Published papers

Where I stand

Where I stand

by Jane Spiro -
Number of replies: 11

Dear Living Theorists,

I am attaching my article Where I Stand in all humility and with delight in the privilege of sharing this with you.  I'm looking forward to your views,

from Jane

In reply to Jane Spiro

Re: Where I stand

by Je Kan Adler-Collins -

Dear Jane, a warm hello from a cool Japan.  I have the great privilege to be your second reviewer and as I have to spend the next four days in hospital, I will have plenty of time to focus on your work. I have to say that I am so looking forward to reading it with the attention it deserves.


Speak again soon, love and respect, Jekan

In reply to Jane Spiro

Re: Where I stand

by Moira Laidlaw -
Hi Jane.

Hiya! Greetings to you. I hope you’re well. It’s ludicrously cold here on the east coast, but I am dressed up to the hilt in thick cardigans and woollen trousers, so I will probably survive!

I am going to take points as they arise in the reading through of your submission. First I will make evaluative comments and then I will just go through a few technical details with you before giving my recommendations. I hope that is an appropriate response for you. If you need more from me about my comments, please just respond here at the site.

It is unique in my life to read the abstract of a paper and feel like shouting with pleasure! Yes, this is it! An abstract with questions too. That's not usual, but it is compelling. I was trying to ask myself why this combination should please me so much and then I realised it's because it's a living abstract, so much in the vein of what we are doing at EJOLTS. So I started with a real sense of optimism, pleasure, intrigue and delight.

I like the way you've started too, with a discussion - and it feels like that - of why creativity is important. This seems to be very much a talking-point at the moment in the UK, as of course I believe it should be anywhere. The quotation from Abbs is particularly telling. I do remember myself having reluctant pupils and after getting over the egotism of feeling negative about such pupils, I realised that I had to help the student see why enthusiasm about something was inevitable! I think this beginning helps me to understand your context as a living document.

After a lucid beginning you write this:

This paper will aim to make its own contribution to the debate, by exploring what being creative has meant for me in practice, which very clearly shows the differentiation you are making between theorised practice and praxis. I love it!

I wonder if you need to provide some kind of overview of the first video in case there are readers who don't have access to it and/or fare not on broadband etc.. In my own paper ( ) I did this in footnotes. Also see the advice about the use of footnotes at: which will give you an idea of how suitable additions might be in footnotes, or whether you need something more substantial.

When you write this on p.4: As an educator in further and higher education settings, my efforts to bring these opportunities into classrooms for my learners were marginalised or subversive to the expectations of my role I wonder whether it might be an idea to give us some evidence for this, or at least references that might enable us to validate this for ourselves if we wanted to. Making a claim without providing an evidential basis might weaken your argument.

You have such an appealing writing-style. As I read through the paper I come across such a lucidity of style. It's no wonder you're a writer as well as educator. The two really do need to go together sometimes, I feel, and here I can visualise, feel the narrative working its magic. I am so enjoying this experience, Jane.

You write (p. 4 again)

I am aware of being driven by core values which have been honed, tested and made explicit through engagement with its challenges I feel the need for more corroboration, as these standards of judgement, which essentially I think the following ideas comprise, are the ways in which you can test the validity of your work in education, and so on. I certainly don't disbelieve you, because the quality of your writing has a moral energy that resonates inside me as a reader and I have to believe you. I'm not talking about rhetoric and I want you and others who read this, to be clear. I think your writing does for me what Barack Obama's does (Obama, 2008). I read his The Audacity of Hope about a year ago and because of its power, its dynamic sense of the purposes of human existence, I knew I was in the presence of someone who believes what he writes and seeks to demonstrate these values in his own life. Rhetoric, to me, is something that spins me along for a little while perhaps, but it's not deep because there's no real substance there: it's just show. Your writing, I sense, as with Obama's, is the life-force you are describing as wishing to see in your life more fully. However, this synthesis requires, in an article for EJOLTS, also an analytical dimension which reviews itself. Your words are like Ben Okri's in The Famished Road. And I am NOT trying to limit that aspect. Oh, please don't think that: I've spent years trying to encourage it, in fact. But I sense that the paper would be strengthened by an appeal to rigour here. In other words, I want to know more about your professional life.

In relaying your requirements for educational validity, when you write: and to be inclusional again, I feel that this is not be problematised. 'Inclusional' is a concept that the Bath action research group and others that work with it, will be familiar with. However, as it's the first time in your paper I think you need to give a brief description of what this means in context.

I do like very much the way you ask questions, Jane. For example: Does creativity do something, or is it merely decorative and luxurious? I find myself asking myself where I stand in relation to what you're writing and then, as if I am listening to Bach, you make something cohere inside: To share this with the world is an artistic imperative… Absolutely! And it resonates like Bach for me in the sense that reading your words begins a series of associations in my mind and feelings and spiritual awareness. And then as you continue with your meanings, I find myself being aware of my brain becoming 'taut', crystalised, suddenly filled with light. As I say, Obama's writing and speaking always do this. Likewise Okri and reading Dr. Martin Luther King's speeches. I'm not overwhelming you with flattery AT ALL. I am attempting to reveal the effect of your writing on me as a reader. And I feel cleansed by the way you write. I can't think of more language to describe it. One more! What I have as inert insight is brought to the light of day and examined by what you write. In a sense I understand anew Collingwood's saying about we can take nothing from what we read but what we bring to it (Collingwood, 2002). I am actively engaged in the reading process. I understand something of the complex processes that lead to this, but to experience it at this level is a great privilege and pleasure. In relaying your demands of yourself up to page nine, I am moved and almost entirely compelled by your arguments.

p.10. Your diary notes are harrowing and give a stark insight into inspiration, which comes from such diverse sources, but perhaps most of all from paradox, conflict, dialectics.

As I read on, I find myself unable to respond analytically at all, and that's great! These passages are, to my mind, what Jack calls, 'beyond criticism'. How can one judge this kind of experience - I mean as an outsider? How much can I as a reader, as an editor of EJOLTS, grapple ethically with this writing? You've got me asking questions now.

Your diary entry on page 14 had me almost in tears and it's not just because what you write is moving, it's the way you write it. Like Okri you take metaphor and build it on metaphor until we are in this surreal realm that is, for those moments, more real than our own known universes. And writing like that turns me inside out and I feel myself rooted to the spot by your precision and scope. This isn't like any other academic paper I have ever read, and it is all the more moving and meaningful for me that it is. By this I mean that I believe you are stretching what it means for an academic journal to push the boundaries of our expectations and parameters. This is a groundbreaking article in my opinion. It's got to see the light of day.

On page 17 you write:

· What are the strategies and processes which have worked (or failed to work) for me as a writer, and are these generalisable or teachable? Another fascinating question. I wonder about this too. I wonder whether we can only set up a conducive environment for learning, rather than 'teach' much at all, but I will read on to see what you make of this.

And by the way I love the idea of a monogamous attachment to a violin: p. 19. I feel rather like that with the piano.

This process of showing us how these language-elicitations work is fascinating. And I just love the students’ responses. They are so rich and dynamic in their use of language. I was just about to suggest that some of this process might be left in an appendix and then realised that of course, it all needs to be part of the main text. And it’s followed so helpfully with the examples. This part of the text is also very powerful and rigorous. I like the integration of examples, students’ voices, pictures and so on. It helps me to gain a real insight into the creative process itself. Wonderful!

On p. 23 you write: In effect, as I have created this space for myself, I have been able to expand it so more and more are able to share it with me and this completely concurs with my own experience. I don’t mean that my experience is a necessary validation of your own, but I think you are saying something that many people could share (not generalisable in that traditional sense but in Bassey’s (1998) terms, â€relatable’ – and I think an allusion to this idea in the beginning about generalisability in a relatable sense might strengthen this concept, as it is one of the overarching ideas you are putting forward, to my mind).

p.25. You write: Knowledge transformation reveals itself when the â€knowledge’ or skill communicated between educator and learner, is actually transformed by the learner and becomes something new. I do like this. It seems absolutely an apposite conclusion to what you have written.

On page 25/26 I am intrigued by what you mean by a collective quantum of understanding. I know that the word quantum is added as an adjective to many different spheres these days – even in advertising washing up capsules! However, I would like to know what you mean by it precisely. Artistically, empathically, I believe through reading your paper that I sense what you mean. However, I am not sure that the meaning will be held in common and in a sense that’s what I would imagine you are aiming to do – if I have understood you properly – and PLEASE feel free to write and discuss this or any other point with me. I may be the first reviewer, so-called, of your paper, but I am also biased and restricted in my understanding of anyone else’s world and happily acknowledge it in the hope that you will expand my understanding.

I do feel it’s important to use a â€terminology’ that others easily share. That doesn’t mean people should not work at reading and understand your paper and the work and actions and practices of others, but those meanings should not to my mind obscure what you are saying. I recognise the deep and poetic resonance in your words, but…

There’s a whole world in your comment: This is no therapeutic, comfortable space. I remember so many times in my doctoral years with Jack, when I felt the process he was facilitating as therapeutic – and not very comfortable at times – thanks Jack! – but he would say, I believe I’m right in saying this, that his aim was not therapeutic at all, but educational and that meant I could find therapy in it if I so chose or felt or recognised, but I could not impute those motives to Jack. I was taking from the process what I needed at the time. It was Jack’s ability to hold open a space – a particular genius that all great educators, to my mind, have. And it is what you are talking about here, I believe. This space is educational, it is creative. The processes of education and creativity can indeed be therapeutic – to which diverse groups of individuals could attest (Sacks, 2007). However, the motives, if I’ve understood you correctly, are educational and creative and that these processes intertwined become something almost numinous. I’m extrapolating my own insights from your writing, which help me to understand where I stand. To have such clear motives, to understand such motives fully are the stuff and responsibility of educators, to my mind, and your paper leads me through your beautiful creative spirit and shows me something of how it influences others in the world. There is an authenticity (Kincheloe, 1991) to this living theory that I find beautiful because of its aesthetic purity. In my own thesis (Laidlaw, 1996) I tried to get close to my own sense of what it meant to elucidate the aesthetic aspects of my own educational development. As I read your paper I see someone very comfortable with her own creativity and ways of facilitating it in others. It isn’t simply a living theory, this is a celebration and I feel like joining in!

For me there is something a little abrupt about the ending to your paper. It seems to stop. And I cannot access the url. It seems incomplete. The process of your doctoral study needs more contextualisation, I believe, certainly if this is a point at which you have chosen to â€interrupt’ your living theory for the time being. Would it be possible for you to give the reader a little more access to this conclusion? It has, I can already see, a poetic truth, but perhaps it also needs a more concrete one in places!

Technical Details. After such a beautiful paper it could be seen as crass to interrupt the flow with some nitty-gritty points. I understand that compared with the artistic and creative and educational significance of your paper, the following details may seem nit-picking. However, I believe that there are points at which the technical issues intrude into the flow of the reading and therefore, I think they need attention. I’ll go through them as I find them in the paper, but I would be grateful if you could give the document alluded to earlier a read through at: as this will help us to standardise our published papers. Standardisation, as Jean McNiff and Branko Bognar have helped me to see, raises the communicability and the professionality of our journal and that’s really worth doing. In addition to the earlier point, please have a look at our first issue papers. These have been standardised in terms of the technical aspects as fully as (humanly!) possible.

Could you take a look at the following points for your resubmission?

  • Keywords after the Abstract should be capitalised.
  • Indent quotations more than 40 words only once, and not half-way across the page. They should throughout the paper, when more than 40 words be a slightly smaller size than the main text.
  • I am not sure what teacher: learner or writer: teacher (I’m questioning the colon and the spacing) is meant to mean. It is an unusual use of punctuation. If there is a rationale for it, I think it needs to be explained. Would teacher/learner be more usual?
  • Quotations fewer than forty words should be contained within single quotation marks.
  • There should be one space between a full-stop and a new sentence rather than two.

Page 3, you write (in black): Indeed, creativity (here, introduce the quotation with a comma and don’t indent it because it’s only 36 words!)

is essential, not only for science, but for the whole of life.

If you get stuck in a mechanical repetitious order, then you will

degenerate. That is one of the problems that has grounded every

civilisation. (Bohm, 1998, p.16) (The full-stop will come after the bracket and the single quotation mark come before the bracket.)

  • P. 4 You write: 2. What values and beliefs underpin my view of creativit y ? Why the space between the sentence-ending and the question-mark? There are a few instances in the paper where you leave spaces between words and their punctuation. Can you check that please? You will find help with that with the marks in green that Word documents automatically highlight.
  • Interim and main titles as well as headings need also to be indented as in the indentation for paragraphing (Empathy and Connection and so on).
  • P. 9 You write: indeed, are they in fact one intextricably intertwined process ? Spelling and spacing before the ?
  • Your diary-entries (see p. 10 for example) need to be indented in the same position as a paragraph-indentation. The way they are located at the moment is difficult for me as a reader to grapple with. It’s distracting. There are many instances of indenting too much in the paper. It’s indentation-overload!!
  • Could you also look at the positioning of your phrase (Spiro, 1995, diary notes) in terms of where it is in relation to the diary entries themselves: and the punctuation/spacing of it too?
  • P. 11 needs looking at in terms of lay-out. It seems quite chaotic. It won’t take much to re-convene it, so to speak.
  • P. 12 You write: (Denzin, 1997, p.225). Could you check through the paper and correct page references where you place no space between the p dot and then the page-number. I think there are quite a few of these. It should read: Denzin, 1997, p. 225). And yes, I realise that these points may seem piffling, but as an academic journal we will be judged on the professional lay-out of our journal and I want to give no one the excuse for criticising what we are trying to do here.
  • Same page you write: a what if? Question. Not sure this is a helpful use of punctuation here. A â€what if’ question is what I think is usually used, but I may be wrong on that. Anyone else any ideas on that? Branko, I don’t think we’ve discussed this sort of occurrence at all, have we? I can see why manuals about house-style can become so long!
  • P. 13-17 There are some indentation irregularities. Could you sort them out? And also the attribution needs looking at, in terms of spacing and positioning. This would help readability as well.
  • P. 18. You write: Whether or not learners have met this as a term, much can be unpacked from the two words: praise – something we love, value, admire, describe in words, an admiration made known, â€flung to the heavens’: song – something chanted out loud, perhaps with musical instruments such as drums … I am concerned here about your use of space, colons and so on. Might it be better to have them as bullet-points instead? This would highlight them and relieve the current problem of seeming a little mixed up. At least to this reader.
  • P. 18 You write: But praise songs could be about anything we admire: Pablo Neruda, for example, writes in praise of ironing: … I am not sure we can have multiple uses of a colon. Would it not be better to have them as separate sentences, or sentences split by a semi-colon?
  • Are the quotations from people’s own creations poetry? I think they are. If so they should be centralised on the page, as in the beginning Farren’s paper (Farren, 2008) in the first issue of EJOLTS.
  • On that page, you are not consistent within your own parameters for new-line spacing either. Could you make sure that all the paragraphs, quotations and so on, are consistent with the lay-out suggested in the notes alluded to before?
  • Top of page 19 should be indented.
  • P. 20 poems should be centralised.
  • And on p.21 and so on…
  • P. 22. You write: ” (Conrad, 1920, p.6:). I have highlighted the gremlins as I see them.
  • P. 24 has a wider page-width than the rest of the paper, narrower margins are needed in other words.
  • P. 25 I would like to see semi-colons on the ends of the listing here.
  • P. 26 ..\Phdjan08\StoryEpilogue.doc seems to be half a url.
  • P. 27 the Bibliography should begin a new page.
  • Please put full-stops at the end of each reference-entry.


Allende, I. (2007). In Giving I Connect. In J.Allison [MJ1] and D. Gediman, This I Believe [MJ2] (pp. 13 – 15). New York: Holt.

In fact this spacing between the work and so on, seems fairly consistently incorrect throughout. Could you go through and ensure that the bibliographical punctuation is consistent with the first issue’s paper and the guidelines? Thanks. As I look through the bibliography there are many places without any punctuation at all. Look at: for clarification. It has a really helpful set of examples.

Boden, M.A. (2001). Creativity and k [MJ3] nowledge in A.Craft [MJ4] , B.Jeffrey and M.Leibling (eds.) [MJ5] Creativity in Education London [MJ6] and New York: Continuum : 95 - 102

If in the revising of your paper you would like to me to do an interim checking through of the technical details again I am happy to do this.

O.K., enough! If I go on much longer it will detract from the real force and passion and beauty in your paper. ALL these comments are intended to be constructive and not destructive in any way. I would welcome feedback from you not only on the content of this review but also on the inner messages that you are receiving from this that might not have been my conscious intention. I wish to improve the quality of my reviewing abilities such as they are. In other words, do you feel this to be a supportive and constructive review? How might I have fulfilled my reviewing capacities more fully? I don’t ask this either to exploit the situation for my own educational development (although that’s certainly an aim), but I believe this might lead us both to a better understanding of your paper and its capacities.

Final Comments: I feel passionately about this paper, Jane. It speaks to me with a sense of numinosity, of truth which I do not know how to analyse or explain. I simply know that your paper is important. It appeals most significantly to my sense of aesthetics, which I also see as having ways of enhancing our responsibilities towards the world in which we live and towards ourselves as sentient beings. I wonder whether the idea at the beginning of the paper about the nature of inclusion in what you are doing, could also, perhaps, if this seems appropriate to you, be linked to Rayner’s idea of inclusionality (see below for reference). There seems to me to be something about the way in which you write, and see and feel and touch and think and evaluate and experience and synthesise and delight in your world that strikes me as redolent of the insights Rayner is exploring with the Bath group and also his own writing at I assure you that I do not wish to foist on you such insights and dimensions that may not be fitting. I have far too much respect for your writing. However, I think it might be worth you having a look to see whether the organic and fluid nature of his insights about community, groups, individuals, might resonate with you. If they don’t, fine. It’s absolutely not a condition in my review for publication. I think it might enhance, that’s all.

My thanks for such an inspiring submission and one that enhances my own understanding of education and creativity and the links between them. And I simply LOVE the way you write!


Definitely publish with some revisions and a technical tidy-up.


Bassey, M. (1998). Enhancing teaching through research. Professional Development Today, 1(2), 39-46. (A shortened version was published in Research Intelligence, July 1997.)

Collingwood, R.G. (2002). An Essay on Metaphysics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Farren, M. (2008). Creating an educational space. EJOLTS, 1(1), 50-68.

Kincheloe, J. (1991). Teachers as Researchers: Qualitative Inquiry as a Path to Empowerment. New York: Falmer Press.

Laidlaw, M. (1996). How can I create my own living educational theory as I account to you for my own educational development?’ (Doctoral dissertation, Bath, 1996.) Last retrieved November 28, 2008, from

Laidlaw, M. (2008). In Pursuit of Counterpoint: an Educational Journey. EJOLTS, 1(1), 69-102.

Obama, B. (2008). The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. New York: Canongate Books.

Okri, B. (1993). The Famished Road. New York: Anchor Books.

Rayner, A. (n.d.). Essays and Talks on Inclusionality. [Web Page]. Retrieved December 2, 2008 from

Sacks, O. (2007). Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. London: Vintage Books.

[MJ1] spacing

[MJ2] Punctuation?

[MJ3] capital

[MJ4] spacing

[MJ5] need another dot there

[MJ6] Punctation.

In reply to Moira Laidlaw

Story epilogue attached if hyperlink doesn't work

by Jane Spiro -
Hello Je Kan, hello Moira,
I am delighted to have reviewers who are critical friends in the way you both are, and was thrilled with your deep attention, Moira. Thank you, and I accept and will respond to each of your points for development, clarity and attention to presentation.
Moira, you mentioned you could not access the hyperlink to my story, which is an important part of my concluding section; so if that's OK I'd like to attach it here for Je Kan and Catherine. I will also include it as you suggest, as an epilogue in the final version. Je Kan and Catherine, if the hyperlink doesn't work, please find the story here and add it to your overall reading. Thank you!

With love to you each, and to Je Kan for healing and recovery from your 4 days in hospital,

In reply to Jane Spiro

Re: Story epilogue attached if hyperlink doesn't work

by Catherine Dean -

Dear Jane

I hope that all is well with you! Here in Nairobi today we are on public holiday! I have managed to put together my ideas after reading and ejoying your article. I paste them here. I hope they may be helpful and I look forward to reading your response!


The paper is very interesting and enjoyable to read. Well worth publishing in EJOLTS. I would suggest that it be worked on further to avoid the impression of being bits of a PhD thesis put together for publication in an academic journal.

I will bring up some suggestions that could perhaps be useful. I recognise, however, that I am not so familiar with the methodology used and that my perspective on the paper is influenced by my own training and background. Hence, I may at times have “missed” points or ideas that would be evident to other readers of EJOLTS.

Commentary by sections:



The questions are clear and most are answered in the paper, although I am not sure that the question “why creativity has been a driving force...throughout these roles and since childhood” has been answered!

I find that the section that comes after the key words repeats, partially, the ideas in the section that comes before the key words. I would suggest that these two sections could be combined into one, omitting the repetitions (window into practice and the ending of the paper) i.e. the explanation regarding the development of your living theory could come directly into the initial paragraph. The key words would then come at the end of the abstract, which is the common practice I think.


- use of the word “dilemma” (di = two alternatives): you use it referring to the variety of ideas about creativity, yet there are more than two!!!

- Why do you refer to yourself at times as “teacher-educator and writer” and at other times as educator, a poet and novelist, and a team leader”? The fact that you are a team leader could be included from the first line as it is different to the other two roles you mention and is therefore significant and should not be added as an extra afterwards (in my opinion!!).

- A lot of use of “it” to refer to creativity in the first paragraph which makes it hard to follow the meaning (I had to keep going back to see what “it” was!! Perhaps this is just my own personal problem!!).

- The meaning of the term “teacher educator” was not clear to me; perhaps you could find a more forceful and significant term to express this role!

- â€śamongst current debates about creativity”: I think that usually one speaks of “current debate” in a particular field in more general terms... e.g. “Where do I stand in the current debate on /about creativity”?

- Before your five points you speak of them as “questions”, yet afterwards you speak of them as “aims”. I think that “questions” and “aims” are two different things, unless you write out something that explicitly converts the “questions” into the “aims” of your study. Or you could bring the two ideas together like this: “I aim to answer these questions by offering...”.

- Metaphor for // metaphor of (?)

Why does an understanding of creativity matter?

I think this section is clear and gives the necessary context for your study.

Some doubts:

- Use of the colon (??) e.g. p. 2: “question of: why is â€creativity’ important:”

- Abbs quote: “no transformation, no education!” I feel that it is very important to understand this! Education is about transforming people or helping them to transform themselves because, no matter how hard you try, if they don’t want to change, they won’t!!!

- Creative Partnerships quote on “capacity to imagine the world differently”: reminds me of J.R. Tolkien’s “theory” of fantasy which is found in his work “On Faery”. You may like to read it if you have not already done so. I found it very interesting when I was working on this during my undergraduate degree.

- Repetitions of: “I have been concerned...” could be avoided.

- â€ś...concerned for the student experience” // “...concerned about the student...” (??).

- â€ś...but am concerned that its practice...”: in English I think we always use the personal pronoun “I” before the verb “to be”, but perhaps I am mistaken (??).

- Regarding the last paragraph of this section: I feel that it could be re-written as there are a number of things which are not clear:

o Use of the word “replicated” (repeat): I think that this word does not transmit what you want to say. In creative writing you had experiences that you did not find (?) in your “educational opportunities” (this term also sounds a bit strange to me...sorry!)

o Efforts to bring “these opportunities into classrooms”: which opportunities? The educational ones or the “experiences of excitement...”?

o â€śI strongly believed that one could and did inform the other”. Explain what you mean a bit more to bring out the richness of the idea!!!!

o Give one or two specific examples of how your efforts were marginalised, considered subversive to your role..... Prove it to me!!!

What values and beliefs underpin my view of creativity?

At the start of this section you bring in the idea of “creative space” as a concept that should be familiar to the reader but you hadn’t introduced it at all when speaking in the previous section about what you were doing in the classroom so we don’t know what you mean by the term!

“These challenges...”: which challenges are you referring to here???

“...through engagement with its challenges”: which challenges?? Those of educator? Those you had when trying to create space???

Regarding your values and beliefs, I would say in general terms that you don’t quite explain where they come from or how you developed them (as promised in the abstract). Also, I find it confusing that you explain the first value (wellbeing) without any numbered points, and then you start numbering the ideas/points in a continuous manner when dealing with all the following values. I didn’t know if I was dealing with different values, sub-values, related values, etc. The meaning of the subtitles for the values, along with the numbering is not clear!

Value of “connection”: I didn’t understand what this value is about. Connection of what? Connections in general???


5) I know that in English we say “talking to the other” (Magonet, 2003), but I find the “to” somewhat like talking “at” someone. I prefer to say talking “with”... perhaps it is not correct in grammatical terms but I find it more “inclusive” shall we say??!!

I find that the emphasis is somewhat on empathy understood in an “external” manner. I understand empathy as identifying myself with another person in their own situation (getting into their shoes), in order to understand them where they are at and to learn from them there. Perhaps I misunderstand the text and the slight difference is merely a question of the terminology used to express the concepts...

I think that the style and the use of vocabulary could be revised to make the text richer and more precise e.g. “I am continually learning from others as to whether it is being achieved” (sounds a bit poor!); “...we fulfil this,...” / “achieve this” (??)

Authenticity: review the construction of the sentences and some of the terms e.g. I wonder about the use of “repair and resolution” in the context in which it is used...

Where do stand amongst current...”

Repetition of “themselves”.

“two disintegrated kinds of writing”: which two kinds? Would they be “differentiated” or “disintegrated”? Perhaps explain what you mean by such a strong statement!

Etymology of “creative/creativity”: I would say that “to make is the capacity of “living beings” rather than “the life principle”... because it makes the sentence easier to understand and it sounds more powerful in your context (I think!). In general the meaning of the explanation of “to make” is not very clear, due to the sentence construction.

Cf. Points above on “core debates” and “dilemmas”.

The summary of positions regarding “creativity” is interesting and well done! The explanation of the last point reminded me of a book by Pearl Buck which I read recently called “This Proud Heart” about a lady who is a sculptor. Very beautiful!

What are the experiences...

The whole section on creative writing is very interesting and well written. I would suggest that you try to publish the diary notes as they are because I find them very powerful and expressive!

“Belorus – or what was once Lithuania”: perhaps you could be more precise = “what was once part of Lithuania”

“Do you know if there is any record of or memorial to them?”

“The experience felt powerfully that I had...”: perhaps this is a case of poetic license but it sounded a bit strange to my ears!

p. 13: First line = “Here I had everything I needed: as Conrad said....” another case of use of the colon which I am not sure about...

p. 13: the name of “Laura” is brought in suddenly and I had to look back and forth to work out who she may be... (perhaps I am a bit slow! Sorry!)

Section on teaching as a writer:
I felt that you need to give more information about your professional context and what you were trying to do in class before you started training teachers, so that we can understand more clearly what you explain in the first section of this paragraph.

These are some of the questions I asked myself:

- Teacher training programmes: in what field?

- â€śnot enough to evolve ideas...”: ideas about what?

- What is the context of this invitation to speak?

- What are you teaching them about?

- â€śI replicated the process..”: which process?

- â€śFrom these events”: which events???

I fully agree with the points about the usefulness and value of text creation for learning a language but I am not clear about which aspect of English teaching you are referring to in this section: English as a foreign language; text appreciation; why is it appropriate to use text creation to teach English as a foreign language?

“.. a number of guises”: would it be better to say “in a number of contexts”?

I found the description of the process that you use to help your students create text and learn the language very interesting, but I am not sure if this is what you are actually trying to do in class. All of a sudden, on p. 22, you speak of “students responding to creative space”; then you give references to generating poems, student writing, story building, etc. And you speak of how you find that being congruent with your own practice and beliefs has made it possible to communicate with more and more people. But I am now confused about what you are teaching and what you are trying to do in the classroom! What are you communicating about with all these people? Again, here I want to say that perhaps the difficulty in following the logic is within myself, but I feel that you may need to be more explicit here about your aims or objectives in your teaching and training sessions.

Finally, the descriptions about your creative writing experience and your teaching experiences are beautiful but I don’t quite see how they come together. How did your understanding of your experience as a novelist influence the development of your creative method for teaching English language? Or perhaps I have missed the point about what you were trying to do in class? I would love if you could clarify this for me!!!

What living theory emerges...

This last section is very important as here you are bringing out your contribution to knowledge! I think that your ideas would come across more forcefully if you distinguished clearly, perhaps with two subsections, between your personal understanding of the concept of creativity based on your experience and your theory of learning as a creative process.

A few comments on the aspects of creativity:

Research/information as the stimulus...: for me, â€information’ implies simple facts or data, whereas a term like â€knowledge’ would express the understandings that you have acquired through research. I think that what stimulates creativity, at least partially, are ideas (concepts that have been understood), rather than simple facts or data...

- â€śtransformational nature of information”: does this mean that information transforms the creative process or that information is transformed when used as material for creation?

- How does the issue of research/information come into the classroom processes you use?


The creative process as the embracing of paradox: is paradox “the possibility of holding several truths simultaneously”??? I think it implies “contradiction”/”absurdity” or “ apparently contradictory” ideas.

Creative process as capable of // a possibility for personal development (?). How would this aspect link up with the classroom?

A few points on the theory of learning:

Knowledge transformation: I understand what you are saying. However, I am not clear about what knowledge or skill (communicated between educator and learner) you are referring to?

-  Is it the knowledge of how to create a text (using the process you describe earlier: praise song/metaphors, etc)? In this case, it is not clear how you developed this through reflection on your own creative writing. All you are transmitting here is how to write, which does transform the student as he learns the process and uses it.

- Is it the knowledge / skill about how to convert â€lived story’ into â€created story’? In this case, your concept of creativity is even deeper because it implies taking something pre-existing (knowledge, life experience, etc) and converting or transforming it into something new, original and therefore, UNIQUE!!! In this case the student can learn much more than a simple process and he/she can be transformed more deeply in discovering that his/her creative capacity makes him/her human and so, they come to discover who they are as persons, human beings, in much greater depth!!! Sorry if I am going overboard! This is my philosophical anthropology vein coming out!!!

- I would be interested in understanding better what knowledge or skill you are referring to here!

- Regarding â€creativity’ as â€creo’ – â€to make’: I think you could say that, by creating something you are not just â€making’ something (like a cake, although cakes are very important!), even if it is new. Precisely because you are making something new and unique I think you could say you are “bringing (something) into existence”! This sounds much more powerful and somehow expresses in a more radical manner what creativity involves (this is just my opinion of course!).

- Could you give some examples of transformation in your students (evidence)?


It seems to me that you dedicate little “space” to explaining the issue of creative space and yet it is an important part of your work. Perhaps you could develop this idea further.

I also think you would need to draft a clear conclusion for the paper and then add the explanation of the story as part of the epilogue itself.

The story is lovely, simple and yet deeply meaningful, by the way!!!

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read your paper!




In reply to Jane Spiro

Re: review

by Je Kan Adler-Collins -

Dear Jane, I attach my review in word 2003 format which you should beable to see the comments as a reviwed paper in word.

I liked what I read  but was confused in places.  the format has to conform to the journal guide lines and some work is needed to change the paper into a paper as it reads like a section of a thesis. I recommend that that it is published after addressing these issues.

Thank you for giving me the pleasure of reading your work.

Love and respect, Je Kan

In reply to Jane Spiro

Re: Where I stand

by Je Kan Adler-Collins -

Dear Jane, I read your paper when I was in hospital.  I have to say that I enjoyed the narrative sections. There are some points that I feel we should look at together in order for me to check your meaning. How would you like me to proceed? I usually edit-review a paper in word and use the reviewing elements of word 2007 to add comments. Would that work for you?  I had some issues with formatting but they have been removed now as text no longer needs to conform to APA 5. Only the references have to do that.  I would suggest that you take a look at the text lay out suggested by the journal and adjust the text style accordingly.

As I read the paper I was drawn into the account but felt a sense of conflict with the narrative and the academic style. My main concern is that you are writing for an international journal and need to write for your audience. In place the paper reads like an assignment or thesis extract. This detracts from the flow of your narrative which is like an unfolding poem wearing its magic in the webs of time and space. I found the concept so exciting and my mind moved off to the teachings of the Bushmen of South Africa, where they believe that every ancestor is in the DNA and can be contacted and the experiences and lives of those whom live before can be brought into the present.

On a point of style, may I respectfully suggest that you do not need 4-5 references for a short piece of text? References in articles writing should only be used to give support to a point or issue. Reviewers are looking for page numbers and relevance of references to the flow of the text and argument. As a student such practices are often carried out to get as many references in the text as possible, commonly known as sand Your scholarship and penmanship need no such devices.

Do let me know how you want to proceed

Love and respect,

Je Kan

In reply to Je Kan Adler-Collins

Response to reviews and resubmission

by Jane Spiro -

I have to thank each of you for the detailed attention and care. This was one of the most rigorous readings I have ever had, and sometimes overwhelming being read from three different perspectives. The experience has also been a humbling journey: at some points I resisted what you were saying, then returned to the same point and understood you were right – I was indeed unclear, or confusing, or over-referencing, or being woolly. Yet I was strongly driven and able to take courage by the fact that I believed my deeper message was understood by each of you.

I hope to have taken account of each of your points, and there are none which I have not tried to respond to in my revision. I have changed more and more as I have moved deeper into the reasons for your comments and empathised with them - after all, this is the very value I claim to live by.

One or two small problems arose which I think will be easy to resolve. One is that I somehow deleted my photograph in error when I was working in and around it. I am hoping we can salvage this and paste it in from my submitted original. Another is that just a few of the paragraphs resisted indentation and a few obstinate lines appeared in the biblio. I was also not totally sure about some of the spacing suggestions, but am hoping enough of the changes have been implemented to make this an easier final editing task.

Attached to this account of my responses is the (or a) revised version of the article. I realise this might be only one of its versions along a long journey!

With thanks to each of you,


Moira’s review:

1) I wonder if you need to provide some kind of overview of the first video in case there are readers who don’t have access to it

I agree with this point and of course need to clarify why I am embedding these media extracts. You suggest I might include something in the footnotes, but now incorporating Je Kan’s views, I have included my account in the body of the essay. I think some of the messages are important to convey so I have extracted and explained these on p. 4

2) When you write this on p.4: As an educator in further and higher education settings, my efforts to bring these opportunities into classrooms for my learners were marginalised or subversive to the expectations of my role I wonder whether it might be an idea to give us some evidence for this, or at least references that might enable us to validate this for ourselves if we wanted to. Making a claim without providing an evidential basis might weaken your argument.

Yes, I entirely agree. The truth is, I have so much to say about being marginalized that I preferred first time round to say nothing about it at all! But I have encapsulated some of the key examples on page 5, and saved a few more examples until later in the paper.

3) I am aware of being driven by core values which have been honed, tested and made explicit through engagement with its challenges I feel the need for more corroboration, as these standards of judgement, which essentially I think the following ideas comprise, are the ways in which you can test the validity of your work in education

Yes, again I agree. To address this I have again gone along with my tendency to be a storyteller, and told the story of critical incidents which did indeed hone, test and make explicit my values (p. 6 and 7). I have tried to show that these are just two of very many, but they offer examples of the complexities of negotiating other and many cultures and learning about oneself on the journey. I hope in doing this I have addressed your two points in the same paragraph:

An analytical dimension which reviews itself

I want to know more about your professional life.

4) In relaying your requirements for educational validity, when you write: and to be inclusional again, I feel that this is not be problematised. 'Inclusiona' is a concept that the Bath action research group and others that work with it, will be familiar with. However, as it's the first time in your paper I think you need to give a brief description of what this means in context.

I don’t intend here to invoke Rayner definitions of inclusionality here– but am using the word very much in a simple vernacular way. I think it would be a distraction from my main point if I were to open this up. To avoid any resonances here that would require or suggest the whole field of inquiry into inclusionality, I would rather simply use another word. So I have changed this on p. 8. However, I have brought inclusionaityl into my discussion under empathy where I think it belongs and can be given an appropriate, though brief, space.

5) On page 25/26 I am intrigued by what you mean by a collective quantum of understanding. I know that the word quantum is added as an adjective to many different spheres these days – even in advertising washing up capsules! However, I would like to know what you mean by it precisely.

Yes, I agree. This is an interesting case of â€killing your darlings’ in which poets tell one another to take out their very favourite image because it probably doesn’t work! I was rather attached to this description, but tried it out with other readers and they too didn’t understand what I meant. So, conceding your point, I have made the change on p. 28 and hope this works now.

6) For me there is something a little abrupt about the ending to your paper. It seems to stop. And I cannot access the url. It seems incomplete. The process of your doctoral study needs more contextualisation, I believe, certainly if this is a point at which you have chosen to â€interrupt’ your living theory for the time being. Would it be possible for you to give the reader a little more access to this conclusion.

Yes, again I agree, and of course this ending is even more meaningless if the url doesn’t work. So I have added a section on pp. 29/30 explaining the context and what I learnt from it, and added the whole story as epilogue so there will be no need to access the url. In fact, there is no interruption but simply an ongoing journey- for example, creative space is an idea that has emerged since the PhD and only by reflecting back on it. I have made a change then to the final sentence to suggest the ongoing nature of it.

Catherine’s review

1) I find that the section that comes after the key words repeats, partially, the ideas in the section that comes before the key words. I would suggest that these two sections could be combined into one.

I am not sure about this as the sections before and after the key words have very different roles. The first is an abstract so offers an overview of the whole paper. The second is the introduction so echoes some of the introductory phrases of the abstract. I think any changes here might either conflate the different roles of these two sections, or disconnect abstract and paper in a way I have worked hard to avoid! Respectfully, then, I’d like to leave abstract and opening sections as they stand.

2) Terms used: dilemma, teacher-educator, team leader, debate, questions, aims.

I have made all the changes you suggest re. these words - apart from teacher educator where you say:

Perhaps you could find a more forceful and significant term to express this role

I haven’t really found another term which encapsulates my meanings as well, in that I want to suggest the real chalkface â€teacher’ as well as a broader, deeper concept of education. If we were writing in Swahili I would suggest mwalimu which carries all the resonance I intend, but unfortunately we are not!

3) Confusion about the numbering and sub-sections in the account of values.

Yes, agreed. I have much simplified this so each section now is a smooth paragraph explaining â€where I stand’ in relation to each value, and returning to examples now shared earlier in the paper. I have also clarified my meanings for connection and empathy, and how I see the difference between them.

4) I have aimed to clarify all through the teaching base for each of my statements, as you suggest – explaining what are you communicating about with these people? I hope this is clear now!

5) You have also helped me to clarify the difference between knowledge transformation as describing the creative process, and creative space – where I am intending to describe the teaching process. I have added this explanation in several places now.

Je Kan’s review

You have mentioned in several places where I have used vocabulary you thought over-academic, been wordy or obscure. My view is that if you think so, it must be the case – as you say, I am writing for the reader, so I have made changes to each of these: Eg. Allegory â€nice word but could it not be said in clear English?’ (p. 1) ; the opening to section 3.

You also mention where I have listed references without explaining them: â€give an indication of why and how these writers influenced your thinking’ Agreed! I have looked at each of these over-referenced sections and worked hard to unpack what those references mean to me, and if they are not important enough, deleted them; so I hope these sections read now much more transparently and smoothly.

Like Catherine, you also ask for more personalizing and explaining of my own position, â€Where are you and your experiences?’ Yes! Agreed! So now, I have included all through – as I hope you will see- critical incidents from my experience, and have worked much harder at explaining the origins of my beliefs through specific examples and experiences.

In my novel extracts, you found some of the changes in voice confusing. â€Readers, unclear to this form of writing, will need clear sign posts as to what is coming in the text’. Yes, understood, and I have written brief introductory paragraphs for each of the novel extracts, and the different voices contained there.

You found some of the accounts of values woolly and not really evidenced from my experience. I have prepared for this section much more carefully, with an introduction to a critical incident and how values emerged through this. You also mention â€links to inclusionality’. Since each of my 3 reviewers have referred to this, I have conceded this point and explicitly link my notions of empathy and connection with Raynor’s work on inclusionality.

You ask what the photo is adding to the account â€you need to say why this picture is important to you’ : I have included a short explanation to this, and also an explanation of the video extract so this no longer depends on a viewing.

Presentation points from Moira, Catharine and Je Kan

There are a number of formatting and presentation points you have identified: eg. Quotations shorter than 40 words need to be embedded in text.

Page referencing needs to be consistent.

Quotation marks should be single not double .

Indentations should not be so marked, and poems should be centred.

Full stops at the end of biblio references.

More careful use of colons and semi-colons.

I have tried to resolve these but may have been staring too closely at the text for too long to see them all clearly!

In reply to Jane Spiro

Revised paper Where I Stand with photo

by Jane Spiro -
Hello Moira, Je Kan and Catherine,
I have managed to paste in the photo deleted in error, so am attaching the resubmitted Where I Stand
here now complete.
I am also wondering about different possible titles to explain the content more clearly:
Creating space as a writer and teacher: towards a living theory of creative practice.
Does that seem clearer?

I am hoping the revised article now addresses some or most of your questions and concerns, and thank you again for helping me to firm up and clarify my own thoughts,

In reply to Jane Spiro

Re: Revised paper Where I Stand with photo

by Moira Laidlaw -
Many thanks, Jane. I will read through your resubmission within days and get back to you on it.

Warmest regards, Moira x
In reply to Moira Laidlaw

Re: Revised paper Where I Stand with photo

by Moira Laidlaw -
I have enjoyed re-reading your paper, and in the process of preparing it for publication I have come to know it so much better than the first time. I share Catherine's enthusiasm for the way in which you have integrated the students' responses and clarified the ideas about openness and creativity, and how different circumstances and experiences impact on the work you have done. It is a fascinating account of your own creativity and how you have used it to encourage the creativity of others.

One of the reasons this process has fascinated me so much is the ways in which you have helped me to think about cultural sensitivities. You highlight the cultural differences you faced in Hungary, for example, and how these influenced conclusions people drew. The case of the student who was aggressive and even violent to another student before rushing out, is a case in point and yet was not criticised or censured, even, indeed, supported by the system. I can see the way in which you are developing your cultural sensitivity, by trying to learn what was of value in that situation, and trying to empathise with differing viewpoints. It reminded me of a book I read years ago - by Dale Spender, who wrote a lot about how girls' views were marginalised in many classrooms, and also how male-oriented the language of English can be - and I don't want to get into that; but it was her comments on how when teachers tried to change the balance of power in a classroom by attending more to girls' ideas and utterances, many boys reacted sharply and angrily to this - as they were used to having most of the teacher's time. What shocked Spender, was how the girls also conspired with the boys' reactions, suggesting that the teacher wasn't behaving fairly. She expected the girls to be grateful for the extra time they were getting, but in fact the opposite was true. I'm wondering whether that dynamic of identifying with the oppressor, a kind of fear-reaction, was playing a part in the Hungarian classroom dynamic you describe. Conflicting with a dominant dynamic can gain surprising reactions.

Anyway, I am delighted to have been a reviewer for your paper. I have learned a lot.

Warmest regards, Moira
In reply to Jane Spiro

Re: Revised paper Where I Stand with photo

by Catherine Dean -

Dear Jane

I read your new version of "Where I stand" yesterday evening in the garden, as the weather is warm here in Nairobi at the moment! I really enjoyed the session, especially as the paper has gained enormously in clarity of expression, interest, depth and validity / life thanks to the personal experiences and the comments from your students which you have now included! I appreciate the hard work and humility it takes to revise a paper based on suggestions made by other people, as I know it is not easy at times, partially because one's work is so personal!

I particularly like the way you have explained the difference between two of your values: connection and empathy! I find it very interesting and very true to life, as we have much in common due to that fact that we are all human beings (making empathy possible), and yet there is so much that is particular, different due to our uniqueness as persons and the diversity of our cultures (making connection necessary)!

I would have only two suggestions:

1. on p. 20, par. 2. last line: "The following realisations emerged, based on experiences in my first teaching incarnation" => I can see that you have really tried to give us the context for this point on "Teaching as a writer", however, due to the expression "in my first teaching incarnation", I am not sure if the following points come from your teaching up to 1987 or after 1987, when you started working in Switzerland, etc...

2. on. p. 21, par. 3: the explanation you give of the creative process activity that you have developed is very clear and helpful to the reader in understanding what follows. However, when I reached p. 25, after your own poem on the violin, I became confused by the next line "Other examples of students responding to creative space can be found...". After the urls, you explain the image of yourself at the conference in Malaysia, from which I understood that at this point you are illustrating how you provide the creative space necessary to facilitate the creative process in your students. I think that the references to the student's creative work on the urls needs to be distinguished a bit more from your efforts to create the appropriate space! Perhaps it would help if you add a brief paragraph explaining that the students are able to become involved in the creative process thanks to your efforts to provide the necessary creative space!  I feel that your efforts to provide this space need to be highlighted more explicitly as they make the process possible and, above all, because these efforts reflect how you live your educational values! The image could then be presented as evidence of how you try to create the appropriate space, and explained afterwards. As I understand it, it is your effort to provide creative space, and thus facilitate the creative process in your students which helps them to learn English effectively, that has "put you on the map", so to speak and broadened your working parameters, as you refer to at the top of p. 26. Perhaps I am mistaken in these observations, and as always, many things are a matter of opinion! So please feel free!

There may be a few minor errors in terms of words joined together, repetition of some terms and use of colons which I will leave to the experts in text revision.

In my opinion, the paper is practically ready for publication amd will be of great interest, especially to language teachers among others!

Regarding your doubt about the title, perhaps it would be good to include a reference both to the creative process you have developed and the creative space you provide? e.g. "Towards a living theory of facilitating the creative process by providing creative space"??? I don't know! Perhaps it is too explicit for a creative writer! I am sure that whatever title you finally choose will be the best!

I look forward to working with you again Jane!

Kind regards!