Networks: An On-line Journal for Teacher Research

Pictures, Dreams, and the Reflexive Educational Reformer

by Mark Campbell Williams
Mark Campbell Williams teaches at the Business Faculty, Edith Cowan University, Churchlands, Western Australia 6018.

Prior to 9 years lecturing in management information systems and business computing at Edith Cowan University, Mark had a diverse academic and working background. Originally in the architecture and building industry, he moved into tertiary, secondary and technical education, followed by computing consulting and training, in Australia and in the Republic of Kiribati. His research interests are in the use of soft systems methodology in education and consulting, the self-study of teaching practice, symbolic interpretations, and the reflective practitioner.


What do pictures, dreams and reflection have to do with educational reform? In this paper I reflect heuristically on a five year study investigating a major teaching reform of a university business computing course. I conducted action research on a raft of teaching innovations designed to introduce communication, discourse, and reflection on broad social and organisational implications of computing rather than merely hardware and software techniques. The main theme was to see if discourse could ameliorate a dominant technicism in the teaching-learning process and curriculum. After three years, I realised that, in my own technicist drive to achieve "success" and significant research results, I had acted unethically by coercing students to give me certain research data and by not fully informing students or other lecturers and tutors about important aspects of the research. I thus discontinued the research and concentrated on a heuristic and reflective phenomenological self-study, including dreams and pictures, on the reasons for and the nature of my unethical practice.

Key Descriptors: Open discourse, technicism, heuristic research, dreams, rich pictures, university teaching reform

[Classical teachers] handed on what they had received: they initiated the young neophyte into the mystery of humanity which over-arched him and them alike. It was but old birds teaching young birds to fly.
Prof. C. S. Lewis, 1943, The Abolition of Man

We profit from the little cracks of freedom, and install in them a trembling freedom . . .
Prof. Jacques Ellul, 1990, The Technological Bluff


In this paper, I present ideas which have sprung from a psychologically-oriented autobiography of my doctoral research as a teacher and researcher investigating a teaching reform of the first-year Undergraduate Business Computing Course for the Bachelor of Business degree at the University at which I was employed from 1991 to 1995. I was progressively a tutor, then a lecturer involved in the educational reform, then the Course Coordinator facilitating the reform of the Course. My initial research led me to conclude that the Course was technicist (overly instrumentally rational) in that it had an unduly narrow technical focus with too much concentration on computing hardware and software techniques.

The essence of the ensuing reform was to encourage open discourse (to promote communicative rationality) by introducing teaching and learning strategies, such as group work, a dialogical communication process in the tutorials and mass lectures, and requiring students to keep personal learning journals. The basic idea of the reform was to encourage communication and discourse about the meaning, purpose and wider societal implications of business computing, in addition to the currently taught, narrowly technical aspects.

The first phase of my research, from 1991 to 1993, was an interpretive qualitative investigation with an underlying hypothesis that these innovative teaching-learning strategies would encourage communicative rationality through open discourse and thus balance what I perceived to be a dominating instrumental rationality of technicism in the course.

However, in 1993, through a component of self-study in the research, I came to understand that I had succumbed to a form of unbalanced and inappropriate instrumental rationality (a strategic rationality) in my conduct as a teacher and researcher. Driven by this strategic rationality to force a research result, I had not fully informed participants and had not gained their written agreement to be included in the research. I had unethically imposed certain teaching strategies on the students and tutors. In order to reflect on my unethical practice, I conducted an heuristic and psychologically-oriented self-study from 1993 to 1996. In a postmodernist inspired account including a description of a dream, I describe how I endeavoured to address my strategic rationality by engaging in an analytic psychological inner discourse as part of being a reflective practitioner and a reflexive learner. Thus reporting on a dialogical interplay between outer-oriented and subjectively inner-oriented aspects of technicism and discourse, I explore that dimension of the self-study of teaching which includes the psychologically-oriented study of self.

For introduction and orientation, I present a brief review of the research project based around a complex pictorial metaphor. As a tentative conclusion, I suggest that taking account of the unconscious process on human activity may enable more balanced teaching reform.

Reflection on the Research

As the study evolved, I experienced the emerging stages of experiencing myself in the spiralling metaphor of my developing research roles, as teacher, learner, researcher, reformer, reflective practitioner, writer and reflexive learner. In Figure 1, various metaphors can be seen. The metaphor of my roles can be seen underneath the base of the tree, as if the research project itself issues from the roles that I played in the research. The evolving research questions can be hinted at in the words on the trunk of the tree. While reading this concluding chapter, the reader may find it helpful to bear in mind the evolving research foci.

figure 1

Figure 1. A pictorial metaphor of my heuristic inquiry and psychological self-study of technicism and open discourse in the context of University Business Computing education and research (Tree idea from Qualitative Strategies in Educational Research (Wolcott, 1993, p. 23))

Referring to Figure 1, we see the tree (representing the research project itself) flourishing, drawing nourishment from the soil of everyday life through the roots (representing ways of knowing: conscious and unconscious, communicative and instrumental, convergent and divergent - the rational appreciation of informing theory, the emotional, aesthetic, imaginative, intuitive, meditative, empathic, somatic, olfactory, mystical and sensual, through thought and dream and the senses). I gathered the research data from the everyday life of computing classes via these ways of knowing.

The base of the tree (representing my roles within the study) funnels the nourishment from the roots (representing the research data). The growth of the tree can be seen from the various stages of the height of the trunk (representing the various semesters of the research with the respective research foci or questions). The leaves gathering sunlight represent the various teaching-learning strategies for the reform of the curriculum. The various pictures of natural things artistically represent key themes of the research, such as reform, open discourse, ecological sensitivity, community, and the unconscious.

From 1993 to 1996, I came to extend Habermas' (1984, 1987) notion of communicative rationality by including dream texts and interpretations into the communication of the research. Other critical social theorists, such as Marcuse (1964, 1969) and Adorno (1990), provided a framework for understanding ways of knowing such as the aesthetic and somatic and unconscious. I began to use Mark Von Woodke's (1993) book, Mind over media: Creative thinking skills for electronic media, in which he advises computer users to tap into the creativity of bodily awareness and unconscious ways of knowing by keeping reflective journals and dream journals. Already in the habit of keeping a dream journal, from 1993 to 1996, I kept extensive notes and interpretations of dreams which I thought were relevant to my research, and the thoughts and images which resulted from my thinking about the dreams. I worked with the Chaplain at my University, an analytical therapist well acquainted in the work of Carl Jung, to further understand my dreams and reflections.

Reflective Backward Glance to the Research

In this section I reflect on certain themes of my research by including an inner discourse based on a dream. Those aspects of my psyche represented in the dream by Thales, Heraclitus, Auguste Comte, Sophia and Mark continue their imaginal conversation. I make no empirically warranted assertions about the ways, if any, that my psychological reflection changed my teaching, learning or my researching. However, I do offer some personal anecdotal comments about the way in which psychological reflection influenced my conduct in my teaching and my research and in my dealings with academic colleagues.

Consider this excerpt from a dream, entitled "Academia", (Campbell Williams, 1993-1996, personal dream journal, pp. 92-93, 11 December, 1995):


I was late to an academic seminar colloquium but I was able to catch on to what had been happening. Auguste Comte (representing an inner masculine academic energy - mathematically talented but hyperactive and frenetic) was speaking with Thales (another inner masculine energy - a balanced academic researcher and manager, mature and talented). They were speaking about a mathematical problem called the 'segment of the circle' (the circle as a symbol of potential balance and wholeness, the true Self). Heraclitus (another inner masculine energy - intuitively talented and brilliant academic, but sometimes too extreme, wild or esoteric) talked about some wild ideas. We all went for a walk, during which Thales confided to me that Heraclitus was rather wayward, even though he had unexpected value for the team.

I understood the dream as giving me a graphic picture, from the unconscious, depicting several inner energies, that were working within me as I worked on my research. There were signs that, from a psychological perspective, I was working well, and making progress towards a balanced wholeness (note the reference to the "segment of circle"). I took it as a good sign that my ego, the 'I' in the dream, was not fighting my other inner energies, but communicated with them as a team. Note that the ego was talking with and listening to the balanced academic leader energy in me, Thales. Thales was wary of Heraclitus, a symbol for my wildly intuitive academic inner energy, but acknowledged his potential value.

I understood the general message of the dream as an indication that I was proceeding in a fruitful manner in my thesis, and also towards general psychological health. As a form of dream-based inner discourse, using the method explained by Robert Johnson (1986), I imagined myself back in the dream (Campbell Williams, personal dream journal, pp. 93). I imagined that I waited for Heraclitus and Comte, and we went into the seminar room together. In my inner discourse, I asked the four of us to sit around the central round table. I put a proposition to all that we needed to work together to finish the doctoral thesis, and that Thales should be in charge. I thanked Heraclitus and Comte for their crucial contributions. We all agreed to make Thales the leader.

In reflecting on my dream inner work imagination, I noticed that the round table and the fact that there were four of us in number were two further symbols to reinforce the idea of a balanced wholeness. My ego was acting in a healthy way, not acting out of strategic rationality, nor being aggressive or overly-dominated by any one of my inner energies. My ego acknowledged the value of my inner balanced academic leader energy and, through communicative action, suggested that the other energies acknowledge this as well. I saw here an example of a balanced rationality producing both instrumental and communicative action without the error of strategic action. I took this dream inner work as an indicator that I had made some progress towards addressing my inner technicism through the process of my inner discourse. In this process, I had begun to address my problem that the ego had not been communicating with other inner energies, and of my being driven by the inner technicism of a frenetic slave-driver that had no contact with the Self. Rather, this last dream of Academia was an indicator that the self was beginning to emerge in my life and work, with the result that communicative and instrumental action were appropriately balanced, without strategic action.


Mark: I would like us all to meet in the room and sit around the round table and have a talk about our research project investigating technicism and open discourse in University Business Computing.

Compte: And so here we are around this table, in an imaginary conversation continuing the debate begun in a dream.

Mark: Exactly. It is called active imagination and has a long history in psychology.

Compte: OK, let's get on with it.

Mark: In my research I concentrated on open discourse and then on inner discourse. I would like to offer an idea of how I understand my ideas of inner discourse and open discourse fit in with Habermas' ideas of human communication. I present a tentative model of human communication.

Can you see that I advocate a stage of discourse even prior to open discourse? Based on my self-study, I advocate inner discourse to enable personal inner development towards balanced wholeness in individuals to enable, in turn, the process of open discourse to build up the mutual trust and understanding which should ideally be the foundations for critical discourse, possibly leading to political action.

figure 2

Figure 2. Types of human communication including inner discourse (adapted from Pusey, 1987, p. 81). My notion of inner discourse is based on Jungian-based inner work (Johnson, 1986))

Thales: It is an interesting thought Mark - perhaps you will use the concept to justify your use of your dreams as acceptable research data.

Comte: I see your point. Why Mark, did you give in to the desire to use research data from your dreams?

Mark: I would not use the term "give in to the desire" Auguste. I decided that it was legitimate and responsible in heuristic research to use the inner discourse occasioned by my dreams, as texts for my research. For me it was part of my growth into the research role of being a reflective practitioner and a reflexive learner.

Comte: So you resort to your notion of being 'reflexive'. I am not convinced that you have not slidden into what Appignanesi and Garratt (1996) warn as the dangers of postmodern reflexivity in "ironic self-consciousness, cynicism and politically correct hypocrisy" (p. 73).

Mark: It may help you to know that as I came more fully to understand something of the depth of the main elements of my theoretical frameworks, to reflect on my own experience and to analyse the research, I came to more fully understand Jung's notion of individuation, a psychological maturing towards a balanced wholeness. In critical social theory, I came to detect the concept of wholeness in both Marcuse and Habermas. Habermas's notion of balancing the technicism inherent in instrumental rationality with communicative rationality (1984, 1987) is a development from his earlier (1972) injunction to balance the technical interest, the practical interest (ethico-moral consideration) and the emancipatory interest (self-reflection for freedom and justice) (Held, 1980). I was also inspired by reading Habermas's recognition of the importance of psychoanalysis and by Marcuse's encouragement to come out of the one-dimensionality inherent in technicism by appropriating eros in the whole sense - the aesthetic, the playful, the creative, the imaginative, the somatic, the sensual, the unconscious.

I understood Donald Schon's (1983) notion of the reflective practitioner as part of the self-reflection inherent in qualitative research. Being a person who practices Jungian dream interpretation as part of my life, I found that this way of unconscious knowing resonated with my informing theory. In fact, it was one of the things that motivated and informed me to continue with using open discourse, and then inner discourse. I thus came to understand wholeness in my computing classes as multi-faceted; a balancing of the instrumental and the communicative, the technical and the creative, the mind and the body, the textual and the pictorial, the conscious and the unconscious.

I hold that a balancing of the individual and the collective, of the conscious and the unconscious, comes from respecting and reflecting consciously on the knowledge that arises from metaphor, myth, dream, emotion, other ways of knowing, and the spiritual as well as rational consciousness. In this way, my hope is that we may become more balanced, more mature; that I might begin to walk the journey of individuation. In other words, I might spend more time in helping teachers and students and ourselves, and less in playing the power games of academic vested interests in educational research. In Habermas's (1972) terms, that we might rise above my technical interests in control and domination (inherent in expanding my research profile for our personal advancement). I may even rise above the ethico-moral practical interest to become motivated by the emancipatory interest in what is true, in what is just and right, in the interest of the true Self.

Thales: I take it that your theoretical background and idea of technicism and discourse changed over the course of the study, Mark.

Mark: The major change in my understanding was that I came to understand that both technicism and open discourse have both an outer educational and an inner psychological dimension. I came to understand technicism to be a mode of human thinking or action which reduces human concerns to a narrowly perceived set of technically solvable problems by over-emphasising either: the technical interest (to the exclusion of the practical and emancipatory interests); instrumental rationality (to the exclusion of communicative rationality); instrumental or strategic action (to the exclusion of communicative action); the logical aspect of reality (to the exclusion of dimensions such as the social, the historical, the aesthetic, the moral or the biotic); or by giving attention only to conscious voices (to the detriment of voices of nature, the body, and the personal and collective unconscious). (This synthesis, in a theoretical sense, stems from Habermas, 1972; Pusey, 1987; Bowers, 1988; Goudzwaard, 1979; Segaller and Berger, 1989, p. 15; and von Wodke, 1993.) I use the term "voice" in a broad sense. For example, the "voice of the body", refers to the way in which a person can "listen" to the way in which the body sends signals of discomfort or strain when, say, staring at a computer screen for too long. I have taken the term "the voice of nature" from Dryzek (1990), to mean the way in which we can listen, not only to our own bodies as a part of nature, but to the ways in which we can be attentive to the air, land, flora and fauna which provide the larger environment for education. I take Jung's (1964, 1973) understandings of the personal and collective unconscious.

In a similar manner, I understand open discourse to be that free, open, empathic, ethical, and self-reflective communication (conscious or unconscious, verbal or non-verbal, written or spoken or implied in body language), that is concerned with self-disclosure of values, meaning, purpose, goals, basic assumptions and commitments. All voices are given opportunity to be heard, including the voices of nature, the body, and the personal and collective unconscious.(In theoretical terms, this synthesis came from, among others, Bowers, 1993; Dryzek, 1990; Pusey, 1987, p. 71; Taylor, 1995; Taylor and Campbell Williams, 1992; Sanford, 1989, p. 126; and Young, 1989, p. 59.)

Heraclitus: It may help us though, Mark, if you could tell us more of the voice of your experience. Can you give us an example from your teaching that illustrates this evolution of your understandings ?

Mark: I can only give you hints of the way in which my teaching began to change due to my inner open discourse. I did not systematically collect research data from my classes after 1993. With Dr Peter Standen and Mr Richard McKenna, I have used the results of this research to radically change the Masters of Business Administration course "Management of Information V" (McKenna & Campbell Williams, in press). I do have a vignette from Semester Two 1993, from a student who consented to act as a co-researcher more than just a participant. I gained written permission to use the following material and she checked the several drafts of this vignette.

A mature student working as the head of the accounting section of a large private secondary school, Susan was a hard-working person with a very positive view of life. As she comments:

I have given up a section of my life for the last 12 weeks to IS4. . . . My job is to make people feel good by filling up their otherwise boring evenings getting me out of scrapes. I wish to heap accolades on these people, and suggest if all students had some real interaction with them the knowledge would flow, and the campus would be a much friendlier place to work and study in. I no longer inwardly panic, I take pride in getting into a mess and fighting my way out, and if there are people to help me along the way, how much richer is the experience.
(learning journal, Semester 93/2)

She took up the challenge of university study balancing this with a rich family and community life in addition to her responsible career position. Let us look at the rich picture Susan created at the end of the course (Fig. 3).

figure 3

Figure 3: Susan's rich picture of the Business Computing Course

The laboratory group of which Susan was a part developed a lively and friendly community camaraderie, giving each other nicknames - hers was the self-styled nickname "the little old dinosaur". In her rich picture of the course (Fig. 3) We see how she sees herself entering the course as a slow moving turtle with "lack of confidence" and, although time was seen as waste from the system, she emerges as a strong dinosaur. This is a curious metaphor and could easily be seen in a negative light. However, in Susan's case I think it represents a humorous expression of a personal strength and growth in the context of a rich learning community. As she describes a discussion with some of her classmates: "They probably had the advantage of computer use in school, but they lack depth of knowledge and experience in such things as history and politics ... The most pleasing thing was they were interested in my views and actually sought them" (Susan's Learning Journal, Semester 93/2, p. 5).

Susan's story illustrates some positive aspects of my acting out of an instrumental rationality necessary to create teaching-learning reform to create an educational environment for rich group interaction.

Comte: Is it not interesting, Mark, that when you were influenced by the emancipatory ethic of critical theory you launched into educational reform. And then, was it so that when you became influenced by the personal development psychology of Jung, your zeal for educational reform faltered?

Mark: There is a deep insight in what you say, Auguste. Perhaps there is a season for reflection and self-development, and then a season for active participation in social and political reform. It was only when I talked with Professor Axel Honnet (the successor to Jurgen Habermas) at Frankfurt University, that I understood why Habermas's critical theory, and much of postmodernism for that matter, builds on Freud's notions of psychological repression and distortion as blocks to conscious development, and political and social reform. I understood why critical theorists rejected Jung's psychological approach. Using Freud's metapsychology, one is better able to understand the power of domination, repression and distorted communication, not to mention the political horrors of the twentieth century which do seem to resonate with Freud's idea of the "death wish" (the deeply unconscious, regressive and destructive potentialities inherent in biological make-up and seeking the extinction of individual existence (Zangwill, 1987, p. 278)). Indeed, it seems from Dement's neurophysiological research (cited in Sagan, 1977) that the high correlation between penile and clitoral erection during dream sleep does support Freud's insistence on the primary importance of the sexual drive in the psyche. Sagan (1977) supports the neuropsychological idea that the primitive limbic system of the human brain (centre for olfactory sensing, vividly strong emotions, and basic caring) combined with the even more primitive reptilian complex (controlling aggression, aggressive sexuality, territoriality, and some ritual, social hierarchical, and bureaucratic behaviour) are repressed from dominance in waking life by an inhibition centre at the base of the neocortex. This repression allows control by the left hemisphere (main centre for rational thought, deliberation, calculation and language) of the more evolutionally developed neocortex. There also seems to be some evidence for neurophysiological, as well as cultural factors especially in modern societies, leading to the dominance of the neocortal left hemisphere over the right hemisphere (the centre for human higher emotions, aggression, intuitive symbolism, and loving sexuality). Since the more primitive parts of the brain cannot be ignored, and perhaps as a filtering mechanism for long-term memory, the repression mechanism in the neocortex is reduced during sleep, especially in dream sleep periods. Thus, dreams are the result of reptilian and limbic systems intelligence activity in conjunction with the neocortal right hemisphere, with only minimal, yet still highly significant, repression and control from the neocortal left hemisphere. Sagan comments that this model accords (albeit crudely) with Freud's model of the subconscious and the conscious, the id and ego, with the super-ego as the repression mechanism. But here I am way out of my depth, both theoretically and experientially.

Comte: None the less, it is significant for you, is it not, Mark? Indeed, do you still keep a Jungian-based dream journal?

Mark: You pin me down once again, Auguste. I still take note of my dreams to keep a check on my emotions and to gain insights on my life from the perspective of the unconscious, but I rarely use a full Jungian-based inner work approach. I must admit that I am finding many insights from Freud's theories useful in making sense of the contingencies of everyday life, especially issue of domination, repression, and unjust power. I can appreciate why Freud's work is so foundational to critical theorists, Lacan, Derrida and some other postmodernists.

However, I have a notion that, just as Newton's theories are more applicable to everyday life even in an Einsteinian universe, Freud's theories may be more applicable to everyday life even within a Jungian understanding of life. However, just as Einstein's theories explain crucial events more accurately, so Jung's theories explain and predict psychological workings at the crucial stages of our lives such as mid-childhood, adolescence, mid-life, transference to old-age, and near death. But once again, I swim in waters far too deep for me.

Heraclitus: Then let us return to your lived experience, Mark. Did you introduce any new teaching-learning strategies as a result of your emergent openness to inner discourse?

Mark: In 1994, I endeavoured to provide rich learning environments in our classes by continuing the initiatives I had incorporated in 1992 and 1993, but in a more relaxed and gentler manner. I also incorporated the stretching and mental relaxation exercises suggested by von Wodke (1993) into the computer laboratories. For example. as the computers were turning on, I encouraged the students to sit straight, close their eyes and breath slowly and deeply while silently repeating "calm body, alert mind" while breathing in and letting go of tension while breathing out. As the application was loading up from the menu I asked them to join with me in stretching across to the left and then to the right. I stressed the value of ergonomic approaches and the resting of eyes and body. In my post-graduate seminars, and even at times in the undergraduate mass lectures, I guided the students in brief mental relaxations. At times I included visualisations such as imagining a splendid flower blossoming on the computer screen or imagining a rural walk with sun and grass and flowers and breeze. Professor Robert Flood (verbal answer to a question at the keynote address of the Australian Systems Conference, 26 September, 1995) refers to these sorts of practices as physical and mental ergonomics. I encouraged the students to read von Wodke's (1993) book, and even suggested they try out his ideas on reflective journals and dream journals.

Heraclitus: Yes, it is not only dreams that we can expolore symbolically. Symbo-construction (Barry, 1994, 1996) is a strand of organisational behaviour studies that includes the analysis of pictures drawn by clients during management consulting. Symbo-constructive pictures can be simple stick drawings of an ideal holiday house, or the work team going on a pleasure boat, or a picture of the work situation. In our SSM consulting practice, I have found that rich pictures can be interpreted as symbo-constructive pictures. Symbo-construction recognises that pictures contain symbols that resemble dream images and can be interpreted in a Jungian framework. In fact, I seem to recall that you have presented a number of papers at international Systems Theory conferences on just this subject, Mark.

Mark: It is true (Campbell Williams, 1995, 1997). The question is whether or not, for example, the rich pictorial metaphors of figure 1 can be viewed as containing symbolic elements that can be interpreted in a Jungian framework, as if it were a dream image, to give insights about messages from the unconscious regarding this research.

Comte: One has to be careful here, Mark. Lomax and Parker (1995) argue that such drawings should not "be used to understand the subconscious motives of their makers" (p. 306).

Mark: Auguste, there is always a danger that misunderstandings and misconjectures may proliferate. Perhaps this danger is the reason that Lomax and Parker (1995) warn against psychoanalytically interpreting drawings - they do not explain their curious hesitancy (are they afraid of what might surface?). However, just because something is dangerous does not mean that it should be shunned. It does mean, however, that it should be treated carefully. In this case, I am interpreting my own drawing, deconstructing it to understand what is its message, rather than the conscious message I had in drawing it. I am not interpreting someone else's drawing.

With postmodernist deconstruction I think that it is a different matter. I understand from postmodernist deconstruction, that any text is open to be understood on many levels. It is not a matter of understanding subconscious motives of the author, but rather attention to the text (or drawing) itself, rather than to the author (Poole, R. 1988, pp. 205, 206). Deconstruction of a text should not cause the author to feel uncomfortable. It is in the play of language itself that other meanings in texts inevitably surface. It is interesting that Derrida (1987) deconstructs the medieval drawing of Socrates and Plato to bring to the surface many penetrating conjectures.

Heraclitus: Mark, it seems to me that you are still developing yourself through an inner process which I understood as similar to what Habermas (1972) describes as the process of educative self-formation (Bildung). In this process of self-building, Habermas contends that subjective self-reflection on unconsciously produced constraints, which can be encouraged by psychoanalysis, brings to consciousness blockages to self-development. The next step is rational reconstruction (Habermas, 1972, p. 22) which revolves around more objective reflections on the conditions of how one knows and acts to assist critical social action in the world (Held, 1980, p. 326).

Thales: You have raised an important issue Heraclitus, but I'm afraid that our time is almost at an end. Do you have a final word for us Mark?

Mark: I do not think that I have achieved what Lous Heshusius terms participatory consciousness, a type of "allocentric knowing" (citing Schachtel) with a full awareness of other "which leads not to a loss of self but to a heightened feeling of aliveness and awareness" (p. 16). Rather, I think that, over the five years of research reported in this thesis, I developed a certain level of "psychic wholeness" (Heshusius, 1994, p. 16) which is perhaps a prerequisite for the participatory consciousness necessary for truly ethical research. But to delve into this further would take another long discussion. To use Richardson's (1994) phrase, we have, I think, discussed enough of the refractions from our crystallisation of our research to paint a lively picture.

Concluding Discussion

Comte: Allow me one last question. Mark, you have not really been talking about teaching and learning techniques and strategies in this thesis. You have been talking about the need for self-development, for all persons in education to take virtue seriously. Returning to the model of inner discourse, open discourse and critical discourse (Fig. 4) do you think that most researchers and teachers need to use inner discourse to achieve balance in their teaching, learning, researching and writing?

Mark: As to your question, I do not think that most other researchers need to go to the extremes of Jungian-based inner work as I have done. Some of us are in more need of balance than others. O'Connor's (1981) research suggests that many people between the ages of 35 and 45 years go through a transitional stage in which attention to psychological development would be of considerable benefit. If teachers or researchers, or anyone for that matter, find themselves operating unethically, perhaps they need some form of inner work. However, I think that most researchers and teachers would benefit by doing some form of reflexive practice and basic self-management training, especially interpersonal communication skills. I would now add the proviso, however, that these widening interests should be focused back to bettering teaching practice. In that light I present a diagram showing arrows representing this endeavour to focus widening interests back to the central task of becoming a better teacher (see Fig. 4).

figure 4

Figure 4. Pictorial metaphor showing the way in which I came to understand that the expanding interests should be focused back to the central task of my becoming a better teacher

Thales: So Mark, you have finally come full circle, back to the voice of your own experience in the central task of your teaching. Perhaps you will have some time to think about your own living theory from the ground of the authority of your own experience.

Mark: Hmmm . . . yes, it is so . . . and long overdue. I notice that your words are very similar to Jack Whitehead's advice to me: "I'd think through the relationship between the authority of experience and theory. It does seem to me that each of us can create our own living theories from the ground of the authority of our experience" (personal email correspondence, September, 1996).

Compte: On that note I think it is time to finish our conversation. But where shall we meet again?

Thales: I advise that we all meet at the forthcoming staff development seminars on becoming a reflective practitioner (Schon, 1983) developing interpersonal skills (Montgomery, 1984), self-development towards interdependence (Covey, 19930 and learning from ignorance (Kerwin, 1993).

All: Agreed!


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