Saturday, January 26, 2013

catch-up time!

Dear people I have neglected this space terribly! It's been almost a year since the people garden got an update. Well, I'll just tell you a little about what's been going on. School was crazy, and my undergrad studies ended with a bang, not a whimper. I managed to work through a handful of courses and a seniour internship at a public alternative school, where I got to know a bit about the school system and how alternative schools work within the Toronto District School Board. I got to work long-distance with the AMAZING Donna Ridley-Burns from Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning in an international project contrasting different early childhood education contexts. I got accepted into the Master's of Early Childhood Studies program at Ryerson. I worked all summer on trying to figure out how to stabilize the methodological approach, data storage and access procedures and data analysis protocols for a research project at the EDGE Lab, which was a HUGE learning process. I then listened to 100s of hours of audio data, sifting through the information gathered in encounters with the child participants to find patterns and themes in a process called open coding. It took me weeks, and was excruciating, motivating, inspiring, mind-numbing and illuminating. It was a lot of hilarious kids and a lot of learning about research methods, which totally got me excited about that as an area of research - how do we listen to kids, how do we involve their voices in research? I decided to explore this area more in my grad research. Then I started the Master's program. hahahahahahhahaahah I'm laughing because it's been a whirlwind since then. Grad school is really great, and has taken work and school to the next level. Last term I took three courses - Research Methods in Early Childhood Studies, Theoretical Frameworks of Early Childhood Studies and Social Justice in Education. I have never learned so much in such a compressed amount of time. I thought I was a good student - undergrad sure was fun, and I seemed to do well. Grad school put a whole new spin on my identity as a learner - we talk so much about lifelong learning, and here I was living it! The cognitive chaos has been a lot to deal with, but it's been amazingly fruitful. I worked hard, wrote some good papers, learned some good lessons, and when I accidentally backed up the wrong version of a final paper,erasing 7 hours of solid work, I stayed up all night to finish something for school for the first time ever as I re-wrote it from memory. I also got to TA for a course on Childhood in a Global Context with a prof that I love, and learned a tonne doing that. Then, a couple of days before the winter break happened, Jason told me about a PhD program that he thought would be a great place for me. So instead of resting over the break, I applied to that. I'll find out by mid-April. It's kind of competitive, so we'll see. I have to ignore the overwhelming freak-out about whether I got in or not, and develop alternative plans in case I don't get in. AND I also have a couple of things to do before that anyways, like finish my Master's degree and stuff like that. hahahahahahaha Out of the busy break, this term started at a running pace. I'm trying to complete all my course-work this term, so that I have the whole spring and summer to work on my Major Research Paper (MRP), which is basically our thesis. My courses this term are all as amazing as last term's - Social Research with Children, Curriculum Design, and Families and Equity, as well as a Directed Study with Jason about autoethnography and critical reflective narrative research methods. I'm also TAing this term, for another prof that I love for a course called Assessment for Programming, and this time I have my own tutorial. The students are great and I'm having a good time - the only thing is that this makes for A LOT OF WORK. My MRP IS focussing on how research is being conducted with children, how researchers perceive and position children in their research, and basically whether research is being conducted ON or ABOUT children or WITH and ALONGSIDE children. I've done a tonne of reading about kids' participation, children's rights, children's voices and "child-friendly" research methods, and it's all bubbling over in my mind. I'm looking forward to talking with researchers doing work in the field and hearing what they have to say. So, suffice it to say, I'm a little busy. It's doubtful I'll post here on a regular basis, but I'll try to keep up with it a bit better than once a year! There are so many amazing tidbits and huge mind-altering things in grad school, I'll try to share a few every now and then. NERD OUT for now...