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.