Making headway #dissertating

I have a schedule for completing my dissertation. I am now on extension, so I absolutely must stick to this schedule. When I started writing for academia, I thought it would be easy because I was a fast typist. Yes, that worked out well, didn’t it. My most recent chapter draft for chapter 2 weighed in at 57 pages. It’s all good, too.

I am working on trimming it down without losing the important connective concepts and topics.

In the meantime, I do have a nice version of chapter 1 done. One of the aspects of this project that has taken so much time is getting my own brain into the game of academia, and then into teacher education. Let’s face it, I am not an educational insider. I have come into the field from the outside, and then fought my way into the labyrinth of history, culture, and normative practice that make up the field of education.

Many years ago I was a self-taught data management professional. I was designing and managing relational databases in Microsoft Access. At the time, the BC Government was implementing a new system for health management in the province. A hodge-podge of centralized systems were being decentralized to local regional health boards and health councils. As part of the transition, the regional health boards needed to conduct their own inventories of services, so they could understand what health services were being delivered in their region, at what cost, and in what facilities. This was a huge undertaking. I was brought in to support data management, as there were problems with with surveys and databases from the original data collection.

As I started to familiarize myself with the system, I realized one of the key problems of the entire field was that similar services had different names in different institutions, and, similar names referred to different services in different institutions. It made it very difficult to figure out what was being reported, and it made it impossible to summarize data in a meaningful way. Part of my job became a coding problem, of ensuring these disparate services and terms were being compiled to reflect appropriate categories and groupings.

My entry into academia and the field of teacher education has been a similar experience. For those encultured from the inside, systems of organization that might appear haphazard or chaotic from the outside are simply the way things are organized from the inside. I have had to go through an extended process of reading, research, and observation, to finally grasp how the system works, how it makes sense to those familiar with its environs, and how I might position myself within it.

It does feel like I am finally making some headway.

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