I try to never do something for only one reason

Back when I was classroom teaching, I was also completing my MEd full time. My principal took me to one side and asked me how I managed to do it all – the teaching, the learning and all of the assessment (both as a teacher having to mark 100+ bits of assessment with alarming regularity, and as a student having to complete assessment to be handed in). To put this question in context, she was attempting to complete her own MEd, and wasn’t finding enough time in the day for her to get everything done. Truth be told, she had a two hour commute everyday (each way, by car) and I think that may have had something to do with it.

The advice I gave her, is that I never do anything for only one reason.

If I had an assessment which had to be written on a particular task or theme, I based it around something that I needed to do for work, as consequence I found that my assessment was just that bit richer for the context and based in practice approach I was able to take with it all. I would find a way to make it relate to something that I needed to do anyway, so that what it was that I was doing served a duel purpose. It is an approach which has served me well for many years – and I am about to depart from it.

And I think I am okay with that.

James and the Giant Peach

I have begun at the beginning and continue to try to eat the giant peach that is in front of me. That is about the best metaphor I can think of for this process. The PhD is a peach, a really big one, and I need to find a way to digest it all.

For the past few months I have felt like I am banging my head against the side of the peach, trying to find a way to take the first bite – but that isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. It gave me a headache and I spent too much time thinking about how to cut up said peach and turn it into an alcoholic drink of some type. But I haven’t.

I work best with a plan (or at least a clue). Traditionally I have been given an end point and told that we don’t care how you get there, just go and make your own way. But this has rules I can’t ignore or find a way around. I have to stick to the way that others have done this before me and not just wing it.

So I am making a plan, trying to make this thing, this peach, do what I want it to do.

I want to leave the world of secondary education behind. It’s season has passed for me and I need to find the new thing that drives me. At the moment, for the moment, it is culture and change. Not at an organisational level, but more at the level of a society.

If there is something that the events of the past few months has taught us, it is that there are a whole lot of unhappy people out there. Starting with the rise of the right in Europe, Brexit and then the election of Donald Trump, there is a backlash against something and everything all at once. I want to explore why that is, but first I need to learn how we got here – and then look at what it means for everyone that isn’t caught up in that too.

Today my PhD is a peach – a really giant one. This may change.

You begin at the beginning

Things I have learned today

Currently reading:

Said, E. (1979). Orientalism. 1978. New York: Vintage, 1994.

 

There is something kind of surreal about listening to rain through your headphones, while in a food court reading Orientalism. But that was my afternoon.

The faces and the ‘everyday lives’ of people as they go about their day; drinking coffee with friends; feeding the children; an old man eating noodles for one; the children watching Peppa Pig on a iPad while their parents are at the next table; advertisements for the History Channel, Veep and various football codes on the big screen – and all I could hear was rain.

For the record I have only read the preface and introduction of the book, and because the copy I have access to is the 25th Anniversary Edition I am privy to the updated afterword published in 1994, in the post-Iraq War world.


Aside – That time doesn’t seem as long ago as it actually is. On the day of the beginning of Operation Desert Storm (towards the end of the summer school holidays, January 17 1991) I had been staying with my Aunt in Melbourne doing my reading in preparation for my final year of high school. I got the bus into the city to catch the train home to the farm and accidentally ended up in the middle of an anti-Iraq war protest march. By the time I got back to the North-East, some four hours later, the bombing had started. It was my first and only anti-war rally… perhaps I need to get out more.


I have read parts of Orientalism before as part of my undergraduate (I think it is part of ye olde reading brick), but coming to it from this perspective, as someone trying to find their feet at the beginning stages of figuring it all out, it is different.

What has struck me so far is the discussion of “big facts” v ” the details of the everyday”, as Said is coming from a more literature background I feel that he is going to see more of the everyday – as that is generally the concern of literature. Even that which is seminal in terms of changing the way that people think and conceive of things, is generally a description of the everyday life of individual people.

But I could be wrong.