Altering the facts

 

My initial response to reading Pring’s (2004) ideas about methodology was to become even more disorientated as I grab for grip in the shifting sands of seemingly endless reflexivity. Whilst I would agree that the concepts he offers are “…quite fundamental ways of conceptualising our understanding of the world” (Pring 2004, p.58), I do find that the deeper I dig on this course, the less I can count on anything. Everything which is questioned – and I do appreciate the need for questioning – becomes ever vaguer and less reliable, including reality: “‘Reality’ is a social construction, and the boundaries between the objective and the subjective become blurred. There are as many realities as there are social constructions, which is a large number, indeed.” (Pring 2004, p.81) And yet, at the same time, I read that “One cannot get away from reality – and thus from the truth or falsity of statements which give an account of it.” (Pring 2004, p.74) Is it OK to be confused?

As Pring observes on countless occasions, the Social Sciences and the Natural Sciences are different realms entirely. However, if our work is to have any chance of objectivity, even assuming that “‘Objectivity’ refers to the way one proceeds…” (Pring 2004, p.62), I wonder if we need to find parallels: “An ideal of the natural sciences would be the replacement of qualitative by quantitative descriptions wherever possible… Such precision is demanded, too, in the social sciences, as when, for example, in psychology attitude tests are given, or deviations from the norm statistically expressed.” (Pring 2004, p.86) In my own research, I expect to make use of such quantitative approaches, as a means to give some objective clarity, whilst remaining aware that “To be objective is not the same as being correct” (Pring 2004, p.62).

I am likely to have access to a massive amount of quantitative data in the form of standardised attitudinal tests in various sociocultural contexts worldwide. At this point, I intend to make use of this, but I do not know fully how. I am considering a proposal of ‘background’ and ‘foreground’ research, with the former located in various contexts worldwide, and the latter, perhaps, at Jordan’s Syrian border. In that way, the attitudinal data could give me a background (i.e. the spread within each attitudinal factor in each school with which I work), against which I could then compare and contrast the foreground (i.e. the spread in whatever refugee communities with which I might get to work).

However, the difficulty I can already see here is twofold. Firstly, with my samples so small (in comparison, say, with the 2 billion children of the world!), how can I argue that my background is indeed, objectively, that? Secondly, and here Pring’s ideas around causation and correlation are useful, it is impossible to assume that whatever spread of attitudinal test scores in either foreground or background is linked in any tangible way to the particular contexts from which they were drawn: “…the social world we are dealing with in educational practice has such a complicated set of interacting causal factors that we cannot isolate the events under consideration from this complex reality. There can never be the laboratory purity of the scientific world where standard and limited conditions can be assured.” (Pring 2004, p.65)

Does this mean that there is no validity in comparing the two? I am reassured by Pring’s suggestions that such “causal connections must not be so easily written off…” (Pring 2004, p.65), but I cannot ever hope to pretend that there is objectivity here. This troubles, and puzzles, me, and Pring’s reference to Luntley doesn’t help me out: “Classrooms…share a common structural feature with other social and natural systems – namely, non-linearity. Ignore this and you get a faulty logic of understanding for the system at issue.” (Luntley, 2000, p.17)

In addition to exploring what messages that quantitative data communicates (or doesn’t communicate), the other main methodological approach I intend to use is to gather testimonies. I like what I have read about Gautama, and want to believe that there is intrinsic value in what somebody says. Now, here I quickly slip on those infuriating sands again, because my reflexive voice chimes in. Why did they say it? What influence did I have on their decision to do so? What motivation or intent propelled them to do so? Next – and I know I am mixing my metaphors – it is easy to peel so many layers off the onion that all that is left is a tiny dot of onion-smelling air in the middle. I am hopeful, therefore, that I can gather testimonies, provided a) that I am confident that my own role (and that of the monster of my own habitus) in shaping them has been minimal; and b) that I am presenting them not as truth, fact or reality, but, merely, as what they are: testimonies.

Ultimately, what I wish to explore is the behaviour of children within a compulsory school setting, and, in doing so, I recognise that “…to explain human behaviour requires not only reference to the intentions of the person acting (as though these were within a purely private and subjective world), but also reference to the social rules and practices within which those intentional actions take place and make sense.” (Pring 2004, p.68) I want to explore what affects a child’s attitudes to learning, and how her attitudes to learning can be improved, but, again, the layers begin to peel off that onion. Pring argues that “What constitutes a healthy person is not a straightforward empirical matter. It depends on the values one has…Values permeate our descriptions of reality.” (Pring 2004, p.76) So too, then, does a ‘positive’ attitude to learning. In which case, where do I go with this?

However, there are some ideas from Pring that I found more liberating. For example, I am very excited at the possibility that I might help even in some small way to “alter the facts” (Pring 2004, p.76), if those facts are the ‘common sense’ that perpetuates a post-industrial model of compulsory schooling regardless of its effect on child wellbeing, and if to do so lies in “a questioning and critical approach to what was accepted uncritically, a refusal to accept as self-evident what is generally believed to be true, a reflective and analytic attitude towards the fund of inherited wisdom.” (Pring 2004, p.84)

I am also excited at the conclusion reached that “…unless there can be a bridge between the common sense discourse and the more technical discourse, then theory-based research will have little or no impact upon policy or practice.” (Pring 2004, p.86) I certainly do not want the conclusions of my research to be mere “transient beliefs” (Pring 2004, p.79).

Bibliography

Pring, R., 2004. Philosophy of educational research. London: Continuum
Luntley, M., 2000. ‘Performance, pay and professionals: Measuring the quality of teaching: A challenge to the government’s proposals on teachers’ pay’. Impact, 2000 (2).

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Blurred Lines

I have read both Orr (2011) and Marcalo (2009), and considered both the blurred lines Orr identifies between assessment and past/present identity and the functionality of (in Marcalo’s case choreographic) practice as research without the need for written exegesis, and I want to find resonance within the domain of my own research, but am still struggling to do so.

I am fully aware of the power of my ‘habitus’ as a part-benign/part-malignant force in my research, and have explored this in a previous post. Whilst I am not sure I agree that, for me, this habitus necessarily ‘leads us to “reproduce” the social conditions of our own production’ (Bourdieu, 1990), it certainly holds powerful sway, and I am reflexive enough to remember this. Maybe the problem is twofold: in exploring my research field, I need to disentangle me as teacher now and me as student then from me as researcher now. One could argue that my own habitus could render mine an additional testimony, but I fear that is simply too cloudy, and I must somehow have greater detachment than that would permit.

Perhaps, also, I struggle to see myself as a ‘creative practitioner’. For example, I am neither animator nor artist, neither choreographer nor documentarian, and so, whilst all effective educators are, as Orr would agree, learner-makers themselves, this is a creativity less explicit than that explored in the two papers above. Perhaps, therefore, I feel either fraudulent or awkward wearing borrowed robes, much as it is exciting to do so.

It was exciting, for example, when I watched Rufus Stone (2015) and listened to Jones’ verbal exegesis, and I was struck by the potency of film as research. But I am no filmmaker, and nor do I have the funding or support necessary to collate, digest and transfer testimony to screen in this way. Similarly, I was hugely affected by seeing Blank and Jensen’s The Exonerated (2006) at the Riverside Studios, and, in theory, their approach to practice as research is simpler than Jones’, but still I fear I would be overreaching myself.

I want to explore children’s attitudes to their schooling, and whether these can be rendered more positive, and their experience more actualised, through incremental steps down the democratic continuum. I aim to gather data in the form both of Gautamic testimony and also of attitudinal survey results. Therefore, in theory, of course, I could, as part of my research proper, gather all student interviews as video footage, and endeavour to edit such that they obviate the need for written exegesis. However, not only would the self-consciousness of youth before lens risk complicating the data, but I would still want to transcribe each interview, in order to scrutinise and analyse the text itself. Similarly, whilst it would be fascinating to digest and process all transcribed interviews in order to present as Exonerated-style drama, I am no playwright or dramaturge, and without the ability to transfer to the stage, any script may only be distinguishable from transcript by the sort of artifice that might cloud meaning.

It was suggested to me recently that, perhaps, my fabric or footwork is number, especially if the quantitative dimension to my research becomes significant. If so, I am fascinated by the extent to which number can become a creative product – be that through data visualisation or story narration. Perhaps, therefore, a laboured, written exegesis can be rendered unnecessary through means other than traditional arts. But even a creative rendition of number would still dampen the individual voices of Gautamic testimony, and so I will need to find a way to communicate both.

In short, I admit to being bored even at the prospect of an entirely written exegesis of my research findings, but, at this stage, I have not yet fully identified what ‘practice’ I could offer as ‘research’. Whether this is because I am far less creative practitioner than my doctoral peers, or whether it is because my methodology is, as yet, unsufficiently well-formed, the next module of the course will, I hope, determine.

Blank, J. and Jensen, E. (2006) The Exonerated. London: Faber & Faber Plays.

Bourdieu, P. (1990) Sociology in Question. Cambridge: Polity Press

Marcalo, R. (2009) ‘Failing to do without: Writing as classical documentation of post-classical choreographic documentation.’ Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 2 (1), 105–116.

Orr, S. (2011) ‘Being an artist you kind of, I mean, you get used to excellence’: Identity, values and fine Art Assessment practices. International Journal of Art & Design Education, 30 (1), 37–44

(2015) RUFUS STONE the movie. Available from: https://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/rufus-stone/ [Accessed 7 February 2016].

Setting some epistemological flags

It is reasonable to suggest, and indeed this has been stated in various communication regarding this course, that my doctorate requires the addition of something new to the field of knowledge in which I am studying. Therefore, the myriad questions, concerns and ambiguities relating to the definition, and, even, existence, of knowledge necessarily plague my quest for that ‘something new’.

For example, I can easily propose something new, such as that young learners have become passive victims of their education rather than helmsmen and navigators or, even, creators. However, this can be quickly clouded from two directions simultaneously. Firstly, on what grounds (or, in other words, to quote Audi (2003), with what justification), do I claim that this proposition is, indeed new? Secondly, how am I able to graduate this proposition from mere belief to actual knowledge?

Superficially sightseeing the various destinations in several millennia’s epistemological journey, it is easy to be sent into a tailspin, and to land, instead, frustrated alongside Arcesilaus and Carneades, or happy with Pyrrho of Ellis (Nagel, 2014). But it seems to me that this is a cul-de-sac, and ignores what I (and, yes, even the next verb is questionable dress at an epistemologist’s party) believe to be the unquestionable existence of knowledge. So, going back to my original proposition, of the alienated and disenfranchised learner, I should not have to provide indefatigable proof thereof, and this is where I think I am helped by other travellers on the epistemological road: G. E. Moore, Bertrand Russell and John Locke.

Moore’s writings provide a sobering counter to the headiness of proof-hunting (Nagel, 2014, p. 20). If I have sufficient evidence for my proposition to be ‘common-sense’, then it can qualify as knowledge. Or perhaps, as Locke would argue, “Knowledge is not our only guide” (p.44), and its weaker sibling, judgement, can suffice. Like Russell, I am certainly very attracted to a simpler epistemological landscape, one in which, “other things being equal, a simpler explanation is rationally preferred to a more complex one” (p.21)

This is not to suggest I be happy to “fall into the pervasive temptation to take an imitation to be the real thing” (Audi, p.28), but more that I be less stringent in terms of knowledge justification than seems to be the fastidiousness of so many of my forethinkers. However, in this, my research does not need to possess less rigour or integrity, and I wonder whether the fundamentals of my research focus are critical here. For example, if I hope to explore a learner’s ‘attitudes to learning’, and whether they can be improved through various means, the knowledge I seek is either whether the learner feels certain attitudes before whatever intervention, or whether those attitudes have changed thereafter.

There are still problems in this. Which learner? Am I hoping to reach conclusions only about the specific learners on whom my research is focused, or about ‘the learner’ as a whole? If the latter, my the balloon of proposition will quickly pop; if the former, however, is there a danger that the proposition itself may have too little generality to be of use and, therefore, add something new to this field of knowledge? This approach will also be bedeviled by problems of correlation and causation, since, even if I can identify a change in attitudes in my learner(s), how can I ‘know’ that this is a direct result of the specific intervention(s) in question? How do I achieve factivity?

I am, currently, a regular speaker on the international conference circuit about student-level data, and the knowledge we can glean from it. Therefore, I am already on the floor of the epistemological debate already, whether I like it or not, but I use an analogy to help me. One of the slides I share is of an old man on a large beach with a metal detector, and I then provide the narrative.

He has gone to the beach brimming with optimism of the wealth awaiting him beneath pebble and stone and yet, at the same time, daunted by the simultaneous enormity of the beach and of the task ahead. He might pace for hours, finding nothing but the occasional bottle top, and he would be lying if he said this didn’t cloud his excitement a little. Imagine, instead, that a team of determined metal-seekers had already scoured and charted the beach, and had left flags marking each square meter where enough trinkets could be found to represent a successful day. As our old man explores the beach, he focuses exclusively on the flagged areas, and, rather than a metal detector, he carries a spade: how much more success he would have.

If we see the data as knowledge, an end in itself, it is bound to disappoint. Too many questions are waiting in the wings to spoil that performance. However, if we see each piece of data as a flag on the beach, and we then set to work with a spade, how much more efficient will our work be. I refer to educators as treasure-hunters, and our work as the unearthing of the myriad treasures within each and every learner; and, in that narrative, the data flag is our epistemological friend.

With this, I find parallels aplenty in my intended research, and in the newness I hope to bring to my field. And my flags? Testimonies. Or, more accurately, stories. Whilst Audi would argue that testimony lacks the essence of the four basic ways of knowing, for me it is as robust a means of transmitting and justifying knowledge as any other. I am buoyed by what I read of Akşapâda Gautama, who maintained that testimony is much more special than mere inference, and is both primal and inclusive in its validity and worth: “The classical Indian line is that knowledge can be gained directly not only from sages and ‘noble compatriots’ but also from ‘barbarians’, as long as they have knowledge and intend to share it.” (Nagel, pp.80-81)

If I want to ‘know’ about a young learner’s attitudes to learning, the testimony of the young learner himself surely has to be an easily justifiable way of knowing. If, as Edward Craig would argue, “Good informants are identified as knowers” (p.85), what better informer about a set of attitudes than the possessor of those attitudes herself? With this rationale, I feel epistemologically comfortable in seeking stories, as I intend to do.

If, as a result of hearing the stories from each learner with whom I speak, and also teasing out the stories from their data, I can offer to this field of knowledge a set of flags to guide the treasure-hunters after me, then I have elicited and transmitted knowledge with a sound epistemological base. Sure, some could question whether what each learner tells me is sincere, whether the data at my disposal has sufficient statistical robustness, or, even, whether I did more than dream the conversation with the learner, or whether the ‘brain in a vat’ which is me did any more than digest the data my ‘mad scientist’ told it to – but, increasingly, I see such detours as fun but frivolous.

Finally, I find myself wondering whether epistemological thinking is like an asteroid shower, and that, through the lens of Semantic Externalism (p.21), the knowledge we seek exists regardless. In the case of my research: children exist; adults expect them to learn, and have done for centuries; children have feelings in response to that learning; those feelings can be affected by multiple factors. My research simply (and I use that adverb with my tongue in my cheek) aims to listen to some of those children, to learn of their feelings, and to use that learning to help the adult world do better by them in future.

I wonder whether we are on the verge of a learning renaissance. For too long, our schools have been the educational equivalent of Sizzi (p.31), with his insistence on there being seven ‘roving planets’, to mirror the seven holes in an animal’s head, the seven days in a week, and other such nonsense (and lack of knowledge). There is much at stake here, and, contrary, for example, to the tenets of IRI (p.99), I wonder whether epistemological flags should be enough.

Audi, R., (2003), Epistemology, (New York, Routledge)

Nagel, J. (2014), Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, Oxford University Press)

A little bit of ontological digging

As I began my most recent assignment, I felt suddenly anxious that I had not yet charted a sufficiently accurate path down which for my study to tread, especially as I am expected, quite rightly, to be honing and refining my research question, in this case through epistemological and ontological lenses. And then, by chance, Foucault set my mind at rest: “I like to open out a space of research, try it out, then if it doesn’t work try again somewhere else. On many points… I am still working and don’t yet know whether I am going to get anywhere. What I say ought to be taken as ‘propositions’, ‘game openings’ where those who may be interested are invited to join in…” (1991, pp.90-91)

Perhaps, then, my perceived need for a detailed map is the product of the system in which I have been educated, in which I have taught (and do teach), and in which I am, now, learning. Here, I consider the concept of ‘curriculum’, which rears its head at every juncture in which I begin to conceive radical new possibilities for schooling, and I wonder whether what I am trying to do is consolidate a curriculum for my research, alongside the explicit curriculum the taught part has also provided me, when, in fact, my instinct finds more comfort in a Foucaultian space/game opening and trying things out.

I also wonder whether that is my preferred route as I conduct my pre-doctoral research, gathering stories from various school stakeholder groups around the world. Burdened with a habitus full of objectivist ontology, I will have to stop myself approaching each conversation with a hypothesis in need of proof, or, even, with a list of specific questions.

I am also concerned whether my early research questions are, ontologically, too narrow. Do children want a democratic education? Would they benefit from one? Should their full dataset be democratised? Would the child’s ownership of that dataset facilitate and effective democratic education? Whilst I did not, initially, consider these questions to be either narrow or leading, I am now questioning that initial assumption. Surely, verstehen and an subjectivist ontology would favour more inductive questioning. What do children want from education? What should be their relationship with their dataset? Such starting points would enable me to be detective, and investigate the crime I believe to be the status quo.

But is that ontologically awkward? Even if my questions have been inductivised, does the fact that I consider the system to be broken mean that I will still, nonetheless, cloud the process? Should I, instead, be adding another question, and ask, is the system broken? Or is it permissible that some degree of assumption is inevitable, normal and unproblematic? On the one hand, if I see my research as, effectively, criticism, then Foucault would seem to argue that my assumptions necessitate challenging: “Criticism is a matter of flushing out that thought (which animates everyday behaviour) and trying to change it: to show that things are not as self-evident as one believed, to see that what is accepted as self-evident will no longer be accepted as such… As soon as one can no longer think things as one formerly thought them, transformation becomes both very urgent, very difficult and quite possible.” (1988, p.154)

And, yet, the assumption of a ‘broken’ system can surely, and simply, be my ‘Intellectual Problem’ (Nozick, 1993, p.164), or my ‘awkward space’ (Barnett, 2005, p.795) and, therefore, an essential paradox to frame my research. This tension does not appear dissimilar from Dall Alba and Barnacle’s warning about learning and teaching: “Gardner points out ‘how hard it is to teach without sliding into views that exaggerate both one’s own knowledge and one’s students lack of’ knowledge (Gardner, 1994, p. 81). Creating space and opportunities for learning demands that we recognise and draw upon the commitment, openness, wonder and passion that are integral to learn-ing. It also requires dealing with the resistance, prejudices and anxieties that limit learning.” (Dall’Alba/Barnacle, 2007, p. 685) Indeed, if they are “…calling for educational approaches that engage the whole person: what they know, how they act, and who they are” (ibid), then what I am learning is that my own research needs to make possible that ‘ontological turn’, and go freely and with an open mind into my research arenas.

Heidegger says as much when he argues that “…real education lays hold of the soul itself and transforms it in its entirety by first of all leading us to the place of our essential being and accustoming us to it.” (Heidegger, 1998, p. 167) And this, then, leads me back to my understanding of the broken system and my desire to explore the paradox of the contradictions therein. In fact, am I not proposing the reverse of the syllogisms of management to which Ball refers: “If self-examination fails, the expert, the consultant, the moral disciplinarian is at hand to intervene with their models of ‘effective practice’. In this role the scientific and the moral are tightly intertwined. In effect, given the logic of management, ineffectiveness is seen as a disorder of reason and as such susceptible to cure by the use of appropriate techniques or organization.’ (1995) For me, the excess of ‘reason’ and order in the status quo of education is, in fact, its disorder, and I perceive a ‘moral’ duty to cure those ills.

All of which then makes me sound like some sort of hero crusader, which is, ontologically, overblown, probably betrays dysfunctional habita galore, and would doubtless dominate, hinder and overbear both any attempt at inductive research and also any hope for verstehen.

My assignment requires me to experiment with some ontological questions to plough the epistemic earth of my research focus. I now find myself considering many such questions:

  • Is our standard system of schooling broken? If so, can it be cured?
  • What do children want from education? What do they need? Is there a difference?
  • What role could data play in that process?

On that last question, I wrestle too. Data, in schools, is tyrranical by nature, and, like Nietzschan thought was contaminated as a result of its Nazi espousal, so has data been sullied by its adoption as governmental artillery. Data comes to life – becomes human, warm and optimistic – when it becomes part of the child’s individual narrative. Or perhaps that is what I would like to explore:

  • What should be a child’s relationship with their own data narratives?

Finally, I am reassured by the fact that I do not, yet, clearly know what I want to find out, how I want to do so or from whom, by Angus’ observation that this has been the undoing of the broken system of the need for whose cure I am so convinced: ‘…predictability and efficiency are valued to the extent that schools would surely become dramatically more boring places than they are already’ (Angus, 1993, p.343)

References 

Angus, L. (1993) The Sociology of School Effectiveness, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 14(3), pp.333-345

Ball, S.J., (1995), Intellectuals or Technicians? The Urgent Role of Theory in Educational Studies, British Journal of Educational Studies, Vol 43, No. 3, pp.255-271

Barnett, R. (2005) Recapturing the universal in the university, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 37(6), 785–797.

Dall’Alba, G. and Barnacle, R. (2007) An ontological turn for higher education, Studies in Higher Education Vol. 32, No. 6, December 2007, pp. 679–691

Foucault, M. (1988) Truth, Power, Self: An Interview with Michel Foucault. Technologies of the Self. (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press)

Foucault, M. (1991) Questions of Method. The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality. (Brighton: Harvester/Wheatsheaf)

Gardner, M. R. (1994) On trying to teach: the mind in correspondence (Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press)

Heidegger, M. (1998/1967) Plato’s doctrine of truth (T. Sheehan, Trans.), in: W. McNeill (Ed.) Pathmarks (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press).

Nozick, R. (1993) The Nature of Rationality. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press)

Getting into bad habit(u)s already

I will use this blog to explore topics and issues arising from my various assignments as part of my EdD at CEMP, Bournemouth University.

The first task is about habitus. If my understanding of habitus is correct even on a basic level, perhaps it is my own habitus which is inhibiting my ability to understand an article about ‘habits’ – which would seem somewhat ironic.

Habitus is the complex social and personal world which grows around an individual and/or their society, in response to various factors, to influence the way in which they subsequently interact and engage with other individuals/societies. In other words, none of us enters a relationship clean, cold and uncluttered by prior beliefs, deeply set expectations and our own ways of being and knowing. For example, I approach life as seen through the lens of my own experience, and the colour, opacity, magnification of that lens will necessarily change the way I interpret life. If others, then, view through their own lens, then the result of our interactions is, in the end, double-lensed, ever more complex as the result of our prior experience; of our ‘habitus’.

In a research context, is it enough for me to realise that I bring to the process a complex ‘habitus’ of my own, and to appreciate the need to dissect that (much like the autobiographical process Le Gallais advocated in her article (2008)) before I engage with the subject of my research? And also to be aware that all those with whom I interact when I conduct my research also carry their own habitus, like an untidy house full of hoarded clutter, and I need to endeavour to understand that as much as I do their responses to my questions and investigations, if I am to achieve clarity amid all the cloudiness? If so, then perhaps I am agreeing that “one cannot grasp the most profound logic of the social world unless one becomes immersed in the specicity of an empirical reality”. (Bourdieu, 1993, p. 271)

If I have correctly understood what ‘habitus’ is, then does the understanding of mutual habiti need to precede the research itself, or can one try to understand a subject’s habitus and responses simultaneously? On a lighter note, even my keyboard seems intent on simplifying things: every time I type ‘habitus’ it is intent on autocorrecting to habits. Perhaps that is significant…

To summarise, the understanding I have grasped of Bourdieu’s habitus is, I think, sufficient for me to be able to reflect on its relevance to my own research. If, as it seems to me, my ‘habitus’ is tantamount to a thick, coloured and distorted set of spectacles, fashioned out of 41 years of personal life experiences and interactions, and contaminated also by those of my society/ies, then it highlights the need for me either to find a way to remove those glasses when I conduct my research, or to acknowledge the clutter and dirt which will necessarily befoul my research. If Le Gallais (ibid) is correct in noting the importance of accepting and embracing one’s autobiography before, during and after any research journey, then I must sift through my own ontological and epistemological baggage myself, when embarking on each piece of my research. For example, reflecting back on my visit to King’s Madrid, I wonder whether I am influencing too much the responses I elicited through the bias of my questioning: in other words, can a passionate proponent of and advocate for radically democratic education conduct a dispassionate and impartial interview about the extent to which a child’s learning can/should be democratised? I would like to think I can; but I wonder, now, whether, perhaps, I cannot; and I am also beginning to wonder whether, given the possible inevitability and, indeed, importance of my habitus holding sway, it even matters either way.

References

Le Gallais, T. (2008): Wherever I go there I am: reflections on reflexivity and the research stance, Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 9:2, 145-155

Bourdieu, P. (1993) Concluding remarks: for a sociogenetic understanding of intellectual works, in: C. Calhoun, E. Lipuma & M. Postone (Eds) Bourdieu: critical perspectives (Cambridge: Polity Press)