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‘A journey to the centre’ – exploring action research to explain my emerging living-educational-theory and my work to empower local practitioners in policy and practice in Bangladesh.

‘A journey to the centre’ – exploring action research to explain my emerging living-educational-theory and my work to empower local practitioners in policy and practice in Bangladesh.

by Faria Tofail -
Number of replies: 12

This paper looks at a study conducted in Bangladesh for my doctoral research with university teachers against the backdrop of policy level introduction of communicative approach to English Language Teaching and dissatisfaction of different stakeholders, particularly teachers, with curricular reform that was not resulting in learners’ ‘increased proficiency’. A key reason typically given was ‘teacher resistance’; teachers’ perceived unwillingness to incorporate communicative principles in their teaching. Despite considerable consensus about the efficacy of teacher-research, what practitioners from postcolonial communities actually say, think or believe about this and the influence on practice of teachers engaging in teacher-research has remained considerably under-reported. I therefore instigated a project with colleagues to explore whether researching collaboratively promoted a better understanding of their beliefs and policy reforms, and enabled them to make informed choices by devising context-sensitive pedagogies in their teaching-learning contexts.

The process of initiating and facilitating collaborative research with colleagues led me to critically reflect on my own beliefs, practices and lived experiences as an ELT practitioner which, while largely shaping my embodied values has hitherto remained implicit. Through critically reflecting on my professional journey I clarify my previously unarticulated values and create my living-educational-theory. Based on my research findings I conclude with how I hope to enhance my educational influence in the learning of social formations, such as the private university I worked for and some recommendations for the Bangladesh government.


In reply to Faria Tofail

Re: ‘A journey to the centre’ – exploring action research to explain my emerging living-educational-theory and my work to empower local practitioners in policy and practice in Bangladesh.

by Caitriona McDonagh -
Dear Faria,
Your paper was a lovely read.
I am currently working in teacher education in Ireland. Action research for professional development has been a qualification requirement here for teachers for a number of years. Few colleges adopted a self-study action research approach and hence teachers did not realise the relevance of research in practice. Like you I am trying to understand how this might be changed and hopefully to influence a change.
In reviewing your paper I found that it is meets many of the criteria for publication.
I am attaching your paper with my comments on it, many of which are editorial. At the bottom of your paper you will find the "Guidance for author's and reviewers' conversation in the open review space" which will let you know how I feel you have achieved the publishing criteria.

Below are some suggestions as to what you need to attend to in order for your paper to meet those criteria, 
 
1. You have included a clearly written description and explanation of the context(s), purposes, and outcomes of the research. I think the paper would benefit if you added a little more data showing the processes of your research. I imagine you have far too much data for this paper, but some picture/ diagrams artefacts might help your readers to visualise what The Project actually looked like  
2. Your knowledge claims are clear, but it would be useful to refer to how you validated them. Validation is implicit in this paper but it might be enhanced by making the validation processes more explicit.  
3. There are some copy-editing errors which need to be amended such as missing words or additional words. I have commented on some of these in your paper (attached).  

I hope they will be of some use. They don't require any major rewriting.  
Best wishes
Caitriona
In reply to Caitriona McDonagh

Re: ‘A journey to the centre’ – exploring action research to explain my emerging living-educational-theory and my work to empower local practitioners in policy and practice in Bangladesh.

by Faria Tofail -
Dear Caitriona,
I want to start with a huge thanks for taking time to give me a comprehensive feedback on the paper. I found it very helpful. Your feedback made me happy, as doing this research was quite challenging for a lot of reasons (personal and academic) and the whole duration of my EdD, I was often assailed by questions and doubts that if others would see any value in the kind of research I was pursuing. So your feedback provided both a strong validation and incentive to continue what I have always been passionate about.

Regarding making the validation processes more explicit in the paper I have two observations.
Firstly, on adding more data on the Action research project: I feel that the focus of my paper was to discover the living ‘I’, my embodied values which remained implicit and largely ignored while conducting my research project and create an account of my Living-Educational-Theory. Given the depth and length of the AR project, and the limited scope of the paper (it’s 12,000 words already!), even describing it briefly and adding more data would entail chopping off substantial part of the current content, which in my opinion, would detract from the focus and cohesion of the paper.
Secondly, regarding making my living-educational theory explicit in the paper: I guess that the entire exercise of writing the present paper was to understand and articulate my tacit values and make it explicit. Thus even though my educational journey and research have been motivated by the negation of my values which I was not aware of until now, trying to create an explanation for my Living educational theory has brought these values to the fore and shown me its influence in shaping my practice and identity. To be honest, I have not yet had the opportunity to apply my values explicitly in actual practice and research, since I have only become aware of them in the course of writing the EJOLTS paper. I have made suggestions to the Bangladesh government based on these values which form my explanatory principles and living standards of judgement. I plan to follow these recommendations in the future. As such, the bulk of my paper is primarily focussed on the process of making these implicit values explicit. However, to clarify my position, I have added a few sentences in the conclusion.

I agree with you that it would have been great if I could add more data. In fact, my previous few drafts were quite data heavy. Since I was trying to write a paper from my thesis which had multiple strands, I was having difficulty to maintain a single focus, Marie in her immense patience and kind guidance steered me to the current direction following many drafts, discussions and encouragements. I do plan to write another paper using my data (I am still reeling from the intense process of writing the current one and need some recovery time). If you are still interested I will send you a copy. On that note could you suggest some journals for publications on teacher research?

To answer your queries, I have not sent this to the central government of Dhaka. Right after my viva, Professor Whitehead very kindly sent an email to the Educational Ministry and other relevant departments citing how this research could enhance ELT and teacher research in Bangladesh and to contact us if they were interested. I haven’t heard from anyone and I doubt Professor Whitehead has either. I plan to visit Bangladesh and start a bigger project at my university involving more teachers and make it a collaborative project, since I am based in the UK. If we can generate interest which I believe we will, we can then approach the government and other relevant bodies. But these are long term plans and given the current world situation I guess we will have to wait to materialize this.

So, that’s all from me. Wish you success with your project and I will be really interested to read about it when you publish and if you kindly send me the link. Take care and thanks for your support and comments.
Best wishes,
Faria
In reply to Faria Tofail

Re: ‘A journey to the centre’ – exploring action research to explain my emerging living-educational-theory and my work to empower local practitioners in policy and practice in Bangladesh.

by Caitriona McDonagh -
Dear Faria,
Thanks for your thoughtful response.
I appreciate your addition to the conclusion of your paper. In it you give your understanding of the validation of your Living Educational Theory.
You will be glad to hear that I believe your paper now meets the criteria necessary for publication (see attached guidance sheet) and am recommending it to the editorial board. Any further typos etc will be sorted prior to publication. 
Looking forward to reading it in the journal.
Best wishes for your future work
Caitriona
In reply to Faria Tofail

Re: ‘A journey to the centre’ – exploring action research to explain my emerging living-educational-theory and my work to empower local practitioners in policy and practice in Bangladesh.

by David Wright -
Hullo Faria,
There were many things I liked about your paper. The main thing was the integrity of the inquiry. Included within this is a depth of insight accompanied by a personal vulnerability that acknowledges the challenges of approaching your subject matter with a critical eye, that faults existing assumptions and practices, This can only be done effectively with experience, insight and a genuine desire to have an impact. I hope your insights will be acknowledged and generate conversation, leading to changes in policy that facilitates better teacher education practices through local site-based research.
I found it interesting that your living theory placed the education process at the centre: this is a living education theory (albeit one that you can both understand and find fault with). The interaction between the enactment of this theory and the theorising that you have arrived at through your own in-depth, reflective analysis - aided by your exposure to action research and living theory - is the core of the paper. It is not so much your learning but the context of your learning and the need for that context to change, for the benefit of the learning community. I guess I am trying to say that I appreciated that your study (centred on self-learning) is not self absorbed. Your absorption is in your culture. It generates, indeed, it requires your absorption. In this respect my response to your paper is more an issue of seeking clarification, rather than challenging understanding or method. There are places where your communication could be more effective. Some of these are grammatical issues, in other places the writing deserves comment. You have a tendency to write over-long sentences. These sentences often have several focal points, and they tend to lose their potency as they continue. I have marked instances where these could be rewritten, to good effect. I will attach my track change copy of your paper. In this you will find questions and suggestions that will (I hope) help you to arrive at a more polished paper. As it is I think this paper is of a high quality and almost ready for publication. Now... I will submit this and then attempt to attach my feedback.
Thanks,
David Wright
In reply to David Wright

Re: ‘A journey to the centre’ – exploring action research to explain my emerging living-educational-theory and my work to empower local practitioners in policy and practice in Bangladesh.

by Faria Tofail -
Dear David,
Many thanks for going through my paper and providing such detailed feedback. Your observations and comments have corroborated what I passionately believe in. It has definitely encouraged me to continue my mission of promoting teacher research to ensure empowerment and equity of local ELT practitioners in my context.
I have carefully edited the paper and taken into account the feedback you have provided. In the few instances where I kept the original texts I felt that they conveyed what I wanted to say more accurately.
Take care and huge thanks once again for taking time to read the paper and give your valuable comments.
Very best wishes,
Faria
In reply to Faria Tofail

Re: ‘A journey to the centre’ – exploring action research to explain my emerging living-educational-theory and my work to empower local practitioners in policy and practice in Bangladesh.

by Parbati Dhungana -
‘A journey to the centre’ – exploring action research to explain my emerging living-educational-theory and my work to empower local practitioners in policy and practice in Bangladesh.

Dear Faria,

I enjoyed reading your paper. I loved the way you presented your research journey. I found the research context similar to my country, Nepal. I was eager to know the results while going through your journey. I am sure your study influenced you, your colleagues and your workplace in a great deal, more than you articulated here.

However, I observed a few areas that could be addressed to add the quality of the paper. Please go through them. Then the paper will be ready to go for publication!

Best wishes!
In reply to Faria Tofail

Re: ‘A journey to the centre’ – exploring action research to explain my emerging living-educational-theory and my work to empower local practitioners in policy and practice in Bangladesh.

by Parbati Dhungana -
In reply to Parbati Dhungana

Re: ‘A journey to the centre’ – exploring action research to explain my emerging living-educational-theory and my work to empower local practitioners in policy and practice in Bangladesh.

by Faria Tofail -
Dear Parbati,
Many thanks for your feedback and observations. I have tried my best to address them in my paper.
I guess our contexts would be pretty similar so far ELT is concerned. I am interested to know what the general attitude towards English is in Nepal, given it is one of the very few countries that was not colonized. Languages - both the state language Bangla and English, the language of the ex-colonialists and currently a foreign language, loom very large in the collective psyche and identity formation of the Bengalis. Hence, learning English in my context is not simply just learning another language as my paper illustrates. But then, access to English, especially in the developing and periphery contexts has always been the prerogative of the elites.
Many thanks for your kind words but I have had not much scope to disseminate my findings. I just finished my doctorate in September and with the pandemic restrictions globally I am afraid I will have to wait longer to apply my research for example, in a larger scale involving more teachers. As I said, publishing in EJOLTS will be my first step in the journey of thousand miles in disseminating my findings and promoting teacher research in my context in the future!
Best wishes,
Faria
In reply to Faria Tofail

Re: ‘A journey to the centre’ – exploring action research to explain my emerging living-educational-theory and my work to empower local practitioners in policy and practice in Bangladesh.

by Faria Tofail -

Dear All,

Many thanks for your feedback on the paper. Please find the updated version attached for your kind perusal.

In reply to Faria Tofail

Re: ‘A journey to the centre’ – exploring action research to explain my emerging living-educational-theory and my work to empower local practitioners in policy and practice in Bangladesh.

by Parbati Dhungana -
Dear Faria
I am touched by your words! I understand the complexities of focusing on one issue from a PhD project and bringing into a paper to discuss. I went through the same journey.
Now, you are ready! I don't have any additional comments. I believe your paper meets the criteria for publication. Congratulations!
In reply to Faria Tofail

Re: ‘A journey to the centre’ – exploring action research to explain my emerging living-educational-theory and my work to empower local practitioners in policy and practice in Bangladesh.

by David Wright -
Thank you Faria,
This paper is a tribute to your personal and professsional endeavour. There is much to be admired in the process and, more importantly, the rationale that sites behind the process. I think the paper is worthy of publication,
Regards,
David