Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

A Process of Becoming: In Favour of a Reflexive Narrative Approach

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

A Process of Becoming: In Favour of a Reflexive Narrative Approach

Article excerpt

Introduction

I am sitting on the lawn in front of my alma mater. The sun is warm, and I cannot resist closing my eyes. The faint smell of freshly cut grass is floating on the breeze and my mind catches a current and drifts off with it. I hear the growling of a push mower in the distance and the hum of the traffic passing on the highway. I recline a bit and feel the softness of the lawn under my fingers. I wonder why I never took time to simply be in this place when I was a student here completing my Arts Degree. It seems impossible that I graduated more than 12 years ago. The girl who left here was running blindly into a professional degree to ready her for a career she didn't even know she resisted. Another woman sits here today wondering whether she is better or worse for the realization. Certainly the idealism she clutched as her life preserver has been casualty to my growth and maturity. Although I still possess an often blind determination, I do believe that my inner weavings are of a more pragmatic fibre. It leaves me oddly contemplative today to find myself at the site of my first conscious and independent attempt to build my own understanding of the world. Here today as scholar and speaker, I recognize that I left more than a decade ago defined by my newly framed degree and my unrealistic expectations of the next leg of my academic journey. I anticipated preparedness from my Bachelor of Education; in reality, I encountered toxicity of such magnitude that it nearly destroyed me. Despite four years of teaching in the public system, my professional degree left me feeling devalued, misplaced, unsupported, and bereft of hope. The incongruence between the espoused theories in the hallowed halls of academia were so far removed from the practical reality of the system that I was desperate to make sense of the experience. My questions were met with mocking superiority and assurances that the system was no place to attempt change or spout ideals. By the completion of my education degree, I was a shell of my former self. Diagnosed with generalized anxiety and panic disorder, as well as clinical burnout, I quit teaching and ran for my life. After three and a half years, one and a half spent in recovery and two more years spent seeking alternative types of employment, I returned to the system only to prove to myself that I could survive. I recall acutely the day I went back. The hollow click of my heels in the corridor. The air pregnant with apathy. The smell, a blend of sweat socks and cleaning solution, unchanged. The class composition--the clown, the cynic, the insolent, and the apathetic--was also familiar. The curriculum was a carbon copy, not only of my days there as teacher, but as student. The bells rang on cue. People came and went as in a well-scripted film. What was different was me. I approached the class with my trepidation and fear cloaked in the certainty of survival felt by a skydiver who knows that the parachute will open.

Upon the completion of my commitment, I walked out of the school victorious and I never looked back. I have since made my career creating employee learning and development programs to help all those for whom the school system was not, or is not, a good fit. A passionate educator at essence, I found a way to contribute that was meaningful to both learners and me. The choice I made as practitioner inspired the researcher in me to examine the effect schooling experiences have on the development of praxis.

Understanding praxis as the enactment of my theoretical beliefs about teaching, and situating it in my own narrative about schooling experiences as they relate to praxis development, my goal is to promote reflexive narrative as an approach which creates space for others to engage in critical thought that may result in wakefulness to alternative approaches to knowing ourselves as practitioners. Bloom (1998) refers to the reflexive component of this interpretive approach as emphasizing "an individual's experiences as a journey of becoming" (p. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.