I am a Theorist: Living the L-word, or Life Itself
Attached is my paper which is ready for review. I have studied the evaluation criteria, and I believe I have answered them as best I can in my submission, albeit in a non-systematic way.
Many thanks, and I look forward to your responses.
In responding to your paper I want to first acknowledge the resonance I feel with your writing: the questions you ask, the way you express yourself on the page, and your ongoing inquiry into how you might integrate all aspects of your ‘self’. And I am not an educator, in the strictest sense of the word, and so offer you a perspective that is grounded in my own world and a deeply-held value of living life ‘from the inside out,’ which continues to shape me, my relationships and work that I do. I offer the attached as a living dialogue, and hope it will contribute to strengthening your paper. I look forward to hearing your reflections. Best wishes, Jacqui
Dear Stephen and Jacqueline,
Many thanks for taking the time to read and think about my essay. I gather I am still waiting for a third reviewer to respond, but for now I'll try and summarise what I hear in your responses.
- Better signposting.
- Align the core of the essay better, which I suspect would happen if I also explain my methodology a bit better.
- This last point in no. 2 relates to the third aspect, which seems to be making clearer my research and the questions permeating this, which prompt me to think about my own learning and how I integrate my work with the rest of my life. This would also involve spelling out a bit more what 'literary' means in this context.
- Be clearer about my own values. I feel that I do demonstrate these, but by making my methodology clearer I think I would explain that it is partly by exploring the values of others that I am evidencing my own - intimacy and attachment to my subject material.
- In terms of having an influence outside, it is hard to judge, of course, but my activities in the university relate to this.
As I say in no. 4, part of the way I transform my thinking and deepen my values is through strong identification and thinking about those qualities in other people, particularly those three individuals I discuss in the essay. As a literary person, it is part of my training that this is how I communicate my ideas, through 'reading' the work of others.
I will wait for the third reviewer before I begin revising the paper. In a sense: the ambulatory quality Stephen sensed is perfectly deliberate, and seems to honour the humanistic values I am discussing through the work of others. However, I feel that by being clearer about the values behind this 'method' or approach, readers will adjust their stance accordingly. As Rosenblatt said, sometimes as readers we need to resist clinging to an 'efferent' stance which wants always to extract logical information from a text, and instead to move into an 'aesthetic' stance, which savours the journey of reading. By moving into the worlds of these three individuals (as well as my own), this becomes a personalist journey, concerned with the curves of individual thought and experiences rather than the jagged angularities of expository commentary or analytical philosophy.
I hope you're well. Attached is a heavily revised version on the paper. In fact, it's essentially a new paper. Over the past month I have been thinking hard about what I really wanted to say in this article, and I believe I've come up with something more honest and I hope interesting.
But I did take on board your comments and I hope in this new paper they are largely addressed.
Best wishes. :)
I have taken great pleasure in reading your paper, and in fact have re-read it several times to ensure I have fully appreciated all its facets. I am attaching a rather lengthy reply which I feel your writing merits, and trust that you will find it both generative and helpful in finalising your text. Rather than repeat the points made by Sigrid, which I also endorse, I have aimed to offer another dynamic to the review.
Kind Regards, Jacqui
Thanks so much for taking the time to engage with my paper. As you will see from my name now (pronounced Vit-nyour-goo), this is an extremely living process, but one which I feel is nearing completion. I will have to therefore edit a little what I say, especially about my former spelling. But in myself and among my parts of family, it seems that a more 'perfect' solution has been found. Perhaps I am also a bit of a 'living contradiction'!
As for your specific comments, I welcome them. I sort of agree about the Rookmaaker section, and can edit that out.
I do indeed understand what you mean, Jacqui, about the personal. But to my mind it is there right from the beginning. I tell my readers who I am and what my educative context is, from quite a personal angle. I then set the context for my research. I feel that only after I have done these things, can I then go on to drill deeper into the personal angle. Is that alright?
There are some specific sentences that need working on, so I'll see to those. And Jacqui you're right about the abstract; it is a little thin. But I was struggling to think about how I could flesh it out without telling the story itself! Abstracts are so difficult to do!
Shall I wait for Stephen's response?
Will there come a time when the checklist will be presented for the EJOLTS criteria?
Best wishes and thanks again for your encouragement and listening; I am glad I am already having an influence!
I'm curious about the questions you have offered as a form of response to my own, and wonder what you yourself need to do to be able to ''answer' them. As a Living Educational Theorist, how are you engaging with the feedback from the review process, such as my concern about the Abstract, and how are you making decisions about working through any revisions to your paper, either before or after you have received feedback from all the reviewers? By holding the EJOLTS criteria in mind, I encourage you to ask yourself how you are explaining your educational influences in your own learning, in the learning of others and in the learning of social formations, then help me navigate alongside you to understand and appreciate how your paper is evolving, hence sharing with me the evidence of your process of reflection.
Thanks. I replied with questions because I wanted to wait until I had all feedback before I revised the paper further. I did certainly engage with the feedback, although I will start revising the paper now. Asking questions was what I needed to do at the time to get further clarification, and I am somewhat puzzled as to why you think I have disregarded your comments, or that my intention was to disregard them.
In explaining why I put the theory first, I was trying to respond to what you said about the two halves of the paper. I still believe that in my case, I need to explain what my work is before I go deeper and personal. I need to tell readers what I'm trying to do in my work; the personal story will only make sense, I think, once readers can see it as part of the theoretical work being undertaken. I do not wish, therefore, to make major structural changes, except to cut out the Rookmaaker section.
Areas that need clarification I am aware of, given Sigrid's comments and your own. I will attend to these.
As for the EJOLTS criteria, I am aware of this, and again I am disappointed that you think I have not thought at all about how I am explaining my educational influence, especially toward others. I am sensitive to paradigms that have the potential to be restrictive or monopolizing in their language, as if the language is patented or trademarked. I can think of another philosopher who has developed an expansive paradigm for learning, who will repeat and repeat the same language so that it loses its meaning. Unless people do not sing to his tune, their contributions are effectively null or inconsequential. I feel I am addressing the EJOLTS criteria, in a methodical way by structuring my paper according to 'My Theoretical Work' (the background); 'Naming my World', which is the explanation of my core living value; and finally, 'Evaluating my Educational influence', which explores how I hope to influence others, in the context of my work, toward my core living value. I try and avoid repeating Living Theory language because of my misgivings about the potency of language which is repeated like a mantra.
I am sympathetic to living educational theory because it seems to embrace the work of people in various different spheres; it is quite democratic. I hope therefore that my paper's structure will hold, as testament to the particular sphere I am working within, where ordinarily a conceptual section precedes any more evaluative and discursive comment.
So I shall edit the paper now, attending to each of the points you and Sigrid make.
I am just sorry it seems that my earlier response was inadequate.
I have spent the day making revisions to the paper. So you can see exactly what I've done, I've used track changes on the word document. I hope that helps :).
I hope Jacqui my abstract is improved and communicates the personal at the heart of the paper.
Sigrid, I have also tried to be a bit more explicit about the question: How can I improve what I am doing?
As you will also see, I have included some comment about how I understand 'educational influence'. I hope that this comment will make my writing a bit more transparent about how I am using living theory terminology.
Jacqui: I was not precious at all about 'undergird', so I've simply substituted more common words for this. As for 'troth', it was a term coined by Parker Palmer in his epistemology, so I've tried to explain that a bit better. I'm not hugely committed to it, so in other places I've used a more contemporary word.
I have also added a bit to my introduction which explains the rationale for why I am structuring the paper in the way that I am.
I know that readers tend to make their own meaning from their transaction with a given work, but reading my paper through again, I do see the 'I' all the way through. It is simply that in the first half, the 'I' is explicit about the processes of developing theoretical work, whereas the 'I' in the second half is more to do with personal story. I think in fact the paper works as a whole research story, but inevitably one has to break papers into sections. I am glad, Sigrid, that you felt you could sense a 'core that clearly binds them together'.
I have also removed the Rookmaaker section.
As you peruse these changes, I would be grateful if you could add to the track changes and put comments directly onto the paper. This will help me focus on specifics.
Once again though, thank you both for taking the time to read my work. I think perhaps sometimes reviewing must be a thankless job. Reviewing in academic publishing is such a tricky thing, and I think on balance, EJOLTS has a strength in that it communicates personally with authors in a spirit of openness and warmth. (Although it is a little galling perhaps to think at times that this reviewing discussion is so public. As my grandmother might have said, I sometimes feel like I'm airing my dirty laundry in public!)
As for intentions, Rosenblatt said often about her own writing, once it left her hands people interpreted it in quite a different way to how she understood it herself. While one can aim for clarity, structure, and concision, I think we cannot prescribe how others will respond to the writing. We can only be satisfied with our own efforts, hoping that they align as best they can with one's internal vision.
Best wishes to you both.
Let me start my response by expressing resonance with your final sentence: absolutely, we each hold ourselves accountable to our own internal principles and values, and 'know' when we have constructed a narrative that best expresses our unique thesis of living. And as I read your revised text I now follow your signposting, understand why and how you are structuring it as you do, and no longer feel that I am sometimes left outside the decisions you are making as you write.
I find your dialogic engagement both explicit and implicit in your changes, appreciate the clarity you have developed in your Abstract, and sense your 'I' clearly present throughout the paper.
I find it interesting that you express misgivings about the potency of language 'which is repeated like a mantra' or becomes 'patented or trademarked' in some way. This prompts me to ask myself: how do we ensure that any framework we might use for our research remains open, curious, personal yet universal in its communication and meaning? I sense you have already considered this in your own careful choice of language.
You are very kind in your response. I know it is a fault of mine that sometimes I become too defensive; I am trying to deal with my insecurities. And I am very sorry if you have felt me be too forceful in any way. You are very gentle in your responses and attentive in your consideration of my work, for which I am very grateful.
Maybe you give me more credit for my actual achievements. It is interesting that maybe we can be satisfied we have achieved a correlation between internal vision and outward expression, and yet be somewhat disappointed with the overall result? I don't know. In many ways I am proud of what I have written. But inevitably I go over it and especially the review process and see ways I might have behaved differently or written differently.
I think you hit upon a paradox of the publishing process: inevitably one push is in the direction of tying things down, polishing things up, being brilliant. But another recognises and even esteems the limitations and the need to be open and not have all the answers. I'm not sure what balance I've struck.
I just think: well, I have tried to use language I feel conveys my meaning, but I cannot guarantee it. And maybe that's OK.
Thank you again for sticking with me and my paper. Your patience and gentleness is inspiring.
All good wishes,
I totally endorse Stephen's feedback on your paper, and have felt very included in the development of your writing as you have shared your insight and focus. And I appreciate your responses to my earlier comments, which I value as an integral element of our collective learning.
I recommend that you now give the paper a final proof-read, accepting all the changes you've tracked, and paying particular attention to words like 'personalism' (Abstract), 'givenness' (p.3), 'contextualist (p.8), 'ethnoscapes' (p. 14-15) and the lack of hyphen in 'poststructural' (p.16). These words may be as you intend them, and if so then don't need changing; once you've posted the final version then I shall recommend it for publication.
Best wishes, Jacqui
Hi Richard, First an apology, I totally missed your 5th April iteration. It became lost in the string. This version was so different from the first that I went back to check. I like this version very much. I think you have nailed the argument, I can now see the wood for the trees as it were, and the path through the forest. I found your personal account very moving, and its linkage to literary criticism the expression of new understanding. The orthodox church connection interested me. You probably know Ruth Coates, Christianity in Bakhtin - an angle which adds to your use of Andrew Louth.
As far as I am concerned, this is ready to go after proofreading. Its relevance to living theory seems clear. Your writing style is very readable. Should Rookmaaker be removed from the references? should your name change be flagged up there? Well done, I enjoyed reading this. Stephen
Dear Jacqui and Stephen,
Thanks so much for your kind feedback. I am very glad you enjoyed reading my paper.
I've done the necessary changes. I've done my own proofreading, but I'm not sure if anyone else does proofreading too?
Here and there I added additional explanations where I felt something could be even clearer. But these were minimal additions.
I've also added a footnote to acknowledge my funders.
As far as I'm concerned now, it's ready to go.
Dear Richard - I have enjoyed reading your final draft, your reviewers' comments and your responses. I am hoping to see your paper published in EJOLTS, when the editorial board has viewed the recommendations. I imagine that this will be done on Sunday 22nd May.
If, as I hope, the decision is to publish, I think that the url for your EJOLTs paper should be sent to the 'Friends of Wisdom' e-list. We will however have to wait for the meeting of the editorial board.
I also think that you will enjoy the late Pat D'Arcy's doctoral thesis because of Pat's engagement with the writings of Louise Rosenblatt.
You can access Pat's thesis at:
and here is Pat's Abstract for her Living Theory thesis on 'The Whole Story...' :
In this thesis I investigate the nature of written responses made to stories in an educational context, which can be characterised as aesthetic transactions with a text [Rosenblatt, 1938, 1978, 1985]. My research develops Guidelines designed to elicit such personally meaningful responses from teachers to pupils' stories as well as from pupils to the stories they read. I map those features which characterise the engaged and appreciative responses that I both made and received from primary and secondary teachers and consider in what respects they may be educationally valuable. I also consider how such responses could offer a form of meaning-related, interpretive assessment for the work of pupils as story writers and story readers.
This thesis also tells the story of my journey as an educational researcher. It acknowledges the mistakes I made, the confusions I grappled with and what I discovered in the course of my investigation about myself as an educator and about the values that underpin my thinking which sustained the whole enterprise.
I offer this thesis, therefore as an original contribution to the nature of engaged and appreciative responses made by teachers as well as by pupils in the field of story writing and story reading.
I offer it as an original contribution to the educational value of such responses as a form of interpretive assessment in the context of classroom teaching and external examining.
I also offer it as an original contribution to educational knowledge - the process of coming to know - as I have sought to construct my developing perceptions as a living educational theory.
I am thrilled that you also enjoyed reading my paper. Yes, I believe we are waiting for Sigrid (who is abroad) to give the all-OK as well.
I set sail for Spain on Sunday evening, ostensibly on a holiday! I am not set to return until the 31st. I will try and keep an eye here of developments, and my email too, but it's a bad temptation for me to access my email while on holiday!
Thank you for your link to Pat's thesis. I am always happy when I see Louise's ideas being used. She worked so hard for what she believed in, and is a hero of mine.
That is kind of you to think of Friends of Wisdom. Nick and I know each other, and I invited Nick to talk about his vision to PhD students at De Montfort in November. Incidentally, I have a shorter article set to appear in Peer English in the autumn, which recapitulates what Nick contributed to our discussion of the future of the English PhD. I have also just completed a full-length article on Ottoline, and I include a reference point regarding living theory and EJOLTS, given its strength as a platform for theorists of all shapes and sizes to become more self-reflective about the values that undergird their work. I very much hope that article is also successful.
If you are interested, I also presented a digital story at the Midlands3Cities Research Festival last week, which partly distilled the ideas of my EJOLTs article into 4 minutes! The link is here.
Very best wishes,
My apologies, I didn't see this iteration and it became lost in the string. When I read your recent iteration, i realised I had missed a step. I am very positive about this version. My comments on the recent iteration are attached there. Stephen