Monday, December 7, 2009

Discovering life

A former student and now dear friend were discussing her doctoral research project.  She was feeling a bit concerned but not quite frustrated that her research had so many variables that she might not be able to make definitive conclusions.  Another newbie PhD chimed in that when she reaches that conclusion she has done her research well.

Yet daily research is announced through various media stating conclusively that certain behavior or responses are the result of certain other conditions.  Some conclusions are surprising or at least unexpected while others seem so simplistic, logical and natural.  I believe one should never underestimate the relationships or correlations we observe through our daily lives.  If carefully noted, these observations are a type of qualitative research.

Today we are experiencing the first serious frost of the year.  The temperature is in the 20's.  The water for the horse, goats and fowl is freezing.  Last year a similar freeze fell on another day of the year.  Some years a freeze this deep never even happened.  Based on observations and note taking, it would be foolish for me to expect this deep freeze to be on the same date each year.  It would be equally foolish, to expect each student to learn the same way in the same time frame each year.  It is for this reason, I maintain very loose deadlines for assignments and why my expectations for each student depends on their experiences, culture, and abilities to move forward.

I will not journalize these observations or informal research, as it were, because the variables are too many.  Nor will I ignore it.

The outdoors, nature and the animals are calling for my care and asking me to learn from them.  I go!

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