Another push to keep it brief this week! Although I may be about as successful as last week!
As Mrs Llama had the day off work I departed to the Uni at the tail end of the commuter rush, and still managed to get caught in tailbacks thanks to the flooding round about these parts. Spent the day sat in the Clifton Campus Library finishing off reading Robert Cialdini‘s excellent book on the psychology of influence. I’d been looking for an accessible work to start with on this subject, and picked this one up more or less at random – and was rather delighted by both its authority and readability. While I’ll need to read around the subject a whole lot more, I think I’ve gotten enough from this work to certainly write this part of my first project approval form (aka RD1PA – you’ll be hearing more about this in time!). I then started in on a multi-author work (he said, sounding sadly like a librarian again) on open education. It’s a field I’ve been around the fringes of for some time, and I want to see if I can bring some elements of OER into my research to broaden the focus a little bit; or at least to place my work in the broader context. The book I’ve got has some useful bits in it that I’ll talk about over the next couple of days, although the early chapters have been a little disappointingly techy heavy and not especially engaging from my perspective.
That said having read a dozen or so pages, I suddenly felt inspired to attack and rework my draft research proposal with a vengeance for an hour. So I’ve managed to make a little progress on this today which I didn’t expect to. Tomorrow my plan is really have a focussed day editing, writing, rewriting and reworking this into a better state – as well as starting to plug those elements I need to into the RD1PA form.
Mrs Llama left on a two day business trip today before dawn (eep!) so I decided to get up bright and early and crack on, with the plan being to finish early as a reward to myself. Sadly this was slightly frustrated by returning to my slumber and promptly sleeping through the alarm. For some reason this left me rather shattered when I did finally manage to climb out of bed, and hence my focussed day rather turned into a hotchpotch of trying to get the best out of what time, energy and concentration I could muster. I did some rewriting of my research proposal, and typed that up and then spent the afternoon reading some more of the OER book. Not the most profitable of days, but at least I made a small amount of progress.
A packed, campus based day! The morning was spent, after a flying library visit – so warm in contrast to my chilly house – talking with my fellow department/research group PhDs. Do you know I realise on writing this that I’m still not quite clear if we’re all in the same dept or group, or simply share the same core supervisors. No matter, they are a lovely bunch to whom it was a delight to listen We’d agreed to talk about our own research, and rather foolishly I volunteered to go first. I think of all the projects covered mine was the one that sounded the most embryonic by the end of the session (eek!), and frankly I was humbled listening to what some of the others are working on. Did manage to pick up some methodology tips and advice on theory too, something I’m going to come back to shortly on this blog. We’re not meeting again until mid-January due to the vacation but I hope I do run into some of them in the meantime when I am on campus.
Oh, and I’m a)the token Brit and b)the token Man of out little group. Fine by me!
No time for a lunch break, as I belted over to my RPC sessions. The first one, entitled Doing Theory and Not Letting Theory Do You was one I was very keen to attend. It was very nerve-wracking as I’m not at all comfortable with my theory w.r.t. my research proposal; which I talk about more in this post. As the professor went around the class asking each person in turn about their underpinnings I was all ready to admit my somewhat stymied position…and then he moved on. Somehow I had developed an invisibility field. Not for the first time, as normally when I try to get served in pubs or bars I seem to fade into the background. Maybe I need to wear less black?
I scribbled notes down, in the hope that it might give me some more guidance later – and suddenly the tutor could see me as he addressed my table of three directly “You three are working on areas that are a bit more unusual, tell me about your thoughts on theory?”. High of hope that I had finally materialised from inside the SEP field that had sprung up around me, I waited as my two table compatriots held forth with a few thoughts…and then the tutor darted over to ask someone on the other side of the room.
Honestly, I’ve turned into Glyph from Halo Jones! I’m there but somehow no one can quite see me. *sigh* Story of my life it seems. Anyone got a robotic dog I can borrow?
With my mind still troubled by theory concerns, we moved onto the philosophy session on Heidegger. I’m glad I’d done some background reading on the topic beforehand as this perhaps won the award for the least comprehensible session yet. I also continued to develop my hypotheses that philosophers are disconnected from the concept of time, and hence this is why they never reach the end of their lecture notes in a session. It would go a long way to explain the reams of material we seem to have skipped over in each session (how Heideggerian of me! I was listening it seems) 😉
It’s a pity as the philosophy lectures (despite their somewhat baffling content) are a high spot of the week. I just wish I had the spare time/energy to read around the topics more – but frankly with all the other stuff I’m having to read right now, those 2hrs (or 90 minutes as they’ve turned into) is about all the time I have to spare!
Hence, came home from Uni on Wednesday night in a real blue funk, which is a crying shame given that the day had started out on such a high note.
Relocated from the conservatory office today as the temperature dipped below freezing outside, and was somewhere between 4-5DegsC inside. The dining table at least was somewhere around 17DegsC, and thanks to intermittent use of the oil heater stayed around there all day. Spent the day reading through social research methods and theory books and trying to fill in all the gaps in my head, and my research proposal. I’ve had a productive day, even though it’s been largely reading a variety of sources and writing up notes on the various aspects. Think I’ll need to do the same to tomorrow if I’m to stand even an outside chance at having a rough draft of my proposal done by the latter half of next week. Still feel a bit down about the whole thing at the moment, and could do with some cheering up or distraction.
Discovery of the day – those bright coloured sticky tab things that you put inside books to mark pages – a) they’re actually called sticky tabs on most websites (thought they might have a more technical name) and b) librarians around the country get hopping mad when you take pictures of your books with them inside. As if I’d leave them in when I return my books.
Another day in the dining room working – since my stapler had frost on it in the conservatory (did I mention my house gets quite cold?). Chickens very unimpressed by weather and lack of attention all day as a result.
Woke up feeling optimistic, which is odd as I had a terrible night’s sleep worrying about the PhD. Not quite sure then that the day dawned with me feeling positive!. Maybe by just focussing on writing this document and doing focussed background reading on method and theory my brain is slowly coming to terms with what it has to do. Certainly I found a real sense of satisfaction with what I got done today as the proposal took shape. There is still a lot of crap I have to edit out, and references to add in to support statements; but there is a shape. So perhaps on reflection Wednesday’s session was the moment of terror/kick up the backside I needed to refocus in on this. As it is when I downed tools sometime after 5pm tonight it wasn’t with relief, it was more with a sense of satisfaction and knowing that when I pick it up on Monday it’ll hopefully continue to all slowly coalesce.
In my next post, I’ll talk a bit more about my struggles with theory…which incidentally will be post 100 for this blog. There may be cake!