Saturday, 13 November 2010

the ideas soup: constructing and reconstructing phd learning

Even though I'm at an early stage in my own PhD journey, I've covered some ground already. I'm thinking right now about how I have picked up 'threads' of ideas and have begun to collect them, even weave some together in an early way. It's got an organic feeling to it.

I remember picking up books far from my reading lists on both my first degree (public administration) and MSc (urban policy and regeneration) - funny that these books (like Bourdieu's "Language and Symbolic Power" and "Outline of a theory of practice") had some resonance with me and I knew they'd be useful. I love the organic part of learning; the chance books, papers, conversations and so on. While these are not enough by themselves - that would be a bit of a naive approach to a large research project, they add a sense of relationship, discovery and excitement that's part of a learning journey.

I took this Wednesday 'off' normal academic work for a 'research and scholarly activity' (RSA) day and grumbled to myself for booking a dentists appointment at 3.10pm. Sitting in the waiting room, I found this article which really helped me move on some thinking - another organic connection. Some of the best things come along while sitting waiting - on the park bench, bus or Dentists!

Writing up my formal PhD proposal was a great (little) milestone for me this week. I'm sure I will edit it, but it allowed me to see how ideas that have been 'collected' over time have had connections. There is something hard about committing ideas to (electronic) paper, but they serve as a launch pad for all sorts of development. Writing an 'overview' makes me think about the next few years of part time study (!).

Because I've got a one year old who wants my attention, I may add to these ideas with another post, but must go. One year olds (or two year olds, four year olds or nine year olds) don't wait!