Naming of Parts – on Being a PractitionerResearcher

Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,

We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,

We shall have what to do after firing. But today,

Today we have naming of parts. Japonica

Glistens like coral in all the neighbouring gardens,

And today we have naming of parts.

(Reed 1983) see

This poem by Henry Reed presents an observations of his experience as an army recruit from a ‘third position’ perspective. Using an objective and distanced view he enables his readers to silently observe army recruits anxiously learning the names of parts of a life-saving/death-dealing tool, while spring flowers offer a tranquillity beyond their reach.

Educational writing often enacts a similar distancing deception, keeping its component parts – ‘practice’, ‘research’ and ‘learning’ – separate and disconnected. In many cases they are arrayed in a kind of mythic hierarchy whose structure is taken for granted. In such a hierarchy ‘learning’ is at the bottom – the largest, but apparently least ‘important’ element – considered as a process ‘being done’ to passive recipients. ‘Practice’ is one level ‘up’, presented as a ‘doing to others’ process. ‘Research’ is the ‘looking at and analysing’ – remote and ‘separated’ – peak of the hierarchy appropriating an illusory stance of objectivity uncontaminated by the messiness of engagement in the action.

I have challenged this hierarchy by rearranging ‘practice’ and ‘research’ as co-equal elements, paying differing attention to five elements of – Curiosity, Questioning, Verifiability (‘purity’ of methodology), Time frames, Primary orientation. I saw my ‘self as researcher’ not separate from the ‘self that is practitioner’ – while according differing levels of importance to each at different moments. As this perspective evolved I became more able to remain both ‘practitioner’ and ‘researcher’, while consciously giving precedence to ‘one over the other’ as context and purpose required. I saw each one as containing the ‘seed’ of the other, with the capacity to alert educators to implications of each mode for the customs of the other.

The PractitionerResearcher concept that emerged from this work, provided an integrated approach, combining and validating ‘learning in action’ with ‘learning for action’ and enabled me to articulate a way of describing the ‘interconnectedness’ of theory and practice in my work. It encompassed the concept of not treating the Researcher and the Practitioner as if they are two distinct entities, instead considering them as interrelated aspects of a professionally effective educator. One example of this is in the following image –

Practitioner Researcher PractitionerResearcher
Curiosity Driven by work needs, not by any ‘need to know’ for its own sake. Driven by ‘need to know’ for its own sake; less concern for practical applications. Driven simultaneously by work needs and the ‘need to know’ more

About gamestolearn

Games designer, and teacher of games design.
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