All entries for August 2009
August 23, 2009
Writing about web page http://www.warwickartscentre.co.uk/events/film/coco-before-chanel
I watched the film ‘Coco before Chanel’. I am inspired by Coco’s bravery in penetrating the existing fashion world with her own style. But then she based her design on her understanding of philosophy. She used fashion as an arena to project her philosophical thinking—simplicity. Herewith her saying: “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance”. Her principle of design is: simple, comfortable and revealing.
Like clothing, learning should be simple, comfortable and revealing. It should be simple because learning process is a means to acquire knowledge and skills pragmatically, therefore the focus should be applicability of the learning outcome, not the learning process itself—leave it to learning theorists to think about and deal with the process.
Learning should be comfortable before the effectiveness and efficiency could be at its optimum level. Proves are needed to justify this claim though.
Learning should also be revealing. Learning should not be seen as an end itself; instead the completion of one learning should mark the beginning of another if not several, hence the idea of revealing more potential of learning area and opportunities.
August 14, 2009
September 2009 will be the 18th month of my doctoral research study—where I am going to enter the so-called mid-doctorate doldrums.
For the past few days, as I need to define and redefine all the key concepts and issues associated with my research question, I relearn epistemology, which is aka theory of knowledge (TOK). To avoid being bombarded by tones of philosophical jargons, I chose the text book written for IB Diploma students as the key reading text. The author, Lagemaat used the following analogy to explain how we could examine whether our beliefs are reasonable or not:
“…our position is like that of a sailor who has to rebuild his ship while still at sea. If he dismantles the ship completely and tries to rebuild it from scratch, he will drown. His only option is to rebuild it piece by piece.”
In the analogy, Lagemaat used ship to represent the existing beliefs we hold and rebuilding is equivalent to reconstructing our beliefs. To me this analogy is also suitable for social scientists who has to refine their research design or even redesign the whole research while being in the mid-doctorate journey. If they discount the work done completely and try to restart it from scratch, they will fail to finish on time. Their only option is to refine it phase by phase.
To date, I have recorded 10 major and minor changes made upon my research design. Coping with the changes is really challenging if not exhausting, and such changes must be done to justify the research progress and the work done. Many days and nights of effort were put into this task, but the most crucial element is the occurrence of the “blink” moment (see Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink: The power of thinking without thinking). It doesn’t matter how much time I spent on thinking or writing, it is the quality of output that matters. When the “blink” moment occurs, I need to capture the golden chance and have my ideas recorded—through voice recorder, mobile phone, sms, parking tickets, tissue papers, etc. I have quite a lot of text messages which I sent to myself; I recorded a lot of my voice using think aloud methods; I have a lot of Post-it notes on my desk; I carry my voice recorder along most of the time; I will stop doing whatever I am doing to capture those moments. Even when I am driving, I will stop the car and jot down some notes. I know and people around me know that I am passionate about doing research. Is this the symptom of mid-doctorate doldrums? Or is it the sign of permanent head damage (PhD)? I am not sure, and please don’t tell me the answer unless you heard that I have completed my PhD. Thank you in advance.
Indeed, doing PhD is tiring especially when it becomes the core mission of life. A lot people advice me not to get myself burnt-out, of course I won’t. Else I won’t have time writing this blog, and I do realise the danger of being burnt-out. My current strategy is to finish it asap—before the process burns me out. Thanks to my undergrad lecturers and ex-bosses in Malaysia, they have me well-trained. To them, this is really nothing.
Anyway, I do reward myself once awhile. I include activities like travelling with friends, travelling alone, watching movies, listening to music, etc into my daily living. My next reward is to visit my family and friends in Malaysia in September. After that, I will start to learn French and Ancient Philosophy in autumn term.