"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, June 14, 2014

Diary of a struggle

WEDNESDAY:  Erased my entire 500-word post and started over.

THURSDAY: This week’s topic on "Two Perspectives in Adult Literacy Research" (2Ps) has sparked my interest. I was all over the place with ideas until I read Lisa's post about resisting the spell checker on the word phronesis. That statement made me smile and gave me a completely different way to think about the essence of our discussion--knowledge.

One of the things I love about our collaborative blog is the way it challenges my ideas.  I relish the opportunity to dialogue with you in this shared space.  I find this public, social-learning to be very appealing.  In a way, it's a phronetic practice.  Right before our eyes, we can see the learning.  Physics envy?  I don't think so.  Social science rules!  Or, maybe not...

FRIDAY: Stuck at a dead end.

SATURDAY:  Just read Bill's comment on Lisa's post.  I'm on the wrong track, again.  This is the second time I've erased a long post and sit, staring at the blank screen.  I' struggling with these concepts and I don't know why.  I was going to write about knowing when to stand your ground, trust what you know, and  resist doing exactly what I'm doing now.  Apparently, there is a disconnect between what I wrote and what I'm doing.  Lisa - I'm caving-in to the 'spell-checker' and changing my answer.  Ugh.

The clock is ticking.

I had it all arranged in my head that episteme and phronesis were different parts of a 'whole' epistemology.  I thought of them as being complementary.  Different epistemologies and different ways of knowing?  I'm stuck.

'Ways of knowing' takes me back to the beginning of this program. There,  I was focused on learning about these ideas, but not yet able to look so critically in the mirror at myself.  Now we're discussing ways of studying ways of knowing.  If I were to look in the mirror now, I would describe myself as being more comfortable with episteme.  I seek discrete facts and ways to connect them.  I'm trying to do that right now!

I want to be a person who take a phronetic approach to studying literacy.  I want to think of myself as someone who doesn't judge and is able to see something for more than the sum of its discrete parts.    However, I apparently have a need to connect, categorize, and generalize.  How does this cloud what I want to do?

In one of the previous versions of this post  I wrote that social scientists are the research machines in their fields.  We are the -scopes and -graphs and tools that gather data.  As such,  we must be transparent about our perspectives and biases because they affect what we see and how we interpret it.  It is not possible to not have a way of knowing that is present in our work.  A way of knowing is part of our identity and part of our work.  There I go making connections again.  I'm hitting the publish button.



  1. Hi Susan,
    I liked your thought process and your post as a whole. Like Lisa, I too, would have liked to have read your original post. On my end, as a rule, I generally avoid reading other posts/comments until I've submitted mine. I don't want outside influences throwing a monkey in the wrench, so to speak. :-) However, I am rusty with this Blogger® platform and realized I’d forgotten my trusty mouse (I was away from my usual dedicated blogging space), But, I was determined to wing it with my smarts (my learned knowing) and my touch pad. *That in itself was an exercise in phronetic practice; at least I think it was. Needless to say, I muddled through and posted before I left the space I was in. So, I inadvertently read some of yours and Lisa’s posts, and caught a thought here or there. I realized that it's possible, that I too, may have jumbled my understanding between "episteme" and "epistemology". But, I reminded myself that learning is a process and over time, it will all come together. Just like the adult learner struggling with their literacy proficiency, with time and the right tools, it can all come together – or improve; at least I like to think that is true. Fear of getting it wrong, doesn't change the learning. So come on, let’s dig in and embrace the unknown. :)

  2. I enjoyed your diary dialogue, the view inside your head, made me feel more comfortable with my own head - if that makes any sense. I like how you considered episteme and phronesis as complementary. And I agree, that I tend to look for that connection, yet in my original thoughts I was trying so hard to separate the two. Accepting that they are connected makes things fuzzy and clearer at the same time. JG is correct - we just have to dig in and embrace the unknown. Clearly you have been doing a great deal of embracing this week.

  3. Damn I love this dialogue! Susan, you are an awesome writer. Making the lived experience of your thinking transparent provided a glimpse of both episteme and phronesis: am I "off track" is fundamentally an episteme question (am i following the rules?). Owning your "off-trackness" ("I'm pushing the publish button") is phronesis--a value judgment highly contextualized in a crazy (but wonderful) quilt of intellectual tensions and energy, fed from within your thinking and from the world and people (near and far) surrounding you. Awesome!!!!!!!!!


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