosenbaum and Weathersbee 2011), and variables related to them (Luquis, Brelsford and Rojas-Guyler 2011). Other studies address church responses to youth sexuality issues, such as incorporating sexual health in premarital counselling (Aholou, Gale, and Slater 2011), initiating church-based
sexuality education (Freedman-Doan et al. 2011; Wilner 2011), and discussing obstacles perceived by church leaders (Eriksson et al. 2010). These studies show that sexuality is intimately connected to Christian faith practices. Christian communities have been concerned with, dealt with, and established, strong discourses around sexuality: the discourse of sin and morality, and the discourse of abstinence-only-until-marriage (e.g., Edger 2010; Eriksson et al. 2011; Wijaya Mulya 2010). In my study, I am keen to explore how these discourses are contextualised, negotiated, and resisted among Indonesian Christian youth. The second group of studies explores the experiences of marginalised Christians, such as—but not limited to—gay and lesbian Christians. Yip (2010) categorises studies in this area into several themes: struggle to negotiate religious and sexual/gender identity (e.g., Maher 2006; Yip 1999), unique ways of believing and practising Christian faith (Gross and Yip 2010; Yip 2002), the intersectionality of sexual identity with broader social networks (Ferfolja 2005; Yip 1997b), and spiritual experience outside the traditional religious and spiritual space (Thumma and Gray 2005). Some studies document diverse church responses to homosexuality, such as accepting, supporting, rejecting, punishing, and so on (e.g., Holben 2000; Kirkley and Getz 2007). There are also homosexuality studies in pedagogical situations, in which sexual diversity and Christianity interact. These studies uncover heteronormativity’s salience at the classroom level. For instance, in the US context Todd and Coholic (2007) and Deeb-Sossa and Kane (2007) reported their struggles in challenging heterosexism in their classes. In my study, I draw on the knowledge produced by these studies as a starting point; although I am cautious of the difference in theoretical, social, and cultural contexts between these studies and my own. I identify basic attributes shared by these two groups of research: both attempt to claim a more accurate description or explanation of sexual experiences of groups of Christian youth, either generalised or marginalised. Yip (1997a) observed that one of the strategies employed by his participants is reinterpretation of biblical scriptures using historical– critical hermeneutics and socio-cultural relativity, claiming gay interpretative appropriation of biblical doctrines is more historically accurate, exegetically sound, and culturally relevant than their churches’ interpretations. Correspondingly, Todd and Coholic (2007) and DeebSossa and Kane (2007) also proposed their gay-affirming biblical interpretation to their students as if their interpretation is more accurate, objective, true, and less oppressive. Drawing on Martin’s (2006) and Kumashiro’s (2002) works, I argue that this strategy is modernist and as
oppressive as the very oppression they attempt to challenge. I position my study in opposition to both the above approaches, desiring a queerer stance—a more suspicious, interrogative, and disruptive problematisation of dominant knowledge (Hennessy 1994; Jagose 1996; Jakobsen 1998; Sullivan 2003). I seek to problematise and complicate the discourses of sexuality, Christianity, and education. Examples of this approach are in David Nixon’s works (2003, 2008; Nixon and East 2010). Using narratives from queer trainee teachers to disrupt dominant theological understanding about Jesus, he eloquently revealed how Jesus might be considered a fluid example of queer resistance (2003). In another publication, Nixon and East (2010) reflected on their experience as a researcher and an educator, and demonstrate how their subjectivities are challenged and made uncomfortable by the discourse of sexuality and Christian faith. These works inspire me to engage with and generate further alternative views particularly by employing the disruptive potential of the queer theology framework. While “reconciling” Christianity and the queer framework for my study, in contrast, I still struggle to reconcile them in my personal and church life. Applying queer theologian thoughts to my conservative Christian beliefs resulted in an endless process of redefining my religious subjectivity. Is itt true that there is no single way to grasp Christian ‘truth’? Two texts convinced me that the answer is yes. The first is James Smith’s (2006) Who’s afraid of postmodernism?. Here he discusses the works of three French philosophers—Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault—and demonstrates how Derridean insights of the interpretation-mediated experience, Lyotardian objection of the myth of rationality, and Foucauldian understanding of knowledge–power relationships are allies for contemporary Christians in refusing modernist claims on a single biblical truth. Smith argues that Christianity at this time is deeply infiltrated by a modernist obsession with rationality and certainty, and that the contemporary practice of Christian faith must redeem Christianity from those obsessions. In the same vein, Dale Martin (2006) criticizes a myth of textual agency in which many Christians believe that the Bible “speaks” and our task is to just “listen”. Informed by Derridean reading, he argues that no text is able to speak for itself; agency belongs to the human interpreter. Martin demonstrates how historical criticism never fulfils its promise because historians always disagree with each other. He also tackles the fear that the postmodern stance of Bible reading will result in unethical reading and/or interpretational anarchy by asserting Foucauldian existential aesthetics and eloquently promoting historical evidence that
holocaust, slavery, genocide, racism, and other kinds of violence are often performed by fundamentalists, not postmodern religious groups. I embraced both Smith’s and Martin’s thoughts, and happily embarked on my new spiritual journey—a transgressive, disruptive, queer journey, but I am still actively involved in an Indonesian church (in New Zealand) where the dominant operating discourses are quite similar to my old version of Christian faith: single-absolute-biblical truth. I was banned from teaching Sunday school as I am accused of questioning the Bible’s authority. I was investigated by the pastor and elder who wanted me to repent and return to my old version of Christianity. I have learned that there are uncomfortable consequences for transgressing dominant discourses. Another challenging task concerned the meaning of life. Trying to follow my queer and poststructuralist thinking, I often felt trapped in a sense of nihilism. At times a strong sense of meaninglessness overwhelmed me. Nevertheless, I decided not to give up. I wrestled with these thoughts; brought them to bed, to church, to my writing, to my social interactions. I talked to other Christians who read critical theories (who are not easy to find). As I expected, there is no easy answer—it is a neverending journey. While I am learning, playing, and enjoying this journey; my ethical commitment is to identify, challenge, disrupt, and hopefully change some of its oppressive rules. That is what Jesus did. He fed the hungry, healed the sick, liberated the oppressed, and challenged dominant discourses. He came to the world to disrupt and confront!
Ending: The cost of (queer) discipleship At the end of my first year, I feel that I have advanced academically, intellectually, and spiritually. When I look back over my diary and writings, I found myself creating new binaries: two groups of sexuality study, mainstream psychological approach vs critical studies; single-truthstyle Christianity vs postmodern biblical reading; and uncritical me vs queer me. I have ignored the complexity within these categories. I wrongly assumed that my journey was as simple as moving from A to B, without acknowledging A and B’s varied situations. Should I reject these binaries now? And dismiss this first-year journey because it is uncritical? No. I believe that being an ardent disciple of a queer version of Jesus does not mean living in a binary-free world. Rather, it is an attitude, a commitment, a willingness and a readiness, to continuously be dismantled, challenged, and disrupted; while at the same time trying very hard to stand on this shaky foundation. To be queer I must
keep in mind that everything “would have to be left permanently open, permanently contested, permanently contingent” (Butler 1994, 8).
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The author: Teguh Wijaya Mulya is a doctoral student at the University of Auckland. He is currently a lecturer in the Faculty of Psychology, the University of Surabaya, Indonesia. He specialises in research in the areas of sexuality, gender, and religion. His current work is inspired by poststructuralism, queer theory, and queer theology.
CHAPTER TEN METAPHORS AND MANTRAS: RESPONDING TO THE PERSONAL CHALLENGES OF WRITING A THEORETICAL THESIS TANYA WENDT SAMU
Tanya Wendt Samu explains how and why she used an eclectic collection of metaphors to help navigate the unfamiliar waters of theoretical research. Theoretical research can be particularly challenging for a person who is more comfortable “in the world of real things” rather than the world of abstraction and esotericism. Her reflective examination provides a rationale for how and why such studies are a contribution to critical research, and insights into how the process of sense making (via personalised metaphors) can enable one to find one’s own voice and identity as a researcher. I will not always succeed—I may have to fail in order to learn what I need, in order to succeed
I had less than six months to go before my thesis submission deadline. I had what seemed to me to be a significant body of work—seven substantial draft chapters (in terms of the word count), which I had already used to publish two peer-reviewed book chapters and three peer-reviewed journal articles. My supervisor was pleased with how the five stand-alone analyses were shaping up, but even after two iterative cycles of review and feedback of the draft thesis as a whole, he kept drawing my attention to aspects of my theoretical framework, pointing out the weaknesses (such as a lack of coherence) and warning how these affected my overall argument. I had been wrestling with the theoretical framework for a while— “getting it right” had been a persistent challenge for me. I was chipping and tapping away, gaining incremental insights and seeing the very gradual emergence of a sense of ownership over parts of the framework I was building—but not all of it. As a consequence I would regularly
struggle on a personal level with my self-efficacy to complete the thesis successfully. I went back to work on the theoretical framework one last time, reading more critically, thinking more deeply, stretching even more intellectually. As my capacities developed and increased, I began to appreciate the enormity, and the complexity, of the task I had set for myself when I decided, four years ago at the beginning of my doctoral journey, to undertake a theoretical thesis. Thankfully, I experienced a major turning point due to a handful of influential and original thinkers from disparate fields (such as management studies) whose ideas about research and theory development provided me with much-needed aerial distance. Their ideas enabled me to figure out not only how the framework needed to change, but also why. This had rather huge implications for the large body of work I had already completed in terms of amendments and changes in orientation—with four months to go before submission deadline…. In this chapter I will explain how and why I used metaphors to help make sense of the profound educative encounter (Martin 2011) that has been my thesis. I explain my reasons for choosing to conduct a theoretical thesis, incorporating a description of my research problem and questions. This provides a backdrop for the main concern of the chapter: when esotericism appears to prevent scholarship from “guiding or even informing…practice…because no one except a small circle of scholars can understand what is being said” (Martin 2000, 33). I then illustrate my response to the effects of this challenge in finding and applying metaphors to: (i) make sense of the issues and concerns; and (ii) strengthen my capacities for meaningful engagement with this level (or is it depth?) of scholarship.
Metaphors and meaning-making Autoethnography is a qualitative research method in which the researcher is both object of study and subject of study. The data gathered is primarily autobiographical in nature, socially constructed in ways that provide “a window through which the external world is understood” (Ngunjiri, Hernandez, and Chang 2010, 3). Examples include diary and journal entries. Cooper (1991, 101) identifies other forms and strategies of autobiographic writing, including metaphors. She describes metaphors as “condensed telling” and explains how producing metaphors in writing for and about self enables “new ways of viewing the self within the changing process of one’s life”.
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Metaphors can generate alternative perspectives, in turn opening up possibilities for new explanations and innovations in action. Although the phenomena I chose to inquire into were familiar, the theories and theorists that I selected for use (mainly from philosophy and social theory) were not. Over time, the intellectual demands grew and I experienced periods of great uncertainty and bewilderment. I used metaphors to try and make sense of these steep learning curves, searching for what I needed to move beyond them. In order to provide some insight into the nature of the personal tensions and another view of (my) self, I have located several mantras within this chapter. A mantra in this instance is a motivating word or phrase repeated over and over to oneself during the last stretch of a challenging, personal experience.
Education as encounter I recognise that the analysis of one’s own experiences in research is fraught with issues about legitimacy, and validity. Some issues relate to what Grumet (1991) describes as the politics of personal knowledge. I have strengthened my approach by using Jane Roland Martin’s rigorous conception of experience (2011). Martin’s theory of education as encounter “holds that education only occurs when there is an encounter between an individual and a culture in which one or more of the individual’s capacities and one or more items of a culture’s stock become yoked together”(Martin 2011, 16–17). She argues that both parties undergo change and that “individual learning and cultural transmission are the two sides of a single coin” (Martin 2013, 110). By conceiving education in broad terms, different types of experiences can result in: (i) gains (or losses) in cultural stock on the part of an individual; and (ii) changes in their capacities. When such changes happen to individuals, the culture changes as well, no matter how small those might be. Martin calls experiences that lead to such change (for individuals, for the culture) as encounters. I have framed the learning experiences related to my thesis, as an education encounter, and the primary “tools” of analysis (or sense making) are specific metaphors. I see my experience of trying to produce a theoretical thesis as an education encounter. I won’t just be uncomfortable— I will be challenged
Apparently it’s about building cathedrals not bricks A successfully completed education doctoral thesis is expected to “have theoretical implications” and may even “create the opening for a brand new way of thinking” in its field—but an important differentiating feature of a theoretical thesis is that the researcher begins the study “with the expectation of creating…a new theory” (Rudestam and Newton 2007, 55). Such a research project is preoccupied with the process of theory development the nature of which involves what Henry Mintzberg (2005, 357) describes as “the creation of new theories or at least the significant adaptation of old ones”. From the outset, it is an inductive process through which new insights emerge. It does not rely on the systematic collection and analysis of empirical data, be it qualitative or quantitative. I have a colleague who teaches his postgraduate students to see the outcomes of their research as a brick—an original piece of work to be added to the on-going construction of the wall of new knowledge in their particular field. Minztberg (2005, 362) on the other hand, has this perspective of research that aims to develop new theory: “I admire researchers who try to build cathedrals, not lay a few bricks.” Of course, as Hitt and Smith (2005, 5) state “the development of new major theories is an uncommon event” but the potential benefits of attempts to develop new theory lie in the development of theoretical notions that extend knowledge. The process of theory development, according to Smith and Hitt (2005, 572) is, by and large, “causally ambiguous, involving tacit knowledge and difficult-to-observe processes”. In order to better understand this process within the field of management and organisations, Hitt and Smith (2005, 1, 2) asked several “great minds” and “master scholars” to share insights on the process they used to develop their theories. They identified four separate, yet overlapping, stages (2005, 573–583) noting that some scholars tend to move back and forth between stages as their ideas develop. The first stage is tension, or the dissonance caused when the researcher’s embedded viewpoint is confronted by a contradictory observation. This leads to a search for answers, in order to eliminate the tensions and ambiguities. In the elaboration/research stage, effort focuses on expanding ideas and ways of thinking about the phenomena—in other words, induction and sense-making. Eventually the final stage of proclamation/presentation arrives, which involves presenting a revised or even a new model or theorisation, to relevant audiences. Mintzberg argues that, for the development of new theory, the research methods need to be “simple, direct and straightforward” (2005, 19). I can describe the methods I employed in my doctoral study as simple, direct
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and straightforward. I undertook an extensive review of published and unpublished documents and developed a theoretical framework to provide the lens with which to “study closely” (analyse) and then “speculate” (theorise) in order to obtain new insights. It was the theoretical framework that I wrestled with the most. Although I have held a permanent university senior lecturer position for several years, and meet faculty definitions of research-active, the theoretical underpinnings of much of my teaching and prior research came from sociology of education and critical theory. My move into the incredibly unfamiliar territories of philosophy of education and social theory for the thesis situated me as a bemused cathedral-builder awkwardly holding a strange set of construction tools. I won’t avoid foreign territory—I am willing to be an inquiring stranger
Apparently it’s about pull—not push Despite the “profound intellectual challenge” (Rudestam and Newton 2007) inherent in developing a theoretical thesis, my particular prior knowledge and experiences as an educator have stood me in good stead— for, according to Rudestam and Newton, [i]f you know an area of inquiry inside out and are intimately familiar with the issues and controversies in the field, you have the chance to contribute a new theory. (2007, 27)
As an educator within New Zealand, I have held a number of different roles and responsibilities. First, as a secondary school teacher and textbook writer; then a university tutor and lecturer. I currently teach courses for under-graduate and graduate programmes in Pasifika education issues and diversity in education. I have participated in Ministry of Education (MOE) advisory and reference groups supporting initiatives targeting Pasifika learners and their teachers, and worked on MOE-funded research contracts. I am also a migrant from Samoa, but …my children, nieces and nephews were born and raised in this country. Not surprisingly, I have a vested personal interest in the education of Pacific peoples within Aotearoa New Zealand. (Samu 2010, 1)
My other roles, within the community sphere or private domain (Bullivant 1981) position me within the lived world as a daughter, parent, wife, aunt, sister and church youth leader—roles located within a strong
Samoan extended family network, and a highly organised church community. Please note that this chapter follows Burnett (2012) and uses the term Pasifika to refer to Pacific heritage peoples residing in New Zealand and Pacific to signify peoples in the islands and nations within the Pacific region. Pacific education refers to education in the Pacific while Pasifika education refers to the education and development of Pacific heritage peoples within New Zealand. Pacific/Pasifika will be used where both populations and settings are considered. I will allow perplexity to nudge me—I will be pulled into action
In the first five years of the new millennium, as a consequence of experiences “in the world of real things” (Mintzberg 2005, 365), my attention was drawn to phenomena that I had not noticed or paid much attention to beforehand. I can resonate with Mintzberg’s admonition to emerging researchers to be …pulled by an important concern out there, not pushed by some elegant construct in here. Take your lead from behaviour in practice. And ask the big questions. (2005, 362)
I took my lead from my own behaviour in practice. And from there developed several big philosophical questions, which grew from my concern that terms such as Pacific or Pasifika education mean different things to different people in the context of education in New Zealand. Underscoring such situations are limited and partial understandings of groups constructed by policy as diverse and different, such as Pasifika (see Samu, 2010; Ministry of Education, 2012). The overall effects include the simplification, and even misapprehension, of key dimensions of these communities, which, in turn, results in unarticulated assumptions having undue influence over educators’, policymakers’ and researchers’ perspectives and, more importantly, their subsequent decision-making. This lies at the very heart of the problem I wanted to address in my thesis. But in order to do so, I needed to get through my protracted struggle with “sophisticated thinking” (Snook 1972) and with “abstraction” (Foucault 1972). I now describe and critique the metaphors that I used to make sense and meaning, at critical points in my study.
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An eclectic mix of metaphors These unusual metaphors that I used for sense-making were connected in a somewhat quirky way.
(i) The long exchange I attended an art exhibition, by Linden Simmons. He creates delicate, detailed watercolour paintings of conflict-ridden events from media photos. His art is his effort to make sense of these. He says media reporting “….gives us little time to settle into a long exchange with any particular one happening”. He tries to unravel and understand such events via a long exchange between himself, the image and the copy that comes with the photos. Simmons’ reproduction of media photographs of traumatic events via painting delicate watercolours was how he interacted with the event, the way he tried to unravel and understand it. Implicit in his description of this process is the receptivity within which intuition can operate—“in order that what-is-there may exercise its influence upon the situation” (Noddings 1984, 165). In my thesis I am interacting with terms, concepts and discursive formations that I find deeply embedded in education policies, and certain socio-cultural perspectives. I am interacting, unravelling and trying to make sense of concepts and language. It is like a long exchange between myself and the spaces/places I find them.
(ii) Hare brain and tortoise mind When I began my research, I assumed “real” scholarship had to spring from logic, reason, and systematic thinking. Hunches and strong intuitive feelings, in the absence of an immediate explanation did not seem to have a place. However, I learned from Ninnes and Mehta (2004, x) that …in order to work through a conceptualisation and hence derive understanding and create meaning, we need to operate in two modes. The active mode involves analysing the concept. In the receptive mode, we allow ideas to come upon us, by watching, and listening…by having an intuitive cast of mind.
They learned this from Nel Noddings (1984, 168). She argued that both modes are necessary and important for artists and scholars alike. The active (analytic) and receptive (intuitive) modes have equal weight and value for
Chapter Ten …the acquisition and creation of knowledge. The poet may begin in the intuitive and move to the analytic once his poem has come into being. The scientist often begins in the analytic and moves to the intuitive in order to understand the objects he has created conceptually.
I was also attracted to Claxton’s (1997, 1998) explanation. He uses the phrase “hare brain” to refer to the sort of deliberate, conscious thinking we do when we apply reason and logic to known data. “Tortoise mind” on the other hand, is more playful, leisurely, even dreamy. In this mode we are contemplative or meditative. For example, we can ponder a problem, rather than earnestly trying to solve it, by just bearing it in mind as we watch the world go by (Cleese 2005). Both sets of ideas validate ways of knowing that slow the overall process down; resist rushing and accept efforts to search and unravel in ways that “are hazy or metaphorical” in order to encourage “unselfconscious virtuosity, and real-life ingenuity” (Claxton 1998, 219).
After pondering I came to understand that my own approach to my research involved long and careful conceptual exchanges, the nature of which involved, at times, working mightily on a problem and then leaving it awhile—waiting, drifting, incubating—thereby creating better conditions for the intuitive mode to make a contribution. These were tortoise moments of uncertain reflection, puzzling, wondering…alternating with frenetic, intense, rabbitlike bursts of analytical activity. These metaphors also helped me to construct, “settle in” and get comfortable with my own researcher identity. It is an identity that has helped to bring everyday life (in terms of my work as a practitioner) into close connection with my scholarship, and helped me to develop a voice of my own. Unlike Linden Simmons, I am studying matters which are very familiar to me, matters I have related well to due to my established career in tertiary education. Unlike Linden Simons, however, I did not expect to make significant discoveries behind the familiar discourses selected for analysis. My attempts to understand, develop and apply several analytical lenses resulted in an unanticipated type of learning experience—one much like the long exchange metaphor used by Simmons and which resulted in the productive intellectual benefits of browsing and lingering, that Claxton (1997, 1998) promised. I will not recycle old concepts—I will bring new ideas to life
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Metaphors from oceanic wayfinding In some ways the challenges intensified as I delved deeper into the theorising of thinkers such as Foucault. This time the sense-making metaphors came from the ancient Polynesian navigation practices of my ancestors.
(i) Finding a star path Nainoa Thompson has written about how he learned the ancient skills of oceanic wayfinding from Pius “Mau” Piailug one of the few master navigators left in the world. Mau taught him how to navigate at night, using the stars. If you can identify the stars, and if you have memorized where they come up and go down, you can find your direction. The star path also reads the flight path of birds and the direction of waves. It does everything. It is a mental construct to help you memorize what you need to know to navigate (Thompson, http://www.pbs.org/wayfinders/wayfinding2.html)
The mental construct he was referring to was the star compass and the master navigator’s ability to look up, recognise (by name) and understand the movements of more than 200 specific stars across the night sky. One of the most crucial discoveries on this, my maiden voyage into scholarship, was the work of Jane Roland Martin, well-established in the field of philosophy of education. Her work was recommended by my supervisor. I looked for her books in the library and selected one on the basis of its title and attractive cover. I found myself drawing on her conceptions of culture change and identity to revisit and make sense of a series of challenging work-place experiences that the group of Pasifika academic women I belong to, had endured. For the first time, I found an external, objective detached analytical tool that when applied judiciously, confirmed what I knew intuitively—the professional experiences of the previous years may have been rationalised by Faculty leaders as economically and academically justifiable, but they were in effect, a form of socio-cultural marginalisation. I incorporated this in that part of my thesis that examines the meaning of education to Pacific/Pasifika women. I also learned how philosophy can be harnessed and used in ways to illuminate real life problems and concerns. Martin concerned herself with such matters, because of a commitment to bridge “…the great gulf between those who search for knowledge and those who wish to improve society” (2000, x). This stance made sense to me—because I understood it
in terms of tautua, the Samoan ideal of service which can have such a powerful influence on Samoan women’s behaviour (Fairburn-Dunlop 1996, viii). Martin’s work enabled me to develop greater confidence in my own abilities to learn how to make sense of and to read, complex abstract conceptual systems and theoretical frameworks—much like a star path. I admit to feeling considerable amazement that the ideas of an internationally renowned, white, female philosopher of education living on the eastern seaboard of the United States could resonate so strongly with the professional issues and concerns of a migrant-minority Pacific female emergent academic and scholar half the world away in Aotearoa New Zealand.
(ii) Reading the Waves Mau, as master navigator, taught Nainoa how to navigate during the day, by reading the waves. At sunrise you start to look at the shape of the ocean—the character of the sea. You memorize where the wind is coming from. The wind generates the waves. You analyze the character of the waves. When the sun gets too high, you steer by the waves. And then at sunset we repeat the pattern. The sun goes down; you look at the shape of the waves. Did the wind change? Did the swell pattern change? (Thompson, http://www.pbs.org/wayfinders/ wayfinding2.html)
Nainoa was not as effective learning some forms of wayfinding. After his first successful voyage covering over 7000 km, his teacher Mau told him “Everything you need to see is in the ocean, but it will take you 20 more years to see it.” In effect, his teacher told him that some things take longer to learn. I liken this to my own experience of coming to grips so to speak, with some of the philosophers and social theorists that I turned to. For example, Michel Foucault’s ideas about the archaeology of knowledge, and the influence of his ideas on discourse and discourse analysis—ideas very different in nature and presentation to Martin’s. I was attracted to these ideas by the interpretation of his work by others (such as Hall 2001; and Alba-Juez 2009)—however, I found Foucault’s ideas a challenge to engage with directly. As I persevered, there were small, but highly significant, glimmers of insight—enough to alter the course before me and bring it all into sharper, more precise focus. Foucault’s work, for me, is like learning to read the ocean waves—a far more complex process, requiring time and perseverance.
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After pondering I did not, at first, have the intellectual constructs needed to process, and develop an understanding of the ideas of Martin, Foucault and other theorists, let alone the ability to develop and apply them within a coherent overarching framework. The wayfinding metaphors helped me to understand that, while at times my voyage through concepts and ideas seemed haphazard, it was still part of a purposeful process. I was not adrift—I was still on course. These metaphors were also another important contribution to seeing my self within the research, as a navigator-in-themaking, crafting an explicit and unique presence in terms of visibility and voice. I will not be a complacent follower—I am learning to forge my own path
Overall conclusions Steinem (2000) has criticised scholars who coat their work by using “…arcane language that only insiders understand” (xiii, xiv). She said physicians: …have good reason to use specialised words, yet we ask them to explain in terms we can understand, and to empower us to make our own decisions. Whether we are academics, or those who desperately need academia’s research and wisdom, why should we settle for anything less? (Steinhem 2000, xiv)
Thankfully my research exposed me to scholars such as Jane Roland Martin, whose writings exhibit the ability to engage intellect and connect experience with the explicit purpose of making a difference over and beyond the ivory towers of academia. I have learned that esotericism is not a pre-requisite of scholarly success. Even more importantly, I learned that when I tried to think in terms and ways that made sense to me, I was doing so as a practitioner—and not as a trained or even fledgling philosopher of education or sociologist of education. I am neither. But in the earlier stages of my doctoral journey, I thought I had to become one or the other in order to successfully carry out this work. I won’t play the game—instead I will change it
I entered the doctoral experience without years of formal study in education theory—instead, I brought years of professional experience
from the secondary and then tertiary education sectors. The use of metaphors was an important strategy, because, through the application of metaphors I clarified who and what I was as scholar—a practitioner first and foremost, committed to the kind of critical reflection and thoughtful action intended to change the world (Freire 1970). As a consequence, I arrived at this reassuring insight: yes I needed to know and critique the ideas of the selected philosophers and theorists, but the reason was not in order to build an academic and scholarly platform in education philosophy or social theory. Rather, the purpose was to discover new insights that will influence those who make decisions about those areas of practice that I have a vested interest in—such as teacher education; the provision of professional learning and development programmes; education policy development and education research. In other words, I was using ideas from different theoretical contexts to help cast light on some very elusive, opaque issues that policy-makers and educators either cannot “see” for themselves, or even worse, have misapprehended. These ideas helped my efforts to illuminate key issues, and expand thinking and theorising in the very young field or discipline that is Pasifika education.
A postscript Each contributor to this collection was asked to explain how and why their research was critical. I will demonstrate by bringing together the mantras, carefully placed throughout this proclamation/presentation of my work. x x x x
I won’t play the game—instead I will change it I won’t just be uncomfortable—I will be challenged I will allow perplexity to nudge me—I will be pulled into action I will not be a complacent follower, or conformist—I am learning to forge my own path x I will not always succeed—I may have to fail in order to learn what I need, in order to succeed x I will not recycle old concepts—I will bring new ideas to life
Is this not evidence of a commitment to transformation and change? The change this research is committed to is equity. I am convinced that, at times, the dissonance I experience (which eventually leads to the search for insights and the elaboration of thinking) is a consequence of marginality. Marginal positioning is not necessarily negative—it can
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provide a perspectival advantage. It allows for wide-angle vision that a central, dominant paradigm position cannot (Ladson-Billings 2000). It is inevitable that insights that coming from such positioning will be different. Mintzberg (2005, 369) advises researchers not to fear difference, because: In research, we have enough of people who see things as most everyone does; we desperately need ones prepared to step back and see the obvious as no-one else has.
This statement captures the essence of the reason why I embarked on the strange and unfamiliar experience of writing a theoretical thesis.
References Alba-Juez, L., 2009. Perspectives on discourse analysis. Theory and practice. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars. Bullivant, B. 1981. Race, ethnicity and curriculum. Melbourne, VIC: Macmillan. Burnett, G. 2012. Research paradigm choices made by postgraduate students with Pacific education research interests in New Zealand. Higher Education Research & Development vol. 31 no. 4: 479–492. Claxton, G.L. 1997. Hare brain, tortoise mind: Why intelligence increases when you think less. London, UK: Fourth Estate. —. 1998. Investigating human intuition: Knowing without knowing why. The Psychologist May: 217–19. Cleese, J. 2005. Hare brain, tortoise mind: An excellent combination. Edutopia, December. http://www.edutopia.org/creativity-intelligencejohn-cleese. Cooper, J. 1991. Telling our own stories. In Stories lives tell, ed. C. Witherell and N. Noddings, 96–112. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Foucault, M. 1972. The archaeology of knowledge, English trans. A.M. Sheridan Smith. London: Routledge [first published in Routledge Classics, 2002 by Routledge]. Freire, P. 1970. Pedagogy of the oppressed. London, UK: Penguin Books. Grumet, M. 1991. The politics of personal knowledge. In Stories lives tell, ed. C. Witherell and N. Noddings, 67–77. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Hall, S. 2001. Foucault: Power, knowledge and discourse. In Discourse, theory and practice: A reader, ed. M. Wetherell, S. Taylor and S.Y. Bates, 72–81. London, UK: Sage.
Hitt, M.A. and Smith, K.G. 2005. Epilogue: Learning to develop theory from the masters. In Great minds in management: The Process of theory development, ed. K.G. Smith and M.A. Hitt, 572–88. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Ladson-Billings, G. 2000. Racialised discourses and ethnic epistemologies. In Handbook of qualitative research, ed. N.K. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln, 257–77. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Martin, J.R. 2000. Coming of age in Academe: Rekindling women’s hopes and reforming the academy. New York, NY: Routledge. —. 2011. Education reconfigured: Culture, encounter and change. New York, NY: Routledge. Ministry of Education. 2012. The Pasifika Education Plan 2013–2017. http://www.minedu.govt.nz/NZEducation/EducationPolicies/PasifikaE ducation/PasifikaEducationPlan2013.aspx Mintzberg, H. 2005. Developing theory about the development of theory. In Great minds in management: The process of theory development, ed. K.G. Smith and M.A. Hitt, 355–72. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Ngunjiri, F.W., K. Hernandez, and H. Chang. 2010. Living autoethnography: Connecting life and research. Journal of Research Practice vol. 6 no. 1. Canada: AUT Press. Ninnes, P. and Mehta, S. eds. 2004. Re-Imagining comparative education: Postfoundational ideas and applications for critical times. New York, NY: Routledge. Noddings, N. 1984. Caring: A feminine approach to ethics and moral education. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Rudestam, K.E. and R.R. Newton. 2007. Surviving your dissertation: A comprehensive guide to content and process. 3rd edn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Samu, T.W. 2010. Pasifika Education: An oceanic perspective. Pacific research in education: New directions. MAI Review, no. 10. www.review.mai.ac.nz/index.php/MR/issue/view/15 Smith, K.G. and M.A. Hitt. 2005. Introduction: The process of developing management theory. In Great minds in management: The process of theory development, ed. K.G. Smith and M.A. Hitt, 1–8. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Snook, I.A. 1972. Indoctrination and education. London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Steinem, G. 2000. Foreword. Coming of Age in Academe: Rekindling Women’s Hopes for Reforming the Academy, ix–xvii. New York, NY: Routledge.
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Thompson, N. 2012. Non-instrumental navigation. Wayfinders: A Pacific Odyssey. http://www.pbs.org/wayfinders/wayfinding2.html The author: Like many of her colleagues, Tanya Wendt Samu has combined full-time employment in teacher education with doctoral study. Her areas of professional experience over the past twenty years include research and teaching in Pasifika education and more recently, issues of diversity in education. This tended to be shaped by sociological perspectives of education, until she began her doctoral studies. Her move towards philosophy and social theory illustrates that, despite the inherent challenges, one’s theoretical orientations are not necessarily set in concrete—shifts can happen, and can lead to new, deepened knowledge and critical scholarship.
CHAPTER ELEVEN TANTALISING THEORY: COMMENTARY ROGER DALE
This set of papers have, in common, detailed accounts of personal pursuits of, and journeys to and through, the place, identification and production of theory in doctoral theses. They describe different kinds of journey and different points on the journey. Tanya Wendt Samu is essentially concerned with what we might call the ‘retro-fitting’ of theoretical coherence to a body of work developed over an extended period and covering quite different sets of issues. In her account of what is the most “conventional” of the four papers in this section, Jennifer Tatebe describes how a successful journey eventually emerged through the discovery of the work of the political theorist, Nancy Fraser, whose work enabled her to wring considerable extra coherence and value from her study of what amounted to stigmatization of low-decile schools. By contrast, Teguh Wijaya Mulya and Alex Li’s papers describe rather earlier stages of the doctoral journey, essentially concerning the construction of the issues they sought to explore through developing an epistemological basis on which to proceed. Collectively, these papers thus provide a rich series of very closely focused discussions on the place of theory in a thesis, which enables some potentially productive points of comparison, and hence possibly deeper understanding, to be made. What adds extra piquancy to the papers as a group, is that one of the first things that struck me after my initial reading, was that they all started from a question that I have frequently put in PhD examinations, “After all this, where are you in this thesis?” The searches for theory were seen as involving personal as well as academic journeys. The stories of their journeys also shed light on the significance of the paths they have travelled—and are travelling—in creating the final (for now) version of the product that they will present for examination. Among other things this has made me think in a quite different way about what a thesis should
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contain. In many ways, the kinds of stories we read in this section explicate some of what examiners try to get at when they ask “where are you in the thesis?”, often as a means of “troubling”, and thereby challenging, and seeking to unpick, the deliberate seamlessness authors have tried to achieve in the thesis. At the same time, I was also reminded how many times I have said to students who are anxious about suggested changes, “Don’t worry, nobody will ever know it was ever there.” One of the main and most important issues raised by this set of papers concerns the idea of problematisation, which is crucial to all theorizing. As well as being aware of a “problem”, we need to know not just that and why it is a problem, but what it is a problem of, and for whom, and then consider what we can learn from those understandings about how we might theorise the problem. One aspect of this issue has been very well put by the American political scientist, Charles Lindblom. He writes: …policy makers do not face a given problem. Instead they must identify and formulate their problem. Street violence increases in American cities. What is the ‘real’ problem? Decline of law and order? Racial and ethnic discrimination? Impatience of minorities with the pace of reform? Low income? Lawlessness at the fringes of an otherwise relatively peaceful reform movement? Urban disorganization? Alienation? (Lindblom 1980, 24)
From this we learn not just that problems do not come ready packed, or always already exist as problems, or are unambiguously identifiable and bordered, but are actively constructed or made as problems. And, in addressing these acts of construction, we have to be aware of the multiple forms they might take, and hence of the need to investigate the processes through which they were made into problems. To put it another way, we need first to problematise the problematisation. In theorising social problems, we have to understand how, by whom and for what purposes and in whose interests problems are “made”, in particular ways, rather than “taking” them unproblematically as they are presented (Seeley 1967). Taking someone else’s problem is closely linked to one of the two forms of theorizing distinguished by Robert W. Cox (1981), for whom “all theory is for someone and for some purpose”. Cox refers to these approaches to theory as “problem solving” and “critical”, which map neatly on to the ideas of making and taking. And his elaboration of the differences between them is highly instructive in going about theorizing. Problem-solving theory takes the world as it finds it and focuses as closely as possible on the specified problem, taking into account only the most apparently significant contexts in which it occurs, in seeking a “solution”
to it. Critical theory, by contrast, does not take the world—or the problem—for granted, but asks how it came to be as it is, and how particular issues come to be identified as problems. In essence, critical theory means not taking for granted but problematizing, and devising theoretical means of understanding, the problem in deeper theoretical and broader empirical ways. This is the main lens through which I approached the four papers in this section. The first thing to be noted about the papers in the context of critical theorising is that there is no single recipe or route to critical theorizing. Problematizing the problem can take many different forms. Thus, it is interesting that three of the four papers in this section are essentially concerned with matters of epistemology, the exception being Tatebe’s which starts from a more ontological set of assumptions. Wijaya Mulya’s paper is a fascinating account of the discovery of the self as well as knowledge of the world through the problematizing of the problem of sexuality in Indonesia. He nicely problematizes the Indonesian government’s construction of the “problem” of sexuality education, essentially through the trope of making its mainstream status the rationale for, and basis of, his “queering” of studies of sexuality and Christianity. Rather than sticking with “taking” the problem of how Christianity and sexuality are related, and seeking to establish the most persuasive responses to it, he problematizes the religious and sociological problematisations by invoking the framings of the issue that are produced by “queer theology”. Moreover, he is beginning to frame the issues in ways that might transcend a wide range of cultural—and religious— differences that share the common label “Christianity”. I was especially struck by the breadth of the sources of “evidence” about the relationships between Christianity and sexuality education that he called on, from Africa to Jamaica to the United States and UK, all containing implicit contrasts with his own experience of Christianity as a minority religion in Indonesia, in terms of both theology and politics. At one level, this could set up a potentially very difficult problem for theory; it is, for instance, difficult to find a common approach to such a range of different conceptions of sexualities, sexual practices and different approaches to regulating them and the place of education in this. Here, his emerging solution derives from problematizing the problem as one of Christian doctrine and teaching across a range of different societies through the radical challenges to that body of thought—and to his own beliefs—that are posed by queer theory. Alex Li addresses a similar set of issues, though from a rather different angle and perspective. She is concerned with how diasporic Chinese
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young people become sexual subjects in New Zealand. As in the case of Wijaya Mulya’s paper, though in different ways, Li, is, at least implicitly, at one level carrying out a comparative project. There is throughout, a conception of a tacit norm against which the Chinese students are compared, and from which they are alleged to depart. We see this in the nature of their characterisations as “exotic”, sexually conservative but also reckless. The thrust of her paper is to challenge these characterisations on the basis of feminist poststructuralism that highlights the significance of their agency in making sense of their own sexuality. Thus she does not so much problematize the concept of sexuality as problematize interpretations and practices associated with it. One way of seeing this approach is through Bernstein’s (1981) concepts of rules of recognition and of realization. Very simply, rules of recognition draw boundaries between categories, and rules of realization are concerned with practices within the categories. Interestingly, Li uses these very terms in her discussion of Judith Butler’s work, when she writes of sexual subjects’ potential to appropriate what they have been recognized as, using the very terms that constitute them in realizing their subjecthood. Another intriguing issue here is how the concept of “sexual subject” itself is problematized; are we talking about the same experience or process in the cases of young people from different cultures? In other words, are the categories, and not just the outcomes, of sexual subjectification homogeneous? One especially important set of issues opened up by Samu’s paper concerns the conditions of knowledge production in which doctoral theses are produced. Her career has been very different from those of, especially Wijaya Mulya and Li, in that the circumstances and conditions within which it has unfolded have led to it being in a sense “serially opportunistic”. She has built her career around involvement in a wide range of academic activities that reflect both the range and nature of her expertise, and have enabled her to develop a high level of versatility. However, one other consequence of this is that she has not had the luxury of single-mindedly pursuing a particular set of problems, and which directly generated the search for theoretical coherence (that she describes so well), across the range of projects that she reports in her thesis. This was evidently a very frustrating process, full of dead-ends, but for me the clinching moment comes when she decides that in order to progress, “I won’t play the game, I will change it.” The coherence she sought was to be found not in some kind of combination of the wide range of scholarly academic work that she had ploughed through, but in the recognition that the coherence of her work was to be found in practice, through the recognition that she could use ideas from different theoretical contexts to
help make sense of otherwise opaque policy issues—which might be taken as a rather eloquent and effective account of the difference between problem solving and critical theory. Tatebe’s contribution is rather different from the others in a number of ways: it is closer to the tradition of sociology of education policy which involves her effective prioritization of ontology over epistemology. In essence, she is trying to find a—theoretical—means of understanding a particular problem in the world, rather than trying to construct a theoretical perspective that would enable sense to be made of particular issues. The issue at stake is the stigmatization of low-decile schools in New Zealand, and she, too, illustrates the difference between problem solving and critical theory when she tells us that her understanding of working critically means making use of different angles/perspectives in order to gain a wideranging appreciation of her topic. However, her search for relevant theory turned out to be a long and frustrating one until she came upon the work of Nancy Fraser, a political scientist whose work is deeply informed by critical theory, and widely acclaimed as shedding very important theoretical light on issues of social justice. As an admirer of Fraser’s works myself, I was delighted to see this, and also the effective ways that her work had been incorporated, to develop a quite original theoretical model. And one final point that Tatebe’s use of Fraser brought to mind was a paper I wrote 20 years ago (Dale 1994), where I identified as one of the major obstacles to critical theoretical work on education policy, the tendency among those producing such work to resort to “disciplinary parochialism”, by which I meant the tendency to refer only to work that had “education” in the title, or appeared in a journal or book with education in its title. As Tatebe’s paper demonstrates, and as the other papers also implicitly recognize, education cannot be theorized, or educational issues understood, from within education (or Education) alone.
References Bernstein, B. 1981. Codes, modalities, and the process of cultural reproduction: A model. Language in Society vol. 10 no. 3: 327–63. Cox, Robert W. 1981. Social forces, states and world orders: Beyond international relations theory. Millenium vol. 10 no. 2: 126–55. Dale, R. 1994. Applied education politics or political sociology of education? Contrasting approaches to the study of education policy in England and Wales. In Researching education policy: Ethical and methodological issues, ed. D. Halpin and B. Troyna, 35–46. London: Routledge.
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Lindblom, Charles E. 1980. The policy-making process (2nd edn.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Seeley, John R. 1967. The making and taking of problems: Toward an ethical stance. Social Problems vol. 14 no. 4: 382–89. The author: Roger Dale holds part-time professorial positions in the Universities of Auckland and Bristol. He was Professor of Education at Auckland from 1989-2004, where he supervised 22 doctoral students to successful completion. With Susan Robertson, he received a Marsden grant on the nature and influence of competitive contractualism in education in New Zealand, Alberta, Singapore and Scotland. His main research interests include globalisation and education policy, and he was co-founder (with Susan Robertson) of Globalisation, Societies and Education. From 2007–2011 he was Scientific Coordinator of the EU’s Network of Experts in Social Science and Education.
SECTION III: EXAMINING ETHICS
CHAPTER TWELVE UNMARKED TERRITORIES: ETHICAL CHALLENGES IN ARCHIVAL RESEARCH MAREK TESAR
This chapter is an account of Marek Tesar’s doctoral experiences of collecting data in the archives. On his doctoral journey, he encountered the power of archives, the complexities of ethics and the need to consider ethics in archival research. This chapter does not offer solutions, but argues for recognition of the complexities of conducting archival research and problematizing the concern of “who should be protected in archival research”.
Introduction This chapter is an account of my doctoral experiences of collecting data in archives. On my doctoral journey, I encountered the power of archives, the complexities of ethics and the need to consider ethics in archival research. The chapter thus first examines the rationale of my doctoral thesis, and then tells a story of ethics in archival research. While my thesis revolves around the notion of the production of childhoods, this chapter embraces the deeper and wider implications of the need to consider ethics, and of encountering, albeit not necessarily solving, ethical dilemmas and concerns. I consider the story of childhood as a continuously contested notion. The production of childhoods through children’s literature and the formation of subjectivities through texts, stories and fairy-tales are positioned in the centre of my thesis. The preschool magazine Little Bee, and the post-totalitarian, communist Czechoslovakia of the 1970s and 1980s in which it was published, serve as a site of exploration through which the production of childhoods and childhood subjectivities are analysed. The tensions between public, ideal, expected childhoods, and
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private, resistant childhoods filled with desires for alternative experiences are explored through the philosophies of Havel (1985) and Foucault (1989; 1991). This includes Havel’s notion of how each citizen, child— everyone—is responsible for, and implicated by, the governing ideology and system, and Foucault’s notions of power relations and truth. Havel’s work gives my research an analytical framework: I argue that children are the victim, supporter and rebel subjects produced through children’s literature. This subjectification occurs both in the official discourse of education as well as in the secret, private places of childhood undergrounds. My analysis complicates the nature of everyday life in post-totalitarian Czechoslovakian kindergartens in the 1970s and 1980s, contests the security and truth of archival data, and leads to the problematisation of how children’s literature and stories produce childhoods and childhood subjectivities. My thesis culminates with connections drawn between the complex power relations of a post-totalitarian ideology and the current New Zealand neoliberal discourse of government-funded children’s literature. I argue that the striking resemblance and familiarity of the posttotalitarian and neoliberal contexts analysed exemplify the ways that childhoods are governed through stories in any ideological context. I used the unexplored, rough terrain of the everyday production of childhoods in communist Czechoslovakia as a site of investigation. There is nothing smooth about my thesis: everyday childhoods are complex, yet often barely visible or investigated; there is mystery and uncertainty in the truth of my data; and the conclusions of my research remain open. My research responds critically to the notion of binaries: it highlights that the child is neither good nor bad; childhoods are neither innocent nor guilty; and complex power relations shape and produce childhood subjectivities. However, the focus of this chapter is on the notion of ethics, which is often unrecognized and overlooked by university ethics committees in non-empirical research. I argue in this chapter that a critical engagement with any topic, including a philosophical, non-empirical one, requires a consideration of ethics. The issues that I analyse are based on the following concerns raised during my research: What does it mean to be an ethical researcher? How should a researcher ethically collect data in archival research? How does collecting or not collecting certain data shape research? And, perhaps the most pertinent to my research, who should be protected in archival research? I argue in this chapter that these complexities of the ethics and truth in archival research are often unrecognised or invisible in educational research, as demonstrated in my doctoral journey.
Paving the road to the archives Despite my intention to conduct my research as theoretical, without dealing with human participants, I decided, upon encouragement from my supervisorsi, to enter the archives as part of my doctoral research. This shifted my research into a different territory that of collecting evidence, and it also marked my return to former Czechoslovakia. As in other research projects and endeavours, researchers are often hungry to collect data, and end up gathering more than they need; often their fieldwork experience sharpens their argument, and narrows the focus of their project (Green, Camilli and Elmore 2006). I myself was hungry for data, and for evidence of how children’s literature was produced, shaped, adjusted, censored and distributed. My research scope was broad: I wanted to explore memoirs, letters, government documents, kindergarten records and official and underground children’s literature. So my research was concerned with diverse sources ranging from a children’s magazine to teachers’ notes; from kindergarten chronicles to orders from government agencies to educational institutions. To conduct this research, I travelled to Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia), planning to visit various public and private archival institutions. In the following sections I outline how my archival experience was influenced by the data that I collected, as well as by the data I did not collect. My intention was that the data would exemplify the complex discourse of connections between curriculum materials and children’s literature in post-totalitarian kindergartens. During my fieldwork experience I realised that only very little of the data may make it into the thesis, but that my experiences with archival institutions and with the ethics of truth in collecting the data would become the essential contribution to the argument of my thesis. The experience thus provided a supporting framework for my research rather than its evidence. This chapter analyses the complexities of conducting research in a country where the governing ideology suddenly changed from a posttotalitarian regime to a Western democracy driven by a market economy. These complexities relate to the sensitivities of the past, and to painful, ambivalent or happy images—depending on whom you talk to—that are still fresh in people’s minds. This chapter complicates the journey of a researcher gathering data, as it highlights the power of archival institutions and of staff that guard the knowledge held within them. I refer to archival administrators and research staff as the “guardians of knowledge”, as their powerful presence determines what researchers can or cannot do or see in archival institutions. While guardians are appointed by archival institutions
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to care for and protect the archival materials, they also serve the public and researchers in obtaining access to data. In my research, these guardians were pivotal in determining what data I could access and how I could access it. In addition, the complexities of my data collection led me to the understanding that archives are not as ethically neutral as they are often portrayed. There are many ethical concerns to consider, as documents found in the archives, if made public, can dramatically change people’s lives. During my research I encountered such an ethical dilemma, and this chapter follows a problematisation of how archival data may not necessarily tell the obvious story, and represent “the truth” that researchers (and citizens) look for. Jones and Jenkins (2011) write about “muddying” history, which they understand in postmodern research as adopting perspectives “that do not claim objectivity” (6). The challenge of this chapter is to muddy the archival story of post-totalitarian childhoods; I do not strive to find an answer as to who should be protected in archival research, but to complicate the question of how to be an ethical researcher, and how to conduct ethical research in archival institutions.
Stories of the Archives It was not easy to avoid searching for “truth”, especially as I wanted to stay culturally sensitive and to maintain my position as an ethical researcher in the sense of the Havelian concept of “living within the truth”. To remain respectful to the citizens of the country who feel that they suffered for a long period of time, and who feel partly responsible for this suffering, I had to carefully listen to everyone’s story and to their opinions. I often reminded myself of Havel’s (1985) argument that citizens, including children, who lived within the post-totalitarian context were all partly responsible for, and were partly victims of, the regime. The guardians of the archives frequently tried to persuade me of certain historical truths, offering me their guidance as they did so. They let me see certain documents and did not let me see others; in some parts of the archives they did not allow me to see much, whilst in others I was allowed to see everything. Based on this experience, my research project acknowledges not only the data I collected, but also, as Rose (2007) guides me, to look for the “invisible”, to consider what I was not allowed to collect. The “truth” represented in my research is therefore produced by the archival sources that I was allowed to access. The data I collected can serve only as an illustration of childhood literature, through examples of a particular era, and cannot be generalised or taken out of context. The truth within these archives can be discovered and negotiated only within
particular discourses, as I argue below in a discussion of experiences of researching in these archival institutions. To further problematize the relationship between archival institutions and researchers I turn back to Foucault. Foucault (1989) argues that subjects do not have one particular, singular genealogy, as each subject is produced through multitudes of private and public historical subjectifications. These subjectifications make the quest for “truth” in archival research complex, if not impossible, to negotiate. Thus, my archival research does not follow any particular historical trait, or focus on the accuracy of data produced in certain political contexts. I cannot ascertain whether children referred to in the documents were “real”, or whether the letters they wrote were “fake”. I considered all the collected data as part of the discourse within which certain childhoods were produced and in which these subjectifications took place. In conducting research in the post-totalitarian archives, “the truth” also becomes an ethical concern on the basis that these children and teachers (or their relatives) are still alive, and the post-totalitarian era is still very fresh (and sometimes painful) in people’s memories. It is difficult not to polarize public opinion by publishing research concerned with that era. Apart from my own anxiety, the power of the guardians determined what data I collected, as well as the way I collected it, and they, therefore, influenced the content of my research and produced me as a particular researcher. Whilst I entered the archives without thinking that I would need to consider the truth of the data that I may discover, I was forced to reconsider this assumption: my discoveries shaped my archival experience and my research project.
Research ethics The concern about collecting data overseas led me to consider the need for research ethics approval of research projects such as mine. The University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee confirmed that I did not need ethics approval for my research. I was advised that such approval would only be required if I planned to involve human participants or animals as part of my research, or if I was researching biological tissues. The Committee declared to me that archival research is considered to be ethically neutral. Also my fellow PhD students told me that I was “the lucky one” because students often find the research ethics process difficult, lengthy and tedious. I was surprised that I did not need to obtain approval, as I anticipated potential problems to arise by me entering a different culture and researching private data in a former communist
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country. Furthermore, the archives were, as I understood through my preliminary research, barely surviving due to financial constraints. My initial research proposal included the following statement: This thesis will not use human participants and therefore approval from the University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee will not be sought. However, this research respects the cultural sensitivity of the texts and stories researched and presented. The proposed research is relevant to diverse countries, lands and political systems and will analyse and respect the diverse beliefs and values of the stories and the peoples represented. Ethical considerations can be extended to relationships between the researcher, researched subject and data, and my supervisors.
I felt satisfied that I had covered any potential ethical concerns. Subsequently, I moved to final preparations and researched methodological handbooks that dealt with the process of document analysis and archival research, and consulted with experienced archival researchers. The handbooks I studied presented a uniform picture about archives and how they operate. They outlined, for example, the way a researcher should communicate with archival personnel and how to approach, access and gather data (Berg 2004; McCulloch 2004; Scott 2006). The literature was concerned with practical preparations such as opening hours, online availability of the archival catalogue and reproducing collected data. I felt inspired by the methodological literature I read, and prepared a detailed plan. The process of archival research seemed very straightforward. In preparation, I attempted to make email contact with each archive before I travelled abroad. I tried to acquaint myself with the specific cultural research system to understand how these archives operate. I followed the advice of the handbooks and organized the relevant permits, letters of recommendation and potential access to online catalogues in advance. In sum, I attempted to understand the specific rules, potential dangers and barriers of each archive, including negotiating access to a photocopier or using a camera. In hindsight, one of the most important outcomes of my planning and study of research handbooks was keeping a research diary throughout my fieldwork. I thought that I would follow the plan I had prepared. However, I quickly had to abandon it once I was in the field. What the literature had not prepared me for was the amount of flexibility and quick, on-the-spot decisions that I would need to make in the archives, which determined to a large extent the way my research progressed. Going through my research diary now, it seems that the what of my research, that was to collect data to allow substantial analyses, proceeded more or less as I had planned.
However, the how of my data collection became divergent and unpredictable through the circumstances and realities of the task and the context.
Inside the archives Entering the archives was a complex procedure. I had mixed success, but mostly struggled, with contacting archival institutions via email beforehand. Any responses received were vague, and mostly referred to a future face-to-face meeting where requirements for my entry into the archive would be discussed. Once inside the archives I was exposed to the productive power of these institutions, their influences on researchers and specifically how they expected me to collect data. I realised that I was being treated differently to other researchers whose credentials were from local universities or research institutions. I had difficult conversations that were often full of suspicion about who I was, who I represented, and the real purpose of my visit. Despite the fact that I am originally from Czechoslovakia, my presence raised suspicion about why I was coming back to research post-totalitarian childhoods. I was at home, and yet I was a foreigner. I wrote into my research diary that if I had not come to conduct this research from New Zealand, I would most likely have gained easier access and collected different data. Perhaps it would not have been better, stronger or more or less surprising data—just different. And, as I outline below, perhaps it would have been collected in a different way. My first experience in the archives gave me a glimpse of what the next two months would involve in a way that no handbook had. I waited in a freezing waiting room for four hours despite having made a prior appointment with the guardian. When the guardian finally came to see me, the meeting was over in five minutes, as I was denied access to the archive. For some reason that is still not clear to me, the guardian declared that the catalogues were confidential, while I helplessly observed other researchers entering this archive. In other archives I had to pay high fees to reproduce the data. The guardians implemented apparently spontaneous rules that made my research difficult, almost unmanageable. In some archives I worked under the constant surveillance of guardians or cameras, allowed to see only three boxes of data per day, which had to be ordered two working days ahead. In one archive I was even removed from the premises. At some archives, research hours were very short and the guardians allowed for little departure from their customary day-to-day operations. If I were to generalise my experience, I dealt with a combination of strictly followed rules and complete chaos in the disorganised,
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unmapped and un-catalogued archives. However, as I outline below, I also had some different experiences. Early on in my archival journey, I realised that I would have to challenge the notion of how an ethical researcher should behave. I observed the change in myself; I moved quickly to familiarise myself with each environment and to get approval from the guardians to conduct research in their archive. The more the guardians blocked my access to knowledge, information, and data, the more I wanted to get inside. I wrote in my research diary: research should not be this hard. I begged and flirted with guardians, and bribed them with gifts from distant, exotic New Zealand, just to get inside the archives, to be allowed to research, to get past the weeks-long waiting list. In all of these ways, the archival institutions and guardians positioned me as a researcher who, even without research ethics approval, was breaking the rules of research ethics. The archival institutions challenged my understanding of what constitutes an ethical researcher, as well as of the notion presented by my University’s research ethics committee: that archival research is ethically and emotionally neutral. Most profoundly, I discovered sensitive material in the archives that, if published, may affect the lives of citizens. These files became my personal ghosts, as they related to people that I knew. I had no clue about their existence, and as I wrote into my research diary, after reflection some days later: I wish I had never found them. I wished I had not opened that box; or that I had had enough strength, and less curiosity, to discontinue reading. I had the choice of reading that material or of returning it to the box and leaving it there unopened. But I decided to continue reading. I reflected at length on this in my research diary: Shall I keep this to myself? How do I know that there is any truth in these reports? Did they really do it? Can I believe this information, just because it is in the archive? Do I have a right to expose citizens to the pressure of this discovery, and make them defend themselves? What are the ethics of archival research; would ethics approval for this research from my university have helped me deal with this dilemma?
Producing a new researcher The archival institutions produced me as a certain type of researcher. I could not avoid contact with human subjects during my archival research, despite not having ethics approval to involve human participants. Discussions with the guardians fundamentally shaped my research. I wrote into my research diary a question that I tried to answer throughout my
fieldwork: How to avoid encounters with human subjects in archival research? And why would I want to do that? In order to get access to the archives I had to discuss my research with the guardians, before I was allowed to search through the archival catalogues. The guardians mostly had very strong opinions about my research. I was asked: why would you be interested in these chronicles? They represent a very subjective view on our past history. Elsewhere a guardian advised me about the documents that I requested: stating that what children had written was not a true picture of their childhoods. Guardians used their memories and power to determine what was and what was not considered to be knowledge worth exploring, or what was and what was not the truth in the data from post-totalitarian childhoods. Often, their remarks were given like an order and sometimes I was forbidden from accessing the documents I wanted to see. My encounters with the truth of data I was collecting became an inevitable and daily reminder for me as a researcher, and an issue I had to face every time I entered the grounds of archival institutions. The human subjects with whom I dealt, the archival officers and guardians, provided aspects of the discourse in which I positioned my research. It was only twenty years since the end of the post-totalitarian era, and the guardians of the archives had their own particular memories and versions of truths about this time. These truths, in turn, were being inflicted on me from the guardians’ relative positions of power. Their experiences, and how they remembered themselves as a part of that past political context, shaped my progress through the archives. The guardians regularly stated that it is very rare for a researcher to come into the archives, the museum and even the libraries, to conduct research regarding this particular period; and even those researchers who do, are not usually concerned with children and childhoods. Even more intriguing were their personal memories and reflections on that era. I did not intend to interview anyone for my research, however it was impossible to avoid the stories triggered by my research and told to me by these guardians. My credentials from the University or letters of recommendations would not have been enough to allow me to visit these archives; the discussions and relationships with guardians were my true passport to get inside. I was confronted with a range of perceptions, such as how the guardians perceived the post-totalitarian era as “good” or “bad”, or how they perceived documents in the archives as “real” and “true”. Some guardians longed for the return of post-totalitarian times, and said that the system had produced a lot of “good”. Other guardians claimed that there had been no “real” censorship when it came to children’s literature. I was
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constantly navigated and consequently allowed to see only parts of the archive based on individual guardians’ memories and beliefs. It was the power of the guardians that made it necessary to communicate with human subjects. Thus, my encounter with subjects was critical to the study; and without these relationships I would not have been able to conduct my research.
Concluding comments Perhaps my research demonstrates more about me as a researcher, than about the truth-value of the collected data. In a certain way, the documents that I collected, or failed to collect, shaped and represent me as a certain type of researcher. I was curious, hasty, and would not give up. I played the same game as the guardians did. However, does it matter that I can justify my intentions as “good”? Derrida (1995) argues that “[e]ffective democratisation can always be measured by this essential criterion: the participation in and the access to the archive, its constitution and its interpretation” (5). I found that the discovery of data in the archives is determined by the way the researcher is able to access it: central to this are the power relations with the guardians, and the decisions the researcher makes when selecting which data to pursue and which to abandon. The complexities of ethics and truth in archival research are what I have become obsessed with. My preparation for my research trip failed me, as I underestimated the emotional and ethical issues with which I would be confronted, and I live with the consequences of this fieldwork to this day. What was I left with once I arrived back in New Zealand? The majority of the data that I collected did not make it into my thesis, but the experience of collecting it did. I recently presented my concern about the ethics of archival research at various conferences, and was surprised that scholarly work on the ethics of archives exists despite methodological handbooks and research ethics committees mostly ignoring it. Perhaps my experience will encourage University research ethics committees to rethink the ethics of archival research. The question of how ethics approval would have helped me is unclear; but it would at least have made me reflect on the nature and impact of archival institutions beforehand. I would never have been prepared for the disconcerting discovery I made, but perhaps I could have been prepared for the dilemma formed by the discovery. I asked many questions in my research diary: What does it mean to be an ethical researcher? How should a researcher ethically collect data in archival research? How does collecting or not collecting certain data shape my research? And, perhaps the most pertinent to my
research, who should be protected in archival research? While no clear answers emerge from this chapter, this archival experience has become invaluable to the formation of my argument, about the truth of posttotalitarian childhoods. And, perhaps this argument will open debate for doctoral students, and researchers, to consider archives as ethically complex, rather than neutral, spaces/places of governance.
References Berg, B.L. 2004. Qualitative research methods for the social sciences. Boston, MA: Pearson. Derrida, J. 1995. Archive fever. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press. Foucault, M. 1989. Foucault live: Interviews (1966–1984). New York, NY: Semiotexte. —. 1991. Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. London, UK: Penguin Books. Green, J. L., G. Camilli, and P.B. Elmore. 2006. Handbook of complementary methods in education research. Washington, DC: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Havel, V. 1985. The power of the powerless. In The power of the powerless: Citizens against the state in Central-Eastern Europe, ed. J. Keane, 23–96. London, UK: Hutchinson. Jones, A. and K. Jenkins. 2011. He Kǀrero—Words between us: First MƗori–PƗkehƗ conversations on paper. Wellington, NZ: Huia Publishers. McCulloch, G. 2004. Documentary research in education, history, and the social sciences. New York, NY: Routledge. Rose, G. 2007. Visual methodologies: An introduction to the interpretation of visual materials. London, UK: Sage. Scott, J. 2006. Documentary research. London, UK: Sage.
My doctoral research was conducted under the rigorous and caring supervision of Professor Alison Jones and Dr Iris Duhn, and supported by Associate Professor Carol Mutch.
Unmarked Territories: Ethical Challenges in Archival Research
The author: Marek Tesar is a lecturer of early childhood and childhood studies at the University of Auckland. His research is concerned with the construction of childhoods, and the importance of children’s literature as a discourse that affects the production of childhood subjectivities. Marek was a recipient of the 2012 PESA annual doctoral award and acknowledged in the 2013 Dean’s list for the excellence achieved in his thesis.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN ETHICAL COMPLEXITIES IN FIELD WORK: A JOURNEY INTO VALUES EDUCATION IN A SOUTH AFRICAN SCHOOL MELANIE DRAKE
At the heart of South Africa’s transformation to a democracy, lies a striving for an integrated, multicultural society founded on unified values. This chapter describes a journey into values education in a disadvantaged school in South Africa. The six-month fieldwork presented many challenges and impacted greatly on the doctoral research. Different circumstances, explored in this chapter, created daunting and unfamiliar environments in which observations, interviews and focus groups needed to take place. Although prior plans and ethical considerations were made on how the fieldwork should develop, influences beyond the researcher’s control shaped the research, and led to a more real and genuine reflection of values realisation and enactment at a township school in South Africa. This chapter presents the story behind the research, in the hope that it provides insight into conducting research that presents ethical complexities.
Introduction I have been privileged to grow up in a politically and historically transformative time. I was a young adolescent in the early 1990s, when the end of apartheid and the beginning of the new democratic South Africa shook the South African nation. In 1992, as a twelve-year-old girl, I vividly remember the occasion that first brought this white–black reality to my life at school. At that time, I attended a middle-to-upper class, all girls, Christian, primary school in my hometown of East London. Being “the norm” at the time, I never considered why there were only white girls at the school. The only time I was ever brought into the “conversation” of black-and-white or apartheid, was when I was at my grandmother’s house
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after school, and during school holidays. My grandmother spoke fluent Xhosa (see glossary for unusual terms), as she was born and raised in Cofimvaba, in the black homeland of the Transkei. Her intimate knowledge of the Xhosa people was always apparent. She had a fulltime domestic maid, a black African Xhosa-speaking woman from the Ciskei homeland, whom we called Margaret. I have vivid memories of the Xhosa culture becoming part of my grandmother’s home. For example, an African pied starling flew into the house once, and Margaret went into a frenzied trance. According to African folklore, these birds were a sign of bad omens, and Margaret insisted a sangoma (practitioner of herbal medicines, divination, ancestral spirits and counselling in traditional tribes) expel the spirits from the house that this bird had brought in. Hence, in 1992, when my class teacher asked me if I would show two new girls around my school, and these girls were black, I felt extremely proud to be chosen. I immediately took Thembi and Vuyolwethu around the school, boasting of all the white-only privileges I had grown up with. I was completely unaware of their pasts, experiences and histories. As I moved to high school, and witnessed the first 1994 democratic election in South Africa, my peer group was seen as the “first generation” of the new South Africa. My teachers tried to teach in ways that evoked enthusiasm for this new dispensation, while at the same time, every month another white family was leaving the country for international shores. Throughout my years as a teenager and young adult in South Africa, I have continually faced the dilemmas that the country’s transformation has created for its people. I have also experienced first-hand the benefits of the transformation, none more apparent than the opportunity to undertake my doctoral studies in New Zealand, on an International Commonwealth Scholarship. At the very heart of my doctoral journey, lie these experiences and memories that have shaped me as a researcher. After embarking on volunteer work in the early 2000s in a township school near my home, I became interested in how, or if, life had changed for these South Africans since the election in 1994. I was forced to see the extreme poverty and unsatisfactory living conditions that were reality for these South Africans. It was at this point that I noticed the gap between the ideals and intentions of new South African policy, and the life for South Africans living in township communities. Therefore, the focus of this study evolved from three specific areas of interest. Firstly, values have been described in South African policy as the “beacon of hope” that would see the unification of the diverse and multicultural society. In the early 2000s, the focus on values in education was emphasised, with numerous policy documents (Department of
Education 2000, 2001a, 2001b, 2001c, 2002, 2005) addressing what these values were, and the way in which they were to be incorporated into school life. These documents were the starting point on my doctoral journey. Secondly, many authors and researchers have commented on the importance of values in school life (Halstead 1996; Halstead and Pike 2006; Mawdsley, Cumming and de Waal 2008; Pendlebury and Enslin 2007; Scapp 2003; Snook 2007). Schools are perceived to be the “nurseries” of values. Hence, the roles of school stakeholders, namely principals, teachers, parents and learners, are vital in the realisation, enactment and understanding of these values (Hill 2000). I was interested in how these school stakeholders perceive their roles in the process of values education. I wanted to analyse the relationships between schools, school stakeholders, and values realisation and enactment. Thirdly, the location of schools and the communities that surround them are also important. Township communities are generally situated in the poorest areas because of their role in apartheid South Africa (Mampane and Bouwer 2011). My study looked specifically at township schools, and the context in which township learners are raised and educated. There have been many studies, in South Africa and internationally, that investigate the gap between policy and implementation in education. The policy–practice gap is a well-established theme in educational literature. Much of this research attempts to explain how difficult it is to implement idealistic policy that is intended to change the practice of education “on the ground” (Jansen 2002, 200). On a very basic level, my study aimed to investigate this problem in a specific context. However, I wanted to reveal new information on the process of values realisation and enactment in schools; how values are made evident, how they are displayed and understood, how they are shown and revealed, and how they are passed on and enacted in the specific context of a township school. I used the policy documents as a frame for interpretation and analysis, but it is not limited to these. Other values, ethical decisions and moral behaviours may be informing practice at this school, and my study aimed to investigate all these avenues. In this way, not only would the differences between policy and practice be investigated, but also the reasons why this gap occurs; with explanations from the end-users of policy providing valuable insight. It was my intention to share the voices of the study participants, who teach, learn and live in the township community. Therefore, my doctoral journey was shaped by the question: How do the values in new South African policy manifest in a disadvantaged school setting?
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Fieldwork realities and methodological mayhem Preparing for the six months back in my home country to conduct my fieldwork was challenging. The institutional ethical clearance required from the University of Auckland was only the starting point of a process that was complex on many levels, particularly the ethical navigation once I was in the field. This chapter shares some of the ethical complexities of my doctoral journey. My initial plan for data collection and analysis was premised on the assumption that the school would know what the policy values were, they would be directly or indirectly “enacted” (form part of school life), and that these values would be “visible” in some way. Hence, my initial categories were based on the policy values. These data, collected via observation, document analysis, interviews and focus groups, would be analysed using theoretically driven categories, and from this I would be able to evaluate and discuss how the values in new South African policy manifested in a township school. However, my plan had to be abandoned when I realised that the participants in my study had no knowledge of the policy values. They were not aware of any of the policy documents pertaining to values in schools or that “values education” was something they were supposed to consider in the teaching and learning environment. Values were an important part of this school community, but not in the ways that were determined or encouraged by policy. Indeed, at times I experienced behaviours, attitudes and incidents directly opposed to the new values. I relied heavily on observation to decipher what was going on at this school. This involved asking what was going on and proceeding to move towards a reasonable account of the phenomena observed (Huberman and Miles 1998). Overall, through the process of describing what was going on at this school, I recorded causal accounts of the values that were being taught, communicated and enacted in this school community. Following this, I needed to explore why these things were going on. This could only sometimes be answered by observation, but focus group and individual interviews proved vital in addressing this question. During focus groups, participants described how they understood aspects of school life, why they behaved the way they did, and what effect they thought their attitudes, behaviours and actions had on how values were realised and enacted. This process helped me to understand school stakeholders’ actions, from their perspective. As part of the data analysis, I sought to distil how things work, to understand patterns of thinking and talking (Creswell 2002). This process was extremely challenging, and besides needing to navigate my way through a new methodological
approach in the throes of the fieldwork, I was also faced with many complex ethical tensions.
Discussion on ethical difficulties No matter how long I spent considering ethical considerations and fieldwork stages—studying, revising and memorising—the reality was that I could not completely plan for the data-collection process. The good evidence was uncovered and explored beyond data collected from interviews, focus groups and document analysis. Observation became one of the most useful tools for collecting meaningful evidence. Through this process, I uncovered much more than had been planned. The unknown void—a township school—soon became a place where the theory, studied prior to the fieldwork, and ground-level practice began interacting. As Yin (2003) describes, the demands of a case study on your intellect, ego and emotions can be far greater than those of any other research strategies. These difficulties are largely due to the fact that data-collection procedures are not automatic. The investigator needs to take advantage of unexpected opportunities rather than being trapped by them, and also exercise sufficient care against potentially biased procedures. For me, difficulties included having electronic devices (recording device and hard drive) stolen from my vehicle, which delayed plans whilst I sourced replacements. A few times episodes in township life restricted access to the school. For instance, in November 2009, intense riots occurred with community members protesting against lack of housing provisions. The burning of tyres in the main streets of the township, toi toi (shouting, dancing and singing), and prohibiting access into and out of the township, were part of this protest. Lee (1995) would describe this as situational danger—an unexpected crisis that needed to be dealt with in this research context. The South African police were monitoring the situation to ensure the safety of the rioters and other people. They would not allow entrance into the township. As a result I could not gain access to the school for three weeks. Lee (1995) explains how data collection in challenging situations demands considerable ingenuity on the part of the researcher, yet I knew that in this volatile environment, it would be best to stay away. Another factor that greatly influenced my ability to run interviews and focus groups was teacher strike action. This ranged from go-slows, where teachers deliberately worked, taught, walked and behaved in a manner that was much slower in pace than usual, to leaving school early to protest at the Department of Education offices. Striking is a normal occurrence in South African society, yet I never imagined the severe impact it had on everyday
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functioning of school life in this context. As an educator who has gone on strike myself, this was very different. Go-slows were taken seriously, with educators doing as little as they could throughout the day, and the school would close early. However, it was interactions with the participants that provided my major ethical challenges.
Ethical dilemmas with participants The participants at this school incorporated impression management techniques in their daily lives. Managing impressions involves the conscious or unconscious process whereby people influence the impressions or perceptions other people make of them during interactions. This involves a level of regulation of the information communicated between the parties, either directly or indirectly. Everyone, at one time or another, has used impression management in their daily lives, and at this school it was not a technique adopted purely as a response to my study. Impression management was a habitual way of behaving to give the impression to outsiders of the school being an effective teaching and learning organisation. Teachers gave the impression of being attentive to learners’ teaching and learning needs in class (as indicated in interview evidence, and when I asked for permission to observe specific classes during the observation stage of the research). The school management team gave the impression that they held regular meetings, that parents were supportive and that a functional governing body was in place (as recorded in participant comments). During the focus groups, participants used impression management as a technique to assure observers that everyone was doing their job to create an effective school. Even the learners felt the need to assure me that the correct impression was given, initially declaring that teachers were in class and attending to their needs. These behaviours all reflect how things should be. Yet, a different understanding of school life slowly emerged as the days passed and my observation notes depicted a different reality. A difficulty I had to face emerging out of the prevalence of impression management was a more in-depth layer involving pretence or denial with fibs. It was difficult to uncover the truth while trying to gain acceptance into this school community, and organise and collect valid evidence needed for my research. Although these fibs were a tool used by all members of this school community to cope with their everyday experiences (such as “white lies” to cover up what was happening behind the scenes), it made data collection awkward, and recording accurate data was complicated. Participants were so submerged in this strategy to cope
with their reality that fibs were a routine practice in school life, used at every level in a system that does not work well. I briefly describe a few examples. Part of the new educational strategy for South African schools is the involvement of an effective school governing body. The primary aim of school governance reforms in South Africa was the democratisation of schooling by electing representatives of the governing body, including parents, educators, non-educator staff and in secondary schools only, learners (Karlsson 2002). Regardless of school size, parents always held a majority through a 50 percent-plus-1 member representation, and the chairperson had to be a parent (Karlsson 2002, 329). As part of the research plan, interactions of the school governing body (SGB) were identified as a key method to access valuable information. Material was to be collected during SGB meetings, and interviews were to be held with parents who served on this committee. I believed that the school leadership team would hold vital information regarding values initiatives in South Africa. How they perceived their role in ensuring values education was happening in the school was important. It took me months to realise that there was no functional governing body at this school (confirmed after several observation notes and comments were presented to participants during interviews and focus groups). Although the principal assured me several times that I would be informed of school governing body meetings, when the minutes were written up and when these parents were at the school, this never occurred. The principal’s intention with these fibs was not malicious. These were her survival coping mechanisms. She used this technique with teachers, parents and Department of Education officials, as many of these groups used the same technique with her (as recorded in my observations, and in participants’ comments). Parents would invent reasons as to why they could not come to the school. Teachers covered up their whereabouts when absent or missing from class. Department officials would fabricate stories about resources being delivered to the school, or that funding or training would be made available. Fibbing was what she had to do in order to make sense of the reality that faced her on a daily basis. This was also true of all other stakeholders. Parents did not come to the school when asked several times by their children’s educators to discuss important issues, such as learning difficulties and behavioural problems. The technique of fibbing is used to describe the manner in which the principal and teachers survived from day to day. The principal would falsify events to make it appear she was accountable for the many structures and frameworks that needed to be in place. There seemed to have been an
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initial effort on her part to establish a governing body, but she had since given up. Her individual interview resulted in interesting findings. For her (and other stakeholders), it was easier to misrepresent proceedings than to face reality and her superiors in the Department of Education, who would judge her leadership capabilities. According to the members of this school community, the department officials utilised similar techniques of fabricating promises regarding funding, resources and pay increases. I witnessed this fibbing technique during my first two days at the school, when the Department of Education sent a panel of eight officials to conduct a school review. The experience was valuable for me as it allowed me to record useful information at the onset of my fieldwork. There were many aspects of this school reality that became evident over these two days, especially the fact that the life for these teachers and principal was one of pretence. The principal would assure department officials that registers, log books and timetables were up-to-date. Yet, when officials asked for evidence, the book would have gone missing or another teacher would have “taken it” or be “using it” (fieldwork notes show that specific documentation needed for analysis was never made available over the entire fieldwork period). Department officials accepted this, and moved on to the next agenda item. Fibbing was used in this environment in an attempt to misguide superiors and avoid being actively accountable. No consequences followed (as recorded in observation notes and interview material). I had to plan how to work around this organisational habit to ensure I collected rigorous research evidence. My efforts to recruit parents to participate in focus groups and interviews were also met with misrepresentation. Teachers stated on several occasions that there were parent–teacher evenings held at the school, and that these meetings could be used for data collection. But there was no evidence of such evenings taking place over the six-month fieldwork period. The same was said about extra-curricular activities and learners participating in sports and debating teams. There were only a few observations that suggested these activities took place, and it raised suspicion about whether this was part of school life or part of a cover-up tactic for officials and researchers. My learning was that there was a considerable gap between what the system required of schools, how schools actually operated, and a “cover-up” of the difference between what was supposed to be happening and what was actually happening. The entrenched culture of deception created difficulties for crosschecking and confirming the data collected. For example, when certain observed behaviours or events in the classroom were mentioned, the teachers would use denial, diversion or no response during focus groups to
avoid commenting. All school stakeholder groups were interviewed— hence ambiguities and disconfirmations were highlighted. There were several instances when one group of participants would assure me of the way things were done, yet another would contradict the initial response. Therefore, I decided to rely on observation notes during these focus groups and interviews. These observation notes provided the foundation for further probing into participants’ opinions and perspectives of school life. For example, during individual interviews and focus groups the teachers assured me that they were involved in extra-curricular activities in the afternoons, but observation notes illustrated that this was not the case. It rested on the learners to validate my observation notes, and to prove what was said previously by educators and the principal was incorrect. Such cross-checking was an ongoing challenge, and it could not be achieved by all groups across the school community. A further strong ethical challenge was the issue of corporal punishment. As a researcher and teacher I believed it had been abolished in 1992 (Maphosa and Shumba 2010; Naong 2007); however, the reality for these teachers and learners was very different from the experiences I’d had in other South African schools. Corporal punishment was a difficult topic to discuss during interviews and focus groups as participants did not want to talk about it. Instances of corporal punishment were observed, and this determined values enactments, yet participants would not discuss these happenings. They denied that it was a means of discipline in the school. I had a sense that this was due to their knowing that this behaviour was wrong in light of current trends and policy. Yet, certain teachers seemed unable to release themselves from past practice in order to change their behaviour. Once again, cross-checking difficulties made this almost impossible to investigate further, and it was the learners that shed light on the issue, describing events and feelings during their focus group.
Conclusion My research journey was demanding in a way that could not have been anticipated before arriving at the school and learning more about the field work setting. Professionalism and ethical consideration were at the forefront of my approach, although there were times when this proved difficult, due to the emotional nature of investigating children and people, and coming to terms with the life of a disadvantaged school. Recording valid, accurate data was my agenda for each day, and therefore learning how to cope with the challenges described above was important. Throughout the fieldwork period, cross-checking and confirmation of data
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was an important part of gaining valid research material. What also emerged from this process were instances where some educators behaved differently from the points discussed in this chapter. There were instances of effective teaching and learning, nurturing relationships and successful resource management. However, these were the minority and due to the nature of this chapter, I have focused on the elements that created challenges for me as a doctoral researcher in the field. There were incidents during the fieldwork which made me question, not only my ethical stance towards how I approached this research, but also the ethical considerations for how I would write these findings in a way that was fair to the research and fair to the participants. This was one of the biggest challenges I faced on my doctoral journey, but ultimately led to one of the most enriching and memorable experiences of my life.
Glossary Black/white/coloured/ Indian/other
Race categories used in South Africa to signal different race groups.
a general, international term used to signal township (poor) schools in South Africa.
a term that resulted from the fieldwork, in which participants would “cover up” details about an event or procedure in order to make it appear as if all was in order.
the distance between policy stated aims and what happens in practice.
this term is used to signal all the values that are referred to in the variety of documents describing South African values, particularly values in education.
synonymous with “location” or “shanty town” (“slums”, as used internationally), townships refer to underdeveloped urban areas which were reserved for non-whites during apartheid. They are usually situated on the periphery of a town or city.
a Bantustan, or black African homeland during apartheid, situated in the south-east of South Africa, for Xhosa-speaking black Africans. Transkei means “the area beyond the Kei” [river].
Xhosa is an official language of South Africa. Xhosa is spoken by several million South Africans and is the second most-spoken language in South Africa. Xhosa is spoken by several South African traditional tribes.
References Creswell, J.W. 2002. Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill. Department of Education. 2000. Report of the working group on values in education. http://www.info.gov.za/otherdocs/2000/education.htm —. 2001a. Manifesto on values, education and democracy. http://www.info.gov.za/view/DownloadFileAction?id=70295 —. 2001b Saamtrek conference report: Values, education and democracy in the 21st century. http://www.education.gov.za/dynamic/dynamic. aspx?pageid=329&catid=10&category=Reports&legtype=null —. 2001c. Values, education and democracy: Schools-based research Part I & II. http://www.education.gov.za/dynamic/dynamic.aspx?page id=329&catid=10&category=Reports&legtype=null —. 2002. Values in education: Programme of action. http://www.education.gov.za/dynamic/dynamic.aspx?pageid= 329&catid=10&category=Reports&legtype=null —. 2005. Values and human rights in the curriculum: A guide. http://www.hrea.org/index.php?base_id=104&erc_doc_id=4920 Halstead, J. 1996. Values and values education in schools. In Values in education and education in values, ed. J. Halstead and M. Taylor, 3– 14. London, UK: Falmer. Halstead, J. and M. Pike. 2006. Citizenship and moral education: Values in action. London, UK: Routledge. Hill, B. 2000. Can state schools teach values? End-games in public education. Delta vol. 52 no. 1: 27–44.
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Huberman, A. and M. Miles. 1998. Data management and analysis methods. In Collecting and interpreting qualitative materials, ed. N. Denzin and Y. Lincoln, 428–44. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Jansen, J. 2002. Political symbolism as policy craft: Explaining nonreform in South African education after apartheid. Journal of Education Policy vol. 17 no. 2: 199–215. http://www.tandfonline.com. ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/doi/pdf/10.1080/02680930110116534 Karlsson, J. 2002. The role of democratic governing bodies in South African schools. Comparative Education vol. 38 no. 3: 327–36. http://www.tandfonline.com.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/doi/pdf/10.1080/0 305006022000014188 Lee, R. 1995. Dangerous fieldwork. London, UK: Sage. Mampane, R. and C. Bouwer. 2011. The influence of township schools on the resilience of their learners. South African Journal of Education vol. 31 no. 1: 114–26. http://www.ajol.info/index.php/saje/article/view File/63495/51338 Maphosa, C. and A. Shumba. 2010. Educators’ disciplinary capabilities after the banning of corporal punishment in South African schools. South African Journal of Education vol. 30 no. 1: 387–99. http://www.ajol.info/index.php/saje/article/viewFile/60033/48290 Mawdsley, R., J. Cumming, and E. de Waal. 2008. Building a nation: Religion and values in the public schools of the USA, Australia, and South Africa. Education and Law vol. 20 no. 2: 83–106. http://www.tandfonline.com.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/doi/pdf/10.1080/0 9539960802271391 Naong, M. 2007. The impact of the abolition of corporal punishment on teacher morale: 1994–2004. South African Journal of Education vol. 27 no. 2: 283–300. http://www.ajol.info/index.php/saje/article/view File/44143/27658 Pendlebury, S. and P. Enslin. 2007. What kinds of people are we? Values education after apartheid. In Values education and lifelong learning, ed. D. Aspin and J. Chapman. Dordrecht: Springer. http://www.springerlink.com.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/content/m514535 72p081m72/fulltext.pdf Scapp, R. 2003. Teaching values: Critical perspectives on education, politics, and culture. New York, NY: RoutledgeFalmer. Snook, I. 2007. Values education in context. In Values education and lifelong learning, ed. D. Aspin and J. Chapman,80–92. Dordrecht: Springer. Yin, R. 2003. Case study research: Design and methods. London, UK: Sage. .
The author: Melanie Drake is a recent doctoral graduate from the University of Auckland. As a passionate South African teacher, her research prepared her for her current position as a Lecturer at the University of Fort Hare, a previously black University affiliated with Nelson Mandela. Melanie was an International Commonwealth Scholar who now prepares South African teachers for the challenges of teaching in an ever-changing environment.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN TALES OF A CROSS-CULTURAL RESEARCH JOURNEY: NAVIGATING POTHOLES, ROADBLOCKS AND DEAD-ENDS DONELLA COBB
Undertaking doctoral studies in a different cultural context presents a plethora of challenges for doctoral students. This chapter documents the experiences of one researcher navigating the early stages of her doctoral journey in a cultural context significantly different from her own. While the development of the initial research framework was careful, it has been the ethical considerations that have presented ongoing challenges, particularly when considering research from a critical perspective. This chapter highlights some important reflections for doctoral students undertaking research in developing countries, particularly in relation to communication, in-country ethics procedures, time delays and financial considerations. The difficulties encountered highlight the need to take a critical and reflexive stance throughout the development of the initial research proposal and to be flexible over the direction of the research. Because of a recent change in political circumstances, this nation will remain nameless throughout this chapter in order to protect those who may be implicated with the original work.
Introduction Those who have journeyed in a low-income nation would know of the treacherous conditions of some of the roads encountered “off the beaten track”. The relentless succession of potholes make travel painfully slow and, most of the time, incredibly uncomfortable. Dead-ends and roadblocks require flexibility, adaptability and constant re-navigation. Furthermore, the long, windy and dusty roads make visibility of the approaching terrain difficult, adding further delays and frustration to the
journey ahead. Navigating the doctoral journey through cross-cultural research is much like that “road less travelled”: slow, uncomfortable and, at times, extremely difficult to navigate. This chapter describes the road less travelled of my doctoral journey through the initial stage of planning cross-cultural research from a critical perspective in a low-income nation.
Choosing to journey the “road less travelled” The decision to pursue my doctoral studies in a cultural context very different from my own was born out of my experiences volunteering on a series of educational projects in this nation. My educational involvement centred largely on the implementation of student-centred pedagogy. This took the form of contributing to the writing of national teacher education material as well as training teachers to implement student-centred approaches at school and district levels. As a white, Western, educated female, this educational context contrasted significantly from my own experience of being a primary school teacher and school leader in New Zealand, Australia and England. From my own successful experiences of training teachers to implement student-centred approaches in Western contexts, I came to this low-income country convinced of the need to bring pedagogical change and idealistic about the ease with which this process of pedagogical change would be implemented. However, my passionate belief that student-centred pedagogy would be the “answer” to this nation’s educational woes was quickly dissipated when faced with the realities of daily classroom life. After spending time observing, training and teaching in classrooms, I soon found implementing student-centred approaches incredibly challenging. Despite my experience and a wealth of ideas, I soon began to question whether the expectations to rapidly implement student-centred approaches were realistic given the teaching conditions, lack of resources, limited teaching facilities and crowded classes. I began to consider: Who decides that student-centred pedagogy is the most appropriate pedagogical approach for this nation given the current barriers to implementation? What is the agenda behind its rapid and urgent implementation? These questions were the foundation from which my doctoral journey was to begin. I used the questions to frame my initial search for literature as I sought to understand more about student-centred pedagogy in nonWestern contexts and the agenda behind its rapid global implementation. I uncovered a growing body of recent literature that highlighted the widespread failure of implementing learner-centred pedagogy in nonWestern contexts (Barrett 2007; Chisholm and Leyendecker 2008;
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Schweisfurth 2011; UNESCO 2005; Vavrus 2009; Vavrus, Thomas and Bartlett 2011). Furthermore, I found that other academics had also begun to question the agenda behind its swift global expansion (Biraimah 2008; Carter 2010; Chisholm and Leyendecker 2008; Guthrie 2011; Tabulawa 2003). In particular, Tabulawa (2003) claimed that student-centred pedagogy was, in fact, a front for the globalisation of neo-colonial and neoliberal ideologies in non-Western contexts. This confirmed that my own experiences were supported by a growing body of literature that had asked similar questions of student-centred pedagogy in a range of different non-Western contexts.
Establishing a research strategy from a critical perspective The doctoral highway proceeded as I sought to develop a research methodology and strategy that would frame the research from a critical perspective whilst being sensitive to the complexities of dominant power relations associated with traditional cross-cultural research (Hall 1982; Kai-Ming 1997; Pryor and Ampiah 2004; Soto 2004; Tuhiwai Smith 2012). Working in a cross-cultural context where the colonial legacy has been at the forefront of perpetuating discriminating ideologies, Tuhiwai Smith (2012) highlights the importance of ensuring that careful ethical consideration is given to all aspects of the research process so that the “footprint” left behind by research seeks to empower rather than oppress. Analysis of educational research in this nation revealed that research has predominantly been conducted by donor-funded Western researchers relying heavily on positivist paradigms. Such research has drawn criticism for several reasons: firstly, Tuhiwai Smith (2012) draws attention to the fact that it has often been Western researchers who have become “experts” on the indigenous peoples they have “researched”. A Western lens has, therefore, framed interpretations and analysis of cultural realities with indigenous knowledge being consequently placed in the “expert hands” of the West. Tuhiwai Smith argues that this ultimately seeks to further disempower and disenfranchise the already oppressed and marginalised “Other”. A second point of criticism has highlighted that positivist research, while convenient for making national and international comparisons, does little to provide meaningful, contextual understanding of educational realities at a local level (Kai-Ming 1997; Pryor and Ampiah 2004; Stephens 2007). Tuhiwai Smith thereby sets the challenge to develop “operational definitions of phenomena which are reliable and valid” (44).
As a Western researcher, the ethical implications highlighted in this critique of cross-cultural research are significant and permeate every aspect of the research process. In order to conduct research in a manner that seeks to redress traditional Western domination imposed by crosscultural research, it became imperative that considerable consideration be given to the development of the research design. Furthermore, the necessity to take a reflexive stance throughout the research process became increasingly apparent so that every aspect of the research strategy could be considered from a critical perspective. Cannella and Lincoln (2011) emphasise the need to identify the ethical implications of research designs to ensure that the perpetuation of traditional power relations are, as much as possible, identified and challenged. Aligning ethical considerations with an appropriate theoretical framework that would enable the power of knowledge to be placed in the expert hands of the teachers in this nation became the next challenge on my doctoral journey. Hermeneutic phenomenology was chosen as this framework as I believed it would enable teachers’ voices to be heard and would empower teachers to be coconstructors of the research process (Heidegger 1962; Husserl 1970; Flood 2010; Pascal et al. 2011; Sharkey 2001; Titchen and Hobson 2005; van Manen 1997). This theoretical framework enabled me to draw a detailed “roadmap” of the intended research process, which, in turn, supported me to construct a clear research strategy for the road ahead.
Navigating the ethical highway Developing a research strategy from a critical perspective was the beginning of an ethical highway riddled with potholes, roadblocks and dead-ends. The necessary first step of obtaining ethical clearance from the Ministry of Education (MINED) to conduct research in this country proved to be a slow, uncertain process uncovering a plethora of further ethical considerations. This procedure required the willingness of a government body within the country to support the research through a formal affiliation process. In this instance, affiliation with the National Education Board (NEB) was granted with the promise that the necessary formal paperwork to apply for National Ethics Clearance would be given. The need to affiliate this research with the NEB raised a number of previously unconsidered ethical considerations. For example, as the NEB is the local employer of teachers, I had to think through the implications of how this affiliation might be perceived by teachers: the fear of losing their jobs and/or the perception that their research involvement might enhance their career prospects needed to be considered as these possibilities could
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limit teachers’ willingness to speak openly and honestly about their experiences of implementing student-centred approaches. While the Participant Information Sheet (PIS) that outlines the details of this project and requests consent from participating teachers clearly outlined that teachers’ contributions would remain confidential, I could not discount the possibility that fear of being identified might influence responses. This ethical consideration highlighted the need for clarity of communication both prior to, and throughout the research process alongside the importance of establishing relationships of trust with participants. It also highlighted how affiliating with a government organisation further compounded asymmetrical power relations, rather than reducing them. A further ethical consideration that required careful navigation related to financial incentives for participants. Perceptions of Westerners having significant wealth (Maranz 2001) has been reported to have led to misunderstandings over participants receiving some form of financial gain (Halai 2006; Hamza 2004). As a government-affiliated project, it was important that financial matters were clearly communicated from the outset so that the NEB would not be subjected to financial misunderstandings. I myself have witnessed how schools can be exposed to significant pressure if community members feel that their association with a Western project has not resulted in financial benefit to the community. Because of this, it was necessary to carefully weigh up the implications of financial incentives and how this might impact on expectations of future Western researchers. A textbook donation to the participating schools as a gesture of appreciation was considered to be an appropriate way to bring sustained benefit to the school community. I realised that clearly communicating details about financial incentives in the PIS given to schools, principals and teachers at the outset of the project was, therefore, imperative.
Challenges encountered on unfamiliar terrain The second important step of applying to the National Ethics Committee (NEC) for clearance meant that all PISs needed to be in the local language. Navigating the unfamiliar terrain of working with translators proved to be yet another unanticipated speed bump on the doctoral journey. A process of back-translation (Werner and Campbell 1970 cited in Brislin, Lonner, and Thorndike 1973) was used to check the accuracy of the translated document. It was a challenge to find skilled translators who had excellent levels of written literacy, particularly in English. At times translators’ skills in written translation were not to the level that was needed for this project. Thankfully this was identified in the
back-translation process. Some of these translations had to be discarded and additional translators sought. This was a costly and lengthy process. Furthermore, the compulsory confidentiality agreement for the translators caused some concern. Some translators wished to discuss their translations with colleagues to check accuracy; this was not appropriate. This caused stress to some translators. These dead-ends further delayed the ethics application process and added to the pressure of working within a tight doctoral timeframe. In hindsight, it would have been better to provide potential translators with a mock sample of the translation work prior to commencement to ensure that all translators were aware of the skill level required for this project. There were other translation difficulties relating to the fact that a number of words and terms were not directly translatable. While this was anticipated, I realised how completely reliant I was on the contextual understanding and accuracy of the translators concerned. I consequently felt as though here I was driving blindfolded. I could be confident in the translations only after several translators identified the same difficult words and provided me with similar translations for each of these words. The translators with educational backgrounds had a much more realistic understanding of appropriate translations. Translation took considerable time, with issues regarding access to internet and the translators’ own life circumstances (all translators had multiple jobs) impacting on the translations being completed in the anticipated timeframe. Open dialogue was maintained throughout the translation process which helped me to understand the tensions, difficulties, and challenges the translators faced when working between two very different cultural and linguistic frameworks. While the process of submitting an application to the NEC revealed many roadblocks and potholes, there have been other aspects of this initial doctoral journey that have added to the slow and challenging journey thus far. Communication has been one of these ongoing challenges. The need to regularly communicate with officials from the NEB and translators has proved at times to be extremely difficult. Slow, intermittent and expensive internet connections in this low-income nation present difficulties; responses to emails can be slow or non-existent. Printing or downloading documents there can be expensive, something to consider when attaching documents for translation. Poor quality phone connections make verbal conversations difficult and the New Zealand accent was difficult for many nationals increasing the likelihood of miscommunication. Email conversations tended to be more accurate. Clear and transparent communication is imperative in cross-cultural research; nevertheless, this was a continuous pothole throughout this initial doctoral journey.
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Ethical dead-ends and re-navigating highways Up until this point, I had encountered potholes and roadblocks; however, I hadn’t anticipated the possibility of driving into a dead-end at this stage. This came quite unexpectedly when a change in the political climate in this nation occurred shortly after obtaining affiliation from the National Education Board. This has had significant implications for the government’s relationship with the West and, in particular, Western researchers. This shift has had a devastating impact on my intended research. The promised formal paperwork for submission to the NEC was not returned in the anticipated timeframe and the government introduced a lengthy and stringent process for obtaining ethics approval for all research. It soon became evident that this process would be lengthy, costly, and with no guarantees that approval would be granted. It was at this point that I began to understand the implications of having my research affiliated with this nation’s government. For a start, one of the requirements was for all data to be reviewed by the MINED for approval before export for analysis. The risks associated with the possibility of data being judged to be critical of the government became apparent. While this had obvious implications for the completion of my own doctoral journey, it also highlighted the fact that the government could have ultimate control of the scope and the direction of my research. The possibility of having to restrict and redesign my research out of fear needed to be considered. Lack of freedom to address wider social, cultural, economic and political structures ultimately undermine the theoretical foundation, framing and underpinning my research. This in itself conflicts with the critical lens through which I, as a researcher, choose to position myself and this ultimately limits my academic pathway. The decision not to name the country in this publication highlights the severity of the current political climate and the limitations that these ethical tensions have on the way research can be conducted and ultimately published. The realisation that my research may be restricted due to external regulations caused me to contemplate the significance of this government affiliation. Furthermore, it also highlighted the possibility that my research may place participants at risk if their contributions were considered to be “critical” of their government. While my own university’s ethical clearance regulations requires the researcher to guarantee participants’ confidentiality, this raises tensions when affiliating with a government agency that also requires access to participants’ consent forms and data. It was at this point that I realised that participant confidentiality could be compromised. I also became aware that a citizen found to be “critical” is
likely to face severe consequences. Freedom House identifies this country as one of the “not free” nations in the world (Amnesty International 2011; Freedom House 2012). It also notes that academic freedom and general freedom of speech within the nation, particularly among teachers and students, is severely limited. The realisation that my research may inadvertently lead a participant to comment on an aspect of government policy that would later be deemed “critical”, alongside the fact that my guarantees of confidentiality may not be upheld, required me to seriously reconsider my research in its current form. Another difficulty involved implications for the local contact person if my data or final thesis were deemed to be critical of the government. This would ultimately result, at the very least, in the loss of their current position. This would have serious financial and social consequences for this person and his/her extended family. The ethical tension of placing a number of people at risk through their involvement, association and affiliation with this research has become more apparent through this recent political change. Such considerations are imperative as the widespread consequences of an interpreted criticism of the government could be severe. Furthermore, publishing research that may be deemed critical has considerable implications for future researchers which could be devastating. This nation needs research to ensure policy is grounded in contextually and culturally specific and relevant research that seeks to support and develop the infrastructure of the country, according to the local needs. The possibility that the “footprint” of my research, no matter how careful I might have been, may impact negatively on future research required careful consideration. It was for these reasons that I decided to “re-navigate” this research nine months into my doctoral journey. With the pressures of a tight doctoral timeframe, the uncertainty of gaining timely ethics approval, the current political climate, participants’ safety and the restrictions on my own professional freedom to research through a critical lens, it was evident that this ethical highway had hit a dead-end. While disappointing, the journey up until this point has provided a rich foundation for my research to continue to move forward on a new highway that will focus on the globalisation of learner-centred pedagogy through a critical lens. My experiences have not been wasted; rather they have informed my understanding of the implications of international policy through my own lived experience of implementation at a local level. The complexities of cross-cultural research have certainly been highlighted and, had the political environment been different, I am certain that this research would
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have been navigated with much greater success. While my initial desire was to use a research methodology that sought to empower local teachers as co-researchers and co-constructors of knowledge, this has been challenged by the overwhelming complexities and ethical tensions of engaging in cross-cultural research in the current political environment of this nation. It is my hope that, at some point beyond this doctoral journey, an opportunity to engage in co-constructed research in a cross-cultural context will be available again.
Considerations for those embarking on the doctoral journey While my cross-cultural doctoral journey hit an unexpected dead-end, for those considering doctoral research in low-income countries, it is certainly possible so long as careful consideration is given to a range of factors prior to embarking on the journey. Information on the ethical requirements for conducting research in the chosen country is important. Lengthy delays in communication and applications can be expected and should, as much as possible, be understood and appreciated from the perspective of those living in the local context. Additionally, delays in communication will impact on the timeframe for doctoral research and should be factored in to the initial proposal. Another consideration is the high cost associated with conducting research in a different physical locality. Alongside travel and accommodation expenses, there are additional considerations of paying translators, donations, research visas, travel insurance, updating vaccines, and in some instances, fees for an ethics application in the partnering country. Visas place time limits and, therefore, an element of “coming and going” will be required throughout the project. Funding a project over a sustained period of time involves inevitable unforeseen costs at some point on the doctoral journey. Committing to such a project requires a significant financial investment so careful planning is required to undertake a project of this nature. In all instances, having contacts “on the ground” will certainly help to navigate this research process with greater clarity. Having formal introductions through a known contact to officials in positions of responsibility is invaluable and certainly more successful than “cold” emails and phone calls. Awareness of local working conditions helps to understand that delays can, at times, be the result of interruptions to internet access, unscheduled public holidays, changes in job personnel, and illness. Awareness of these conditions will result in a more realistic
research timeline and greater flexibility for navigating unexpected challenges and delays. Choosing to take the “road less travelled” and conduct cross-cultural research from a critical perspective has certainly been challenging. The constantly changing and unpredictable landscape requires a great deal of patience, perseverance and adaptability. While I am still in the early stages of my doctoral journey, the ride to date has been slow, bumpy and at times, incredibly uncertain. Despite this, the experience has been invaluable and has allowed me to understand the challenges facing education in this particular nation from a much wider perspective. While the journey ahead looks different from the original roadmap, the “road less travelled” has been an insightful, rich and unique experience that will continue to frame and form the basis of my newly navigated doctoral journey.
References Amnesty International. 2010. 2010 Amnesty International Report. http://www.amnesty.org.en Barrett, A.M. 2007. Beyond the polarisation of pedagogy: Models of classroom practice in Tanzanian primary schools. Comparative Education vol. 43 no. 2: 273–94. Biraimah, K. 2008. Education for equitable outcomes or educational inequality: A critical analysis of UNESCO’S Education for All and the United States’ No Child Left Behind Programs. In Comparative and Global Pedagogies. (Vol. 2), ed. J. Zajda, L. Davies, and S. Majhanovich, 189–201. Globalisation, Comparative Education and Policy Research: Springer Netherlands. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/9781-4020-8349-5_11 Brislin, R.W., W.J. Lonner, and R.M. Thorndike. 1973. Cross-cultural research methods. Comparative studies in behavioural science. Toronto, Canada: John Wiley & Sons. Cannella, G.S. and Y.S. Lincoln. 2011. Ethics, research regulations, and critical social science. In The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (4th edn), ed. N.K. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln, 81–9. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Carter, L. 2010. Neoliberal globalisation and learner-centred pedagogies: Posing some different questions. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education vol. 10 no. 3: 223–31.
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Chisholm, L. and R. Leyendecker. 2008. Curriculum reform in post-1990s sub-Saharan Africa. International Journal of Educational Development vol. 28 no. 2: 195–205. Flood, A. 2010. Understanding phenomenology. Nurse Researcher vol. 17 no. 2: 7–15. Freedom House. 2012. Freedom House report. http://www.freedom house.org/report/freedom-world/2012 Guthrie, G. 2011. The progressive education fallacy in developing countries. In favour of formalism. Springer Science+Business Media B.V. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-1851-7 Halai, A. 2006. Ethics in qualitative research: Issues and challenges. EdQual Working Paper No. 5, DFID. Hall, B. 1982. Breaking the monopoly of knowledge: Research methods, participation and development. In Creating knowledge: a monopoly? Participatory research in development, ed. B. Hall, A. Gillette and R. Tandon, 13–26. Khanpur, New Delhi, India: Society for Participatory Research in Asia. Hamza, H.M. 2004. Decolonizing research on gender disparity in education in Niger: Complexities of Language, culture, and homecoming. In Decolonizing research in cross-cultural contexts. Critical personal narratives, ed. K. Matua and B.B. Swadener,123–34. New York, NY: State University of New York Press. Heidegger, M. 1962. Being and time. Trans. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson. New York, NY: Harper and Row. Husserl. E. 1970. The crisis of European sciences and transcendental phenomenology. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Kai-Ming, C. 1997. Qualitative research and educational policymaking.Approaching the reality in developing countries. In Qualitative educational research in developing countries: current perspectives, ed. M. Crossley and G. Vulliamy, 65–85. London, England: Garland Publishing. Maranz, D. 2001. African friends and money matters: Observations from Africa. Dallas, TX: SIL International. Pascal, J., N. Johnson, C. Dore, and R. Trainor. 2011. The lived experience of doing phenomenology: Perspectives from beginning health science postgraduate researchers. Qualitative Social Work vol. 10 no. 2: 172–89. doi: 10.1177/1473325009360830 Pryor, J. and J.G. Ampiah. 2004. Listening to voices in the village: Collaborating through data chains. In Decolonizing research in crosscultural contexts. Critical personal narratives, ed. K. Matua and B.B.
Swadener, 159–78. New York, NY: State University of New York Press. Schweisfurth, M. 2011. Learner-centred education in developing country contexts: From solution to problem? International Journal of Educational Development vol. 31 no. 5: 425–32. Sharkey, P. 2001. Hermeneutic phenomenology. In Phenomenology, ed. R. Barnacle,16–37. Melbourne, Australia: RMIT University Press. http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.waikato.ac.nz/documentSummar y;dn=018334250931234;res=IELHSS Soto, L.D. 2004. Forward: Decolonizing research in cross-cultural contexts: Issues of voice and power. In Decolonizing research in cross-cultural contexts. Critical personal narratives, ed. K. Matua and B.B. Swadener, ix–xi. New York, NY: State University of New York Press. Stephens, D. 2007. Culture in education and development: Principles, practice and policy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Tabulawa, R. 2003. International aid agencies, learner-centred pedagogy and political democratisation: A critique. Comparative Education vol. 39 no. 1: 7–26. doi:10.1080/0305006032000044913 Titchen, A. and D. Hobson. 2005. Phenomonology. In Research methods in the social sciences, ed. B. Somekh and C. Lewin, 121–30). London, UK: Sage. Tuhiwai Smith, L. 2012. Decolonising methodologies. Research and Indigenous Peoples (2nd edn). London, UK: Zed. UNESCO. 2005. Towards knowledge societies. Paris, France: UNESCO. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001418/141843e.pdf Van Manen, M. 1997. Researching lived experience: Human science for an action sensitive pedagogy (2nd edn). London, ONT: Althouse Press. Vavrus, F. 2009. The cultural politics of constructivist pedagogies: Teacher education reform in the United Republic of Tanzania. International Journal of Educational Development vol. 29 no. 3: 303– 11. Vavrus, F., M. Thomas, and L. Bartlett. 2011. Ensuring quality by attending to inquiry: Learner-centred pedagogy in sub-Saharan Africa. Abbis Ababa, Ethiopia: UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002160/216063e.pdf
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The author: Donella Cobb is a lecturer in Professional Studies in Education at the University of Waikato, in Hamilton New Zealand where her research interests include pedagogy, critical theory, and cross cultural research. Donella began her career as a primary school teacher and has taught in a range of educational contexts including New Zealand, England and Australia.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN CRITICAL EDUCATIONAL FIELD WORK IN IRAN: TRAVERSING AN ENVIRONMENT OF SUSPICION SABA KIANI
In this chapter, Saba exposes the reader to the difficult task of researching in the extremely political context of Iran. She describes her experience of collecting data in an Iranian university shortly after the youth uprising of 2009 which became well known across the world as the “Green Movement”. While she discusses the problems that were encountered as a result of cross-cultural research, Saba encourages doctoral students to be brave and critical when researching, and while recognising difficulties, to be innovative and imaginative in overcoming them.
Have you ever been told that you are not allowed to do something or that you should behave in a certain way, and you thought that the rationale given was preposterous? As a child, and even through my teenage years, I was one of those people who always questioned what I was told to do. I would never consent to doing what my parents told me without asking, “But why?” There were always rituals or cultural practices that my mother would want me to follow and often-times I would not comply unless she gave me a good reason. I remember how I pushed her when she wanted me to do something. When I said, “But why?”, she would say “Well, I don’t know why. When my mother told us to do something we never questioned, we just did it”. Then I would say, “Mum, I am not like you. I want to know why I have to do what you say I should do.” As annoying as I was as a child, this attitude has allowed me to pursue research regardless of the difficult conditions I have faced. Asking the question “why?” is at the core of research in education, whether it is to evaluate a programme or to find alternative solutions. As an Iranian-born person who attended high school in New Zealand, and trained as a teacher in the Western system, I often make a general comparison with the
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education system of Iran where I received my primary and intermediate education. Thus, I had always sought an opportunity to embark on a research project in which I could critically examine and evaluate the Iranian education system. Critical educational studies is about recognising and challenging norms, beliefs and assumptions that are taken at face value and then trying to find and explore different ways of understanding. Over the past three decades, and throughout the country’s turbulent history, the Iranian government has demonstrated distrust and used violence against those who criticise government policies. Consequently, my decision to embark on research which uses both theoretical analysis and empirical data in order to investigate and explain the ineffectiveness of the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programme in Iranian universities was always going to face challenges. My research uses a theory of structural contradiction as the conceptual methodology to analyse the teaching of EAP in an Iranian university. The purpose is to explain the on-going problems with the programme, and to do so requires an understanding of the deeper context within which the programme operates. Concepts about the layers of structural contradictions and their effects on government policy and practice enable this multi-layered examination of the political, economic, ideological, cultural and religious factors affecting the implementation of the programme. Moreover, the study uses a methodological approach that draws on the sociological tradition developed by Emile Durkheim ( 1956) and used by educationalist Basil Bernstein. In keeping with this approach, I analyse empirical data from the EAP case study using structural contradiction theory. Durkheim argued that sociological inquiry must use history in order to “penetrate beneath the surface of a social phenomenon” (20). In this case study, the understanding of the historical place of the English language in Iran provides the context for a fuller knowledge of the causes of the changes in attitudes towards English and the operation of EAP courses. Nonetheless, my research has a broader sociological imperative than simply analysing the EAP programmes in terms of attitudes, motivations, and pedagogies. My intention is to understand these prescribed English language programmes in a political context that is hostile to English and the West more broadly. My analysis of the problems with EAP focuses on the political context. The study regards structural contradictions in Iran as ultimately responsible for the ineffectiveness of the courses—something that is unlikely to be resolved easily given the relatively static nature of Iranian government politics. The globalisation and higher education literatures contribute to the theoretical tools with which I analyse the empirical material from the EAP
case study and explain the findings in terms of a deep structural contradiction. The study of the EAP programme is located within this globalisation context, providing “on the ground” empirical evidence of the collision when globalisation forces meet resistance from Iran’s insular theocracy. It also provides some empirical evidence of the contradictory nature of Iran’s response to globalisation. I planned a case study in order to investigate the experiences of a small number of Engineering and Humanities students who were in their final year of undergraduate education, as well as the experiences of university lecturers teaching the EAP courses. Both students’ and lecturers’ perceptions, views and experiences were identified as a key means to find out the extent to which both groups were satisfied with the EAP courses and judged their success; the extent to which the syllabus was responding to students’ needs; and what they identified to be the shortcomings and the strengths of the EAP courses. Empirical data points to the overall ineffectiveness of EAP courses, and I seek to use language learning theories to explore the issues involved. At the heart of these theories is the view that attitudes play a role in affecting students’ motivation in learning a language. Researchers consider attitudes and motivation as two major factors for attributing success or failure in second language acquisition (Gardner, 2007; Schumann, 1986; Stern, 1983). While negative attitudes can reduce learners’ motivation, positive attitudes towards the language and the culture of the people speaking that language can increase students’ motivation to learn. When embarking on a doctoral research project, I believe it is important to be both academically competent and passionate about the research topic. Together these attributes support the ability of the researcher to be flexible and willing to take different directions when examining the research question, and to show perseverance and resilience in negotiating obstacles. Often-times, before I start a conversation with friends or colleagues about my research study, I already know the first four questions that they will ask. They are interested to know about me and about the context of Iran, so they ask: “Why are you doing research about Iran? Do you think your research will actually have an impact on the Iranian education system? Would you go back to Iran and work there after your PhD? Why didn’t you just research something that is relevant to New Zealand and less problematic?” In reply, I explain how my experience of education in Iran and New Zealand has led me into thinking and wanting to do research of this nature. I tell them about the responsibility I feel as an Iranian researcher living abroad to be a voice of critical scholarship for those who do not have this
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opportunity—often because doing such research in Iran would involve risking their jobs and future career. John Codd (2001) views the university as “the only state-provided institution with a mandate to challenge orthodoxy, to investigate controversial topics and to express unpopular or dissident views” (20). Following this line of thinking, an academic scholar is expected to take on challenges and make difficult decisions that may not be comfortable or agreed with by the government authorities. In this chapter I write about some of my ethical dilemmas in conducting such “high stakes” doctoral research, of going to Iran and of collecting empirical data within an environment of suspicion.
Fieldwork and ethical considerations In order to gain access to an Iranian university to collect data, my initial approach was via an official email letter from my supervisor at The University of Auckland. The email provided information about the purpose of the research and details about the methodology to be used. I also included the set of participant information sheets and consent forms required by The University of Auckland Human Ethics Committee. Once permission was granted and the approval letter was sent by an Iranianbased administrator (whom I will call “Hamish” throughout this study), I travelled to Iran. Whether private or government-funded, each university in Iran has “herasat” or “protection”. According to the Kermanshah University of Medical Science (2012), “herasat is a name given to a department that is responsible for the very delicate and important duties of safety and sustainability” (my own translation). The main concern of herasat is to ensure that government policies are obeyed. Therefore, the people who work for this department, the “Protection Officers”, are chosen carefully and are assigned considerable power by the authorities. There are no published criteria for the selection and appointment of the employees in this department. Rather, a Protection Officer is someone who is loyal to the Velayat e faghih (guardianship system) and has fundamental Islamic beliefs. He or she must be a Shi’ite, the country’s dominant religion, and practise all Islam’s customs. For example, a male officer must have a beard and a female officer must wear the chadoor, a long veil. The responsibilities of the herasat are divided into four categories: physical protection, evidential protection, personnel protection, and information technology protection. I will focus on the two categories of personnel and physical protection which proved most relevant to my research experience. Under the personnel protection category, it is the
herasat’s responsibility to predict and prevent illegal activities within the university grounds, and to report mechanisms which underpin these activities to the proper higher authorities. They are also required to collect, analyse and report to senior authorities any news and information from inside the university and further afield where deemed relevant (Kermanshah University of Medical Science, 2012). The Protection Officers are in charge of surveillance and are required to control the movement of students, lecturers and other people within the university grounds. They stand at the entrance of each university gate and keep an eye on people entering the campus; in the event of any suspicion, they ask to see an identification card. Thus the first dilemma for me emerged in gaining physical access to the university. Despite adhering to Islamic university dress code and blending in with the other female students, I was stopped by a male Protection Officer at the front gate and required to show my student identification card. To satisfy the ethics committee in New Zealand for gaining access to the research setting, I provided the letter of permission from the university administrator (Head of Department) in Iran. However, once in the field, in order to get past the Protection Officers, I could not use that letter since the Islamic “hardliners” have a different view of research from that of the university personnel who granted access. Thus, it was likely that if I introduced myself as a researcher from overseas I would be prohibited from conducting my research despite having written permission from the university administrator. Therefore, I decided to introduce myself as a guest. Consequently, the officer asked me to show my student identification card from another university. When I said that I was not a student in Iran, he became suspicious of my motives and questioned me further on my purpose for being there. Knowing that any mention of being from overseas or of research would make him view me with increased suspicion, I said that I was there to meet a particular administrator. Whilst he gave the impression of not being fully convinced, I persisted— explaining that I had a meeting at 10 that morning and that he could call Hamish to check for himself if he wished. Eventually, he was sufficiently convinced to ask me to leave my national identification card and issue me with a visitor pass. I began my field work equipped with documents about myself, my project, sets of information sheets explaining the purpose of the research and the rights of participants, and institutionally approved consent forms. My plan had been to recruit a random selection of students and lecturers by displaying my call for volunteers on a university notice board. However, once on site, I realised that such an approach was not possible.
Critical Educational Field Work in Iran
Hamish advised me to find participants by going directly to each department and meeting individually with lecturers in charge of teaching EAP. Subsequently, I went directly to the departments and spoke with some of the group coordinators within each department. This was to help me find out which groups were offering EAP courses in that particular semester and to explain my intentions to carry out the research. After an initial meeting with the group coordinators and lecturers, I was able to meet with students and ask for their participation. Despite my assumption that, for many, the invitation to participate in the research was an opportunity for them to talk about their perceptions, experiences, and maybe about problems and issues they had regarding the EAP courses, I found that many students were unwilling to participate. This experience was similar to that mentioned by Homan (1991) who states that social science researchers often find that projects which seem to be obviously in the subjects’ interest are not always perceived as such by the intended participants. He believes that this is at least in part because the researchers “assume that their own rationalisations of research will find credence with their subjects” (Homan 1991, 4). However, in regard to my research I suspected that perhaps some of this reluctance could be traced to the current social and political circumstances of Iran. Once undertaking the interviews, I had anticipated that one difficulty would be how to avoid getting drawn into discussions outside of my research topic. I had been unsure about how to portray this possibility in a way that would be understood by a New Zealand research ethics committee. Indeed, I could not have predicted that it would become such a difficult problem. In interviews with student participants I felt that some of them saw me as someone who was there to help them, to listen to their problems or even talk to higher authorities and make changes. At different times I felt that I had to step outside my role as a researcher and become a personal confidante. I let them speak, and in some instances turned off the recorder and listened to their concerns. In doing so, I “abandoned my researcher identity and assumed the role of confidant[e] and activist for educational reform” (Hamid 2010, 269). In addition, I did not know the extent to which I was going to be recognised as an insider researcher by my Iranian participants, since I had lived in the West and was trained in Western academia and Western ethical norms. However, I was pleased that many of my participants did understand and appreciate the nature and purpose of my research. Some students regarded me as an insider through their conversations by saying “as you know, in ‘our’ time” by referring to me as one of them. Others, however, would consider me as an outsider by saying “I don’t know what
happens in the place where you study but here…” or “in Iran it’s different, people are….”. Inevitably, these different perceptions of my insider/outsider position affected what they were willing to tell me.
Research Ban Since the 2009 uprising, the Iranian government has grown increasingly sensitive to how the world views the heightened tension. One consequence has been that the authorities have restricted reporting by journalists working for foreign media. At the beginning of 2011, a few weeks after my arrival in Iran—and unknown to me at the time—media reported a new law which forbade Iranian students studying abroad from doing research dissertations related to Iran (Students abroad can’t 2011; Entekhabe Resale 2011). This rule applied to all students, both those on Iranian government scholarships and those students paying for their own education. The news caused uproar with several students pointing out that the “Iranian government cannot tell foreign universities how to handle dissertation research” (Students abroad can’t 2011). Majles Ara, the Director General for Student Affairs in the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology—who oversees higher education— explained the rationale for the new edict by saying that “some of the topics chosen by the student might be repetitive” and that the “information in such a dissertation is related to domestic issues” (Students abroad can’t 2011). Similarly Mr Molla Bashi, Assistant Director of Student Affairs in the same ministry, asserted that dissertations relating to topics within a particular country or context should only be written and investigated by citizens of that particular country or context (Entekhabe Resale 2011). Such a response may reflect Iranian officials’ concern for external researchers’ perspectives on Iran. At the time that I began my field work, there was no media mention of the ban for students carrying out research and, after explaining my research, most of my participants expressed positive attitudes towards taking part. I believe that the location of my study in New Zealand, as opposed to any other Western country, made them relatively at ease. New Zealand is perceived within Iran as a peaceful nation and the relationship between the two countries is quite friendly. It was only after I returned to New Zealand that I read the news on websites and learnt about the seriousness of the research ban announcement. To the best of my knowledge, prior to undertaking my field work, there was no mention of this law in public. Even the head of the English language department at the university who suggested the initial idea of the research topic and later
Critical Educational Field Work in Iran
gave me permission for the field work was unaware of its existence during the time I was conducting the interviews and survey. Indeed, in 2010, prior to my visit to Iran there were positive discussions between Iran and New Zealand regarding the development of academic diplomacy and creating opportunities for student exchange programmes. In January 2010, there was an important meeting between Mr Ghorbani, the head of the Department for International and Scientific Cooperation from the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, and the New Zealand ambassador in Iran. At this meeting, Mr Ghorbani emphasised the need for the two countries to strengthen their educational, research and technological relationship (Amadegie vezarate olom 2010). Additionally, he expressed Iran’s readiness to send PhD students to New Zealand for six-month study opportunities. For this reason, when I first heard rumours of a research ban I believed that they would not be substantiated, or if they were that any ban would not apply to Iranian–New Zealand relations. Considering the Iranian government’s ideology and high level of suspicion towards the West, the ban on students from overseas doing research on Iran and the positive communications regarding research student exchange programmes one might question the contradictory nature of Iranian policy and practice. Indeed, Hasib (2004 1) has described Iran as “a nation of contradictions” following the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. Contradiction and paradox are imperative and observable parts of Iranian society. On one hand, since the Islamic revolution of 1979, the Iranian regime has always regarded the West, and most particularly the US, as an enemy and a threat to Islamic values. On the other hand, Iran has a strong desire for integration into the global capitalist economic system. A further contradiction is the amicable relationship between Iran and New Zealand given New Zealand’s position as a Western country.
Reflecting on the experience I found this research to be challenging in several ways. Firstly, there was the issue of access and trust. Before I began writing my research proposal, I had to gain the consent of an administrator in Iran for access to the university. Gaining his support and trust involved face-to-face conversations over a period of several months before embarking on my doctoral journey. In fact, it was as a result of these conversations that I decided on this particular topic for my PhD thesis. However, that was not the end: I still had to work hard to negotiate my way past the Protection Officers, and to then gain access to, and build trust with, the research
participants. Secondly, there were the technical issues of translation. All the interviews were conducted in Farsi, and I had to translate them into English myself such that I kept as much of the cultural and linguistic meaning as possible. Fourthly, and most importantly, there is the, ongoing, issue of academic identity and personal safety. The research ban in 2011 and the Iranian government’s attitude of suspicion towards Iranian student researchers from overseas undermined much of my work. Not only does this mean that my PhD qualification and thesis findings will not be recognised in Iran but, in fact, I will not be able to publish my thesis given the possibility of my participants being recognised and then penalised by the Iranian authorities. Undertaking cross-cultural research from a critical perspective in the highly politicised environment of contemporary Iran has been a challenge. Nevertheless, the experience of undertaking this doctoral journey has been invaluable. In life I have always asked questions and tried to push boundaries in pursuit of digging deep and finding underlying factors that create a mind-set, belief, or a problem. In the same way, this PhD has allowed me the opportunity to investigate and critically examine issues that I keep close to my heart.
References Amadegi e vezarat e olom baraye rah andazi e kursie zaban va adabiate farsi dar zeland e no [Iran’s Ministry of Science ready to launch seat for Persian language and literature in New Zealand]. 2010, January. http://www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8811031233 Entekhab resale ba mozoe Iran baraye daneshjoyane Irani kharej keshvar mamnoo shod [Thesis topic about Iran for Iranian students outside of Iran is banned]. 2011, March. http://www.mehrnews.com/fa/newsdetail.aspx?NewsID=1269793 Codd, J.A. 2001. New Zealand universities and tertiary education policy: TEAC and beyond. Presented to Annual Conference of the New Zealand Association for Research in Education. Christchurch, New Zealand. Durkheim, E.  1956. Education and sociology. New York: Free Press. Gardner, R.C. 2007. Motivation and second language acquisition. Porta Linguarum vol. 8: 9–20. Hamid, M.O. 2010. Fieldwork for language education research in rural Bangladesh: Ethical issues and dilemmas. International Journal of Research & Method in Education vol. 33 no. 3: 259–71.
Critical Educational Field Work in Iran
Hasib, S.W. 2004. The Iranian constitution: An exercise in contradictions. The Fletcher School online Journal for Issues Related to Southwest Asia and Islamic Civilization. http://fletcher.tufts.edu/Al-Nakhlah/ Archives/~/media/Fletcher/…/hasib.ash Homan, R. 1991. The ethics of social research. New York: Longman Inc. Kermanshah University of Medical Science. 2012. University preservation. http://kums.ac.ir/boss-universitypreservation-fa.html Schumann, J.H. 1986. Research on the acculturation model for second language acquisition. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development vol. 7 no. 5: 379–92. Stern, H.H. 1983. Fundamental concepts of language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Students abroad can’t do thesis work on Iran. 2011, March. http://www.indypressny.org/nycma/voices/467/news/news_7/ The author: Saba Kiani is a doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland and is due to submit her thesis in 2014. She left Iran and started secondary school in New Zealand and has always envisioned research into Iranian education. Saba believes that it is the task of humanities and social sciences scholars from autocratic societies to use the opportunities and freedoms they have in democratic settings to perform research not otherwise possible in their motherlands. She hopes that Critical Studies doctoral candidates doing cross-cultural research will find her story encouraging and inspiring.
CHAPTER SIXTEEN EXAMINING ETHICS: COMMENTARY ROBIN SMALL
When students entering a doctoral programme in education set out on their journey toward completion of a full-scale research project, they are expected to have a sound background knowledge of the literature on their topic, a grasp of the best methodology for their research design, and the ability to present their findings in academic style. Understandably, perhaps, they may not be as concerned with another dimension of educational research: the ethical issues that it raises. Sometimes they find out about this the hard way. The new researcher’s first encounter with the ethical dimension will usually be gaining the approval of an institutional ethical review committee. Here they can expect guidance and backup from their academic supervisors, who also sign off on the application. Approval is generally a routine business. Ethics committees are familiar with common kinds of research design, and do not need to rethink their judgements from first principles. They go by precedent and need to note only the variations that any new case involves. Issues involving research design can be dealt with in advance by the researcher, and do not need to arise again once the formal approval process has been completed, Some doctoral experiences, however, are not so straightforward. We see examples in the chapters contributed by Melanie Drake, Saba Kiani, Marek Tesar and Donella Cobb. They all found themselves facing ethical problems that were not foreseen, or not fully appreciated, when they prepared their research proposals within a more sheltered environment. As Tesar puts it, “What the literature had not prepared me for was the amount of flexibility and quick, on-the-spot decisions that I would need to make in the archives, which determined to a large extent the way my research progressed.” What can we learn from the experiences that these doctoral candidates describe? First and foremost, that institutional procedures for
Examining Ethics: Commentary
addressing the ethical dimension of educational research cover only some of the issues researchers may find themselves facing. In this discussion I want to make some observations about those other questions. The real ethical issues for these researchers began in the field where each of them faced unexpected problems. None of these were of their own making. Melanie Drake made the startling discovery that the policy implementation she planned to study was absent from the reality of her chosen school. This absence became itself the subject of a new and revealing study. Tesar and Kiani both ran into obstruction on the part of (quite literal) gatekeepers, and had to use ingenuity and flexibility to find ways of getting past. Both had the advantage of a local background, and so were able to manoeuvre around the obstacles with some success. It was Donella Cobb who faced the most intractable problem of all. Her plans were overtaken by a sharp change of political climate in the country where her project was located. The need to affiliate with a government agency and share data with the authorities was a severe handicap, compromising the independence of her research. The consequence was that her participants ran the danger of persecution at the hands of new civil and political authorities. None of these problems had figured in the process of ethical approval. In fact, Tesar had not been required to gain ethical approval for his project, to be conducted in archives and based on documentation, rather than with subjects or informants, through interviews or focus groups. As he explains, “I wanted to explore memoirs, letters, government documents, kindergarten records and official and underground children’s literature.” As his account shows, however, the reality of fieldwork raised serious ethical problems for the conduct of his research. Even where these researchers found ways of meeting the challenges of their situation, new ethical issues arose for them out of their findings. For example, Drake had to balance truthfulness with sensitivity to the predicament of teachers facing impossible demands in their daily work. We would expect researchers to be cautious in making judgements in any case, but as a teacher herself, she clearly felt under an obligation to treat her fellow teachers in accordance with the collegiality that is valued within professional cultures. Another graduate of Auckland University, Leon Benade, has recently discussed related issues in an excellent book, based on his doctoral research, that explores the situation of teaching as an ethical profession in today’s society (Benade 2012). There are reasons for the limitations of ethical approval processes. The work of ethics committees in their established form is driven primarily by a perceived need to safeguard the rights of research participants. The
system was set up in order to counteract long-established traditions of paternalism in professional practice and its associated forms of academic research. Designed originally to address biomedical research, it tends to assume that researchers have far more knowledge and power than the subjects who participate in their projects. (In fact, this is already implied in the word “subject”.) The model works far less well for the social sciences, although it has been steadily extended over recent decades to cover those kinds of research as well (Schrag 2010). In these disciplines, the researcher is much less in control of the situation, and participants are not passive subjects, but respondents or informants. Any power relations are therefore far less one-sided, and the researcher may not even be the most powerful actor in the situation. Hence, the ethical problems raised by research projects tend to be different, and more likely to involve questions about confidentiality and the ownership and control of knowledge than about informed consent. One obvious feature of ethical review procedures is that they occur before the research activities that involve participants get under way. Hence, they deal with the issues that can be identified in advance within a project design. In biomedical research, this is generally fairly straightforward, but in the social sciences, to which the majority of educational research belongs, the unexpected will be more common. It is striking that the projects described in these chapters did not turn out as planned, and one was not completed at all, although the author tells us that her doctoral research will “continue to move forward on a new highway”. Such events are not rare phenomena in academic life, which sees many unrealised plans, failed experiments, false trails and uncompleted books. All these look like bad outcomes, and yet running a risk of failure, relying on trial and error, and learning through one’s mistakes, are features of sound learning strategies. According to philosophers such as Karl Popper, scientific knowledge progresses precisely through conjecture and refutation, followed by new theories which, in turn, have to face the same challenges (Popper 1961). The point can be made the other way about: setbacks and failures in research can be avoided by sticking to safe projects that involve only what is already familiar. But there is already more than enough routine research in academic journals and books. To their credit, the researchers in this section did not take that path. One could argue that their choices were the right ones. The emphasis on research outputs in today’s universities is understandable, but it does have a tendency to promote research that is guaranteed to produce results, and to discourage projects that run a serious risk of not going according to plan. Funding sources will be reluctant to
Examining Ethics: Commentary
gamble on getting a return for their money, and widely publicised episodes like the “cold fusion” bubble of 1989 have left a legacy of distrust in their wake. So it is encouraging to see Peter Gluckman, the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, recently warning that “[T]oo much of our scientific enterprise has become unduly conservative and risk-averse with consequences that will incur a significant cost to New Zealand in the long run” (Gluckman 2013). As well as avoiding this danger, can we prepare our new researchers to expect the unexpected, and to cope with the need to make decisions outside the relatively unpressured environment of their academic home base? This is a much harder question to answer. Educational research is a practical activity within a complex world. In that regard it is like educational practice. University-based instruction alone cannot give preservice students everything they need to become capable and professional practitioners. The old philosophical distinction between “knowledge by description” and “knowledge by acquaintance” (more succinctly expressed in languages like French and German) applies here. Of course, the same situation is common enough in everyday life. Anyone with experience of practical decision-making knows that rules alone are never enough to provide all the answers. So it is with research ethics as well. One of the best-known approaches to the subject, drawing on a mixture of philosophical and cultural sources, sets out four supposedly “basic” ethical principles: respect for autonomy; beneficence; non-maleficence; and justice (Beauchamp and Childress 1994). But further thinking of a problem-solving kind will very often be needed to arrive at actual decisions within a concrete situation. As the villainous Captain Barbossa says in Pirates of the Caribbean, referring to the contents of a supposed pirate code of conduct, “They’re more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.” Something similar can be learned from the deliberations of institutional review committees, as well as the behaviour of researchers faced with ethical dilemmas. As an illustration, we may consider another problem area in research ethics. What are the ethical expectations for research into illegal behaviours? Typically such research promises to benefit the community by helping to identify the nature and cause of various activities that do harm to others. But an ethical problem arises when researchers come into possession of knowledge (about drug dealing, for example) that in other circumstances one would expect them, as good citizens, to report to the police. The standard solution is to justify holding back from doing that by emphasising the contribution that the research may make to the greater good of society. Similar arguments have been applied to research
that involves deception, a practice that on the face of things is forbidden by official codes of research ethics. These cases confirm that, as J.H. Newman once put it, “There is no rule in this world without exceptions” (Newman 1875). What I think emerges from these reflections is that the ethics of educational research should not be treated in isolation. Many of its issues are the same as those that arise in professional practice. That is not surprising, given that researchers are often teachers themselves, who may even be carrying out their inquiries within their own workplaces. Further, similar issues occur in situations that have nothing to do with research. Ethics is a part of everyday life, and we expect the people we interact with in the workplace and elsewhere to have a capacity to deal with new situations as well as familiar ones. Research ethics should be approached in the same light. One moral to be drawn is that meeting the expectations of their institution’s ethical review committee should not be treated by researchers as their first and last engagement with the ethical dimension of their research projects, even when circumstances do not raise new and unforeseen problems. Reading these chapters, at any rate, we can see that the new generation of researchers is bringing its own ethical awareness to today’s—and tomorrow’s—educational research.
References Beauchamp, T.L. and J.F. Childress. 1994. Principles of biomedical ethics. (4th edn. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Benade, L. 2012. From technicians to teachers: Ethical teaching in the context of globalised education reform. London, UK: Bloomsbury Academic. Gluckman, P. 2013. Research should be a clever and risky business. http://www.pmcsa.org.nz/blog/research-should-be-a-clever-and-riskybusiness/ Newman, J.H. 1875. A letter addressed to the Duke of Norfolk on occasion of Mr. Gladstone's recent expostulation. http://www.newmanreader.org/Works/anglicans/volume2/gladstone/se ction4.html Popper, K.R. 1963. Conjectures and refutations: The growth of scientific knowledge. London, UK: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Schrag, Z.M. 2010. Ethical imperialism: Institutional review boards and the social sciences, 1965–2009. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Examining Ethics: Commentary
The author: Robin Small is Professor of Philosophy of Education at the University of Auckland. His most recent books are Time and becoming in Nietzsche's thought (London: Continuum, 2010) and Karl Marx: The revolutionary as educator (Dordrecht: Springer, 2014). He is currently working on a full-length study of the ethical dimension of educational research.
SECTION IV: REFLECTING PRACTICE
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN GIVING VOICE TO ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION TUTORS: JOURNEYING TOWARDS PHENOMENOLOGICAL AND POETIC METHODOLOGY ADRIAN SCHOONE
In this chapter, Adrian Schoone describes how he arrives at an arts-based research methodology for his doctoral studies. He outlines three critical moments where giving voice to tutors entails: redefining the impetus of the research; discovering poetic inquiry as a legitimate and valuable methodology; and grappling with his role as insider-researcher. Adrian presents research gleanings as a series of poems from/about tutors to demonstrate the results of navigating these critical moments. His chapter challenges researchers to consider using alternative and unexpected methodologies because knowing in different ways can lead to knowing about different things.
This chapter describes critical moments along my research journey using phenomenology and poetic inquiry to explore Alternative Education (AE) tutoring. These moments affirm the direction of my research inquiry, cause me to re-think choices or encourage deeper reflexivity. I explore these moments in the contexts of defining my research question, grappling with methodology and considering the ethics of research that requires me to work closely with professional colleagues from my work context. I articulate my experience of the pathway forward unfolding at these critical points rather how Robert Frost (2013, 105) puts it in his poem “The Road not Taken”, where “way leads to way”. Moreover, his description of the “road less travelled” resonates with my choice of using an emergent methodology. I present some findings to show the outcome from making these critical decisions, and demonstrate the possibilities that appear when exploring phenomena in this way.
Giving Voice to Alternative Education Tutors
On the way from effectiveness to essences The first critical turning point of my PhD occurs when I redefine my primary research question. As I have been working professionally in the AE sector in New Zealand for the past 11 years I am keen to understand the role of tutors as the key educators for youth “at-risk”; students excluded from their mainstream schools due generally to misbehaviour or chronic truancy. The tutors are not qualified teachers but draw their pedagogy from life experiences and expertise in other areas, such as youth work or a trade. The use of tutors is contentious and this was demonstrated most acutely by the following statement in a submission made to the Ministry of Education’s review of the sector in 2009: “It is extraordinary that any responsible system would place some of its most difficult students in the hands of those who are least trained regardless of how well meaning they might be” (Langley 2009, 6). I see this statement as condescending and this motivates me to launch a study defending AE practices with a focus on tutor effectiveness; I begin to think in terms of: statistical aggressions (!), triangulations, extrapolations, falsifications, effect sizes, collating, comparisons and charts demonstrating computations of tutor effectiveness ratings
However, this logical positivist view dismantles when I reflect critically on the nature of AE, which speaks implicitly about reframing formal education through a relational ethic. I realize that a study examining effective teaching practices is likely to play into notions of AE receiving credibility through benchmarking against a mainstream ideal, and, in doing so, eliminating the distinctive characteristics of AE; namely its diverse practices and understandings of what counts as achievement. Furthermore, effectiveness itself is a problematic concept. Who sets the rules for what counts as effective? Can effectiveness be counted? Perhaps the system is more “at-risk” than the students? Rather than think solely in terms of advocacy these are intriguing questions for me to posit that will fit within the mandate of a PhD to contribute originally and meaningfully to the field of knowledge.
I sense that a more fundamental question needs asking first: “Who is the AE tutor?” There is little understanding in research literature or in the general public discourse of the nature of the tutor and the expertise they bring to the education setting. One AE literature review describes the tutor as a person who is “empathetic, with a vocation for working with wayward youth” by “hanging out” with students (O’Brien, Thesing and Herbert 2001, vi). This description provides a narrow view of the tutor as it does not encompass their pedagogical responsibilities, which is a clear expectation for most. I feel that, without knowing the unique characteristics of the tutor, the role will become increasingly vulnerable to take-over by the competing conceptualisations of “teaching” and “youth work”. With a clear understanding of my research purpose my next critical moment is choosing a methodology that will enable me to both describe “what is” and give voice to my research participants. I decide to explore phenomenology as a research philosophy and methodology. This is so I can attempt to approach the research with a pre-theoretical lens, as phenomenology supposes “a world where things do appear to us, things are truly disclosed” (Sokolowski 2000, 25). I particularly endeavour to find the meaning of tutoring from the tutor’s lived experiences, an intent supported by phenomenology. For example van Manen (1982, 284) contends that understanding does not come from examining prescriptive elements or life philosophies but meaning and significance are “immanent to its very ontology”. I set out to find meaning that appears from the very heart, core or the pith. For me the following MƗori whakatauki (proverb) encapsulates this sentiment: Rurea, taitea. Kia tǌ ko taikƗkƗ anake Strip away the bark and expose the heartwood
I see stripping away the bark as a metaphor for questioning assumptions and moving beyond theoretical constructs, allowing the research subject’s essence to come forth and blossom. At this point I re-define my research question to read “what is the essence of the alternative education tutor?” Heidegger (1977, 115) maintains essence “is the way in which something pursues its course” or “the manner in which it endures in its presencing”. Rather than seeking to define tutoring, my research aims to explore tutors’ lived experiences and to present some appearances of tutors. Specifically I wonder if the lack of formal teacher training provides the tutors with access to a language uncomplicated with curriculum discourse? I suspect that this helps tutors build relationships with their students. Perhaps the tutor language resonates
Giving Voice to Alternative Education Tutors
with their students’ rhythmic language? Perhaps the phrases tutors speak accomplish a sense of sustained “presencing” within the student precipitating personal transformation? Perhaps the tutors’ language is poetic in nature?
On the way from phenomenology to poetic inquiry My observation of the poetic nature of tutor discourse is a critical moment, which leads me to explore poetic forms of research that both resonate with the way I perceive my research participants to be in the world, and myself as researcher. Also, I find poetic methodology complements my pursuit for essences by couching this in an arts-based understanding of essence. As Leavy (2009, 63) demonstrates, poems are “surrounded by space and weighted by silence, break through the noise to present an essence”. Poetry has the potential to capture moments through artful use of language and the affective qualities of the moment are preserved in the lyrical rendering. Poetic inquiry is an arts-based research method using poetry and poetic techniques to gather, analyse and represent research findings. Prendergast and Faulkner are two researchers who write extensively on this method (see Faulkner 2009; Prendergast, Leggo, and Sameshima 2009;). Through my use of poetic inquiry I hope to introduce readers to the research findings in ways that facilitate an affective “knowing” of those who work with a group of students the New Zealand Ministry of Education has termed “alienated”. Unfortunately due to misunderstandings regarding the role of tutors, they are often as alienated as their students. By privileging the voices of the tutors I seek to develop a critical action that disrupts the hegemony of prosaic ways of knowing and being in the world. In a range of studies in education and health settings poetic inquiry enables the voices of the marginalised to be heard. For this reason I decide to use a “found poetry” technique whereby I will re-create into poetic representations instances of tutor speech that resonate with me, from the semi-structured interviews I hold, and the samples of tutor language in classrooms, down corridors, in vans and at meetings. Found poetry is: …a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and re-framing them as poetry by making changes in spacing and/or lines (and consequently meaning), or by altering the text by additions and/or deletions. (The Found Poetry Review 2011, n.p.)
In the research context, Cahnmann (2003) describes found poetry as researchers writing down images, metaphors and overheard phrases. She suggests “paying attention to the rhythms of speech in communities” has the ability to represent and interpret complexity in education settings (31). For me it is to find poetry that Rosenthal (1974, 5) contends is “in the provinces of everyone’s thoughts”. Laurel Richardson (1992), as a pioneer of found poetry in research, writes of her struggle to engage with sociological text—where the prose suppresses the lived experiences of research participants, and the voice of the researcher. In her study of unmarried mothers Richardson (1992) finds a way to overcome this struggle. She tells the story of “Louisa May” in poetic form. After transcribing an interview recording into 36 pages of text, she fashions it into a three-page poem using only the words of Lousia May, her tone and diction, but relies on “poetic devices such as repetition, off-rhyme, meter, and pause to convey her narrative” (Richardson 1992, 126). Similarly Glesne (1997) interviews Puerto Rican educationalist Dona Juana and crafts the interview into poetic form. She uses the words and phrases of her research participant, pulling them together from any place within the interview to create juxtaposition. Glesne highlights that the purpose of scripting poetry is to understand the essences. The work of both Richardson and Glesne provide me with the confidence that the research methodology, although oblique, is a legitimate and powerful way to represent the lived experiences of research participants. Despite my growing awareness of the range of supporting literature, I begin to wonder whether I am too far on the fringes of acceptable methodologies. Is this PhD research? Will it work? When I am asked about my research I find myself struggling to summon the words to talk about my methods in ways people would both understand and see as a legitimate research activity: FRIEND: You’re doing what? ME: Catching the phrases tutors speak and turning them into poems/ lyrics/ poetic representations. FRIEND: That’s out-there, not what I expected!
On the way from manager to researcher This PhD research arises from my professional work for the past 11 years as an AE provider manager, teacher and chairperson of the AE national body. My employing organisation is one of New Zealand’s most
Giving Voice to Alternative Education Tutors
long-standing AE providers with a 14-year history. Therefore of the AE centres in New Zealand, it is a highly likely context in which to find the fully embodied AE tutor role. I think of myself as researching from an emic perspective, wherein I seek to transcend the research context through this anthropological perspective, which Postman and Weingartner (1969) describe as the act of “subversive intellectuals” who can be “part of his own culture and, at the same time, out of” (4). This research positions me in the in-between, a liminal space between my roles of researcher and professional manager. However, there are particular ethical concerns associated with this liminal space. The unequal power relationship between the research participants and myself is the first ethical situation I work through. As I am a manager I am concerned that participants may feel obliged to participate in the research or be concerned that what I observe may inform their performance reviews. In practice, due to the organisation’s size and my particular responsibilities, I have few opportunities to work with AE tutors. Furthermore, I am not in a position to appraise their performance. I am seeking 6–8 participants in an organisation that employs 20 tutors, and the management board of my organisation makes it clear to potential participants that taking part in the research is entirely voluntary. To minimise the possibility of unintended pressure, a research assistant who is not employed by the organisation is used to present the research project to tutors, set appointment times and act as an intermediary if participants wish to raise concerns. These measures help define me as “the researcher” by creating distance between my roles. The following journal entry demonstrates my struggles in this liminal space between being a manager and being a researcher when collecting data at the AE centre. My entry starts with my concern with effectiveness but later I seem to make peace and see the unique characteristics of AE. I “peer over the top” of effectiveness. I begin to critically examine the timetable of mainstream schools and wonder if AE is a place where it is just as important to “be” as it is “to do”. Like some mainstream headache that comes back at me, I wonder about tutor effectiveness and “if I were a tutor I would have these kids doing unit standard work at 9am”. From 9–10 I felt the pace was too slow. Is this another mainstream idea about rushing education, rushing between classes? There are no bells (and definitely no bells and whistles) in AE! So the nature of time is different in AE centres. With no bells and factory precision there is emphasis on “being” and knowing your “being” in relation to others. I see a lot of whole class teaching because learning is something that happens together. (Journal entry, 7.03.13)
Coming into the research setting as a manager undoubtedly creates ethical challenges and barriers when I collect data. I acknowledge that my presence may suppress some evocative language, creating a negative space where tutors may change their language to either what they think is correct pedagogical discourse or suppress their expressive language through editing or keeping quiet. One way I seek to mitigate this is by visiting the research setting regularly in the hope of desensitizing people to my presence. On occasions I arrive at centres to find nobody there despite the fact that I made an appointment. Perhaps they have gone off-site for physical education, to work on the community garden or for a music session at the local radio station. I am strangely reassured by their forgetting my visit. Perhaps in their eyes I have become “just the researcher”, and am treated like anyone else. On other occasions I am reminded that this form of research is an act of giving by the research participants and I am privileged to be privy to the tutors’ and students’ stories. I am conscious of my response and how I treat my findings. One tutor becomes emotional when she talks about her students, and I reflect on this exchange in my research journal: She is tearful talking about the girls; I ask her if she worries. “She sleeps in parks if stuff goes down at home.” I see her long face on a park bench under shadowy trees (Journal entry 01.03.13)
I will eventually thread these journal entries into my thesis and render some as poetic representations.
Research gleanings: a methodology realised In this section I present some poetic gleanings from my fieldwork which are the result of the critical choices I am making along the way. I present one poem written by myself using a metaphor that I found spoken by a tutor. Following this are two poems found from tutor interview transcripts and the final example is poetic discourse caught on the field. All of these poems will contribute to understanding the essences of tutoring. waiting for the curtain to move [Researcher’s poem from tutor metaphor] the van idles like the curtains that hang over the large ranch-slider window
Giving Voice to Alternative Education Tutors
Ropata jumps from the van, bounds up to the door, one hand pulling up his low riding shorts, the other knocks deathly silence is borrowed from the cemetery over the road only we are at this wake there will be a few echoes in the classroom today—the tutor says as we drive away
The poem above arises from data I collect when accompanying tutors picking up so-called “youth at-risk” who do not attend mainstream schools. The pick-up strategy is designed to engage the students and transport them safely to their allocated AE provider. Typically, I sit in the front seat of a large, white, nondescript van as we drive around the streets of South Auckland gathering the students. With my small, black, leather writing pad on my knee that reminds me of a police officer’s notebook, I jot down thoughts that come to mind, together with words and phrases the tutor directs to me or the students. I am searching for the poetic discourse that somehow rises through the tutors’ everyday language. So early in the morning the houses’ curtains are often still closed as the van pulls up close to the front door, the horn toots and after a few minutes where action suspends, a student emerges, tumbles down the stairs and hops into the van. At another house we wait for one student, who never appears, the tutor remarks that he is “waiting for the curtain to move.” He explains that often when he drives away after a student has not come from the house he looks back to see if the curtain moves aside, imagining those inside peering through the small opening waiting for the van to leave. I scribble down this phrase “waiting for the curtain to move” and dwell on it as a metaphorical door through which I can understand the tutor. I meditate on the picture of the curtain moving aside ever-so slightly and imagine it as symbolic of the tutor’s relationship with the students. The tutors wait patiently for the student to be open to them, shown by moving the curtain aside to let the light in. Only the student can choose to pull back covers that hide, and eventually join with the class in the “vehicle” of learning. From this metaphor I discern that an essence of tutoring is their determination to wait with patient expectation for students to be open with them. a classmate teaching (Found poetry from interview transcript) one of their own up there they didn’t think it was going to work i said “just give him a chance”
it’s good for me just to sit down and he delivered it well
This found poem provides insight to how tutors empower their students to share their knowledge with other students. It reflects the MƗori pedagogical concept of tuakana-teina, where the older (brother, sister or cousin) teaches the younger (sibling or cousin). In this case the tutor gives the student the power to teach and this is reinforced symbolically by positioning the student “up there” and the tutor sits down. My observations in the field show that, for a large part of the day, students and tutors sit in circular formations, move in groups, and are usually physically at the same level. But when it is time for delivering the “formal curriculum”, such as English or Mathematics, it is often taught by the tutor standing at the front of the classroom and the students sitting behind desks. Despite this traditional classroom set-up, the tutor inverts the process by sharing his power. In essence, a tutor does not seek to teach from a position of power but negotiates power through developing critical relationships with students. the pink blouse (Found poetry from interview transcript) very hard to pin her down very hard to keep her at school she suddenly turned up in a pink blouse the one that was in to all the black arts
This poem reflects a re-occurring AE motif: students’ transforming. This speaks to the essence of tutor purpose and motivation. In the AE context transformation often equates with the students’ social and behavioural skills improving coupled with changes in appearance. I find it intriguing that the tutor represents the transformation by using colour; from “black” to “pink.” It is as if the outward appearance symbolizes an internal shift, although her appearance back at school after she was “hard to pin down” implies her attitude to school has changed. The transformation appears abrupt, and so it leaves me wondering what happens in the in-between? An analysis of further poetic representations will hopefully provide some understanding of the methods tutors employ that influence their students to make positive changes in their lives; the following poem touches on this. conversation with and about Keita (Found poetry from field-work) your dad ok now? she was away for a week looking after her mum
Giving Voice to Alternative Education Tutors
you help out a lot at home? Keita’s a good girl, she’s responsible, she tells girls off you can pray for them she’s like a third tutor you’re a treasure
I find this poem through a conversation in the centre. The tutor is talking to her student but also turns aside and explains the student’s situation to me, which I represent in italics. The final words of the poem “you’re a treasure” is a typical declarative phrase I find tutors make regularly. I suspect these statements provide some clues to understanding how tutors attempt to provide transformational pedagogy through a provocative alternative discourse. This finds some legitimation through the meaning inherent in the word poem, which derives from the Greek poiƝsis; to create, a bringing-forth. Heidegger (1977, 10) elaborates on this concept by quoting Plato’s Symposium (205b): “Every occasion for whatever passes over and goes forward into presencing from that which is not presencing is poiƝsis, is bringing-forth.” The implication that I am considering here is whether tutor discourse goes forth to create alternative dwelling places for students? Poet Emily Dickinson (1960, 327) reflects the potentiality of poetry to create dwelling places in this way: I dwell in Possibility— A fairer House than Prose— More numerous of Windows— Superior—for Doors—
The research gleanings I present in this section provide me with confidence that these poetic inquiry methods suit the purpose of giving voice to the research participants and exploring essences. In forthcoming workshops I will check with tutors on the accuracy of the essences I have distilled and provide opportunities where we can create poetic representations together. Co-constructing research data is important to ensure that the research process does not alienate the tutors, keeping in mind Buber’s (2002) contention that those who are alienated are alienated from creating and recreating.
On the way to provocative discourse This chapter articulates some of my way through the PhD journey. Returning to Frost’s (2013, 105) poem as a touchstone, choosing the “road less traveled by” has indeed “made all the difference”. My research is taking me to places I never imagined through negotiating critical moments. Discovering phenomenological thought has helped me to move strides away from looking at effectiveness; I now search for glimmers of meaning in moments I tie together through poetry, which provides a basis for understanding essence. Bringing the distinct voice of the AE tutor to education discourse is a political act that is potentially provocative, particularly if the sound the tutor brings speaks for values and pedagogies that have either been lost within mainstream education or are yet to be discovered. The tutor lets be And the tutor says “be/autiful” The tutor waits for the beautiful anticipated transformation
References Buber, M. 2002. Between man and man. London: Routledge. Cahnmann, M. 2003. The craft, practice, and possibility of poetry in educational research. Educational Researcher vol. 32 no. 3: 29–36. Dickinson, E. 1960. I dwell in possibility. In Complete poems, 1st ed., ed. T. Johnson, 27, Boston: Little Brown. Faulkner, S. 2009. Poetry as method: Reporting research through verse. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press. Frost, R. 2013. The road not taken. In The collected poems of Robert Frost, ed. E. Lathem, 105. London: Vintage Books. Glesne, C. 1997. That rare feeling: Representing research through poetic transcription. Qualitative Inquiry vol. 3 no. 2: 202–22. Heidegger, M. 1977. The question concerning technology and other essays, trans. W. Lovitt. New York: Harper and Row. Langley, J. 2009. Submissions from the youth justice independent advisory group: Alternative education. Court in the Act: A Regular Newsletter for the Entire Youth Justice Community vol. 42 nos. 6–7. Leavy, P. 2009. Method meets art: Arts-based research practice. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
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O’Brien, P., A. Thesing, and P. Herbert. 2001. Alternative education: Literature review and report on key informants' experiences. Wellington, NZ: Ministry of Education. Prendergast, M., C. Leggo, and P. Sameshima, eds. 2009. Poetic inquiry: Vibrant voices in the social sciences. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Postman, N. and C. Weingartner. 1969. Teaching as a subversive activity. New York: Delta Publishing. Richardson, L. 1992. The consequences of poetic representation: Writing the other, rewriting the self. In Research on lived experience, ed. C. Ellis and M. Flaherty, 125–37. Newbury Park: Sage Publications. Rosenthal, M. 1974. Poetry and the common life. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Sokolowski, R. 2000. Introduction to phenomenology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. The Found Poetry Review. 2011. Definition of found poetry. http://www.foundpoetryreview.com/about van Manen, M. 1982. Phenomenological pedagogy. Curriculum Inquiry vol. 12 no. 3: 283–99. The author: Adrian Schoone is a Doctoral Candidate in the School of Critical Studies at the University of Auckland. After working as a primary school teacher for almost six years Adrian decided to ‘help out’ an Alternative Education (AE) provider. Some 11 years on Adrian’s involvement has included a variety of roles: teaching, managing and chairing the AE National Body. His PhD study has given him an opportunity to return to his creative self through using an arts-based methodology.
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN UNDERSTANDING THE ECONOMIES OF APPLIED THEATRE: A RESPONSIVE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THEORY, PRACTICE AND METHOD MOLLY MULLEN
This chapter addresses the challenge of researching the work of other practitioners. Drawing on Hughes et al.’s (2011) notion of a “practised method”, Molly proposes a critical research stance based on a responsive interrelationship between practice, theory, method and wider social justice issues. Focusing on two key moments, she considers what it has meant to take this stance at different phases in her doctoral journey. This chapter encourages doctoral researchers to find an approach to critical research that supports the practice undertaken by their research participants.
I started my PhD because I wanted to address a number of questions and concerns about the impact of funding relationships on the creation, implementation and outcomes of “applied theatre”. Applied theatre is a term used to describe an expansive family of socially engaged participatory drama and performance practices. These practices take place in diverse sites and contexts often involving people who have been marginalised or disadvantaged by particular social discourses and systems. Applied theatre is not defined by a single philosophical or practical approach. In fact, I would argue, sustaining an inclusive, informed and critical debate around different ideologies and practices is one of the field’s greatest strengths. What applied theatre practices share is a political or pedagogical intention; artists and activists working in this area are committed to the belief that theatre can effect change in some way, at some level. The way in which applied theatre tends to get funding seems to have become one of its defining features. Nicholson (2011) suggests: “It is
Understanding the Economies of Applied Theatre
often, but not always, funded by charities or the public sector who have particular interests in promoting the well-being of a particular group, or in encouraging public engagement in specific issues” (2011, 241). Dependency on external funding can make applied theatre practices vulnerable to donors’ demands, particularly when the ideologies, values and intentions of the practice are left ambiguous (Balfour 2009). Taking funding from the state and other sponsors is seen to compromise both the aesthetic ideal of artistic autonomy and the social ideal of serving the needs and interests of participants. I started my PhD having worked for over ten years creating and managing applied theatre projects; experiencing first-hand the practical and ethical challenges of working with funders. Reading the available literature, I was disheartened by the lack of positions and strategies available to people who were negotiating the tangled webs of funding relationships on a daily basis. To address this, my research started with the aim of constructing a more complex understanding of the ways in which theatre companies experience and manage their funding relationships in their day-to-day work. By looking at issues of funding and management in applied theatre alongside practising companies it was my intention to try and identify possibilities for navigating this murky terrain. This chapter addresses two key “shifts” in my doctoral research journey. The first is a shift in the scope of my research, which took place as I struggled to make connections between theoretical ideas and my research topic. The second relates to the movement between theory and practice and how this can shift understandings and research relationships. Both shifts contributed to my developing understanding of what it means to be a critical researcher. Hughes, writing with Kidd and McNamara (2011) observes how many methodological approaches to researching applied theatre developed in response to the participatory and politically engaged ethos of practice in the field; using, for example, “reflexive and critical methods as part of addressing wider issues of social justice and equity” (186). Hughes et al. emphasise the importance of “reciprocal and ethical knowledge practices” that emerge within research processes (187) and of using “responsive practised methods that support the creative, social and political aims of projects” (188). This conception of applied theatre research as strongly engaged with practice and addressing wider social and political processes informs my stance as a researcher and my view of what it is to be critical. A practised method involves a relationship between research and practice in which the former is not applied to the latter from a distance, but where different knowledge practices combine or collide:
As such, theory-led ‘modes’ of research might be usefully reconceptualised as part of a broad practice-based methodology that privileges practice as a means of generating theoretical knowledge, and theoretical endeavour as a practised form of knowledge that has critical and affective force when brought into relation to practice [emphasis in original]. (Hughes et al. 2011, 193)
The notion of a practised method challenged me to consider how I might engage with the applied practices of three different theatre companies and find a shared critical focus on issues of funding and management. This meant thinking carefully about how to sustain a responsive interrelationship between practice, theory, method and wider social justice issues.
Shift 1: A critical challenge to the scope of my research Very early in my doctoral journey, an encounter with feminist economic theories unexpectedly shifted the scope of my research. This was not a straightforward process, but one that involved ongoing doubt and self-questioning. It started with a suggestion from my supervisor: Molly and her supervisor are seated at a table in her supervisor’s office. They have been discussing some notes and diagrams that Molly has been working on as she tries to work out her research topic and questions, these papers are spread unevenly across the table. PETER: Hmm…So, it feels like you’re getting closer, doesn’t it? MOLLY: Does it? I’m glad you think so; I certainly don’t feel like I am getting anywhere near settling on a defined topic or question. I’ve been reading as much as I can about management and funding in applied theatre specifically, or the arts… PETER: And… MOLLY: There seems to be a general discomfort with the idea that art makes money. The aesthetic or morals of ‘commercial art’ are seen as ‘compromised’. That the best art is made outside of economic imperatives, that artists should be poor, starving and idealistic, that managers are greedy, corrupt and self-serving or weak and easily manipulated by others [Research journal 7-06-2011]…So there’s something about the way applied theatre relates with the economy and the way this is managed… But, …I still need to get a better understanding of economic theory, I am not even clear on what is meant by ‘the economy’…
Understanding the Economies of Applied Theatre
PETER: Tell me you’re not just going to look at Adam Smith! MOLLY: I’ve no idea where to start! PETER: Have you read Marilyn Waring? She was a New Zealand politician in the 1980s and she has written something about the value of the arts, arts education …see if you can find that perhaps? Molly dutifully writes down the name in her notebook to follow up later. (Scene scripted from research journal entries May–June 2011)
It would be possible to look at funding relationships in applied theatre from a traditional economic perspective, commencing a research study with the aim of producing, as objectively as possible, a generalisable set of principles for or a model of effective funding relationships. This approach is well-illustrated in Rushton’s (2003a, 2003b) analyses of artistic freedom and artists’ rights. He describes the traditional economic view as one that “plays down any consideration of abstract rights (‘nonsense upon stilts’) and instead looks for legal frameworks that maximise aggregate wealth, broadly defined” (Rushton 2003a, 64). Here, analysis of funding relationships and related issues of artistic rights and freedoms, are achieved through modelling. The aim of such analytic processes might be, for example, working out “the optimal degree of statutory control politicians should place on publically funded arts councils…” (Rushton 2003a, 67). Striving to sustain apparent neutrality, the primary concern of this kind of analysis is how to maintain an efficient level of cultural production, maximise wealth accumulation and reduce transaction costs (Rushton 2003a, 66–67). Research within this paradigm has generated a great deal of knowledge about arts funding and has been particularly effective in speaking to politicians and policy-makers. This approach, however, limits the kinds of questions that get asked and the methods for engaging with the issue. The problem here is fundamentally a technical one. Methods are implemented that reduce the complexities of lived experience into a model that can then be abstracted, de-contextualized and generalised. My research is driven by a concern with the dimensions of funding relationships that might be dismissed by the above economic perspective as abstract and “nonsensical”, including the ethical, political, pedagogic and aesthetic. I am interested in the complex and lived experience of managing funding relationships and how this is entangled in wider social and political webs. To be able to research in a way that responded to, rather than reduced, the complexity of applying theatre I needed a theoretical lens that would
enable me to see and engage with the multiple dimensions of practice not just the technical. Molly is working at her PC. On her screen is the university’s library catalogue. Next to her is a copy of Counting for nothing: What men value and what women are worth by Marilyn Waring (1999). Molly searches for something that Marilyn has written about the arts or arts education and value. She can’t find anything directly about the arts but she starts to read the book’s introduction and then to make notes. (Scene scripted from research journal entries May–June 2011)
Since the early 1990s feminist economic theorists have been rethinking the discipline of economics and its assumptions and values (Nelson 1995). Waring’s (1999) feminist analysis of economic theory identifies how the term “economy” was repurposed by the discipline of “economics”, shaking off its connection to household management and care (1999, 15). She observes how the discipline of economics has relentlessly colonised certain discursive concepts and human activity with the logic of a “science that treats things from the standpoint of price” (Waring 1999, 17). Only those things that have a calculable value within the market are counted as economic activity. Waring’s concern is with the way this affects which aspects of the social and material world are valued. Feminist economists argue that traditional economics takes a masculine-gendered perspective while “masquerading as objective and impartial” (Nelson 1995, 132). Critically, feminist theories do not take “the economy” as a given but as something to be examined and critiqued. They seek to challenge economic theory and practice through finding alternative, diverse economic stories, models and metaphors (Donath 2000). Molly stares at the computer screen, her notes and then at the book in front of her. She frowns. Her initial excitement has waned. She closes the document and puts the book back in the cupboard. She sighs and opens her research proposal document at the section entitled: ‘Research question and aims’. After a few minutes, she minimises the document, opens the cupboard and stares at the row of books as if looking for another source of inspiration.
(Scene scripted from research journal entries May–June 2011) Many of the ideas in these theories resonated with me, but I also had many doubts. Feminist economic theory and research is primarily concerned with questions relating to women and their position in the economy. They are also theories that have been largely developed and applied within the discipline of economics. I am no economist and my
Understanding the Economies of Applied Theatre
study does not focus specifically on gender issues; I worried that the connection I had initially sensed was too tenuous, that I was straying too far into an unfamiliar discipline, or following the wrong lead. Would these theories offer new understandings of funding relationships in applied theatre? Did these ideas connect to, expand, or offer a new perspective on theories offered from within applied theatre and related academic fields like performance studies? Were these writings useful only in that they enabled me to gain a critical understanding of some key concepts, should I stop there? Or were there also implications for how I could plan and practise my research? Molly is at her desk again staring at her PhD proposal on the screen of her PC. She writes: “What are the economies of applied theatre?”, and then: “The research will also consider the ways in which the economies of applied theatre are conceived/constituted outside of economic (i.e. monetary) terms (Waring, 1999)”. (Scene scripted from research journal entries and research proposal draft July 2011)
As I wrote, connections started to form. I found that looking through the lens of feminist economic theory challenged me to shift the scope of my research. I continued to ask research questions: How do funding relationships affect the pedagogies, aesthetics, politics and ethics of applied theatre practice?; How are these relationships experienced and managed by those working in applied theatre companies? But now these questions were underpinned by a theoretical perspective that caused me to look critically, but also more expansively, at the economies of applied theatre and how practices operated both within and beyond monetary economies. I knew from the literature that applied theatre practices could be determined, constrained and compromised by particular funding relationships and wider political economies. Feminist economic theories encouraged me to look for other possibilities. I started to make connections with analysis that was already taking place within the academic discourse of applied theatre. Feminist economic theories offered a framework for analysing activities that “do not easily fit into the mainstream story about markets” (Donath 2000, 117). That applied theatre is a difficult fit is apparent from Hughes et al.’s (2011) consideration of how it disrupts Raymond William’s theory of the value of ‘art’: The field of applied theatre deliberately and creatively disrupts the binary of “use value” and “exchange value” identified by Williams and [partially] renders these terms obsolete, as it adopts an approach to theatre practice that exhibits use value and exists within the productive regimes of the
Chapter Eighteen social and cultural economy, [and] carries the abstract value attributed to “pure arts”. (2011, 190)
Feminist economic analysis foregrounds diverse economic practices in a way that resists subordinating them to, or subsuming them within, discourses of capitalist productivity (Gibson-Graham 2008). Feminist economic theory challenged me to acknowledge but look beyond the dominant economic narrative of self-interested, profit-driven, exchangebased competition and to foreground the diverse economies of applied theatre (2008).
Shift 2: The practice of researching practice It’s 30 minutes before the workshop and I decide I don’t want to go empty handed. I find a French bakery and get some chocolate tarts. I also get batteries for the camera. When I try them out, the batteries, the camera won’t turn on. I make a panicked call to Tom and it seems there’s no easy solution. I only have 30 minutes which does not give me time to get back to Uni or home. I call Peter, which requires holding back my pride and desire to appear fully prepared and independent. He thinks they have a camera that they can bring and so I set off again for the community Centre. (Research journal, 13-04-2012)
Making abstracted theoretical connections in the process of writing a research proposal was one struggle, but materialising this as a “practised form of knowledge that has critical and affective force when brought into relation to practice” (Hughes et al. 2011, 193) was another. One example of how I tried to bring aspects of feminist economic theories into relation with practice through research methods was in my exploration of the concept of value with Applied Theatre Consultants Ltd (ATCo). ATCo were the first company to participate in my research. Debates about the public funding of theatre have tended to invoke a binary relationship between extrinsic (or instrumental) and intrinsic value. This leads to questions about whether public investment should be made on the basis of specific social outcomes e.g., theatre’s contribution to the economy, education, or wellbeing, for example, or simply because theatre has an inherent, but abstract and intangible, aesthetic value. One effect of this binary is that theatre which seeks or claims to be efficacious is often perceived, or judged, to have less intrinsic aesthetic worth, particularly if financial support is given on the basis of its use or effects. For this reason, applied theatre practices are often symbolically devalued because they are seen as being created primarily to serve an instrumental function: to meet
Understanding the Economies of Applied Theatre
the needs of a participant group and/or to support the agendas of funders and other stakeholders. As the above quote from Hughes et al. (2011) suggests however, in practice, applied theatre tends to disrupt or “render obsolete” such straightforward oppositions (190). One focus of my field work with ATCo was to examine and critique the interrelation between different notions of value: economic and non-economic, extrinsic and intrinsic, social and artistic. So, says Peter, what do you want us to do? Move around? Stephen, Peter and Caitlin start to play around, somehow they get into re-enacting memories of a past funder, they joke, gently, but keep on making each other laugh. I suggest we sit to start with and try and explain what I want to do. They are all enthusiastic. They listen carefully. Stephen seems, perhaps, a bit uncertain… (Research journal 13-04-2012)
During my research fieldwork with ATCo we used various methods to explore concepts of value in relation to their practice. Through interviews and reflective discussions we considered what they understood to be the company’s artistic and social values and the ways in which their work was valued by different stakeholders, including funders. We also used drama techniques to critically interrogate different conceptions of value. This was the aspect of my research about which I was most uncertain. This uncertainty was not about whether or not drama was a valid research method to use. ATCo has experience of using drama to generate and analyse data and to present research findings to different audiences. They were interested in applying their practice to my research topic. Furthermore, I knew that the use of drama as, or within, research is well established in arts, ethnographic and social science research. Drama can be used to explore a research problem or theme through creating a fictional context and/or symbolic forms of representation. It can facilitate a more playful, embodied, metaphorical and, perhaps, ethical engagement (Fels 2011; Gallagher 2011). The uncertainty I felt resulted from my insecurity as a facilitator working with more experienced and expert practitioners. There was also the uncertainty of using a method that was entirely exploratory: there was no prescribed outcome in mind. The basis for the session (which took place at the end of two months of fieldwork) was an invitation to ATCo to apply their creative practice to key themes from the research. There are moments when I feel stuck. I can’t work out how to take this deeper, further, to expand it, to find a critical angle and then usually one of the team steps in. At other times my ideas come quickly and I develop ways of showing and responding to these concepts. I find that each time we
Chapter Eighteen work with image in a symbolic way the company starts to connect it back, quite literally, to their own feelings and experiences. Caitlin can always clearly describe what she was trying to portray in the image: ‘That’s me!’ They are all in this as themselves. They depict their funders as ‘outsiders’ but in each instance seem to draw on their own experience and represent this explicitly. I struggle. I did not intend this to happen. Can I facilitate this? Is it my role to work through this with them? (Research journal, 1304-2012)
With ATCo, we started by using “image theatre” to work visually and physically in response to the term “value”. Image theatre refers to the use of still images, created by participants with their bodies, to explore abstract concepts, fictional narratives or personal experiences. This technique enabled us to work with the ambiguity of the term “value”; rather than starting with or working towards a shared definition. We started with each person making an individual image that was their intuitive response to the term. Next we combined these to create a group image. We then used a range of image theatre techniques to explore the multiple dimensions of value and in doing so the company reflected spontaneously on the tensions that arise as these dimensions coexist in their practice. Finally we shifted into working with just a few objects: chairs, string, paper and pens, to create an installation to show the web of intersecting and multiple economies in which just one moment of practice was caught. Throughout this process we all shifted between the roles of researcher, facilitator and participant as well as in and out of the symbolic images: I feel less connected to my own position in any literal way. Perhaps responding or trying to respond to the topic intuitively, or to the images that the others have made. Sometimes I think first about the composition of the image, and then analyse my position afterwards, attributing meaning later…or try not to get caught up in attributing meaning. (Research journal, 13-04-2012)
I am currently in the midst of analysing data generated over nine months of research with ATCo and two other theatre companies. As yet, I have no clear sense of how this workshop, and the traces from it, photos, scribbled notes, lengths of coloured wool, will inform my thesis; how I will interpret this experience through theory or what theory might emerge from it. As with much of my fieldwork, I found that I was left feeling unclear and unsettled, nothing had been resolved; I went away with more questions than answers:
Understanding the Economies of Applied Theatre
How can I use drama to research economies and value and management with applied theatre companies? Why do I want to do this? Would this workshop have been possible without the two preceding months of being with the company? Did I achieve my goal of moving outside spoken and written words? How much did we always resort to literal ways of analysing and explaining things and away from the figurative? (Research journal, 13-04-2012)
Conclusion Writing from a Critical Management Studies perspective, Spicer, Alvesson, and Kärreman (2009) highlight how critical research in management tends to “draw out the dastardly and exploitative aspects of organisations” (547). They question whether a critical stance needs necessarily to be oppositional, suggesting that such a “destructive footing” can focus too much on pointing out what is wrong rather than on suggesting alternatives (542). To address this, they propose that researchers take an affirmative and caring stance when researching with people in organisations (545–47). By this they mean “recognizing the right of individuals to speak as rational, reflexive individuals”; the responsibility to both care for and challenge the views of participants; and the requirement of the researcher to be reflexive about their position, theories and the way they define what is occurring and what is at stake (548). This notion of critical research involving an affirmative and caring stance resonates with my views about how to research other people’s practice. It seems to reflect Hughes et al.’s (2011) conception of a practised method that is supportive of practice and engaged with wider social and political processes. Taking a critical stance as a researcher throughout my PhD has involved trying to sustain a responsive interrelationship between theory, practice, method and wider social and political processes. Feminist economic theories unexpectedly helped me to expand the scope and develop methods that were responsive and supportive of practice. At times I was able to stand alongside the companies that participated in my research and to look critically with them at issues of common concern and produce alternative economic narratives and metaphors.
References Balfour, M. 2009. The politics of intention: Looking for a theatre of little changes. Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance vol. 14 no. 3: 347–59. doi: 10.1080/ 13569780903072125 Donath, S. 2000. The other economy: A suggestion for a distinctively feminist economics. Feminist Eeconomics vol. 6 no. 1, 115–23. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/135457000337723 Fels, L. 2011. A dead man’s sweater: Performative inquiry embodied and recognised. In Key concepts in theatre/drama education, ed. S. Shonmann, 339–43. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers. Gallagher, K. 2011. Theatre as methodology or, what experimentation affords us. In Key concepts in theatre/drama education, ed. S. Shonmann, 327–31. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers. Gibson-Graham, J.K. 2008. Diverse economies: Performative practices for “other worlds”. Progress in Human Geography vol. 32 no. 5: 613–32. doi: 10.1177/0309132508090821 Hughes, J., C. McNamara, and J. Kidd. 2011. The usefulness of mess: Artistry, improvisation and decomposition in the practice of research in applied theatre. In Research methods in theatre and performance, ed. B. Kershaw and H. Nicholson, 186–209. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Nelson, J.A. 1995. Feminism and economics. The Journal of Economic Perspectives vol. 9 no. 2: 131–48. Nicholson, H. 2005. Applied drama: The gift of theatre. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. —. 2011. Applied drama/theatre/performance. In Key concepts in theatre/drama education, ed. S. Shonmann, 241–45. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense. Rushton, M. 2003a. Artistic freedom. In A handbook of cultural economics, ed. R. Trowse, 64–8. Cheltenham, England: Edward Elgar Publishing. —. 2003b. Artists’ rights. In A handbook of cultural economics, ed. R. Trowse, 76–80. Cheltenham, England: Edward Elgar Publishing. Spicer, A., M. Alvesson, and D. Kärreman. 2009. Critical performativity: The unfinished business of critical management studies. Human Relations vol. 62 no. 4: 537–60. doi: 10.1177/0018726708101984 Waring, M. 1999. Counting for nothing: What men value and what women are worth, 2nd ed. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.
Understanding the Economies of Applied Theatre
The author: Molly Mullen is a doctoral researcher at the University of Auckland where she is a member of the Critical Research Unit in Applied Theatre. Her background is as a theatre practitioner, creating, managing and facilitating participatory projects in a range of social and educational contexts. Her current research is grounded in concerns arising from this work, examining the effects of financial conditions and funding relationships on applied theatre practice.
CHAPTER NINETEEN WRITING AFFECTIVELY: QUEERYING THE DOCTORAL WRITING JOURNEY JAMES BURFORD
In this chapter, James Burford reflects on the queer twists and turns of his own doctoral experience. The chapter follows James from the conception of his topic, through its various stages of theoretical development. He introduces his study, as well as critically (dis)orienting the reader to the two fields that are crucial to it, namely doctoral writing studies, and queer studies of affect. Throughout the chapter James seeks to not only describe his study, but also to perform the kind of analytical and text work he will employ in his thesis.
Beginnings Waiting. I’m waiting for the words. I stare at the screen—it’s too bright in the poorly lit library. The cursor throbs accusatorily, so I turn my head to watch the lights on the hill. The window has a greasy film, and a large cobweb in its corner. Tick, tock, tick, tock. I take the mouse; shuffle around some sentences. But I am just playing with my food. Just then, my stomach announces itself. I’m hungry again? It must be getting late. Scanning down, I see that I have 302 words, including references. Most of them rubbish. Insipid stupid shallow junk. Minutes later I am still sitting. My chin balanced on my left palm, my head tilted, stretching my neck. I know it’s coming. I am going to cry. Deep sobs roll up from my core and find their way out of my mouth and nose. Big shuddering things. I halfhope someone will come in and catch me, but it is probably after eleven, and the cleaners have already been and gone. I notice as I am crying, the faint echo of a word. For a start it sounds like hah, huuu, huuu but slowly develops into something recognisable: how, how, how?
Writing Affectively: Queerying the Doctoral Writing Journey
I am pleased to inform you that the words above do not reference any scene in the lead-up to writing this chapter. They are, in fact, fictional. They do bear some resemblance to my writing experience about halfway through my Masters’ thesis. I had arrived home from my five-month field study with MSM (men-who-have-sex-with-men) development practitioners in Bangkok, and immediately tried to get to work. I hadn’t written much in “the field”, and felt like I was falling behind. I dutifully got up early each morning, had a quick jog by the river, and then headed to the university before the traffic. I often ate dinner around the campus, and went home late at night. They were long days, but I couldn’t write. Or more accurately, I couldn’t write prose. Poetry flowed. It was, in turns, angry, curious and hopeful. But for a thesis, I needed something else. I diagnosed myself as a dysfunctional writer and sent myself to the library. Stacked upon its shelves were an abundance of books that promised to help. Write your thesis in fifteen minutes a day! How to complete and survive a dissertation! Demystifying dissertation writing! Write the winning thesis! Invisible rules for success! I borrowed a pile of books so heavy the librarian offered to help me carry them to my office. I read them quickly, anxious to get to the end. It all seemed simple enough. I learned that theses basically had a recipe. If I followed the structure that was provided, abided by the rules of grammar, and wrote consistently I’d be finished in no time. But something didn’t feel right. If it was all so simple why was I having such a hard time with writing? The promises too seemed a little far-fetched. Fifteen minutes a day? And, the rah-rah enthusiasm felt forced. For me, this was hard, emotional, self-shattering stuff. My partner, a PhD student, had sent me some papers a while back—I had been so preoccupied with trying to write that I hadn’t read them. Dawdling through my emails one day, I found them again by chance. They were both by Carolyn Ellis, the first was about her experience of doing care work for her dying mother (Ellis 1995), the second a co-written experiential narrative about her decision to have an abortion with her partner (Ellis and Bochner 1992). They were both raw, compelling, and evoked complex emotions for me as a reader. Through Ellis, I found my entry point into the work of an alternative community of scholars: autoethnographers, qualitative inquirers, performative writers. People like Ruth Behar (1996); Ronald Pelias (1999, 2004, 2006); Carl Leggo (2006a, 2006b) and Audre Lorde (1980, 1984). Three texts were particularly formative. The first was Four Arrows’ edited book The Authentic dissertation: Alternative ways of knowing research and representation (2008); the second was Laurel Richardson’s groundbreaking essay called Writing: A method of inquiry (1994); and the third was Mary Weems’ book called Public education and the imagination-
intellect: I speak from the wound that is my mouth (Weems 2003). Each of these did something that the advice texts did not: they inspired me to write. Better still, they provided me with examples of the kind of writing that I wanted to do myself, writing that sought to engage the emotions of the author and the reader. After reading these texts, I had a new appreciation of the writing I was already doing, but just didn’t call “writing”. From here, I began to consciously explore the potential contributions poetry, performative writing, and alternative modes of representation could make to my Masters’ thesis. By following this path I came to an important realisation: it wasn’t that I was a lazy, procrastinating, pathological writer; it was that the discourses that structured my vision of what was (in)appropriate academic writing did not work for my thesis, or for me. After reading the texts above, alongside queer theorists, I began to see that the ways in which my research participants in Bangkok negotiated donor–recipient power relations could actually inform the way in which I negotiated the power relations that structured postgraduate writing. That is, the moves MSM development practitioners made to claim the collateral benefits of development interventions could inform not only the content of my thesis, but also its textual features. I decided I would take up a similar stance, both complying with the regulations of the development studies thesis (and thus satisfying my donors) whilst also writing about what it felt like to be a queer student in a field deeply structured by heteronormativity and "cisnormativity”i. I took up these queer thoughts both in the central text of my dissertation, and literally, in its page margins. I explored “desecreative”ii modes of representation such as poetry, performative writing and graffiti, and my Masters became a dual text which focused on both the agency of MSM development practitioners in Bangkok, as well as issues of writing and representation as a queer postgraduate student (Burford, 2011, 2012). My journey toward claiming/crafting my voice was an immensely emotional one. The representation strategy I took up transgressed the boundaries of what a thesis was “supposed” to be. Mine was not a safe or standard text designed to appeal to examiners—it was structured by an “archive of feelings” (Cvetkovich 2003) associated with queer politics, such as rudeness, anger, rage, sarcasm and over-investment (Halberstam 2008). I had designed my thesis, and its affective performance, to appeal to queer, transgender and other students of difference who wished to challenge academic writing conventions. But these emotions were not only present on my page, they were very much embodied. I felt anxious and upset about making decisions which caused me to transgress the discourses which had shaped what I had thought (in)appropriate academic
Writing Affectively: Queerying the Doctoral Writing Journey
writing to be. Despite receiving encouraging feedback from friends and colleagues, as well as audiences when I presented my work, I felt particularly anxious about how my examiners would respond. Ultimately, both examiners supported the desecreative and queer representation strategy I created, and I passed my Masters with distinction. I also successfully published some of the “alternative” work of my thesis, poems about my queer research journey, in an international journal (Burford 2012). After this experience, I decided that I wished to more fully explore the politics of academic writing. When it came time for me to apply to a department for a doctoral degree, I decided I would shift disciplines from development studies to higher education, and take up the affective experiences of queer postgraduate writers for my doctoral research.
Finding an alternative body of work While my PhD began with a focus on postgraduate writing, I soon changed this to explicitly examine doctoral writing, in recognition of the specificities of the doctoral degree. I did, however, find my initial forays into the field rather disenchanting. I came across a large quantity of research that was instrumental or evaluative in focus, that is, they began with a proposition that doctoral writing was a “problem” and either provided strategies to fix this problem, or measured the effectiveness of such strategies. Often, in studies of this kind, doctoral writing was conceptualised as a decontextualised skill, for example attending to punctuation, or structuring theses. These authors took up what I would now call a study skills discourse of doctoral writing (Lea and Street 1998). What disenchanted me most was the way it reminded me of my previous disempowering experience with writing advice texts. Fortunately, I found an alternative body of work on doctoral writing. Writers in this discourse community critiqued the foundational understandings of study skills work. Rather than viewing doctoral writing as a technical problem these authors insisted that doctoral writing was a social practice (Kamler and Thomson 2008) that catalyses significant identity transformations. Scholars taking up the discourse of writing as a social practice emphasised that doctoral writing is not neutral; the genres and power relations of the academy repetitively constitute and reconstitute it. For example, Kamler and Thomson (2006b) articulated that their concern is with identity and the institutions in which doctoral writing takes place, as constituted in, and as sites of, discourse and power. As a result, they argue that doctoral writing should be understood as fundamentally about “meaning-making and learning to produce knowledge in particular
disciplines and discourse communities”, rather than “skills and techniques that can be learned in a mechanical way” (Kamler and Thomson 2006b, 5). Through my reading I began to formulate alternative questions. For example, how might study skills discourses around “fixing” individual doctoral students’ “poor” writing draw attention away from systemic problems, such as fixed submission dates, or resource limitations? I was also mindful of the ways in which study skills researchers might benefit from doctoral writing being defined as inherently problematic, such as: authoring advice texts, leading writing workshops, writing coaching sessions, and so forth. Early on in my research, I concluded that there was a paucity of critical studies in the field of doctoral writing—a designation that I now judge to be a little hasty. While a number of scholars in the field have identified gaps and called for further work (see e.g., Aitchison and Lee 2006; Simpson and Humphrey 2010), I find the field itself to be both lively and growing. What I also did not anticipate at such an early juncture in my PhD, was the amount of scholarship on doctoral writing that is produced across the disciplines, for example: social science studies (Gale and Wyatt 2006; Guttorm 2012; Lee 2005); psychology (Leggat-Cook 2011; Torrance, Thomas and Robinson 2011) and linguistics (Cooley and Lewkowicz 1997). Another significant finding for me has been to realise that a significant amount of discussion in the field also takes place in social media—in particular, doctoral writing blogs (Inger Mewburn—The Thesis Whisperer; Pat Thompson—Patter; Claire Aitchison, Cally Gerin, Susan Carter, Inger Mewburn—Doctoral Writing SIG). Curiously enough, my reading of work which foregrounded writing as a social practice has enabled me to take a more generous view of the work of study skills scholars as well. Rather than seeing them as without value, I have come to accept that there is a place for study skills texts—I personally consult them, and have sometimes found them helpful. This does not mean that I believe such texts should be the ubiquitous mode of writing about doctoral writing, nor does it lessen my desire to make a contribution to conversations which take a more critical stance. This realisation has broader implications for my development as a scholar, however, in that it teaches me to both hold my own research orientation, as well as take an appreciative view of the work of scholars in an alternative, or even competing discourse community.
Writing Affectively: Queerying the Doctoral Writing Journey
Feeling the doctorate? Despite knowing that I wished to approach doctoral writing as a complex social practice, rather than a decontextualised skill, I remained interested in writer’s emotional experiences. While reading texts in doctoral education, I had been mindful of both what was present—and interesting for me—and what was absent. I had read Alison Lee and Carolyn Williams’ important paper “Forged in Fire”: Narratives of trauma in PhD supervision pedagogy (1999), and noted that it connected me back to what sparked my inquiry in the first place, the challenging, and sometimes turbulent emotions of postgraduate research. While there were a number of scholars who have examined doctoral emotions, many of them took up a similar stance to the study skills scholars I outlined earlier. Their studies often focused on finding solutions to the “problematic” emotions of doctoral writers. I have paraphrased a section from Rudestam and Newton’s book Surviving your dissertation: A comprehensive guide to content and process, which I view as representative: 1. A topic needs to sustain your interest over a long period of time 2. It is wise to avoid a topic that is overly ambitious and overly challenging 3. Avoid topics that may be linked too closely with emotional issues in your own life 4. A related issue is selecting a topic in which you have a personal axe to grind (2001, 10–11). Here, we see emotions represented as something to be wary of. This message is repeated in Jerry Wellington’s (2010) paper where he assumes emotions are a “problem” that doctoral students should receive help to “overcome”. Often scholars writing about doctoral emotions use deficit discourses, which pathologise students who experience intense emotions, and emphasise their potentially negative effects, such as attrition. Moreover, after setting up doctoral emotions as problematic, many authors then offer solutions: psychosocial interventions or pedagogical responses, such as writing support groups (see Aitchison 2010; Allison et al. 1998). Fortunately, many of the scholars I have referenced above were also interested in doctoral emotions, and affect—particularly how writing is not only text work, but affective and identity work as well (Carter 2012; Kamler and Thomson 2004, 2006a; McAlpine and Amundsen 2011; McAlpine, Jazvac-Martek and Hopwood 2009). These authors argued that doctoral writing was substantially structured by the “defensive”
positioning of doctoral students in higher education. If, as Antoniou and Moriarty argue, “to write… is to make oneself visible, to expose one’s ideas and identity to public scrutiny” (2008, 165), then for doctoral students there is a lot at stake: they “are not yet positioned as, and do not see themselves as fully fledged academics” (Kamler and Thomson 2004, 197). This often leads to a particular kind of stance toward doctoral writing, one which will hopefully result in a successful thesis examination: Through years of writing they are duly indoctrinated into the careful, highly substantiated thesis genre. The identity work accomplished through thesis writing, we argue, can shape tentative and sometimes highly anxious scholar identities (Kamler and Thomson 2004, 197).
By engaging with this work, I was able to articulate the kind of research I wanted to do. My interest in this study remains with noticing socalled negative and positive affective practices; not trying to fix them. This approach “queers” existing accounts of doctoral writing not only by insisting upon the importance of the affective, but by troubling normativities which have the effect of positioning some emotions as pathological and others as normal and ideal. To better understand the possibilities of such a position, I decided to draw upon queer theory.
Queer stretches When I began my PhD I was deeply interested in the writing experiences of queer postgraduate students. This interest was no doubt connected to my own masters’ writing journey, but it was also informed by a broader interest in queer, trans and takatƗpuiiii student experience in higher education, which had been developed during two years working as Queer Support Coordinator at Otago University. While both of my supervisors were supportive, they encouraged me to keep my options open and to read widely. I am grateful for this advice, as by holding open my topic I was able to make some significant shifts. One of these shifts was my understanding of the possibilities of queer critique. Specifically, this involved a movement away from my previous attachment to researching students with queer, trans and takatƗpui identities, and toward an interest in the political potential of queering doctoral education itself. This change was brought about by my engagement with theorists who argued for queer theory to provide a “subjectless” critique, rather than one based in identity-politics. This is queer as a “political metaphor without a fixed referent” (Eng, Halberstam and Munoz 2005, 1), or a “political and existential stance, an ideological
Writing Affectively: Queerying the Doctoral Writing Journey
commitment” (Ford 2011, 123). This was a proposition in line with earlier definitions of queer, such as that offered by David Halperin: Queer is by definition whatever is at odds with the normal, the legitimate, the dominant. There is nothing in particular to which it necessarily refers. It is an identity without an essence. ‘Queer’ then, demarcates not a positivity but a positionality vis-à-vis the normative (1995, 62).
If there is no proper subject, or object for queer studies, researchers might then focus on “a wide field of normalisation” as the site of social violence and resist “regimes of the normal” whereby certain subjects are rendered “normal” and “natural”, through the production of “perverse” and “pathological” others (Warner 1993, xxvi). My change in orientation necessitated that I suspend my use of “queer” as a noun, or identity category (something one is), and take up using it as a verb: something one does. This shift implicitly critiques the LGBT studies work I had previously been engaged in as a student advocate, a critique sketched by queer theorist Richard Ford: While its matronly stepsister gay rights wants equal access to mainstream social conventions—however ramshackle and dilapidated or procrustean they may be—queer theory is interested in shaking them up so we can see which ones aren’t fit for human habitation. The normalization strategy of gay rights is to merge so seamlessly and imperceptibly into mainstream institutions that it seems impossible to imagine it could ever have been any other way; by contrast, queer theory opts for bullying, razzing, and mocking social conventions until it’s hard to imagine them in the same way (2011, 122).
This kind of work has opened up a host of potential projects for queer theorists, beyond the realm of sexuality studies itself, for example: What does queer studies have to say about empire, globalization, neoliberalism, sovereignty, and terrorism? What does queer studies tell us about immigration, citizenship, prisons, welfare, mourning, and human rights?…while queer studies in the past has rarely addressed such broad social concerns, queer studies in the present offers [sic] important insights (Eng et al. 2005, 2).
Particular works in this archive of queer theorising influenced these shifts, for example Kathryn Stockton’s (2009) work Beautiful bottom, beautiful shame: Where “black” meets “queer” (2006) with its focus on queering class and race. Another study by Stockton is The queer child, or growing sideways in the twentieth century. I wish to linger for a moment
on the central arguments of this work in order to explicate the type of queer theorising I intend to pursue. The central premise of Stockton’s work is that all children are queer. For Stockton, queer is not deployed to mean “sexually atypical” but instead references the strangeness specific to the child. Stockton’s idea of “growing sideways” delaminates growth from heteronormative, linear ideas about age and verticality. While this shift has theoretical insights it also has had its costs. I have been troubled by a number of questions: is it wise to disarticulate queer critique from its traditional home-base of LGBT sexuality and gender? And, even if sex, sexuality and gender identities are constructed and inessential, surely these identities, as products of lived experiences of discrimination and marginalisation, produce real social, political and cultural needs which higher education researchers need to attend to? The gravity of some of these questions intensified when they were articulated by friends, colleagues and fellow queer activists. Some friends and colleagues were possibly responding to what they perceived to be a betrayal of my previous work as an advocate for queer, trans and takatƗpui students in higher education, in favour of what appeared to be a more politically diffuse, but theoretically profitable position. While over time some have been convinced of the value of my research, others have not. This is just one example of some of the significant identity work that has accompanied the text work I have done as a part of my PhD. For me these identity reconfigurations take shape as a narrative of loss (Hodgins 2013)—a loss of my previous sense of self, and an estrangement from communities I had worked in, and care about. But alongside these losses were gains: a new sense of myself as a person and researcher, and new (if virtual) communities of critical queer scholars that I am now aligned with.
Drawing it all together: Doctoral writing, affect and queer theory By reading the kind of work I have referenced above, I was able to make some important progress with thinking through my own study. Firstly, I came to know that an important part of my work would be the way it scrutinised dichotomies around emotions, asking for example, why some emotions are generally considered “positive” (such as happiness, pride or relief) while others are considered “negative” (such as anger, anxiety, guilt, avarice, envy or disgust)? Asking these questions has the potential to unsettle the hierarchy of emotions about doctoral writing—a hierarchy which sees certain feelings as productive for writing, and others as irrelevant, or unhealthy and in need of transformation. This is a
Writing Affectively: Queerying the Doctoral Writing Journey
depathologising move which attempts to reconfigure (negative) affects as possible resources for action, rather than antithetical to it. Indeed, Heather Love has a hunch that examining the critical potential of negative, mixed or ambivalent affective phenomena might allow us to see “how and why action is blocked” and how to “locate motives for political action when none is visible” (Love 2009, 13). All of this has helped me to begin to formulate a number of helpful questions, including: How can we theorise affect without locating it within deficit/therapeutic models? Why is it that “negative” or “weak” emotions are assumed to block action? Could certain “positive” affective practices favoured for doctoral writing be seen otherwise, as sources of constraint? Could “negative” affective practices be sources of inspiration? My study too, could be re-framed in this way: how might the empirical accounts of doctoral students queer the representation of student emotion in doctoral advice and scholarly texts? And more specifically, what might empirical accounts reveal about the regimes of affective normativity that are constructed around doctoral writing?
Conclusion I began this chapter by reflecting on my writing experience during my Masters project, and storying my way into my PhD. While writing this chapter has not been emotionally intense, it has not been a stroll in the park either: at least four false starts, and one entire draft discarded before getting to the text you see before you. While bringing this chapter together has involved a fair amount of uncertainty, apprehension and many changes of mind, to me, these seem to be an indispensible part of my doctoral work and life. It is easy to become discouraged by some of these challenges— and here, rather than advising fellow doctoral students how not to be, I will stay true to the spirit of my inquiry and ask instead: what emotions should we be feeling? What does it feel like to be discouraged? What attachments might being discouraged reveal? Why might feeling this way be important, or helpful? And, what can we as students of critical education, and as people, learn from it? While I conceived of this chapter as an exploration of my initial journey as a neophyte researcher in critical education, I have since changed my mind. I think that the word “journey” might perhaps be a little too grand. I now see that my experience has alternative characteristics that are more quotidian than epic. My progress through my PhD to date might be more accurately evoked as a jaunt, a ramble, a road trip or an outing.
These are everyday words that better represent my experience of the everydayness of learning about doctoral writing and its affects.
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Eng, D., J. Halberstam, and J.E. Munoz. 2005. Introduction: What's queer about queer studies now? Social Text vol. 23 no. 3–4: 1–17. Ford, R. 2011. What’s queer about race? In After sex? On writing since queer theory, ed. J. Halley and R. Parker, 477–84. Durham: Duke University Press. Four Arrows (Don Trent Jacobs). 2008. The authentic dissertation: Alternative ways of knowing research and representation. Oxon, UK: Routledge. Gale, K. and J. Wyatt. 2006. Inquiring into writing: An interactive interview. Qualitative Inquiry vol. 12: 1117–34. Guttorm, H. 2012. Becoming-(a)-paper, or an article undone: (Post-) knowing and writing (again), nomadic and so messy. Qualitative Inquiry vol. 18 no. 7: 595–605. Halberstam, J. 2008. The anti-social turn in queer studies. Graduate Journal of Social Science vol. 5 no. 2: 140–56. Halperin, D. 1995. Saint Foucault: Toward a gay hagiography. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Hodgins, P. 2013. Make them endure, give them space: On the loss of academic cynicism. Emotion, Space and Society, doi: 10.1016/j.emospa.2012.12.001. Kamler, B. and P. Thomson. 2004. Driven to abstraction: Doctoral supervision and writing pedagogies. Teaching in Higher Education vol. 9 no. 2: 195–209. Kamler, B. and P. Thomson. 2006a. Doctoral writing: Pedagogies for work with literatures. Paper presented at the AERA Annual Meeting. Kamler, B. and P. Thomson. 2006b. Helping doctoral students write: Pedagogies for supervision. London, UK: Routledge. Kamler, B. and P. Thomson. 2008. The failure of dissertation advice books: Toward alternative pedagogies for doctoral writing. Educational Researcher vol. 37 no. 8: 407–514. Lea, M. and B. Street. 1998. Student writing in higher education: An academic literacies approach. Studies in Higher Education vol. 23 no. 2: 157–72. Lee, A. and C. Williams. 1999. “Forged in fire”: Narratives of trauma in PhD supervision pedagogy. Southern Review vol. 32 no. 1: 6–26. Lee, K. 2005. Neuroticism: End of a doctoral dissertation. Qualitative Inquiry vol. 11 no. 6: 933–38. Leggat-Cook, C. 2011. An uncertain balance: Negotiating theory, politics and love in academic writing. Feminism and Psychology vol. 21 no. 3: 393–410.
Leggo, C. 2006a. Attending to winter: A poetics of research. In Spirituality, ethnography and teaching: Stories from within, ed. W. Ashton and D. Denton, 140–55. New York, NY: Peter Lang. —. 2006b. End of the line: A poet’s postmodern musing on writing. English Teaching: Practice and Critique vol. 5 no. 2: 69–92. Lorde, A. 1980. The cancer journals. San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books. —. 1984. Sister outsider: Essays and speeches. Trumansburg, NY: Crossing Press. Love, H. 2009. Feeling backward: Loss and the politics of queer history. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. McAlpine, L. and C. Amundsen. 2011. Challenging the taken-for-granted: How research analysis might inform pedagogical practices and institutional policies related to doctoral education. Studies in Higher Education vol. 37 no. 2: 683–94. McAlpine, L., M. Jazvac-Martek, and N. Hopwood. 2009. Doctoral student experience in education: Activities and difficulties influencing identity development. International Journal for Researcher Development vol. 1 no. 1: 97–109. Pelias, R. 1999. Writing performance: Poeticizing the researcher’s body. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press. —. 2004. A methodology of the heart: Evoking academic and daily life. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press. —. 2006. Negotiating spirit. In Spirituality, ethnography and teaching: Stories from within, ed. W. Ashton and D. Denton, 17–29. New York, NY: Peter Lang. Richardson, L. 1994. Writing: A method of inquiry. In Handbook of qualitative research, ed. N.K. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln, 516–29. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Rudestam, K. and R. Newton. 2001. Surviving your dissertation: A comprehensive gude to content and process. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Simpson, B. and R. Humphrey. 2010. Writing across boundaries: Reflections on the place of writing in doctoral training for social scientists. Learning and Teaching vol. 3 no. 1: 69–91. Stockton, K. 2006. Beautiful bottom, beautiful shame: Where “black” meets “queer”. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. —. 2009. The queer child, or growing sideways in the twentieth century. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
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Torrance, M., G. Thomas, and E. Robinson. 2011. Training in thesis writing: An evaluation of three conceptual orientations. British Journal of Educational Psychology vol. 63 no. 1: 170–84. Warner, M. 1993. Fear of a queer planet: Queer politics and social theory. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Weems, M. 2003. Public education and the imagination-intellect: I speak from the wound in my mouth. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing. Wellington, J. 2010. More than a matter of cognition: An exploration of affective writing problems of postgraduate students and their possible solutions. Teaching in Higher Education vol. 15 no. 2: 135–50.
Heteronormativity is an ideological system which naturalises heterosexuality as universal and ideal. Cisnormativity is a system which naturalises cisgender, when an individual’s self-perception of their gender identity matches their assigned sex at birth, as universal and ideal. ii I created the term desecre(a)tive to signal my interest in creatively disrupting the hegemonic form of received texts such as theses/dissertations (which are held as sacrosanct). iii I acknowledge that these terms are contested. Queer often replaces LGBT or Rainbow as a composite term within advocacy and activist communities in Aotearoa-New Zealand. It has been deployed to encompass all non-normative sex, sexuality and gender communities. However, I prefer to deploy it alongside trans(gender) and takatƗpui to increase visibility of non-normative gender identities and MƗori cultural identities.
The author: James Burford is a doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland. He has a background in queer youth work, community development and research. James’ research interests range from doctoral, and experimental academic writing, to queering international development, LGBT intergenerationality, and transmasculine embodiment. His doctoral study examines the intersection of doctoral writing and affect.
CHAPTER TWENTY PASSING THROUGH A METAPHORICAL FUNNEL: A TEACHER-RESEARCHER’S DOCTORAL JOURNEY MARTYN DAVISON
In this chapter, Martyn Davison explores his position as a teacherresearcher and some of the constraints in play when investigating his own classroom practice. Using the funnel as a metaphor, he describes how a series of research questions emerged from his practice and reading of literature. Martyn encourages reflection on the role of the insider/outsider in teacher-research by exploring how he navigated methodological and ethical issues during his doctoral study. Full-time teachers who are doctoral candidates may find his story translates well to their particular settings.
Introduction With limited resources and just a few seconds of television, how do you convey to an audience something of what it might have been like to be in England in the year 1066, seeing an army march to meet the invaders? Historian Michael Wood’s solution was to film a Ford Cortina travelling up the Great North Road and, with a dazzling light catching the car’s rearview mirror, tell the viewer that it was a similar light that had caught the polished battle-axes of Harold’s elite troops as they had approached York just over nine hundred years earlier. Watching that scene broadcast in 1981 as an eleven-year-old, helped spark my interest in history with an awareness that re-enacting the past does not require costumes or great expense. Perhaps the most important point about the historian’s trick of light is the way that it invites the viewer to leap imaginatively into the past.
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Building a theory to describe the empathetic process of entering into and exiting the past is at the heart of my thesis. This chapter describes my journey as I took a broad interest in wanting to understand students’ development of historical empathy and sharpened it into a critical thesis. In doing so, I have found the metaphor of a funnel a useful way of interpreting this systematic process. Especially helpful has been the notion that, as I have moved down the funnel, my understanding of teaching and learning historical empathy has improved through engaging in conversations. My starting point, however, is to briefly set out my autobiography as a teacher-researcher so that readers have some sense of my values.
Teacher-researcher My experience of teacher training in the mid-1990s at the University of Exeter in the South West of England was dominated by a professional model of teaching. Two-thirds of my time was spent on teaching practice where the emphasis was upon doing and then reflecting. I used these reflections to make judgements about my teaching and, with my supervising teacher, to make practical plans on how to improve. Following my first year of teaching, I undertook, part-time, the University of Exeter’s professional studies Master of Education (MEd) course. This course aimed to foster what Macquire (1998) has called a stronger version of a teacher, as someone who is reflective, autonomous and research-focused. It promoted the idea that course participants should research their professional practice with the aim of improving that practice. During this time I felt that my values were closely aligned with this aim. My MEd dissertation focused on what constituted success among a group of boys who were students at the school where I taught. Shortly after completing my dissertation in 2001, I migrated to New Zealand and began teaching history and social studies in a large coeducational suburban secondary school. Crossing national boundaries was a significant event and introduced me to a bi-cultural and diverse culture. Reflecting on this move I can see parallels between my present-day experience with Lowenthal’s (2000) notion that the past is a foreign country and that to recognise its strangeness is a key part of historical understanding. Having gradually become more familiar with the strangeness of my newly adopted country, in 2008, I enrolled part-time in the doctor of education (EdD) programme at The University of Auckland. The EdD has two distinct phases. The first comprises three written assignments: a review of the literature; designing a methodology; and,
producing an article for publication. The conclusion of this phase is the writing of a research proposal. The second phase involves conducting the proposed study and submitting a written thesis.
At the mouth of the funnel My first step was to survey the literature about historical empathy. In the last thirty years, so much research about teaching history has been published (Barton 2008) that it would be nearly impossible to read it all; however, the smaller field of historical empathy research can be covered comprehensively by a single researcher. I read in-depth and tried to glean from the literature where there might be gaps or debates to explore. The literature review was like being in the mouth of a funnel, trying to locate what had come before, where thinking about historical empathy was up to, and what might be my future direction of research. Alongside this exploration of the literature sat my practitioner-based knowledge of historical empathy in the classroom. As Hammersley and Scarth (1993) put it, educational practice is largely shaped “by the sedimented experience of the practitioner and her or his local knowledge” (496). This layered, local know-how of teachers studying their own practice has long been recognised as an important part of educational research (Stenhouse 1975). By drawing on my practice and the literature I was able to narrow my interest in historical empathy into three areas: exploring its contested meaning (Barton and Levstik 2004); addressing the lack of empirical research into classroom interventions designed to trace the improvement of students’ historical thinking (Barton 2008); and, what the contested nature of the interplay between the concept’s cognitive and affective dimensions (Bardige 1988) might mean for student engagement and progression. This led, over several iterations, to three research questions: 1. How do students interpret historical empathy? 2. How do students develop/become more sophisticated in their ability to empathise historically? 3. What influence, if any, does the sequence of affective and cognitive learning tasks in teaching history have on students’ development of historical empathy? Reflecting on what had underpinned these research questions, I would call my theoretical approach as a teacher-researcher “inquiry as stance” (Cochran-Smith and Lytle 2009). This means that inquiring about my
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practice is embedded in my role as a teacher. My doctoral journey is therefore one part of a continuous inquiry process across my lifespan as a teacher. It has therefore been carried out in a way that takes into account my responsibility as a teacher to honour student interests whilst also questioning my on-going practice. It also means that my positionality as a teacher-researcher is that of the “insider” studying an intervention set in my professional setting, and accessing the guidance of “outsiders” such as my supervisors (Herr and Anderson 2005) and learning from published researchers. Outsiders have helped me with finding a place within the literature, with methodological issues and have critically questioned “taken for granted aspects” of my practice (2005, 30). As Herr and Anderson have argued, this outside help ebbs and flows, as need dictates, through the life of a particular study. My insider positionality has afforded insight into the daily life of my classroom, and how my ideas and those of the study’s participants might be transformed as we explore historical empathy together. It has also cast me as a “knower” of local practice. Cochran-Smith and Lytle (2007) have used this phrase to signal that knowing about teaching and learning comes from inside as well as outside the local settings of teachers, arguing that the “roles [of teacher and researcher] are intentionally blurred” (31).
Moving through the funnel—methodology and design Having gained both a sense of my theoretical position and written my research questions, I now felt that I had moved into the narrower part of the funnel and was ready to write my methodology and research design. My methodology and research design stemmed from the need to elicit data that would help me to address my three research questions. I decided on a qualitative comparative case-study design primarily because my research questions required a detailed understanding of what happens when students develop historical empathy and the role played over time by the concept’s affective and cognitive dimensions. It also enabled me to compare what happens when these dimensions are taught in two different sequences. Within my case-study design I devised a 16-lesson instructional intervention about the Gallipoli campaign of 1915. This campaign is sometimes described as a side-show in the larger history of the First World War and for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) it was a defeat which foreshadowed worse losses on the Western Front. A total of 8709 Australians and 2721 New Zealanders lost their lives in the campaign and, as a place where the ANZAC spirit was forged, it has found
a significant place in the narrative of Australian and New Zealand history. The decision to use this historical content was straightforward in the sense that it was already part of the school’s Year 10 (14- to 15-year-olds) social studies curriculum. All Year 10 students follow a module called “a history of us” that explores historical concepts, such as cause and consequence, through a case-study of Gallipoli or other similar events. Matching my instructional intervention to this pre-existing social studies content was important because I did not want participating students to miss a part of the pre-existing curriculum and therefore potentially be at an educational disadvantage. The intervention entailed teaching one of my Year 10 social studies classes (Class A/C) the affective dimension of historical empathy first, followed by the cognitive dimension, and teaching another of my Year 10 social studies classes (Class C/A) the reverse: that is the cognitive dimension first, followed by the affective. In my role as teacherresearcher, I taught all of the lessons in the intervention (between August and September 2010) for both Class A/C and Class C/A. Half of the lessons focused on the affective dimension of historical empathy and the other half focused on its cognitive dimension. The starting point for the affectively focused lessons was watching Peter Weir’s film Gallipoli which portrays the adventures of two young Australian friends as they head off to war and eventually fight on the Gallipoli peninsula. This was followed by a variety of learning tasks, that included: writing found-poems based on the records of soldiers whose names were copied from the local war memorial; exploring the students’ feelings through looking at a series of pictures; re-enactments inspired by wartime photographs; and, a role play based on the diary entries of a New Zealand soldier. The cognitively focused lessons began by exploring the values and beliefs of New Zealanders at the turn of the twentieth century. I used evidence drawn from visual and textual sources and a television documentary to put Gallipoli into context. There followed a series of cognitively focused learning tasks that included: building contextual knowledge through source material; analysing a newspaper of the time period; using a rubric to explore evidence drawn from cartoons penned in 1915; watching a documentary to compare past and present-day attitudes to Gallipoli; and, critically interpreting the different perspectives found in a series of interviews with New Zealand veterans of the Gallipoli campaign. To investigate my research questions I used: interviews; visual materials; documents; assessment tasks; a student feedback survey; and a classroom response system. I found that drawing up summaries, as
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displayed in Table 1, was a useful technique within my thesis of clearly and simply showing relatively complicated information. Writing the literature review and methodology were significant components of the first phase of the EdD and formed the greater part of my research proposal. Also of significance was writing a paper for publication. I found that trying to publish a paper was a means of setting out my ideas about historical empathy to a wider audience. By publishing an article in Curriculum Matters (Davison 2010) and later a chapter in History Matters (Davison 2012) I was reaching the history teaching community. This experience of writing also proved useful preparation in meeting one of the key requirements of the second phase of the EdD programme: writing a thesis. Table 1: Summary of Methods and Data Organisation relating to my third research question Research question What influence, if any, does the sequence of affective and cognitive learning tasks in teaching history have on students’ development of historical empathy?
Data sources Documents Students’ written responses to tasks and essays. Student Student feedback responses survey to the feedback survey. Classroom Rating on 3 response sets of text system messages. (text messages) Interviews Interview transcripts.
Participants Class A/C: Lucy. Class C/A: Claire.
Class A/C: 22 students Class C/A: 23 students
Class A/C: Set 1=15, Set 2=13 & Set 3=13 students. Class C/A: Set 1=17, Set 2=16 & Set 3= 12 students. Class A/C: Hailey, Helen, Rachel, Alvin, Dave & Tim. Class C/A: Lottie, Sarah, Michelle, Andy, Rick & Vince.
The task of writing my thesis was however, more demanding than I had anticipated. I found doctoral workshops vital in teaching me the mechanics of producing a long document and of seeing myself as a writer
who writes regularly. As a part-time doctoral student the latter was particularly important because it enabled me to maintain direction and purpose. My supervisor, Associate Professor Mary Hill (personal communication August 8 2012) used the metaphor of a musical overture to describe how the reasoned argument within a thesis is presented at the beginning and must then be threaded throughout the text. My commitment to writing regularly meant that I had to carefully schedule time to write and to do so in sympathy with the needs of my family. During my EdD journey I had periodically looked at The University of Auckland’s Doctoral Handbook. It likens the journey to a winding path, along which there are various milestones such as submitting a research proposal and gaining ethics approval. This metaphor reflects the non-linear process of research, whilst still providing a map of the way ahead. However, it is less helpful in predicting where a significant shift in thinking might occur. Perhaps such shifts cannot be planned. In my experience they occurred in moments of dialogue with other researchers and my family.
Moving through the funnel—dialogue In 2008, Professor Keith Barton, a leading history education researcher from the United States, visited The University of Auckland, and I discussed with him a number of ways of thinking about the sequencing of historical empathy’s affective and cognitive dimensions in the history classroom. I found his emphasis on looking for the on-going changes in students’ ideas an important prompt for wanting to try to explore the development of historical empathy in students. I also found that his view that we cannot learn everything from our own experience and must therefore take notice of what the research field is saying a useful counterweight to my tendency to draw from the world of my practice. Also important were conversations with my wife, who, as a psychiatric doctor: valued empathy; was clear about its meaning; and, used it within a therapeutic setting. This led to me to reading psycho-therapeutic and moral philosophy literature that was quite different to what I had previously encountered but which affirmed the notion that empathy’s affective dimension is significant. Attending the 2011 American Educational Research Association annual meeting in New Orleans further enabled me to begin several other dialogues that again helped me with my research. I presented a poster that summarised my first attempt at analysing my research data. Not only was the creation of the poster a valuable exercise in encouraging me to
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precisely describe my data, but it also meant that I could share my relatively early-stage thinking with a knowledgeable and interested audience. Furthermore, by participating more broadly in conference activities I was able to reflect on my research from a slightly different vantage point. Through exposure to a great deal of discussion about methodology and data analysis I learnt to bring a more critical lens to my ideas about methodological choices and data analysis. These points about dialogue are examples of Dewey’s notion that reflection happens when there is interaction with others (Dewey  1997). He is also clear that these reflections are worthwhile because they are about improving democratic society. For me they have also been valuable as a way of breaking down the notion that there is a dichotomy between the insider/outsider roles.
Moving through the funnel—ethics I found myself most mindful of Dewey’s emphasis on democracy when thinking about the ethics of my study and the dilemma in teacherresearch of conflict of interest and the imbalance of power between teacher and students. I recognised, however, that some ethical dilemmas could not be predicted and would only emerge as my study unfolded (Hallowell, Lawton, and Gregory 2005). This meant that I had to be able to react to events in a way that showed integrity. Hallowell et al. posit that, as researchers we must be “constantly aware of who we are, where we are and what we are doing” (151). As a teacher-researcher this is perhaps a complex undertaking. As an “insider” I have not found it possible to ignore being the participants’ teacher (the insider) whilst fulfilling the traditional role of the neutral researcher (the outsider). In other words, as Cochran-Smith and Lytle (2007) suggest, the insider/outsider stance is blurred. My concern therefore, has been to manage, as best I can, the ethical dilemmas that arise from being “both” teacher and researcher. Such a dilemma occurred leading up to the data-collection stage of the research, as students were being invited to participate in the study. When I collated their consent forms I was surprised that a relatively large number of students decided not to participate: six from one class and an equal number from the second class. My first reaction was to consider discussing the study again with them and see if I could change their minds. On reflection I decided that this would be inappropriate. It was likely that the students would have interpreted such a discussion as a form of pressure, and perhaps felt compelled to take part in the study, or decided that the
study was simply an exercise in how to please their teacher. As the insider teacher-researcher I could appreciate how important it was to not inadvertently use my power as a teacher to pressure the students to take part in the study. These 12 students remained as non-participants and I was pleased that I had been able to “think on my feet” about the ethics of my research. I was also reassured that my stressing to students, when discussing with them at an earlier date what they knew about research, that they did not have to perform in the study may have meant that they were confident to make a decision not to participate. Equally, in designing the research I ensured that participants and non-participants would follow the same learning activities and assessments, and therefore there would be no educational disadvantage in deciding not to take part in the study. Abiding by Stenhouse’s (1985) argument that a teacher-researcher acts for the “benefit of learning of … pupils” (58), there was no educational justification for trying to change the students’ minds.
Becoming critical During my doctoral studies to what extent did I become critical in the sense that I developed my professional autonomy and knowledge of research? Grundy (1987) suggests that becoming critical “is not a process of steady development, but a transformation which might best be called ‘professionalization’” (190–191). The transformation for me has been the change in my practice based upon my study’s findings. In terms of my first research question about how students interpret historical empathy, findings showed that their interpretations emphasised the difficulty of empathising historically and they identified definitional elements such as open-mindedness and evidence. Building on this, I developed a practical typology and pathway to help establish a common understanding of historical empathy. My second research question, focusing on the development of historical empathy in individual students, involved using typologies, pathways and spider-plot diagrams. These enabled me to plot student progression, while student essays exemplified what the concept of sophisticated historical empathy looked like. My exploration of the third research question, investigating the sequencing of the affective and cognitive dimensions of historical empathy, showed that student enjoyment and interest were strongest when the affective dimension was taught first, followed by the cognitive. These findings have made a useful contribution to my practice. I now begin my Year 10 unit about Gallipoli by exploring the affective dimension of historical empathy and its elements of open-mindedness,
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feeling, care and imagination. I follow this by cognitively working on evidence, context-building and finding multiple perspectives and developing awareness of past and present beliefs often being different. During this teaching, the students and I are able to track their progress by using spider-plot diagrams that are based on a typology of historical empathy’s affective and cognitive dimensions.
Conclusion While my doctoral journey has not been linear, it has followed the contours of The University of Auckland EdD programme. Gradually, from the broadest beginnings, I have funnelled my interests into a narrow channel exploring the meaning, development and sequencing of historical empathy’s affective and cognitive dimensions. At the same time I have come to realise that my position as a teacher-researcher is one that combines insider and outsider views of inquiry. From being bedazzled by Michael Wood’s imaginative leap into the past I have come to a clear interpretation of what it means to help students empathise historically.
References Bardige, B. 1988. Things so finely human: Moral sensibilities at risk in adolescence. In Mapping the moral domain: A contribution of women’s thinking to psychological theory and education, ed. C. Gilligan, J.V. Ward, and J. McLean Taylor, 87–110. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Barton, K.C. 2008. Research on students’ ideas about history. In Handbook of research in social studies education, ed. L.S. Levstik and C.A. Tyson, 239–58. New York, NY: Routledge. Barton, K.C. and Levstik, L.S. 2004. Teaching history for the common good. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Cochran-Smith, M. and S.L. Lytle. 2007. Everything’s ethics: Practitioner inquiry and university culture. In Ethical approach to practitioner research: Dealing with issues and dilemmas in action research, ed. A. Campbell and S. Groundwater-Smith, 24–41. Florence, KY: Routledge. Cochran-Smith, M. and S.L. Lytle. 2009. Inquiry as stance: Practitioner research for the next generation. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Davison, M. 2010. The case for empathy in the history classroom. Curriculum Matters vol. 6: 82–98.
—. 2012. Teaching historical empathy and the 1915 Gallipoli campaign. In History matters: Teaching and learning history in New Zealand schools in the 21st century, ed. M. Harcourt and M. Sheehan, 11–32. Wellington, New Zealand: NZCER press. Dewey, J.  1997. Experience and education. New York, NY: Touchstone Books. Grundy, S. 1987. Curriculum: Product or praxis? London, UK: The Falmer Press. Herr, K. and G.L. Anderson. 2005. The action research dissertation: A guide for students and faculty. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Hallowell, N., J. Lawton, and S. Gregory, eds. 2005. Reflections on research: The realities of doing research in the social sciences. Maidenhead, England: Open University Press. Hammersley, M. and J. Scarth. 1993. Beware of wise men bearing gifts: A case study in the misuse of educational research. British Educational Research Journal vol. 19 no. 5: 489–98. Lowenthal, D. 2000 Dilemmas and delights of learning history. In Knowing, teaching, and learning history: National and international perspectives, ed. P.N. Stearns, P. Seixas and S. Wineburg, 63–82. New York, NY: New York University Press. Macquire, M. 1998, March 10. Educational enquiry and the teacher. Lecture presented at the University of Exeter, Exeter, England. Stenhouse, L.A. 1975. An introduction to curriculum research and development. London: Heinemann. Stenhouse, L. 1985. Action research and the teacher’s responsibility for the educational process. In Research as a basis for teaching: Readings from the work of Lawrence Stenhouse, ed. J. Rudduck and D. Hopkins, 56–59. London: Heinemann. The author: Martyn Davison was enrolled part-time in the Doctor of Education (EdD) programme at The University of Auckland. He graduated in September 2013, having completed his thesis exploring the teaching and learning of historical empathy. Martyn also teaches full-time at secondary school level and is focused on developing as a teacherresearcher and writer in the field of history education.
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE REFLECTING PRACTICE: COMMENTARY BARBARA M. GRANT
When we think about “reflecting practice”, what relationship do we imagine between the two terms? Of the more obvious options, are we thinking about reflective of practice or reflective for practice? The four chapters in this section of the book suggest that we can think in either direction but also in both, and that both kinds of thinking open up considerable complexity. After exploring these issues in relation to the chapters by James Burford, Martyn Davison, Molly Mullen and Adrian Schoone, I offer some comments towards reflecting on practice in doctoral supervision, which in my mind is one of the ley linesi in the doctoral journey.
Considering “reflecting” and “practice”’ separately Reflecting and practice are freighted terms. Underpinned by the work of Donald Schön (1983, 1987), “reflecting” is an idea that has come to dominate contemporary thinking and talking in the Anglo-West about many, if not most, forms of professional practice. Education has shown itself as particularly susceptible to this reimagining of its professionals as reflective practitioners: nowadays, it’s hard to conceive a properly ethical teacher who does not subscribe to this subjectivity, or one closely related. This ethos has been slower to reach higher education but, over the last decade or two, the publication of books like Stephen Brookfield’s The critically reflective teacher and the emergence of teaching portfolios for academic staff signal a shift towards recasting the academic/lecturer/ supervisor as a reflective practitioner. Likewise “practice” carries considerable meaning. In the social theories that frame education enquiry of a certain bent, we have seen many
“turns” in the past thirty-odd years: the linguistic turn, the spatial turn, the affective turn, the practice turn (for the latter, see the foundational text by Schatzki, Knorr-Cetina and von Savigny 2000). Each turn signifies a shift in theoretical attention to a hitherto relatively under-examined aspect of social life’s complexity. The turn to practice is another attempt to rethink the structure–individual binary such that we can explain how people shape the world and how they are shaped by it, this time through a careful analysis of what people do: the specific and general understandings involved, as well as the rules and what Schatzki has called the teleological–affective structuring, that is the “range of ends, projects, actions, maybe emotions, and end-project-action combinations” that are acceptable for practitioners to pursue (2006, 1864). Contemporary doctoral study loads its own baggage onto reflecting and practice. The condition of being a doctoral student is increasingly one of reflexivity (reflecting)—not only towards the process of research and the act of writing (some modes of which, in education, are highly reflexive —see Jones 1992), but also towards the very business of becoming someone with a future, as an academic, a researcher, a scholar, an enhanced professional in some domain of practice, be it education, art, music, health. More difficultly, for many doctoral students, arises from the question: what kind of future? In most universities, there are workshops and courses for doctoral students that feed off and into this demand for reflexivity—along with its familiar, anxiety—about the present and the future. Moreover, when we begin the doctoral journey, we often have high hopes for the extent to which our research will ultimately speak to practice, especially to improving practice—a matter I come back to below. For now I want to address the distinction made above between reflective of practice and reflective for practice in relation to the chapters.
Reflective of practice In some way, all four chapters are reflective of practice, underscoring the point I make above about the contemporary condition of being a doctoral student in education (along with other social sciences and the humanities). The writers address issues and tensions inherent in research practice itself—those that arise when researching the practice of others and those that emerge while figuring out how to theorise and represent our research “findings”.ii For example, in writing about his research with alternative education tutors, Adrian Schoone talks about the difficulty of thinking about an
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educative practice outside the hegemony of school teaching. In this sense, the proper practice of teaching has been captured by certain norms and conventions, which have been authoritatively sedimented more deeply by the capture of teacher training into universities. Schoone’s study of a group of teachers who lie outside these norms and conventions leads him to suggest the need for a new language and new modes of representations that might crack open the normalizing frame and allow him, as researcher, to better capture—and offer a reader—the feel of the practice he is studying. The tensions that arise when researching the practice of others is a core concern for Molly Mullen, in particular her own feelings of “insecurity” when using research methods that her participants had more expertise with than she did. Feelings of this kind return when she is trying to critically analyse the participants’ practice—and wondering what that means (and no doubt feeling the weight of her relationships with her participants). In this section of her chapter, she reveals some of the dilemmas of being a doctoral researcher: of wanting her practice and persona to “appear fully prepared and independent”, of being overwhelmed by the data and the difficult task of making some kind of sense of it, of figuring out what it means to be critical towards data provided by participants that one has obligations towards. Such knotty matters surface only rarely in the doctoral education literature. James Burford’s chapter opens with a story that throws us straight into the difficult practice of being an academic writer. The problematic normalising of writing practice as portrayed in various how-to manuals and institutional performativity requirements (e.g., write for 15 minutes every day, write a substantial piece in the first year of candidature) is met by the always-surprising, and often-unwelcome, bodiliness that rises up against those prescriptions in the very act of writing. (I see—and myself experience—this again and again at the week-long writing retreats I run for academic women.) Digging deeply into his own everyday experiences of writing, and armed with insights from queer theory, Burford alerts us to the messiness, the feelingness, of doctoral writing to question our received views about which emotions doctoral students should or should not be feeling in their writing practice and to explore how those emotions might be implicated in doctoral identity work. The response of these authors to the representational difficulties of reflecting practice is to experiment with alternative modes of interpreting data: Schoone offers researcher-generated and “found” (in the data) poems based on his own thoughts and feelings as well as on the words of his research participants; Mullen creates fragments of scripts based on
exchanges between her as researcher and her research participants; Burford opens his chapter with a story that the reader takes to be autobiographical until we learn that it’s actually a piece of fiction (although, like all fiction, founded in experience, observation and an informed feel for what counts as significant). Each of these modes seeks to address the reader’s feelings as well as her thoughts, to provide an encounter with a different kind of knowing that takes us into the thick of practice. Along these lines, Vivienne Elizabeth and I have written about the significance of poetic forms of data because of its potential to strike “a different kind of relationship between empirical data and reader, one that encourages ‘reverberation’—a resounding way of noticing that draws upon our bodily and emotional reactions to a text as well as our intellectual ones” (Elizabeth and Grant 2013, 122).
Reflective for practice The “for” connection between the two terms suggest looking ahead to the future, to how practice might—as a consequence of reflection—be done better. The chapter that most stands out as reflective in this sense is Martyn Davison’s, where he set out to investigate his own practice as a secondary school history teacher, with a view to finding out which of two pedagogical modes was the more effective for achieving certain desired aims with his students. The nature of the carefully designed intervention study allows him to draw some conclusions about the most effective way to achieve those aims and now his teaching practice is shaped accordingly (and there is an implied suggestion that others might follow suit). In my work as a supervisor of doctoral students, I often hear hopes for this kind of outcome from those I supervise. We want to change modes of educational practice for the better. I remember my own doctoral desires: for the first few years of my research into the supervision of graduate research students, I could not imagine my thesis without a closing chapter of recommendations for better supervision. In the end, though, the many theoretical turns I took led me away from writing such a chapter—and into the surprise of a much more critical relationship with earlier writing in which I had advocated for improvement. I think this lack disappointed my examiners and left me, too, wondering if I have failed somehow. Such is the grip of practice—and perhaps particularly the fantasy of practice improvement—on our imaginations as researchers of education (and the social sciences more generally). Yet the gap between some kinds of theorisation and the domain of lived experience is spacious and not easily crossed with pithy portions of advice. And the gap between rich accounts
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of practice and such advice is also wide, as I write about recently when considering the advice given by PƗkehƗ supervisors of MƗori doctoral students to other supervisors (Grant 2013). But there is another sense in which the chapters are reflective for practice: their very substance depends upon the authors’ reflections on their own doctoral learning work, on what is involved in undertaking doctoral research. Each chapter is offered as a kind of lesson, or series of lessons, not so much didactic as evocative through story-telling. The reader is not told what to learn for her own practice as supervisor or doctoral student but is left with moments of “ah-hah”, of questioning, or being led into thought about the difficult issues researchers face all along the route of a doctoral journey.
Reflecting practice in doctoral supervision Navigating the doctoral journey is not something a student does alone. They have other doctoral students, family and friends—all who can take an important role in helping the student make it to the end. Sometimes that role is sympathetic, sometimes it’s more like provoking: most of us need both to get to the end of a doctorate! In my own experience, the student group my supervisor ran was an essential part of the process. We met monthly for several of the six years during which I was doing my doctoral work. Apart from the pleasure of companionship, there was the incentive (or consolation) provided by hearing about others’ progress, there were opportunities to read each other’s writing or work on editing exercises together, there was the occasional motivating requirement to present workin-progress. Most reassuringly for me as the doctorate went interminably on, each year one or two of my peers would complete and disappear from the group: my time too, was coming to meet me. As if on a conveyor belt, I had a sense of being moved steadily and inevitably towards completion, which offset the painful experience of feeling as if I was never going to get finished. These group interactions provided a string of opportunities, like beads on a rosary, to practise and reflect: to talk about my practice as a doctoral student and to listen to others talk about theirs, to listen to and watch our supervisor respond to our work and our issues. It was a chance to be in the skin of being a doctoral student and be outside that skin at the same time. It was also a chance to notice, and reflect upon, the practice of doctoral supervision as it was directed towards others in a way that I seemed unable to notice when it was pointed at me. Supervision itself is a potent relationship that can bring great benefits to doctoral work, not only for the student and her research but also for the
supervisor, the discipline and its knowledge base. Perhaps especially because of its potency, supervision is well served by reflection on and for practice on the part of student and supervisors separately, sometimes in consultation with others, but also occasionally together. Figuring out how to work well together is a process of building a relationship, albeit a professional relationship rather than a private one, and a key ingredient is trust. An approach that foregrounds care and deliberation, a noticing of the other and an attitude of listening, a feeling of respect for the other’s situation and their irreducible difference, offers some fundamental ingredients for successful supervision. Without doubt, the asymmetrical positioning of student and supervisors complicates this scene but a practice of supervision that generates reflexivity in both supervisors and students is worth striving for.
References Brookfield, S.D. 1995. Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Elizabeth, V. and B.M. Grant. 2013. “The spirit of research has changed”: Reverberations from researcher identities in managerial times. Higher Education Research & Development vol. 32 no. 1: 122–35. Grant, B.M. 2013. “It’s not like supervising PƗkehƗ students”: The generative encounters of post-colonial supervision. In Of other thoughts: Non-traditional approaches to the doctorate, ed. T. EngelsSchwarzpaul and M. A. Peters, 279–96. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers. Jones, A. 1992. Writing feminist educational research: Am I in the text? In Women and education in Aotearoa 2, ed. S. Middleton and A. Jones, 18–32.Wellington, NZ: Bridget Williams Books. Schatzki, T.R., K. Knorr-Cetina, and E. von Savigny. eds. 2001. The practice turn in contemporary theory. New York, NY: Routledge. Schatzki, T.R. 2006. On organizations as they happen. Organization Studies vol. 27 no. 12: 1863–73. Schön, D.A. 1983. The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York, NY: Basic Books. —. 1987. Educating the reflective practitioner. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
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I chose the phrase “ley lines” to conjure up supervision as something ancient, partially buried and potent, that brings various hard-to-see elements into convergence (alignment) so as to provide a pathway. ii I have written findings in scare-quotes here because I want to remind the reader that research “findings” are not so much found as they are made, produced through a process of researcher sense-making and interpretation.
The author: Barbara Grant’s research field is higher education, where her main area of expertise is the supervision of graduate research students. She has also researched and published in a several other areas in the field, including researcher identity, academic/educational development, research methodologies, and academic writing. The underlying thread connecting her enquiries is an interest in questions of identity, power and ethics in relation to higher education work, relationships and institutions. Barbara is an Associate Professor in the School of Critical Studies at The University of Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand.