Home > Creativity, education > A reflection on self-directed education and doctoral programs

A reflection on self-directed education and doctoral programs


Rendering of human brain.
Image via Wikipedia

my sense of the self directed learning challenge is that the role of the professor/mentor should include modelling the kind of behavior that we hope to inspire in others, which includes the vulnerability aspect of all good research: that is, that the inquiry is in the middle of the uncertainty we are exploring

for me this entails sharing my research ideas and ventures in the classroom with my students as appropriate to their own interests and needs. i want to demonstrate to them the kind of behaviors I hope they exhibit as students

this is why i have committed to publishing my reflections and interim results on the blog and wiki, and encouraged people to take advantage of the opportunity for independent research projects with me (or other faculty) in our elective period

this model follows that of the crafts and professions where we proceed from novice->apprentice->journeyman->meister. each level has its appropriate roles for learning and socialization, and there is a recognition of the importance of the structured craft experience which is an accumulation of “know-how” and “know-what” which has survived and thrived through all manner of environmental pressure and should not be discarded lightly. Later in the life-cycle, the amount of independence increases and we move towards “know-why” and “know-FOR-what” or purposeful knowledge, and the realm of true individual artistry.

it is fair to question why a model of knowledge generation,acquisition, dissemination and application deriving from ancient & medieval times is appropriate for a dynamic, digital information age, but in the last 20 years we have seen plenty of claims that “this changes everything”
and “this time its different” go down in flames across many commercial and academic disciplines, and its is also fair to ask why it IS different this time. This is nothing more than what we would expect on the boundaries of new cognitive areas.

i think this feeling of “being on the edge” supports your value of “And/Both”: the sense that we ought to preserve such knowledge and technique as remains viable, useful and innately of value for its own sake (like everything we already know about mentor/mentee relationships) while pushing the boundaries of new approaches and ways.

my working hypothesis (a belief) is that the deep theoretical basis for mixed methods as a co-equal of qualitative and quantitative methods lies right in this sweetspot of chaos and opportunity between tradition and cutting edge. It calls for both creativity and critical thinking; creativity to find new ways or apply the old in a new way, and critical thinking to help us find viable paths and allocate limited resources wisely.

the sooner we see the desire for taking responsibility for their own learning in th eyes and hearts of our students, the sooner we can launch them to fly, while taking on new roles as co-researcher, colleague, resource sharer, member of their network, critical voice, supportive voice etc

the biggest moment in the doctoral candidate’s lfie is the moment the realization hits that we EXPECT them to figure it out for themselves: its the start of the rite of passage. That there is such a common frustration with this in the minds of students is something of a mystery to me, but probably because i had thought hard about this before starting my program, whereas i see a lot of others who are pursuing the credential for something other than to satisfy a burning need to know, and they are looking for a fast-track linear path to completion

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