Friday, 22 June 2012

Reading, writing, drawing, talking and thinking: done in the moments 'in between'

The last time I put together a blog post was quite some time ago. I've been getting on with reading, note making and data collection which I have enjoyed and struggled with. I think most worthwhile reading and writing for me seems to be both - sometimes that's about the process of reading / writing, and that mainly relates to it's disjoined nature. I envy people who have lots of uninterrupted time, but rather than wish I had that, I have developed strategies to work with my patterns of activity. Amazingly, I have been able to use grabbed moments of time to be systematic about my reading. I've discovered what works for me is making notes on / alongside books (I own), writing these up in Evernote, then reflecting on and using them in writing. I have pressed into reading my key authors (GH Mead and Paul Ricoeur) and have realised that it's OK to 'live' with texts I don't fully understand for a while. I guess it's a bit of Jerome Bruner's idea of learning being something that we return to. Returning to words, concepts and metaphors in texts - particularly Ricoeur's - requires the ability to live with not grasping things fully, but approaching things several times, each time catching new aspects and insights, making new connections. I hate moving at slow speeds, however, so have to use notes to help me not slip back.

On the data collection front, I have continued to have an amazing time. It's amazing for me because it's a culmination and development of over fifteen years worth of narrative and visual arts practice. I have the pleasure of working with a small number of leaders of early childhood services in the North East of England. Sessions have been about building and reflecting on narratives of professional identity and selfhood - how these are constructed and used, specifically, how they relate to action with others. Individuals have been prepared to share important and intimate insights, and have put up with my endless questions and interruptions. They are conversations with pictures, not 'interviews'. Recently, nearly all participants noted to me - unprompted - that the sessions had really impacted them and allowed them to think about themselves in ways they had never done before. What a privilege. 

I love being able to step back and review the cartoons I produce summarising (initially) what I think may be significant moments in participants' narratives. We move, arrange, reject and add to images whilst building narrative data. I am looking forward to writing about how this narrative data (all painfully being transcribed by me several words at a time) illustrates and resonates with hermeneutic and pragmatic themes in my reading. 

Over the next few weeks, I'll be continuing to transcribe audio recordings of sessions, reading and note making and thinking about analysis. This last one is needed because I need to engage in another level of analysis (recognising this has already begun in my own work and with participants as per the methodology) before I arrange the final set of sessions with participants, to reflect on these ideas together.

Next week, I attend a two day North East doctoral training course on visual methodologies at Newcastle University. I go with ideas and also to learn and meet others.  I usually don't like conferences, as I'm quite reserved, but when it's something I think I will be able to connect with others about, I am excited. I'm taking samples of my own research visuals, and going with an open mind.