Thinking about either a small segment of a current research project or the overall scope of a current research project, your invitation here is to
- write in plain English, let the academese lapse for a while – maybe novel words, stronger verbs, sassy sentences will find their way in,
- write to develop a single idea or concept, or to convey a novel insight, or to describe the project overall.
- write for an audience who would not ordinarily encounter this idea – an interdisciplinary colleague, your cousin or gran, a friend since primary school who took another path, or a person in government, industry, community organizing who you want to be in conversation with about a shared concern, or write (in turn, not all at once) for multiple audiences,
- write no more than two pages, ideally about one page (250 words/page),
- write before looking at samples: Research in Plain English,
- write generatively – this is about pushing, finding, exploring an idea.
And post – click on the hyperlinked How here or go to the How tab to learn the details on joining in part of the process.
‘What people talk about when they talk about literacy?’
This was the title of my MA thesis. It echoes the title of a collection of short stories, by Raymond Carver, that at the time I was reading and loved: ‘What do people talk about when they talk about love?’
My area of research is adult literacy. I completed my Doctorate while worked in FE am now working in HE (holding on by my fingertips). I am acutely aware of my minority status as one of the 1.2 BMEworking in HE. And – because I am a woman – determined to open my own doors.
I am now getting started with a research project with my students at University of Hull registered on a University Diploma course. I want to explore their ideas about teaching language and literacy.
I am curious about ‘What people talk about when they talk about literacy’. Depending on who is speaking they may talk about
· illiteracy or lack of (functional) literacy – politicians and policy makers are keen on this
· falling standards in reading and writing – they never define precisely when standards started falling and from what to what – politicians and policy makers and the press like this
· the rogue apostrophe, to which my response is always http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lm2OzAX86JU(one of the things I like about literacy is subverting it – this is a popular one that educated people talk about and Linda Truss)
· the desire to be educated, good parents or to see their children do well (students often talk about this)
· the frustration they feel at having to reconcile the irreconcilable – what students want, what they as teachers feel their students need and what they are required to do (teachers often talk about this)
· the space between thought and text (me! But not mine I just think it a beautiful definition and share it with other researchers – it should be more quoted)
All writing is derivative. It prefer ‘holding hands’ to ‘standing on shoulders’. I am conscious of ideas and voices woven so completely into my own that I can at times no longer discern where my own voice starts and stops.