Dear Judy, Sabine, Lynda, Norma, Martin, Kristen, Laurie, Diane, Sebastien, Denise,
I wrote these pieces before noticing Moira and Eleanor's comments.
I love your paper for its novel and extremely useful methodology that solves the dilemma of writing together democratically, by giving equal weight to all knowledge contributions, and creating a rich united account that keeps individuals in view. I found it believable and familiar, for the values involved, strength, passion, creativity, commitment, disappointments and frustrations. Brilliant.
We do not have the strength needed to create the braid
To produce the sash
But, strong ropes are braided from individual, weaker threads.” love it.
The videos are perfect for making it clear what you did and for following each individual in your contributions to the whole. The added bonus is in being able to see you all in action with the qualities of interaction implied by the methodology, and the naturally observable emotions. I am definitely going to see if the Skype and face to face research groups I belong to find braiding in this way a possible solution to our writing conundrum.
I also like how you included literature in the braids, melding in different influences in the creation of your method for your research purposes. I see the range of literature used more as exemplars for the emergence of the methodology than being critically reviewed. I shall try to explain why I see this as problematic in the case of Living Theory methodology and EJOLTS. I am using the EJOLTS rubric for reviewing Values and Voices for the journal. Your paper is primarily a Narrative Inquiry but the text also refers to action research and to Living Theory research.
I see each author is clear about the values you hold and most of you say that you have held these values all of your careers. Some of you refer to recognising yourselves trying to realise your values in practice while also recognising times when it is not possible. This is the problem to be solved. Values not possible/denied in real-life reality don’t appear to be used to explore the problem further in this paper. Similarly I don’t see them used for evaluation or explanation of why things happen or as focus for the next round of research. I think this arises because the values do not appear to be actively seen in this research, as standards of judgement for accounting for your actions and checking that you actually do as you claim. Living contradictions (values denied in practice) is a central tenet of Living Theory methodology but appears to be missing here. When values are central to research-in-practice they inevitably change in the course of the exploration about why contradictions occur (Moira Laidlaw,1996). Change is a central feature of action research and it is hard to identify it in this paper.
It may be that you didn’t intend using living theory in this way. Your intention was to map individual and shared experiences and influence others’ practice including those interested in teacher development in the highest positions. I love the mapping and writing and find the themes, passions and struggles all very familiar and valid. But I don’t see much action in the research or much evidence of how the actions from the research has changed anything in classrooms or other places. This is where I see a lost opportunity but not a problem for publishing this paper. I will try to explain how you could name it as a future research intention.
I was emotionally moved by the end of the paper when the team seemed so down-hearted by colleagues absent from the conference, people in power not seeing value in what you are doing and a feeling of hopelessness about it. (I’ve been there) It seems to me that if you all set about collecting evidence of how you use your values in your practice, you could show you that you make a difference and have a way to explain of why your values are important to effective educational practice. You could go further by using your values as standards for evaluating/ checking/validating/ demonstrating that you actually do as you claim. This could be the next phase of your research to restore hope and help find tangible persuasive evidence of your efficacy in presenting your knowledge beyond the group. This is the evidence relevant to EJOLTS that is missing in the paper at present I believe. I hope this makes sense. I am happy to hear your thoughts.