I look forward to your responses.
(new file with template to be uploaded soon)
I have worked on the 'old' draft of the paper rather than waiting for you to submit in the template, as I had a brief spot where I could work on this. It's a fascinating paper but very long. You'll see in the track changed version (attached - and sorry, I'm a compulsive pedant) where I think you might truncate it a bit.
But I also long to hear more of your 'student voices'. One of the things about Living Educational Theory is that writers are encouraged to offer their values-based explanation OF THEIR EDUCATIONAL INFLUENCE IN LEARNING. This account definitely describes your values (although there is one place where I suggest you might be more specific about one of these) but the bulk of the paper describes the impact of your reading and your reflection on your OWN practice and understanding of learning. I yearned to know more about your influence on your students. Can you build in a bit more about this?
There's also one bit towards the end that I have highlighted, and I think it could be better positioned close to the start. It sets the scene well for why you did what you did, before the reader gets absorbed by (and occasionally, I think, bogged down in) the detail about your reading and reflection. I haven't got in to editing the references at all at this stage.
I hope this doesn't sound depressing. I think you've written a powerful paper, and with judicious pruning and more reference to your own influence with your students, it will be strenthened and improved.
Thanks for your response Pip, which I enjoyed reading. I will make the suggested grammatical changes.
I suppose it is a long paper. It was long in the gestation. By starting when I had nothing to say and developing my questions as I read and wrote, I have made the methodology plain, but that may not be of interest to others. I could certainly cut the ‘reviews’ out and just track the questions.
The later paragraphs you have highlighted are towards the end of the paper. I began at the beginning ‘not knowing’ and ended at the end ‘knowing’! At the start I did not know what I would get to, and my discovery was a revelation: that I want to nurture growth in my students, and foster the new ‘spaces’ or directions they may have decided to take in their lives. So although my own ‘learning, opening and developing’ may not take the same path, the ‘loving transmission’ contained within the pedagogic relationship becomes the key factor that I want to develop.
I think that this is one of the conundrums of living theory and living theory methodology – do we write as we inquire, or do we describe the inquiring in retrospect? In this case there is probably already too much ‘editing’ of that living ‘aliveness’ because the narrative took over three years to conclude. But I do agree it could be shorter, and it would read better if the ending came nearer the beginning, it just wouldn’t be as ‘authentic’, but then I must think of my readers! So, I will think very carefully about this.
The student voice (even the phrase ‘my students’ doesn’t sit easily with me, it implies a power relation that just isn’t there) is tricky, partly because 90% of the yoga students are over 60 and are not very familiar with social media, and partly because what I teach is more (o)ntological than epistemological in nature. Having said that I will see if I can get up-to-date feedback via email, and there are one or two of the Leicester based meditators who are more ‘at home’ with new technology, so there is hope there for a future paper.
I do have plans for a further learning and teaching paper that will definitely include more video of teaching and video feedback. I am aware of the need to evidence what I espouse, and want to base my next inquiry on the video evidence, rather than supporting my assertions in retrospect.
With love and thanks Eleanor
(Edited by Marie Huxtable - original submission Saturday, 5 March 2016, 5:08 PM)
Hi Eleanor - lovely response, and I totally recognise that sense of 'starting out not knowing' and ending up 'knowing'! I think it's an 'aha' moment for many people. In fact it is best captured by a quotation from TS Eliot that I first encountered in Moira Laidlaw's PhD thesis. It goes:
I understand the conundrum about "Do we write as we inquire, or do we describe the inquiring in retrospect?" I think the trick is to keep the reader with you. I seem to find myself giving a lot of online advice to people doing PhDs at present, and it is that ability to keep the thread clear to the reader that provides an account that speaks to people. And I think that can happen even in a long paper, with regular signposting. Perhaps concentrate on the signposting as you revisit the paper, and see what is 'nice to have' and what is 'essential to the story'.
And I do understand the power differential with 'students' versus 'teacher' as well. As I've said in these pages before, I love the Maori 'ako' (learning) and how it is represented in 'akonga' (student) and 'kaiako' (teacher) words that recognise the positioning of both in learning. It is a usage that I think would resonate with you. You have learned, as you have engaged with them; they have learned, as they have engaged with you. I think your learning is clear in the paper. What is less clear is their learning, and it's an equally valid part of the co-educative process.
All the best, and warm regards
thank you for sharing your paper. I enjoyed reading it. I’m a yoga practitioners and tried meditation very often, but still with little success. I can share some of your concerns such as being vs. knowing and the process that leads to the famous ‘AHA!’ moments. I like to share with you a quotation by Nelson Mandela, which accompanies me during my ‘long walk’ in search for clues.
I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.
I would like to see how your’ 2016 reflections’ at the end of the paper (a part of your long walk I assume) amalgamate with your living theory and grasp a clearer understanding of why teaching is so important to you. Please find my comment in the text.
I’d like you to know one more thing about me as a reviewer. When my youngest sister asked me to review her papers (at Masters level ) she appreciated the support and feedback I gave her, but she said she was not sure about my feelings towards her work. She finds the written review process impersonal, caused her discomfort and make her feeling vulnerable thinking that people might not respect the fact that she was writing from her heart. She found comments rough and judgmental. She finds my comments proper, but my attitude discouraging. This is the best piece of advice I’ve received so far, when it comes to commenting on people’s work. In order to show her that I have full respect for what she writes, I started adding a smile after every comment. It’s just a small sign that says; ‘I care and I’m with you!’ So Eleanor I’d like you to imagine a smile after every comment that carries the same message. I’d like you to know that I do care and throughout the paper I was smiling at you while appreciated and respecting your hard job.
Hope this helps.
First of all, I notice that Pip and Arianna have already made their opening contributions to this conversation. I have prepared my initial thoughts without initially reading theirs, so that I can start from my own personal reading, without external influences - I hope that we can all then work our way towards a central consensus within the course of an extended conversation that leads to a final draft of your text.
As usual, I have started this exercise by re-reading the review criteria from the EJOLTS website to remind myself where and how my reading of your draft should be focused. I have noted the following points which are always of especial interest to me when reading l-e-t papers:
(i) … has the author provided sufficient detail of their living-educational-theory for it to be understood?
(ii) Is there sufficient evidence to support the claims that are made?
(iii) Are there sufficient details of how the author has validated their claims to know so that the reader can share in that knowledge through the creative aspects of their own reading?
With respect to item (i) above, I notice that a word search for variations on 'living' and 'living theory' raise just three hits, none of which is within the main body of the text.
In the Abstract (first page), you say: "How I foster my own growth is my living theory methodology … and the explanation of the learning is my living theory." In the section Generating Educational Knowledge (final page), you say: "… by re-reading, meditating and rewriting over several iterations I found new meanings contained within the original account … I called this an inclusional methodology from which arose my living theory." and "… I have developed a more intuitive approach, which is my living-theory-methodology naturally aligned with and integral to, my living theory."
In all these instances, my reading is that you allude to your living theory but do not bring it out into plain sight (to paraphrase the EJOLTS criteria) 'as a Living Theory researcher who is undertaking to describe and explain your educational influences in your own learning and in the learning of others within their own contexts'. Currently, it is up to me to make the connection. I need a few signposts labelled "Living Theory at work here". A question arises from this thought: how can you show more clearly that your concern with the "… quality of connection between 'self' and 'other' …" has moved from the 2006 action research perspective to one centred on living theory? I feel that what I am reading here is more of an action enquiry account than a living theory account - and you and your learning are the focus of that enquiry.
Item (ii) and (iii) above are prerequisites for any scholarly discourse. They are present here, but my reading of your account would benefit from further signposts that say "Here are my claims" (within the context of living theory) and "Here is my evidence to support those claims" - so that I can fully share in your claim to know through the creative aspects of my own reading.
What I have written above is not an analysis of your text; it is more an attempt to hold my impressions from reading it together with the EJOLTS criteria and my own evolving expectations. At the moment, I cannot reconcile the three - and so this is the point at which we should start to talk with each other, rather than batting successive versions of the text across the net as in a game of tennis. Let's have a good-quality generative conversation first of all - with the aim of producing an account that has convincingly moved beyond anything that might be seen as "… yet another iteration of the original question posed in my doctorate" (January 2016 Reflection). You remind me that your PhD examiners did not allow you to write from a "mindlessly emotional" perspective - perhaps living theory offers that opportunity a second time around. Is this remaining tension what (i) above might be all about?
Have I provided enough detail for my living educational theory to be understood?
I agree that the words ‘living’ and ‘living educational theory’ have not been used much except in the abstract and in the ‘making sense’ at the end of the paper.
However, I have given a detailed explanation of my value based learning and shown why and how I seek to influence the learning of others – which is one of the key criteria for submissions. Possibly there is too much detailed explanation of the ‘living’ and not enough of the ‘educational theory’. For me living my values (or not) comes before the theory, and it is the clash and the contradiction between my espoused values and my lived values that leads to the learning and then to the theory. To insert the ‘theory’ before (or even during) the living wouldn’t be authentic. If the EJOLTS audience really needs more theory, obviously I’ll have to think again.
I will try to get more feedback from my students, which is an issue that Pip has raised.
I am writing and researching and living and theorising, and yes, it is another iteration of my question, ‘How may I be an instrument of love’s purpose’. I fully expect to ask variations on that theme over and over again because, of course, there is no definitive answer! In order to find a good-enough answer for ‘the time being’ I will use whatever methodology provides me with a satisfactory way forward for ‘the time being’. If this does not fit the EJOLTS criteria, so be it.
Following your response to my initial comments on your paper, I have spent the better part of a day reading and re-reading, with the result that I am now coming at it from a rather different direction. I feel that I am now much more under the surface meanings and more attuned to its 'allusory' aspects. For me, the transition in perspective came at the point where you say:
"I often lack the courage, and the words, to push the boundaries of language beyond the secular and into the transcendent because I am constantly aware that others have different boundaries, unique belief systems and emotional needs that I must, and want to, respect. At the same time I ‘know’ that in a state of ‘silent beingness’ minds become joined and can bring a person great benefit." (p.13).
" My challenge is not to speak from the ‘rational’ but from the depth of my embodied sensing, which gathers together the revelatory knowledge gained through spiritual discipline. This is where I am vulnerable, where I know others will not necessarily want – or be able – to follow the words to a place of shared understanding ..." (page 16).
The point now is that I read the core and beating heart of your paper to be concerned with the transcendent and the spiritual. Although I know little of yoga, I understand your words "Teaching yoga I create context using the symbolism of the body to point towards the transcendent, that place of experience that is beyond language" (p.14) in parallel terms to my own experience, for example, when listening to the arietta of Beethoven's last piano sonata ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iROg4_AhRqI )
What am I trying to say here? Let's return to the EJOLTS 'definition' of living theory.
**Asking questions of the sort, 'How do I improve what I am doing', researchers generate their living-theories as their values-based explanations for their educational influences in their own learning, the learning of others ... (http://ejolts.net/node/220)
I understand and accept your explanations of your educational influences in your own learning. You make claims and you validate them using living standards of judgement. As your reader in this instance, I am specifically looking at the part of the 'definition' that says: "... values-based explanations for their educational influences in ... the learning of others ..." and I am going to claim that this paper contains your values-based explanations of your educational influence on my learning (as in 'the learning of others'). This for me is the great significance of your paper, where the transcendental in your life illuminates that in mine. Few, if any, living-theory accounts do this for me - in that, as you say "... in a state of silent beingness, minds become joined". Some accounts may do this for some other people: this paper does it for me.
In response to my earlier comments, you ask: "Have I provided enough detail for my living educational theory to be understood?" The answer from me now is "Yes – certainly".
Best wishes and thanks
- Peter (69)
My 'head' is elsewhere at the moment as I prepare to go tomorrow to the far north west of Scotland. Seeing Jack's email prompted me to stop being busy and read your response. I am almost in tears. I do not yet know what I think. I am about to drive 400 miles. By Sunday I will be 'with' you and will sink into your words and respond.
Jack has suggested Skype. I am not sure - let me 'be' for a couple of days.
You have connected me back to myself on a difficult day,
Such blessings and such love, thank you
Hallo to my reviewers, and very many thanks for all your thoughts.
I have made various amendments to the paper (attached) taking into account most of your comments. There may be more feedback from my students at the end of this week - but am not too sure - we will see.
My apologies - the piece is still 23 pages and10,000+ words long, and I have put in more quotation marks and am not sure whether this fits the template. Do I need to unquote the quotes from books but not from 'private communications'? I will amend as necessary.
With love from a rather windy but very beautiful north west coast of Scotland.
Dear Pip, Arianna, Pete and Marie
Thank you so much for all your time and trouble reading and responding to this paper. I have found your comments incredibly useful and have incorporated responses into the final revision. I have also reduced the length of the paper by 4000 words, so it is now 8000 words long although the number of pages still seems quite considerable!
I have added three more student 'voices' - although unfortunately only in writing, and I have included an additional video under the 'legacy' heading which I hope will go some way to give a fuller representation of my LET.
I have found keeping 'on top' of the review comments difficult because I do not check the EJOLTS website everyday, or even every week when I am busy on other things, and I had imagined that there might be some automatic notification set up - but obviously not.
In appreciation of your time and care, and with love,- both
I so enjoyed this latest (and hopefully final, bar proofreading) iteration of your paper. Where I tended to get lost a bit in the length and construction of the original, I can now clearly follow your narrative. You write on a topic that may seem quite esoteric to some of our readers but in my opinion do so in a sensitive and "non-preachy" way.
The criteria for publication require that you provide a living-theory account, of your values-based explanation of your educational influence in learning (criterion 1). Where I sought evidence of your STUDENTS' perceptions of your influence on THEIR practice in the first iteration, I can clearly see this in this version. I can also see a much clearer account of your OWN perceptions of your work, demonstrating the values that you hold, and how you are increasingly coming to realise how these might impact on your students (for instance, in your recognition of the need to adjust to their different expectations and abilities given the age gap between you).
The next criterion states that it needs to be of a suitable academic and scholarly quality; I have no reservations here except the need to close proofreading (apostrophes etc, and consistency in referencing). There was one sentence where you talked about your spine needing to adjust where I couldn't quite make sense of the sentence as written, and thought an "I" was needed as the subject of the sentence. I normally try to do as I did the first time, do my reviews on a computer and track change as I go, but am working on an I-Pad this time and can't manage the track changing, sorry.
Finally, the criteria ask if it's in the template - yes.
I found this iteration honest, self-critical in a very positive way; containing a clear commitment to ongoing growth and development, and I warmly recommend its publication to the Editorial Board. The other reviewers will, of course, have to add their input.
I wish you all the best, Eleanor, as you continue this valuable work.
I think that, by and large, you have removed material and added material such that the narrative in your paper is now easier to follow and is fuller - but the essential core remains - the sense that I referred to previously "… where the transcendental in your life illuminates that in mine".
The paper needs a copy edit to correct the few typos but, by my estimation, I would recommend for publication.
Thank you so much for your response Arianna. It came after I had decided that I had finished with the explanations - but not of course the grammar and punctation problems. I think I need to go back to school!
The questions you ask about embodiment, relationship, sharing and learning, demand full explanations, which at the moment I just cannot respond to. I have completed my paper! You raise issues that are integral to my premise: that going deep within brings the human person in touch with the values of all humanity, and its influence encourages the good in the world. The most contradictory of contradictions! It has a symmetry I take great pleasure in!
So, I apologise for not going further into your comments. I just want to say that I find them a joyful challenge, which I intend to write about in future. Hopefully the next iteration will not take 3+ years.
I am delighted to hear from you Bonnie, and to get a sense of your loving inquiry. It was a surprise, I have never had a response like this before!
I usually stay at an Abbey in Leicestershire that stocks a few books for sale, and I happened upon a book by Richard Rohr, and as you had mentioned him in your post, I bought the book and have become completely immersed and inspired by his writing. Thank you so much – you see how minds are joined, how love spreads!
The story of your journey so far sounds like you are already making sense of where you now in preparation for whatever will happen next. Beginning to articulate what you ‘know’, by bringing your embodied knowing into language will not only help to clarify your thinking, but may also clarify how you hold and enact your values. This last is always tricky! I remind myself frequently that what I feel and do is not always what I think is ‘right’, and working within that contradiction can be stimulating as well as challenging. This is where yoga comes can be so helpful, releasing tension and renewing vitality. It takes great discipline practicing on your own, and with a new job as well. I honour your commitment.
It sounds like you are doing valuable work in a place where there are many hurdles to be met. Writing about what love means brings into question the relationship between personal experience and the social world, which is an individual perspective mediated by social convention. If you start by describing your experience of love and putting that into words, love will begin to resonate in your mind, will show you how to write about your work and your relationships. It takes time, and in my experience, much scribbling and writing – as well as reading. There are as many ways of going about describing embodied experience as there are people in the world! I started with my experience of love; how it changed me, then I went onto describe the work that I do and how I do it. But there are as many ways of writing about love as there are people in the world! No prescription is appropriate here.
Although there are the Ejolts rules relating to publication, its best to start by just loving the writing and seeing where that takes you. Send more if you fancy it....
May Christmas bring you joy and always renewal,