blaming bruce

And……face palm!

For several months I have been chasing documents (see Research is a time sink) and today a miracle occurred. Well, that’s a bit far, but still something so cool. Although it is also a face palm moment as the document I needed was online the whole time…..

Someone sent me a document and a link. The first tells me the big piece of information I’ve been looking for (there are not 600 submissions to the 1988 inquiry so heavens know what the department is on about) and the link is to a book that has all the submissions! So today I joined the National Library and Friday I plan to get out there and borrow myself a book.

What all this has taught me is I’m not very good at research. Actually, I am good at analysis and synthesis but I am very bad at finding things. This reinforces how important Bruce has been to my thesis. Without him feeding me many good sources early on I would not have made any progress at all. It also has taught me I should rely more on others who are good at finding things. And this means reaching out more to ask for help. Something I’m not great at. But today, being sent this little gem, has made me think I should get better at it and fast!

So a big thank you to Natalie at the House of Representatives. You’re very good at finding things!

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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.

Where I am in the literature

Yesterday there was a great session where Ben and Doug spoke about how to situate research within the literature using the work of Locke and Golden-Biddle. Fortunately Doug had given me a copy of the article so I knew where they were going (in fact I’ve used it as a reference in my thesis already!). the presentations were great because they showed thinking. They showed how other people consider the options for their research and how they build their understanding of their research problem. I also have an idea for structuring my literature review. Bonus!

I also liked the forum because I asked basic questions and people were really informative and patient with their responses. Additionally I got to thank Bruce publicly for the amazing support he’s given me and continues to do so.

What made me sad was at the end in casual chat I was reminded how academics are their own worst enemy. Ben mentioned how he had been nervous and I asked why, given his presentation was so good. Another academic remarked that it’s always scary presenting to colleagues because you’re exposing your research to your peers and that can be really bad. I was reminded how some people do not know the line of critique and being critical. I hope I never lose the courage I have to talk about my research, anywhere, to anyone. I know I almost lost it after my confirmation, but I held onto it, and will now nurture the courage more than ever.

Frank and fearless advice

Back in the good old days of the Australian Public Service (APS), there was a clause in the legislation under which public servants are engaged. It was something like, “…the provision of frank and fearless advice…”. I like this expression. Frank means clear and true (well at least to me) and fearless, well, it means that anyone in the APS providing advice to the Government of the day should be fearless. There should be no dynamic preventing honesty in the advice being provided. They change the legislation and removed the word fearless. I have no idea what it says now as I’m so disheartened by Australian politicisation of the APS I no longer read the legislation. (Yes, I used to read the legislation for fun.)

Yesterday I had a meeting with David in which there was much frank and fearless advice – on both sides. It was while in this exchange I realised something. As tricky and complicated as the relationship with my supervisors is, there is just so much value and trust. This makes the relationship important to my thesis. Without the ability to be fearless David, and Linda, will not be able to provide me important ideas and feedback, but if I can’t be fearless, my thesis will become theirs, not mine. The fact we can all be frank and fearless is sometimes painful – we hear things we don’t necessarily care to – but there is great value for me and my thesis will be stronger for the experience.

As I said in my last post, I actually wrote theory content and this is what David and I discussed yesterday. We have agreed it’s a basis from which to move forward. I also mentioned in the post the work with Leo. We’ve met and have altered my proposal to a point where we think we’ve got a good paper. So, I now have a lot of work to do. A methodology chapter (not yet started), refinement of the Change Chapter (about 65% of the way there) and completion of the theory chapter (about 30% there) as well as data analysis for thesis and for the paper with Leo. All before 31 December. Good thing I quit my full time job yesterday! (Yes – I know rent will need to be paid……I’m sure there’s a job I can find…..anyone hiring?)

As a side note – I’m blaming Bruce again today. Even though I quit my job and have very limited income stream I spent money at Amazon today! I thought I could use the e-book for Logics of Critical Explanation for research, but Bruce spoilt me with all these beautiful books I can hold in my hands, flick through, visualise the page with the information, scribble in and tag up with post-it notes. Damn you Bruce for showing me such beauty!

Feeding the ideas and how to stop

Reworked the ‘change’ chapter today and am wondering for a topic as big as mine, when is it enough literature? I mean, I’ve got to the point where I’m finding literature quoting literature and there’s nothing really new, however, this is a big topic and I’m not convinced I have enough. So I think my step might be an EndNote and Scrivener audit to work out what I have from Australia on the topic versus other countries, then do a cross check on what I think, and then I might call it quits – for the moment, maybe.

The issue I have is I did a scholar search using a different approach and am finding some really cool stuff. It’s the application of post-structural thought into accounting and/or education. That’s cool. And then I’m finding topics in those that I would like to follow but then I’m in the proverbial rabbit hole. It’s time to get this chapter done so I can have my basis on which to move forward for data collection and analysis (which I’ve had to redo for the third time on my first collection as I keep rethinking about how to ‘let the story tell itself’. Of course, if the story is telling itself I shouldn’t have to ‘do’ anything, however I need the stories to tell me something vaguely thematic so apparently I have to think…) because the literature for me is an active player in my collection and analysis. This has been an interesting experience with the data collection while working up the literature. It’s been great to see how one idea feeds another, but at some point I have stop feeding the ideas and just get something done.

Had a great discussion with Michael this morning. It’s nice to have people around me to test my ideas and thinking, and not just on my thesis! Although we did talk about post-structural thinking this morning and agreed there was probably a bit of ‘get your hand off it’ in their process. However, the more time I spend with the post-structural concepts and ideas, the more I see how I need it in the thesis to explain my critique of the discourses. It’s nice to understand the limitations of my framework while gaining insights into their applicability. I do enjoy learning.

Additionally Amazon got more money from me today…..damn you Bruce.