"The whole movement of life is learning" (Krishnamurti). "To be an act of knowing, then, the adult literacy process must engage the learners in the constant problematizing of their existential situations" (Freire). "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free" (Douglass). "I can learn anything I have the desire to learn" (White, S.G.).

Saturday, May 4, 2013

How I See It Now

When I started my 1-2-3 project I simply disliked my artifact, found it to be of little value, and something that needed improvement.  It was just the tip of an iceberg.  As I started my research into my artifact it became bigger, more powerful and something that needed to be abolished; it took my instructional assistant away from me, it gave me no valuable input and I grew to truly despise it.  It was a large iceberg ready to destroy my trip.  By the time I was done my research the hate had become exhausting; I was ready to throw up my hands and say it just doesn’t matter.  I had come to wonder if in truth my artifact had no value?  Had it been simplified so many times over the years that it had become inconsequential?  Was I just going to be plotting a trip around this iceberg and dealing with the waste of time?  This was where I was at the near end.
So I reflected back and wondered again had some of my interviewees been as blas√© about the whole thing as they had seemed?  As my study ended I had taken the electronic version of my artifact to my supervisor and she had like it, she’s planning on implementing a similar example next school year.  I walked away feeling something good might evolve from my work.  Yet, I did ponder Dr. Muth’s questions about my interviewees… Did loyalty to the system prevent me from hearing the whole story during my interviews, or did I miss something?  This week I went back to three of my interviewees and showed them the new form.  After a brief explanation of “my project went well”, “thanks for your input” and “look how things might change, maybe electronic” I just sort of casually tossed out there “what do you think?”

These new encounters could not be called interviews, but I needed to see reactions, to see if I had misread cues from earlier.  I got three different reactions:  First - “Oh, glad to help, looks like it might apply to the IEP more,” this from the general education teacher that had expressed that she taught many individualized students and filled out many un-individualized forms.  She seemed receptive; maybe I had read her correctly.  Second – “Electronic? Hmmm, who is inputting this?” this from my instructional assistant.  She was looking at the work load, logically concerned about her duties.  When I said that “was undetermined at this point” she finally looked closer at the form, and thoughtfully nodded her way through the sections.  Without poking into her brain again, I assumed she weighed her duties and the needs of the students and decided she would do her job as she always did as she respects the system.  Third – “Why change it?” this from the general educator that completes the forms in the mailroom.  When I shrugged he looked down at it.  “Electronic might be easy”, he added.  I can’t help but think his initial reaction was true, and his follow up question was to satisfy my need for him to speak.  He scanned the form and handed it back.  I still don’t know where he stands; his apparent lack of concern still grates on me.  If he feels more it's secret.  He’s just going to do what needs to be done by the system.

Now I ask myself if it is possible to discredit full conversations with a 30 second recap?  Probably not, but in this day and age when people are told by the media to feel lucky that they have jobs, do people resist the system in silence?  Probably; I suspect they were silent with me even in our 30 second recap.  The things in the workplace that I don’t agree with I do anyway, and those things that I value I seek to do well.  I use the existing artifact because I was told to by the system, now I am hoping to see a change in the future so what I silently resisted can now have value for me.  Maybe I've found a way to melt some of the iceberg down, live with it and maybe I'll eventually come to stake a claim in the change.


  1. Lisa, I know what you mean - the projects (everyone's I think) helped us to look closer at what was "bugging" us about the literacy events we chose. Your post reminds me of something I have learned over the last ten or so years - it is one of those things that takes practice so it took me a long time to get it :-(

    And that is three precepts of change: Awareness, Acceptance, Action.

    As I am sitting here thinking on this, it might be better in a post than a response, but I think each of us has become more "aware" of our own biases, as well as institutional "reasoning" concerning our artifacts. As I read over the posts for the last couple of weeks, I see traces of "acceptance" as we ponder our projects post-hoc. I have a feeling that the "action" step can't be far behind ...

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  3. Hi Lisa, your presentation was great! Although you have a strong feeling against the artifact, you did a nice job acknowledging it and presenting us the whole picture. I did see different perspectives about the artifact. When proposing the research, we were supposed to choose an artifact that we believe there is tension around it. Therefore, since we have opinions about it, we are great sources and data ourselves.
    Also, it is great to know that your superviser sees the value of your research (of course she would) and it will lead to some organizational changes. I think this is one of the most rewarding moment for a researcher :)

  4. Lisa, your efforts to go back and check with some of your original participants is awesome! And how insightful of you to think to consider whether or not their new responses mirror what you had taken away from their first. The interviewee that admitted that he fills them out in the mailroom still makes me laugh, as his value placement in regards to these forms is pretty obvious. I wonder if the online version is better for more ways than perhaps even realized. For in his case, his need for "easy" is met and yet will he take more time to actually read it? When I go to the mailroom I am usually in a hurry and want to quickly process as much as I can. But when I’m at my desk, I take a bit more time to look at things. So will he too I wonder? One can only hope. I am so excited that you may have found a new avenue as a result of this project; I too am inspired by how much more I took away than expected!

  5. Lisa, I echo your classmates’ kudos for return to the respondents for a second consideration. Because getting to the cultural level of experiences is so difficult, it is likely that the impossible time frame I gave you was the biggest culprit. There are some landmark research studies that built a return visit into their field work. In one famous study Annette Lareau called “Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life” she interviewed two groups of people, then summarized their themes in powerpoint presentaitons, and then returned to the two groups. EXCEPT: she asked each group to “critique” the themes Lareau found from OTHER group. In this way the participants were freer and more open about their feelings because they were directed toward another context, slightly removed from their own. I am not doing a very good job of explaining this here, but I hope it suggests to you that getting at values and believes is damn difficult, and sometimes has to be approached from the side, or in other ways. So don’t be too hard on yourself about the fidelity of the results you got. What matters most is knowing what you’ve you’ve got andf what it takes to go deeper!


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this post. Diverse opinions are welcomed.