I was so late and Doug was very kind!

Yesterday there were texts confirming breakfast today and then this morning I forgot regardless. It’s been that sort of week….but Doug was kind and waited while I jumped on the bike and rode out to say hello. And wow, am I glad I did.

Talking with smart people is just inspiring. He shared all the research and work he’s doing and I spoke to my paper I’m trying to do because there are massive links between the two. He spoke about visualisation of the problem through A3 diagrams and this opened the door for my brain to see my accounting accreditation problem as a picture. Through the visual I can represent the complexity. He also spoke of HR accreditation and its voluntary nature which enables me to recognise the power dynamic in accounting accreditation which I hadn’t previously considered. In that, the professions have power over academic institutions in relation to accreditation because without accreditation a Bachelor of Accounting is not a viable product. He also opened my mind to the internal processes of the university when it comes to accreditation. I have only been looking at the profession perspective, but what on earth happens inside the ‘little black box’ that is a university?

Most valuable of all Doug said, “Accreditation is not changing what you have, it’s about justifying what you have.”. This statement captures the difference between intent and practice. Accreditation is about setting and maintaining professional standards but if it is about measuring inputs and not outcomes, then it becomes a process of ticking boxes rather than an opportunity to enhance or amend the education already in place. Why is this the case? Because accreditation is yet another time consuming activity to be undertaken by time poor academics. Without time, there is limitations on reflection and education is improved through reflection.

Of course at the moment this is merely my opinion. Now to do some research and see if I’m right! You never know, maybe my cynicism is too far this time.  But a big thank you to Doug for waiting for me (I was 25 minutes late!) and for his ideas. It’s always a pleasure.

How do the professionals do it?

Hats off to every academic out there. You are incredible. How you sustain any mental health normality on the roller coaster that is publishing is beyond my understanding. Today it is official. Leo and I made it. From an initial chat in September 2015 we are now a paper in January 2017. I mean I thought the APS was slow, but this has been a mind blowing experience and a roller coaster of emotions.

First the research doesn’t do what you expect (took us three different approaches to the data to get it to work) then there is the writing, editing, clarification, editing, rewriting (and that’s just Leo and I). Then comes the rejection, then the acceptance with edits, then the extra edits and then the publication. I’m tired just writing this.

So, kudos to you academics. You are awe inspiring (awesome).

On a different note, I had a thought last night about my title. I know I get hung up on it (see here and here and here and here and others…..) but for some reason having a title is really important. Anyway, I realised yesterday while doing my literature review for what feels like the 100th time, accounting is about giving an account. An account is like a story, which is a narrative, which is a discourse. This led to a title of:

A critique using accounts of Australian university education from those involved in a Bachelor of Accounting

This won’t be my last title, but I like it. It has a simplicity I’ve been missing and basically says what I’m doing. I want to bring simplicity back, I lost it a bit last year, but it’s mine if I want it. Comments on the title more than welcome! Writing is a lonely business and I’m an extroverted thinker.

 

The past is a funny thing

I’m going through old emails (currently at September 2015 – and yes there were things I was supposed to have done). I hate email and as such, I don’t do it a lot, and then I find myself finding a whole range of research documents I emailed myself (and others have emailed me) and now I have 18 unread emails in my PhD folder which is about one week’s worth of work. And I worry there’s something awesome in there that would have kicked serious arse at my confirmation, but you know, spilt milk and all that.

Anyway, here is the gem I found: s2b21415091709150. This was my original proposal to the ANU probably about a decade ago now. There’s no date, but I do have a book somewhere with the notes I made when I met with a lovely academic at the Crawford School who basically said I didn’t have a thesis. It’s funny, looking at this document I can see how right he was. Looking at this document I also see how in all this time I’ve not really moved from my fundamental position. Education is flawed because of a failure in communication and incentives, not a failure of intent.

A timely reminder for me. The trimmings and theory may change, but the core, the whole point, is a constant.

Humouring 2017

I’m over change and I log into WordPress to do a nice funny new year post only to find it’s changed….WHY???

I would love for something, just one thing to stay the same and not change, ever.

Anyway, here is something to make me laugh when I need it: Funny Cartoon I hope you find it as funny as I did.

PhD wise I’m reading Piaget and enjoyed my two weeks of no thesis thinking at all, so nothing really humorous there. And it will be less humorous when David asks for some writing…that’s why funny cartoons are good for the soul.

It’s never too late to change

I am so thankful to all the people who have helped me on me journey. I think of it as serendipity, but honestly, the planets align too often for it to be chance.

Doug and Bruce – you are amazing. You don’t realise but the little nudges you both give me from time to time have helped me to remain open to content I would never have used.

Michael – your gentle post-structural mocking has paid off. I think I’m changing my mind. As a result I’ve just bought more books from Amazon (Weber, Habermas and Piaget) to see what I can think through, and I’m returning to my research on discourse theory for options other than post-structuralism.

As many of you know who have been with this blog since the start (my apologies) I’ve never really been able to problematise my problem other than “it feels wrong”. Thanks to the session by Ben and Doug I’ve been thinking a lot about it. Last week in response to David and I not agreeing again, I did up a model. It didn’t feel right. So, today I returned to the big sticky note on the wall and I think I worked it out. The product of education, defined by industry and government is being delivered by universities through their interpretation of the defined product which then produces graduates who are interpreted by industry based on how they defined the product. And no one is happy.

Problem is, the doesn’t need post-structuralism to analyse. Yes, I’m still looking at language and how it constructs the ideas and how there is a disconnect between what is said and what is happening, but that’s not about questioning of structures, it’s a questioning of how we are interpreting. It’s a translation issue, not a neo-liberal issue. If my thesis is about explaining what the problem is and pointing out it exists, I can’t do it in a way that turns people off. Going down post-structuralism is turning people off. It’s too angry for what the issue is.

The literature tells me  universities, government and industry do want ‘good’ education. And while it tells me globalisation is tearing university education, it’s by accident rather than design. We are here by chance, or perhaps incompetence, not because of intent. Did people really intend university education to become what it is? I need to write a thesis to answer this question, and perhaps depending on the answer, provide hope for how university education might just become what people want, rather than what it is.

Walking a different path

Won’t lie, it’s been a tough couple of weeks. But this morning, in the shower, there was clarity. (Often is – not sure why showers are good thinking time, but they totally are!)

People do PhD’s to become academics. To show the world their smarts. The issue in my research I am finding is the ‘dumbing down’ of all levels of academia so a PhD is no longer really showing your smarts, it really is just a gateway piece of paper to be an academic. So that means anyone gets in now. And recently that has annoyed me as I feel like I’m working so hard, and all I really needed to do was become a favourite of faculty management. Apparently they would have enrolled me, regardless of my ability, and would no doubt support me in such an active fashion I couldn’t possibly fail. This annoys me because it devalues my work.

Then I thought, no. People like that aren’t going to have the full experience of the PhD because they are people who always take the easy road. They aren’t going to grasp the full details or implications of their research. They are going to do what they have to and take the piece of paper, the prize at the end. They are not a giver to society now, and they won’t be a giver just because they have a PhD.

You see, for me a PhD is about giving. Research is how we advance society and my PhD is about trying to address issues in university education. I won’t be an academic (they work way too hard). But I will have a license to publish more research. I will have a piece of paper to show the world I’m allowed to be out there with my position on a topic. I want to give in a way that people might just listen, rather than me just being another person with an opinion.

I had dinner with two academics last week and the conversation we could have about society, and concepts, and how their own research changes them and others in unexpected ways. That’s what givers can do. They can change the world.

So, I need to let go of what I think about other people. I need to let go of a concept of ‘value’ in the work I do and how it compares to that of others. I just need to work, do my thesis my way, show what the research shows in a way my dad can understand, and then keep researching and writing, so maybe I can change the world – just a little.

The sociopaths, psychopaths and narcissists are welcome to their ‘take’ attitude. I walk a different path.

Research is a time sink

Today I forayed to the National Archives. First of – awesome staff! So kind and helpful (and patient). Second – OMG. In order to access the green paper of the Dawkins era, I have to lodge a request which takes 90 days. And then that request might actually just tell me the submissions aren’t in that particular set of papers. Basically, it takes 90 days for someone to find the set of papers, look at it, and then put onto the web site what is actually included. Then I can’t access them until July next year even  if they are there because the Archives are moving buildings (naa-closure-notice). But I can pay to have them scanned.

On the upside, this process indicates I’m the first person to go to the source document for research in higher education because no one has activated the file before. In research terms, I’m in unchartered territories and that’s always a good feeling!

However, on the downside, I’m now in holding pattern for the 1988 data, but I do have a lot of other work to do. I was also told by the helpful person how the Archives lodge the materials (it’s done by agency, not topic…) so now I’ll go back to their web site for more effective searches in case the 600 submissions I need aren’t where I’m hoping they are. I did get told the story of the people who pull down 100’s of documents to find just one….it could be that this is going to take some time…..