Sympathy at the Symposium

Posted on Updated on

2015-06-05 12.07.46

In this post,

Paul Hopkins @hopkinsmmi

offers a considered overview of the Doctoral Symposium and concludes by challenging a few of our ideas about the primacy of words: 

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and this post is stimulated by the doctoral symposium that took place at the University of Hull over the last few days:

Operationalising research: real journeys, real voices, digital worlds

Firstly, thanks to Carol Azumah Dennis, Joseph Ploner and Anastasi Gouseti at the Faculty of Education in Hull for their hard work in organising the days, speakers and food!

There is the, “loneliness of the long-distance researcher” that is combatted by such events and the three days reminded my of the reasons I left school teaching and wanted to be in Higher Education – the opportunity to sit around a table and argue about the nature of the human mind as a computational algorithmic device with a sociologist and a philosopher of mind (thanks Mark and John) as well as be inspired, challenged and comforted by the research narratives presented by colleagues old and new.

The symposium explored a number of metaphors over the course of the few days – the journey of course came up and like all metaphors it stretched only so far. However it was good to meet people at different stages of their journey and to, “walk a little way in their shoes” be that at the beginning, the middle or those final stages as they staggered towards conclusion. As well as some keynotes of parts of the process the range of subjects under study by those still on the road was large and fascinating. Be these children oscillating between the liminal space of special and secondary school, how Thai speakers of English are understood by other speakers of English, Goths in the GDR or analysing websites in schools promoting neo-colonialism in Nigeria; to name but a few. As so often in these events it is the conversations in the spaces around the events that help shape ideas, thoughts and processes and there is no doubt that one comes away richer.

My contribution to the event was to challenge some of the orthodoxy in how we present a thesis – entitled “Crushed beetles on dead trees” it questioned the notion of the thesis as x thousands of words on the page. Not that words on the page were not a perfectly good way of expressing ideas, concepts, thoughts and results but that they were not the only way.

Beetles and trees

Whilst you can see the general idea by clicking on the Prezi above some further text will be useful as I tend to do “just the pictures” when presenting, this will follow shortly. What you might like is the doctoral process presented as an emoji stream – you can add your own captions ;-D