Getting into bad habit(u)s already

My second week on the programme was more testing and difficult than my first. I don’t know whether it is the sensation of being adrift in this vast, new ocean in a one-man vessel rather than with the rest of the Cohort 3 crew, or simply the reality of the pressures and strains to which I have willingly subscribed. But I have found the first forum task a little scary, and of equal interest was my response to this fear. Rather than wrestle with it, on the (probably correct) assumption that, with a little (or a lot of) time and effort, it is unlikely either language or concepts would continue to floor me, my response was to panic, brush the theory aside, and seek comfort and reassurance in the forum. Perhaps I hoped to be greeted by a dozen other fearful voices, each echoing my own fears; but, in reality, the other responses I saw generally showed the resilience and grit to conquer the linguistic and conceptual barriers and come out the other end. This has made me feel a little embarrassed, and also a little guilty that I allowed the “not enough time” rationale to fuel my fear rather than defeat it. It’s quite obvious that this course is not going to be easy: but it will be a whole lot harder if I don’t devote the requisite time to wrestle with it properly.

That said, 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 43 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 De Gallais 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 possibly inevitability and, indeed, importance of my habitus holding sway, it even matters either way.

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