Waiting for Bourdieu at AARE

Belinda at Menindee Lakes

Belinda at Menindee Lakes

My first attendance at this substantial conference on educational research was serendipitous. I noticed that it was co-located and timed with the ascilite conference in Hobart, and thought ‘why not go for both?’. I also noted that it included a ‘Higher and professional education (HEP)’ stream, so I submitted a refereed paper (it’s always good to get some peer review) and it was accepted.

My presentation was scheduled at 8.30am on the final day <sigh>. But this gave me the opportunity to see and hear some fascinating, stimulating and sometimes terrifying research prior to my own presentation. Terrifying because it was so highly engaged with theory, something that has been somewhat lacking in most previous conferences I have attended, and in my own academic writing.

“OMG, I need to get serious about theory … my presentation has NO references to Bourdieu =P … phew, fixed that” ;D

So – the interesting things:

  • Praxis-oriented research at a workshop led by participatory action research guru Stephen Kemmis. Slightly chaotic workshop (not enough time, the usual workshop complaint), but great to hear and meet the man, and learn more about praxis.
  • Reinforcement for my vague ideas about critical pedagogy, praxis-oriented research, and how critical theory may help develop my ideas on creativity in higher education.
  • ‘artography’ – integrating creative practice with educational research – eg  – Geraldine Burke at Monash.
  • HEP stream is new, and a related SIG is being established, led by Alison Lee, Sam Sellars and Catherine Manathunga. Several colleagues from UNSW in on this, it’s exciting to be ‘at the birth’!
  • Bourdieu really is relevant to my study (eg. ‘cultural production’) 🙂

As for my own presentation, it seemed to go well. Going first in a session populated by various Drs. and Profs., I presented myself as possibly an impostor, and certainly a novice, embarking on a maybe spurious but adventurous exploration. Found this a liberating space to inhabit – how long can I continue to be the ‘novice’, the ‘idiot’, the ‘naive’?

The premise of my piece – relating ideas about creativity in education to the idea of creativity as a ‘threshold’ disposition, and of creative learning and teaching as a ‘transformative’ space. (Abstract here, paper to be published shortly …). Critique of the presentation has suggested that it is certainly interesting territory, but that pursuing the relationship to ‘threshold concepts’ may be tangential, and not so productive … well, we shall see what comes out of my upcoming paper on liminality for the TC conference in 2012 …

Out of the academic closet

alien in our midst

alien in our midst                         CC licensed

It’s been so long since I published anything to do with my research online, finding it hard enough to keep up with my creative portfolio. But a presentation at ascilite conference in Hobart has spurred me to action. Sarah Thorneycroft showed why online publishing is the way of the future and how it has the potential to change academic publishing. No more waiting 3-9 months for a response from conference convenors or journal editors, peer review is right here, right now. And once you have put your stuff out there, while it’s scary to have work-in-development in a public place, your claim to ownership of your ideas is there for all to see. Others with related ideas can find you, peers can critique and collaborate. It provides a reflective space to develop ideas. And then you can still develop the ideas further to undergo the lengthy and rigorous academic writing and review process for publication in ‘traditional’ academic spaces.

It was excellent to meet Sarah (I have been impressed previously by her blog – Mind the gap), and I agree with so much that she had to say – her ideas about collaborative and public development of academic ideas and writing not only represents the kind of creative approach I would like to take with my research, but also resonates with my beliefs about the collaborative, creative and democratic potential of communication technologies. So why has it been so hard for me to engage with this way of working?

  • Time – spread thin as I am, it seems an additional and ongoing task to publish my ideas as I go, rather than just let them float around in my head, in notebooks, in digital notes, in conversations. And yet – what benefit this kind of reflection, aggregation and consolidation could have, even apart from whatever collaboration may arise!
  • Culture – as a baby boomer, some of the ways that younger generations seem to live in public are disconcerting. I can see in theory some of the benefits, as well as some of the pitfalls, but there is still something a bit strange to me about this way of being and working …
  • Tradition – I’m a late-comer to academia, and to education as a field of research, and enthusiastically trying to develop my expertise. From ‘legitimate peripheral participation’ to induction into academic ‘communities of practice’ (Lave & Wenger, 1991), over the last decade I have familiarised myself with the ways of speaking, working and publishing that can make me an acceptable member of these communities – but am I ready and have I the right to subvert these traditions?

Oh, blah. Creative is as creative does. As a researcher of ‘creativity’ I believe I have not only the right but an obligation to question paradigms. So – while I may have a lot to learn about effectively blogging my writing, I absolutely have to do it!