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Today I feel stuck. This is dissertation work time, I have a meeting with my advisor in 2 hours and I feel stuck. So I’m going to try writing here.
One of things that I’m struggling with in this kind of writing is that I need to write to figure out what I’m thinking versus “showing what I know”. It’s something that I ask the students in my children’s literature course to do each semester. Some of them really struggle with it – they believe that if they have to write a “paper” and submit it to me (the teacher) that they need to show me what they know. I want for them to use their written responses as a way to figure out what they think and why they think it.
My dissertation needs to be a combination of both, with some stories and references in there for clarity and support. And it is oh-so-hard for me sometimes. I have this notion that I should be showing what I know, that this is in some way going to “prove” that I have earned the label of Ph.D..
I keep feeling this need to defend my work – to defend why I am doing the sort of dissertation that I am (theoretical/humanities) and to defend why it matters. But what I need to do is make the case and then DO the writing – and let that speak for itself. And not everyone will agree with me or even choose to engage with what I’m thinking. But that doesn’t matter. So I’m going to turn off my inner critic now – she needs a nap anyways – and go do some writing…
reread feedback on Chapter 2 so I’d know where to start with revisions
revised 2 paragraphs that needed help and added a new paragraph
wrote a story to integrate into chapter 2 (or another chapter, not sure yet)
had a conversation with a friend about part of my framework
About that last one, what exactly IS a theoretical framework anyways?!?! This has been one of the most complex aspects of academic writing for me to wrap my brain around. In the case of my dissertation, the way I’m thinking of it (thanks to my advisor) is as the “lenses” that I’m using to read, view, sift, and filter as I read and write.
One of the lenses is Gareth Matthews‘ Philosophy of Childhood (not the same thing as philosophy for children). What I’ve been talking about and rewriting is the section that explains what exactly it is and why I’m using it in this study. This second part is tricky for me because it is perfectly clear in my head – but doesn’t always come out on paper the same way.
Ultimately Matthews is important for me because my study is focusing on the ways that children’s literature is thought about, studied, and conceptualized across the disciplines of education, library science and english. In my study I use the terms “literacy, libraries, and literature”. Specifically, I want to analyze interdisciplinary ways of thinking about children’s literature as a way to provide a broader way to prepare preservice teachers to think about children’s literature in elementary classrooms.
So why Matthews? He provides a lens that frames children not from a deficit or developmental perspective, but from a “show me what you can do” perspective. This is important because of the implied child reader of children’s literature, as well as because of the assumed (and explicitly taught) developmental perspectives of teacher education.
Dissertation plan for Monday:
finish revisions on Matthews section
make plan for revisions on Rancière section (the other half of my framework)
Last week, the idea for #nerdlution was born out of a twitter conversation – as many fabulous ideas have been. If you want to know more, check out this post over on Christopher Lehman’s blog.
I’m joining in. I am going to write my dissertation. Every day. It’s important that I use the verb WRITE. Sometimes I think that I need to reread things – which I may need to do, or I may be using as a reason not to write. It is ok for me to reread things, but I also will WRITE.
I am going to use my blog to get myself in the mindset for the day. This is a version of something that author Linda Urban (@lindaurbanbooks) shared at an NCTE session about the writing process. So each day I will write a post about the following:
what I accomplished the day before as a word count
something that is inspiring for me
what I am going to write about on that day
Other ponderings that I want to keep track of, but can’t write about yet.
Once again, I am grateful to my @nerdybookclub tribe for their fabulous ideas and virtual cheering. Being part of this tribe means more than I can say.
This week, I headed to my parents house in northern Michigan for my own personal writing retreat. I’m so very grateful to my husband and daughters for their moral and very tangible time support so that I can complete my … Continue reading →
I’ve been working in my dissertation and thought I’d share some of my “mind mapping” images. The image below is part of chapter two – at least that’s how it started – which is my framework chapter. This chapter describes how I’m going to approach my topic, another way I like to think of it is what “lenses” will I be wearing as I explore my topic. I’m using (or wearing) Matthews’ Philosophy of Childhood as an alternative to the traditionally accepted stage theories of development (like Piaget). I’m also using Ranciere as a way to consider what happens if teachers and students start from a place of equality.
The photo below was me trying to figure out if the idea of “authorial intent” is one way I can explain my thinking, or if it was just me going off on a tangent to avoid actual writing. I’m still working on it, but the good news is that I don’t think it is just a tangent (although it might come in to play in a different chapter).
I’ve always been bothered by the question of authorial intent – it seems to me like the only way to get the answer is to actually ask the author. I know that isn’t necessarily true – there are some pieces of writing where authorial intent is very clear – like in very didactic books.
One particular thing he says has stuck with me and I will continue to think about in terms of the ways that elementary teachers are prepared to think about literature…
Inevitably reading is a conversation between and author and a reader, but give yourself some power in that conversation reader! Go out there and make a world.
I think that the idea of authorial intent is going to come in because if that is the objective of a lesson, then it has the potential to significantly impact the types of literature a teacher selects. In other words, if my goal as a teacher is for students to be able to identify the author’s intent of a book, then I’m only going to select books that have one clear message.
I’m writing a dissertation these days. My dissertation.
This means that I’m not spending as much time reading children’s and YA literature.
It also means that I’m not writing as much on this blog. But I’m still here.
My dissertation is interdisciplinary. It is about children’s literature. Children’s literature in literacy and education studies, in library science studies, and in English and Literature studies. I’m thinking and writing about the similarities and differences in the ways each of these disciplines “sees” children’s literature. I want to make these more explicit as a way to think about the ways children’s literature is positioned in schools, curriculum, and with students.
Along my journey to get here, I had some people tell me not to write an interdisciplinary dissertation. It is challenging work, no doubt about it (as is any dissertation). I’m working to be explicit. The common threads that I see like the air that I breathe need to be put into words. I’m learning to I to answer my own “so what” … and I’m getting there. Each day more words get out of my head and on the page.
So if you are here and wondering where I am and if I still care about children’s literature, readers, and teaching. Know I do, that I’m teaching and writing about all of those things. I’m still here – I’m just focusing my attention on the next step…
I’m in the car right now reading Kathi Appelt’s new book The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp. This is storytelling that gives me goosebumps. Here is a taste for you…
Hogs like to hide out along creek beds, where they lay low in the underbrush so that no one can see their sneaky selves. Like our raccoons, they’re also nocturnal, using the cover if darkness to mask their dastardly deeds.
They usually travel in family groups called sounders. Isn’t that a great word? “Sounders”? We just love that.
But do we love Buzzie and Clydine and the Farrow Gang?
Friends, their is nothing to love there.