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PHD-DESIGN  2000

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Subject:

Re:PhD

From:

Catherine Smith <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Catherine Smith <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 14 Aug 2000 09:19:18 +1000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (187 lines)

Norm,

Again I greatly value your contributions to this discussion and value your 
insights immensely (and thanks so much Rosan for sharing them, and also 
your insightful comments). For me you manage to answer so eloquently the 
questions concerning self and other and the value of the PhD. I also 
dislike structure, particularly a preconceived methodological structure / 
methods of investigation, as it can obscure and preconceive the 
possibilities of what you may find. This always raises the validity / 
reliability screams, however again as you pointed out this issues often 
have a hidden epistemological agenda that can exclude things and people of 
value.

I also think your point about the value of something that seems of 
self-interest can be of great significance to the world ie. Einstein 
example is of relevance - though none of us may achieve his knowledge 
value(!!!??!) I think it does illustrate the potential value in individual 
agency and creativity.

So thankyou again for your inputs, I am sure that many of us impaled at the 
research crossroads can refuel on your contributions!

Regards Cathy Smith.

At 09:22 AM 11/08/00 -0500, you wrote:
>I am forwarding some correspondence between Norm and I. I feel that his 
>insights are too
>valuable not to share. Hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.
>
>Rosan
>
>
>Rosan Chow
>Graduate Student
>College of Design
>North Carolina State University
>–
>
>From: Norm Sheehan <[log in to unmask]>
>To: Rosan Chow <[log in to unmask]>
>Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2000 13:19:16 +1000
>
>Thanks Rosan
>
>It is really easy to interpret m y statement as a support for airy-fairy
>individualistic creative fancies, however, i have been part of the critical
>pedagogy tradition for a long time now and therefore believe that the
>notion of literacy as a critical freedom to construct identity and me aning
>in the world is too essential an element of human agency to be linked to a
>presumption of value. After all it is the assumption that the illiterate
>has no value (ideas, intelligence, understanding etc), when it is
>illiteracy that stops them from exp ressing the value that they DO have,
>that lies at the core of Friere's project.
>
>In the context of my work the products of the Aboriginal designers i work
>with have often been seen as meaningless and valueless in their local
>context ...outside this conte xt in the Museums and art galleries they are
>valued at the very highest levels...this applies even more strongly to
>Indigenous Knowledge systems. IK has been subject to direct projects of
>extermination in Australia (& many other areas including the Frieri an
>context)
>
>So i would state that while it is easy (and necessary)to propose questions
>concerning the value of an individuals product in a PhD study... in doing
>so we must be aware that any value we impose is only valid within the
>limited context of the attitudes that drive this value formation and
>interpretation & that all new ideas will necessarily conflict with
>established value systems in some way.
>
>I think that this leaves us with some alternatives (please add to these
>because i think this is the key to your question)
>
>Critical pedagogy and post-colonial theory provide us with the opportunity
>to see that when we establish a single continuum of values as a means for
>providing some kind of social certainity (a 'good' PhD) that we are also
>constructi ng patterns of inclusion/exclusion and that these patterns not
>only limit possibilities in the process but also inhibit the flexibility of
>the system to address changing contexts. Values are good but limit flexible
>and equitable & timely responses to difference and change. So PhD needs to
>balance value judgements to individual project not impose norms.
>
>In education (which a PhD is) precriptions for action can state what must
>be known as an assessment device...however this often also becomes to mean
>what CAN be known...in research this approach is limiting. i would suggest
>that standardised assessment (values) are in conflict with PhD program
>intent & implementation. Although they are necessary in selection of
>candidates and some aspects of the assessment of completed theses. Values
>themselves are important but more so IS WHEN AND HOW they are applied. This
>is an essential part of program DESIGN especially if the program is
>individual and creative. The means & timing of value assessment may be more
>import ant than the values themselves.
>
>Critical theory training is inherent in the progress of higher education
>(we evaluate the dimensions of our subject more as we move towards a PhD) I
>TRUST that each project has its value (even if i can not see it) because
>learning is not only about the project it is also about the learner. One
>role of a supervisor (especially in research) is to facilitate learning
>about the nature of self-deception in research intent and evaluation. In
>Indigenous contexts ambition, self-g ratification,& a need for power and
>control are seen as self-deception and the focus is on true learning which
>usually comes with some deep personal sacrifice. Imagine these criteria
>being imposed in a political science, marketing or economics PhD.
>
>In a ny case Trust in the learners intent accompanies their commitment to
>this task...in other words this PhD thing is not easy so if a person makes
>the commitment  TRUST THEM and trust in the pain of the process which will
>transform them. Also trust that thei r project will have value to others
>someplace and time... Value in the learning potentionl that it provides for
>others (even if this is as a negative model because in research we often
>learn more from our failures)is also important.
>
>  PhDs are all 'self-i ndulgent' from most points of view but i also think
>your question relates to how useful the information they produce is. Who
>can pre-judge this without risk...a completely self-indulgent research may
>provide beneficial world changing results...Einstien wa s completely
>self-absorbed in persuing a symmetry that he alone believed must exist in
>physical mathematics...sure some PhDs will provide 'useless' information...
>but being self-indulgent may not be a factor in this.
>
>i believe very strongly in individual human agency as the well-spring of
>collective worth and choose to suspend judgement and appreciate the
>learning process as the source for renewal, insight and the expansion of
>individual (and therfore collective) consciousness. I also fear value
>structur es because i know they have layers of (often hidden) exclusions
>that limit people.
>
>So we know that human agency through learning and sharing is worthwhile
>because this is our natural instinct as social beings...in a phD this
>relies on the relationship b etween the mentor (supervisor) and the
>candidate (not student) if a PhD is self-indulgent and meaningless these
>two are responsible. I think that there are very strong values at work here
>in the PhD structure...personal, individual & contextual values based in
>human trust...if we see it this way i cannot percieve any stronger value
>system to ensure relevant and true learning.
>
>Norm
>
>
>At 10:48  9/08/00 -500, you wrote:
> >Hi Norm
> >
> >I have been thinking about your posting and something is bugging me. I
>hope that
> >you may help me to think it through. It is about the individual and the
>collective.
> >
> >Although I sense that if there is no individual development, there can
>never be
> >collective development, I have a question concerning about duty. If the
>essence of
> >a Ph.D. is to cultivate individuals, how can we ensure individual
>exploration doesn't
> >turn into self-indulgence that has no relevance to anyone else's life?
> >
> >I ask this question because I think to be able to do a Ph.D. is a
>privilege even though part of
> >it is earned, part of it is just pure chance, a chance that is not given
>to everyone equally within
> >our social systems. I often think that the privileged owes it to the
>public to do something
> >that is relevant to them. I think that no one can be someone unless she or
>he is related to
> >someone else. To be relevant is part of our humanity . (Paulo Freire's
>thinking
> >underlines my thoughts).
> >
> >Thanks Rosan
> >
> >
> >Rosan Chow
> >Graduate Student
> >College of Design
> >North Carolina State University
> >â?? e
> >
> >
>[log in to unmask]
>Norman Sheehan
>Senior Research Officer
>Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit
>University of Queensland
>Brisbane Old 4072 Australia



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