My question springs from the questions of others and from our interactions at the Editorial and Post-doctoral meeting held via Skype. Here I am not answering the questions raised by others but their questions or a word from the questions they ask act as a springboard for my thoughts.
Being a part of the EJOLTS community and working on the editorial team has strengthened my practice. Let me go back explain. I am a self-employed teacher and a teacher trainer this makes me rather lonely, as in India I do not have anyone to reach out to. However, being on the Editorial board of EJOLTS and as a part of the EJOLTS community, I have the best educational researchers as my critical friends. Thus interacting with them supports, broaden, improves and reinforces my thoughts. This act of camaraderie enables me to gain clarity concerning my practice and more importantly, with regards to my values.
Marie asks "What can be learned from how we have tried to develop our democratic ways of working to create EJOLTs together?" It is the democratic way we work that has enabled me to grow as a teacher, researcher, and mentor. What moved me most was the way the editorial team worked with Neema Parekh, a student- teacher who works in one of the poorest villages of Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India. Neema had never written a research paper before and to add to her woes her English is weak. Her paper was definitely not acceptable for publication for but her ideas and the work carried out by her was beautiful. Neema took a wonderful journey of learning http://ejolts.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=182. Most importantly I learned so much and understood the all-embracing quality of a living theorist when I saw Moira working with Neema.
Pip asks "How and why do we discover ourselves as living contradictions?" Mine was a Living-educational-theory thesis. However, I realized the issue of living as a contradiction, much before I even read Jack’s papers, when I confronted my fallible pedagogy (http://www.actionresearch.net/living/rawalpdf/Chapter5.pdf , p.124). I discovered myself as a living contradiction in my work and found that this discovery and addressing it has matured my work (http://ejolts.net/drupal/node/299 ). It is our conversations that have strengthened my values, help me to embrace them and believe in them. Our conversations give me the power to believe that maintaining my commitment to my values will empower my work. For example, as I was to start a huge scaled up teacher training program Jackie cautioned me and suggested:
- Try to find charismatic teachers to become mentors
- Get the teachers to write the research and, most importantly
- I should not stubbornly hold on to my ideas but let them go; the minute I teach them the idea is theirs and I should not insist that they teach the life skills program only the way I teach them or follow it ditto; this way my ideas will evolve, they will grow, there will be progress.
It was Jackie’s final comment that made me stop and think. I often quote the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, verse 47-48 “You are qualified simply with regards to action, never with regards to its result. Do your duty to the best of your ability, O Arjuna, having abandoned attachment,undertake action…evenly disposed as to their success or failure.”
Yet I find it difficult to abandon attachment to my work! Realising I am a living contradiction actually empowers me. It enables me to adopt a flexible approach while teaching, which is analogous to Freire’s (1970) dialogic education. I can challenge myself, question my practice and then I am in a position to re-learn, re-shape and adhere to the values that matter most to me.
Pete asks "What use has all this effort been?" Living-educational-theory acts as an ‘equaliser’; it allows me to find ways to expand teacher education and make it more inclusive. Living-educational-theory helps me to extend a hand to children and adults who have suffered what Kozol (1991) describes a ‘savage inequality’. I do not want to make huge claims, I would just like to believe that I extended a hand.
Which brings me to my question:
How can my living educational theory enable me to overcome my ahankar [ego] and thus help me gain steerta [stability/ serenity] to my practice?
ahankar is a Hindi word which means -ego/ pride; steerta is a Hindi word which means -stability/ serenity