Finding the words: si fragile, mais ça marche #MyResearch

I remember when my children had cheeks I could squeeze. They were none of them cuddly with rolls, all destined to be pelicans to a mother duck, but my memories are all of me trying not to hug them all the time.

Their play fascinated me. I peered around corners and doors, lest I got sent back to the kitchen because I dared spy on them as they babbled to themselves and played with toys. My son’s building blocks looked exactly like this image below; worn (from chewing, no doubt) with softened edges. They stacked into a little wheeled tray and he pulled the tray on a short red string. He hauled it around and loved to stack the blocks. My fascination with how he stacked them with reckless abandon…I hardly know what I enjoyed the most. The blocks barely balanced on top of each other as he reached down and picked up one, feeding it to his stacking hand as he continued to build it taller and taller; he needed to stand up as the blocks grew in height. I wanted to rush over and hold my hands around the teetering alpha-melange lest it fall over; how could those blocks perch one on top of the other? 17. .now 20…at 23…and crash! The rickety chimney collapsed. He had kicked it down and gleefully began to stack once more.

Photo by Susan Holt Simpson on Unsplash

Where am I with my rickety tower?

The words are clumsily combined as I re-read my literature review, one week post submission. It’s not THE lit review, but it’s a miniature version, based on the work I did this summer.

Two of those blocks are Finlay and Farrell; I see them duelling in my write up as they discuss reflective practice and how it was, is and should be, in language teaching and other disciplines. Those blocks are somewhere near the middle.

I’ve done a fair job of summarizing the ethics and challenges of conducting research online as well as writing about netnography; my overview of social network analysis provides a clear synopsis of its benefits within the context of my planned research.

The section on language teacher education and professional development is stronger than I thought when I finished writing it last week; I’ve introduced some questions about the types of professional development teachers engage in, dialogic mediation, and provided a good start to analysing professional learning networks. These topics are closer to the bottom of my building blocks. Somewhere nearby is a section about online learning.

But what is my base?

Lydia&Sebastien – Où Seras-Tu

I have no base, no theoretical or conceptual framework.

And my stack is wobbly without support. Some may make a case that I should have started there, with the theory. But how could I frame my literature review when I was still exploring methods and data analysis tools and deciding how far to cast my professional development net? I never managed to find a theoretical framework for my master’s thesis. That won’t fly this time.

So now I explore support for my tower. I have some ideas.

I think my next post will reflect on another part of the work I did this summer: my first presentation of my pilot project, and the feedback I received. I may also have a post in me about the organisation process – when is the right time during the PhD to start writing the dissertation?


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