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Research Mentoring in Action!

Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2003 08:50:13 +0100
From:   "" <edssjf@bath.ac.uk>
To:   SimonRiding <simon@ariding1.freeserve.co.uk>
Cc:  "" <S.J.Fletcher@bath.ac.uk>
Subject: Review of your dissertation

Hi Simon

I read your dissertation carefully - it's coming on so well.  Congratulations!

I have some feedback for you which as I always say when I work on the final stages of dissertations is open for you to use (or not use) as you decide fit. My students are widespread - Doreen in Nepal, Ian in Venezuela, Zehra in Turkey.  The one big plus we have is that I can come and see you to talk things through. I have written to Mark offering to come this Wednesday with Jack and/or run one to ones soon for anyone who would find that more individualised support helpful.

Given your title Living Myself through Others - I look for evidence that what the group and the individuals do has a way of enabling you to be the educator you want and need so you experience self-actualisation (in Maslow's terms).

Where I part company with Jack's feedback is that I am looking for voices of individual members of the Westwood group beyond the tutors and group convenors.

You do refer to Simon Ratcliffe's influence but what did it mean for you as an educator living through the group when Karen brought in the G and T students?  For example when Jean and Margaret are participating what does it mean for you ie what are you learning as an educator from interacting with them as co-enquirers and what do you see as your influence on them (this needs validating) as well as (v. well expressed) influences you recount from the group leaders.

I want to see how Jack as group member is influenced by your own participation to substantiate your claim about living through others in an educational way. As far as Jack's influence on you I think it is around using questions of the kind How can I improve? as a means of enabling you to understand your value/s. Your dissertation 'speaks well' but I think you coud strengthen it further by offering an abstract at the outset that tells readers why your work is so very educationally important as well as being important for you/the group/Westwood. I would draw out the implications in the intro/abstract and in the conclusion that underline the wider educational significance of an MA group in a school and your role rather like Chaucer's narrating the journey from W'wood as base!  I like your metaphor of the soap opera and I would link this to your refs to Gatsby - at present these sit together but not in an integrated 'wholeness'. There are a few facts I would check out too - eg I loved our ref to my email about BUTRN as being from a friend ... I feel I am your friend but maybe you should name me as a tutor/mentor and from the point of view of wider ethical correctness ie your reader needs to know the context of the email I sent you?

e.g. change of deputy heads, p. 68 every teacher has the ability to learn from within themselves (I love this bit - I would have referred back in conclusion - it links really well to your observation on page 75 - searching within myself)and your final line on page 80 speaks volumes to me - and I would have flagged up in your abstract/intro that this is the process that you are investigating.

There are some parts I would think over and reframe to get a Merit - it's your choice but I think your work is SO significant that you should aim for this - I agree with Jack you are close to a Pass - but as a mentor I want more for you! I agree with Jack about using Clandinin's work regarding storying the landscape

The bit about the girl running over the hills for you (p80)... I think she does (and has) in the group process/interactions you account for in a critiqued way.  My feeling (and I draw on Maslow again) is that her running to you once is exciting a hunger for the next time she might - ie in your urgency for PhDness!

I don't understand from what you have written why Jack's notes for his workshop made you feel inadequate - your accounting for the group is equally significantI think you need to explain how this impacted on your conception of an educator. I think his notes might be setting you a challenge because you are ambitious... at W'wood?  Maybe that is the stuff of your PhD - moving beyond the recounting of facts to engaging in the growth of emotional and spiritual fulfilment as an educator? The one I thing I do see is how you move without always celebrating the present - enjoy the experience of being at master's level for its own sake as well as its being a stage in your journey towards PhDness - your 'present' is valuable.

What can you do now in terms of skills understandings and values because of it? I am drawing on Bart McGettrick's model here - I can send you refs if you want some - I can also credit Courage to Be to Tillich and being to Maslow - you mention these but don't contexualise them as influencing your knowing ... page 57 last line - 'motivate' not 'motive'. Maybe (it's entirely up to you)  Differentiate between Jack and me as tutors exerting an educational influence I moved from being a tutor to being a mentor - was it an influence on the group. Incidentally thank you profoundly for expressing your thoughts about my work! Page 38 I would link why the BPRS were submitted as a group bid not a group of individual bids - ie they grew from and would contribute to the school's SIP. As You can see, I am working backwards in my review - now page 15! I want to know the emotional impact on where you talk about Stuart's 'real suggestions'.

OK - now I am on your first paragraph of your dissertation and I want to know why you think I should read this and what you hope I will be enabled to learn - Well - there we are - I do my observations help you - this has been a delight! A very long review but I guess it reflects a parallel process I am undertaking with editing my thesis as I improve how it communicates - to enhance its value. Wishing you strength, honour and a stronger sense of your value as an educator!

PS I would love to read some of my writing so I can understand if it has any educational signficance in your eyes as I account for my almost 30 year career.


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