the “SO WHAT” question

So What? What is my research trying to say? Why bother? What’s it telling us? Who cares? These questions are what’s really known as “what does this PhD study add as original contribution to my field of research?” conundrum. It’s also known as the “shit, I forgot to remind myself of the research question” and the “why didn’t anyone tell me my research is not really original” plaint.

Being stuck in the head down, bum up analysis and writing phase for so long means I’ve been unable to see what might be original about my research. It all feels so obvious, so understood and so implicit. (Of course, this is precisely what I’ve been trying to unpack, but let’s not go there.) My hubby tells me that I’m ILLUMINATING the field of teaching and learning in the one-to-one music lesson scenario. It’s all very well to ILLUMINATE (JAZZ HANDS!! SPIRIT FINGERS!!), but I’d also rather like to add something vaguely original for ongoing research purposes.

Then, yesterday, I had a great meeting with my supervisor, who asked me to consider the journeyman/apprenticeship notion. We were talking about enculturation, which she felt was both the right and wrong word to describe what I was trying to explain. There’s something about the one-to-one lesson that exceeds mere craft training or enculturation, that gives dignity and worth and value to the age old act of apprenticeship. As I have been saying for three years, we have devalued this way of learning, and I’m not sure why it gets such bad press. I suspect that it is this conundrum which I have been trying to articulate for three years. And I’m excited about my study again. Because for the first time in a long time, I’ve had the epiphany moment, courtesy of said supervisor, who “gets” what I am trying to say. Nice one, supe!

It’s my reply to the “so what” question. Finally.


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