11 June 2011

On academic inhibition

A few days ago I wrote quite a long post about teamwork, nearly posted it, and then didn't, cut a large chunk and reinstated some of it, and then finally posted it yesterday and immediately had second thoughts...

It made no mention of teams in other contexts, of sports teams for example. (Because I know nothing about them.) It did not discuss Belbin on management teams (often misapplied and contestable as it is). The list of what is missing is endless.

It is also highly self-indulgent; much of it is about team membership in my own not-very-exciting career, and there is little reason to suppose that anyone else will be interested in that. At least I had the decency to put that beyond a jump break.

Why am I bothered? Even to the extent of boring stiff my few readers with this kind of meta-reflection? After all, the blogosphere is precisely a place where people notoriously pontificate about stuff they known nothing about, make stuff up, are unremittingly egocentric. There are no rules about citing evidence for assertions and claims, there is no requirement to confine oneself to relevant argument, or to keep within one's realm of knowledge and competence.

But those qualities are precisely those I bang on about all the time as an academic, and seek to instil in students. And it is their absence which leads me to be cautious about accepting students citing from the web in general and the blogosphere in particular...

And I have internalised them rather too much, to the extent of discounting the value of any other kind of writing, particularly on my own part. Even to the extent of gradually ceasing to voice opinions on anything on which I am not an expert--hence, on practically anything at all.

I'm planning a book; working title, "The Secret Life of the Classroom". It's proceeding rapidly. Backwards. It's not original research, but intended to be research-based and I suppose scholarly but accessible. It will be based on material I have taught for years--but the further I get with planning, the further away I am from actually starting, because in order to be credible I realise how much more work I need to do and how much I don't know.

Still, I have the time, I hope. So watch this space in a year or two, or five...

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:59 am

    Not saying it is/was, but if you can't do a bit of self-indulgent ranting on a blog, where can you?

    Since what counts for evidence in pedagogy is often ultimately the virtually unsupported opinion of a supposedly authoritative individual, and many consider you authoritative, the most self-indulgent of your blog posts is arguably as true as anything else in the field.

    It's not just me who thinks so, no-one objected to my making use of your blog as evidence for my PGCHE, though they objected to quite few other things.

    As far as teamwork is concerned, Belbin might be popular and fun, but it's no more proven fact than your opinion, and it comes from exactly the same source. Belbin is based only on the patterns he thought he saw in his student's teamwork.

    Personally I'm a lot more interested in anyone's unvarnished personal take on things (especially if it is based in long experience)than the pseudo-scientist's attempts to pass off something with no more factual content as a universal truth.


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