Living, learning, leading - reflections on an action researched life
I submit my paper for review (designated reviewers have been approached). Apologies that it is yet to be in the EJOLTS template. My computer wanted to update that to Word 2016 and that caused formatting difficulties that I will sort out before final version.
Pip Bruce Ferguson
Hi, Pip. Thanks for submitting your paper. I was eager to review it, because I knew I'd be in for an exciting and stimulating read. I was not disappointed! I love the energy of it and the way you write about the great variety of experiences in your professional career. You write cogently about what moves you, what seems unfair to you, how you are influenced and how you seek to influence. You also offer the reader very clear signposting through your career, which you demarcate through the learning that you are involved with. Yes, there was so much that I enjoyed. Indeed I like the paper so much, I want more of it. Read on!
I've annotated the paper. Some of the comments are my usual rather pernickety ones. However, I've made comments where I feel the reader could really do with more detail and examples from the learning you're writing about. Sometimes you do this, but when you don't, I feel a gap. I always want more than the description of events that you learnt from, I want to see how this learning might have affected your actions (or an example of one action). I am particularly moved by the experience you mention about not being able to be silent because of your philosophy as a teacher (p. 11) but again, I want to know more about what this actually means. What is 'your philosophy as a teacher' in terms of the values you hold? I can infer something from your clear indignation, but again, I feel a more explicit explanation here would really draw on the energy already implied by this section. And drawing on this learning with examples would also help me to identify specifically which values and insights you are placing emphasis on.
I do wonder about the absence of any overt mention of Living Theory in the paper, when it seems that with more examples of your learning - as detailed above and on the paper itself - this would be more than an action research account of your life. I am not casting aspersions on action research at all, but was assuming when I read it - rightly or wrongly - that this would be a Living Theory account. I feel it could gain from being explicitly so in terms of the relationships you're writing about between your learning and the enhancements of your practices as an educator, and the purposes you have set yourself in the course of your educational life. In other words this seems more than the generation of a series of action reflection cycles, but a summation of many of them. You write in the conclusion, 'we do the best we know how, and when we know better, we do better'. Yes indeed, and this account is implicitly open-ended, but surely there is enough here, Pip, to qualify as your best Living Theory to date!
If you agree that this is a Living Theory, then I think you need to mention this where you feel that your values in your actions have enabled you to draw conclusions and reach further and more educationally with the people you are working with. It's there, implicit, but again, I do feel it could be drawn out more. I know that saying something like, 'and this is my Living Theory' is rather anodyne, but drawing conclusions explicitly in terms of the values you have worked on with people over time and from within social contexts is surely what living-theories are all about!
On another tack, there are some examples of very informal language and I'm wondering if they're entirely appropriate for this context. I may well be too pernickety about this (it has been said before!) but some examples - marked in the text - do seem a little inappropriate for an academic journal. Anyway, have a look and see what you think.
Do get back to me here about anything I've written, Pip, as it would be lovely to be in dialogue about this.
Many thanks for your thorough and speedy review. As I am currently abroad and accessing only on a small iPad I will leave substantial engagement with the points you make until I am back in Ireland next week.
Meantime, never apologise for the pickyness. My nickname at work is Pedantic Pip I think! (And I know you taught English...) I will check the colloquial language you allude to. It may be just standard Kiwi.
Re the Living Educational Theory, yes, in terms of submitting to EJOLTS I do recognise this was always going to need strengthening and being made more overt. As you'll have noted from the start of the paper, it was written initially to be submitted to an action research conference but I was persuaded to submit it to EJOLTS as well, and have done so with clearance from the conference organisers. I will address that particular request when I do the second iteration. It is a very fair point.
Right, off for a day's sightseeing with family!
Second iteration now loaded, under my reply to Jacqui Scholes-Rhodes. I hope I have given sufficient 'steer' to why I am writing more colloquially than you and Jackie might prefer. As I have just written to Jackie, I think it's partly a Kiwi thing. My colleague Kirstie to whose paper I refer in the new version, also has colloquialisms in her paper, and it's published in HERD journal, so I suspect the Kiwi approach is less formal than some English writers might prefer.
I have swiped out all your comments from the previous iteration although there are issues I have yet to address in the formatting and punctuation. I had a brief attempt to upload this into the template that ended with me tearing my hair so I have left it in straight Word for this iteration. Sufficient unto the day be the evil thereof...
I will get it sorted before it makes it to publication, if it does. One does not wish to assume.
I have added in more examples, and hopefully strengthened the LET basis for the work -changed the title too if I can find a way of having the tracking of the paper work with a different title. That one might be a Branko job.
Let me know your thoughts when you get a chance.
Hi Pip. I really have enjoyed reading the paper again, and recommend publication with real pleasure. It's now an integrated Living Theory article in my view, and the additions you've made to illustrate your learning are much more relatable (Bassey, 1997) than before. A real joy.
There are a couple of points I've commented on - see text below - but in the nature of agreements as a rule. Not sure about Ortun Zuber-Skerritt's country of origin, by the way. I think it might be Austrian rather than German. I've tried to find out but can't get confirmation one way or the other. Will ask around.
All the best, Moira
Thanks so much for the fast feedback. I will get into the paper comments shortly, but I am pretty sure Ortrun came from Germany as she still has a home in Bingen - she recently asked me to visit her while she was there.
Hi, Pip. I have thoroughly enjoyed your paper. It was great to see the evolution of your thinking and learning. I also appreciate your sideways (for lack of a better word) humour and personality. My first concern is that it is solely an action research paper. I understand that it comes from an action research background. I feel that for this journal, it needs to connect to and reference the tenets of Living Theory. For you, this will not be a difficult task as you are being/doing it!
I felt frequently that there was more to know, that I wanted to know in more detail. I have attached my notes on specifics in the paper but the main issue is that I feel that it needs more detail, more specific evidence to support the claims to know. This, again, will not be a big task as I am certain that you have this data available.
I hope that you will accept these suggestions for improvement as they are intended to strengthen you paper and meant to be helpful (and may, indeed, not be what you need).
Hi Jackie - as you may have seen in my response to Moira, I've been out of the country on holiday. Just back today but snowed under so I won't get to this until next week I suspect. Many thanks for your feedback though, much appreciated.
I have just loaded up (under Jacqui Scholes-Rhodes' posting) the second iteration of this paper.
I hope I've not missed any of the points you've made, although I need to investigate the URL for the Padlet and any photo of the video. Technology and I are not bosom buddies - I have still not managed to convert this version into the template either.
I couldn't think of anything extra to add to the final statement about difference between Irish and Kiwi approaches to self-promotion. I thought it was reasonably self-evident but let me know if you think it still needs one.
Hope I've added enough evidence of claims! You'll see I have also changed the title. Not sure how I do that while it's still 'submitted' under the original one, but hopefully if it makes it to publication, this will be possible.
I will look forward to your further comments when you have time.
Hi, Pip. You have not missed any of the points I've made
You have added enough evidence of your claims; I hope that you think so, too!
This article is ready for publication, in my opinion.
Dear Pip, thank you for giving me the opportunity to read and comment on your paper. Both Moira and Jackie have offered detailed responses which I know emerge from extensive experience of similar practices. I have therefore aimed to offer a slightly different perspective, putting focus on the choices you make about form and style, and sharing with you the questions catalysed by what you do and do not say about the systemic challenges that have caused you to 'morph' your practice. I look forward to reading your further reflections. Jacqui
Hi Jacqui - I am just back in the country from a week's leave, and currently snowed under. I do thank you for your review and will engage with it next week when I come up for air!
I have taken SOME of your comments into consideration and have tried to signpost why I am using a less formal language style (it's part of being Kiwi, obviously - I just read a publication in HERD Journal paper a colleague of mine has just had published, which exhibits similar informality in places) and have striven to provide examples where requested.
I'd be delighted if you have time to read this subsequent iteration, with a view to telling me whether you think it flows; whether I have strengthened the LET approach sufficiently; whether there is anything that 'sticks out' or doesn't make sense to you in the new account.
I'm also hoping to change the title as you'll see on this iteration, but am not sure how this happens in this stage of the process.
I've now re-read your paper and appreciate both the clarity of framing and the re-shaping that for me underlines your motivation for writing it. The development journey, and the growing sense of knowing and un-knowing, is signposted in a way that I can follow the progress and appreciate the reflective process that propels the narrative towards its ending. And then it ends, rather more abruptly than I was expecting - not that I needed to read anymore but because without a sub-heading to warn me that I was about to read a summing up I somehow slipped off the end of the paper. Would it work to insert a heading towards the last couple of paras if these are your intended as your concluding thoughts? And one editing point - on p.5, in the sentence beginning 'Kate, on seeing my self-critique...' there appears to be an extra bracket just before the word 'provided'.
Otherwise, I agree with Pip that the paper is ready for publication.
Thanks so much for your comments. There are a few editing points that I will need to attend to once I figure out how to get it into the template. I'm a bit slow on these things and have another issue with a family accident to cope with just now but I will get it done.
I loved the vivid description of your "slipped off the end of the paper"; it well conveyed to me how you felt and I will see how I can best rectify that.
Hi, Pip. Me, again! I just wanted to say that in the spirit of community and continuing dialogue that I would like to offer to continue the dialogue about your article and not just let the response to it be the end. In our community we value the relationship and value encouragement and support. Please know that I desire very much to offer what support I have to offer and hope that you will contact me if in fact I can be of assistance.