Hi Marie. I am delighted to act as a reviewer for this exciting paper. And it is exciting, because I think it's doing something we haven't yet seen so explicitly in an article for EJOLTS before. However, I am not sure about this, so it's something we need to discuss. Read on!
I have been through your text with my usual forensic approach in terms of style and so on, but haven't made many qualitative comments, which I want to do here. And by the way, one of the things I really value about this paper is the clarity of the language you use in order to communicate very difficult ideas. It's a pleasure to read from beginning to end. Thank you.
I have two points to make, which I pose more from a sense of wishing for a dialogue with you rather than any changes I feel you have to make in order for me to agree to the paper's publication. The two areas are concerned with the intended audience and the aims of the paper as I perceive them. I believe the two are linked and I will write about them together.
Audience and Aims. Your paper, as you state, was originally designed for readers in CARN (the Collaborative Action Research Network), and when I read through the paper the first time, I felt that audience was still discernible. It felt as if you were writing a paper not only about your own practice, but the ideas and values underpinning Living Theory itself because you might have wanted to convince the audience at CARN (perhaps) about its distinctive validity. Then I read the paper again, and saw the possibility of something more profound. And that's connected with the possible aims of the paper as I am now reading it.
Readers of EJOLTS probably don't need to be convinced of the validity of a Living Theory approach to a deepening understanding of one's life as an educational professional within social contexts. And yet there was a sense of the author as teacher about earlier (in particular) sections of the paper. Yet what I am now seeing is a paper that, were it to be slightly altered in focus and emphasis, could show how you have improved the living out of your values as you seem - to me at any rate - to have refined your theoretical understanding of the parameters of what Living Theory is - in terms of your best thinking to date (McNiff, 1992). And this is what I am seeing you presenting to the EJOLTS audience.
In the Editoria Board, for example, we have spent many hours over the last few months discussing precisely what it means to ask what this thing, Living (Educational) Theory, is (Mellett et al. 1999). I know that recent discussions have made me question what I can say with any finality about Living Theory. However, when I read your paper I sensed there are statements you're making that other Living Theorists might very well concur with, and as such this itself could make a very useful vehicle for discussion within EJOLTS and beyond about Living Theory as both a paradigm in its own right, and as a social movement.
The aim that comes most strongly out of the paper for me, therefore, isn't one that you state as yours and I most certainly don't want to hegemonise any aspect of this review process by saying that your aim SHOULD BE about showing us both your practice and theory in terms of your developing insights into Living Theory. I am wondering, though, if you can see what I see, now that I've stated it, or am I shooting at the moon here? If you don't - and that's fine - then I would question the clarity of the audience for this paper, and that would be my only comment about changes in the paper I would recommend you making.
I hope this makes some sort of sense, Marie. If it doesn't, then do let's have a dialogue about it. I may be entirely off the point here and speaking to an agenda that is actually only mine.
Love from, Moira