Monday, January 26, 2009

Picture of knowledge

I believe the world is alive. It is constantly in motion. As Qualitative researchers we need to come to the table open to the possibility that we might learn something that may take us in a new direction as we explore. When studying anything such as a social phenomenon I believe it is important for us to not loose site of the fact that we live in the world. I believe we are connected to the phenomena just by being alive. If we want to capture any part of a truly lived experience we need to remind ourselves we do not live in a vacuum. How can we study the “other” as if it lived on Mars? We need to participate in the study. In this case we need to be prepared to dialogue with what we discover in order to use a wide range of interconnected interpretations. We do not need to concern ourselves with notions of timeless truths because truth is found in our own sense of reality through interpretation of it. “Objective reality can never be captured. We know a thing only through its representations”(p. 7). As Qualitative researchers we set about to study what is found in front of us and all around. We do not need to concern ourselves with the model of cause and effect, or right and wrong because we now know there are many ways to be right and there are many stories to be told. The often used language of “… investigate the causes of high drop out rates among ESL students ...), suggests that we are looking for a reason so that we can fix something that is perceived broken.

I believe the world has edges. I believe that there is more out there, things unseen, that there is mystery in the world and that we cannot prove everything. To investigate we need to have a spark, to take notice of a happening and then seek to understand it. The first step in any research is to notice something to causes us to care and then name it. To see that a situation requires inquiry is the first step in inquiry. The next is to take action to understand the phenomenon. Understanding depends on your time and place. This is a different way of understanding that takes us away from the traditional scientific approach.

We bring with us into research backpacks full of experiences. It is important for us to recognize what is contained within but as Qualitative interpreters we need not remove them at the door. He no doubt will come to his research with his own backpack of experiences. My advise to any researcher would depend on what is in his or her backpack and his or her philosophy of being in the world. Philosophy means to love knowledge. The search for this depends on the method of research. It is a kind of lens or his point of viewing. Perhaps it is a picture of knowledge. His point of viewing is not so much about the picture that represents the phenomenon but is the frame he may choose to put it in. Much thought must go into matching the frame to the picture.

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