If life is what happens to our plans, then dance is what happens to our steps.
ideas sometimes when you wait they come to you.

Preparation for starting with BAPP

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Holidays, networks, tools and be led!

This week’s blog is a little late, in that I try to post each Thursday. I had a test on Thursday and then had to watch a few hours of 'Glee' to calm back down.

So how is it going? The Easter holidays are upon us but I know for some people that means having more time to work on your module since work obligations are not as intense over the holiday. As the term comes to an end really meeting your own scheduling targets for your study is important. You might use some of the time to assess where you are in the module and re-schedule how you will approach the activity of the last few weeks. Always leave yourself a couple of weeks to write and re-write what you are handing in. In some ways you need to think of writing the work you are handing as an experience in itself that will teach you more. Having written it you might find that the experience of writing it completes the module activity for you and helps you have a full perspective. At that point you will have a kind of clarity of completion that will in form the whole process and will mean you can go back to what you wrote and improve it in terms of order, or clarity of the points you make or seeing where you have left out something important.

I am not going back on what I am always saying about thinking. I am not saying that thinking is IN the writing but knowing the whole event is helpful for organising understanding of it. The whole event is doing the tasks AND writing about the learning. It is like the way if you are learning a dance sequence even if you don’t know how to do it all yet knowing how it will end helps you to start to internalise the sequence so you can learn and remember it. I always find while I am being taught a sequence it seems really long and overwhelming, but once I know the whole thing where it goes I can start to manage the parts of it much better and it don’t seem as long at all.

Module Ones are thinking about networks. This is am important idea because it is about how you connect to things and how you see yourself in the context of your professional activities. The last part of Module one is different from the first two parts because it is asking you to expressly look beyond yourself, to position yourself in the field of your activities. This is the first time we ask you to expressly do this. The reflection part of the module asks you to look in and the network part of the module asks you to look out. By doing both you get a sense of where you are, what your position is now, where you come from and how that has influenced you and the trajectory that moves you forward that will be the energy you use to engage with module two and then later three. I have a number of posts about ‘positioning’ and ‘YOU’; have a look around my Blog at posts from the past.

Module Twos are looking at tools of inquiry. The pilots are trying out tools to see what they do in practise in terms of the kind of information you get from them. Then think about whether this information is in the form that addresses the approach you have taken to inquire. Does it create data that is relevant to what you are interested in. In other words if you piloted something and found you got data in numerical form, (six people thought that, seven thought this) is that useful if your topic is about personal experiences of people? You might have piloted another tool and found you got a massive amount of thoughts from two people this form of data might be much more useful. NOW why do you need to have useful data?... because the inquiry is not about generating data (information) it is about what you do with the data, it is about your analysis (see last weeks blog). If how you are going to analyse is to compare numbers, you need data in the form of numbers to do that. If you are comparing or looking at feelings you need to have documentation of feelings to do that. How do you know what kind of analysis you will undertake? You know because in your inquiry question you indicate what you are looking for.
Module two is about making the ‘framework’ of your inquiry - all the bits fit in and support each other. The art of the module (and research in general) is to be sensitive to the life of the inquiry / the question itself and not to impose your own expectations and assumptions on to what will happen. This is to allow the research to lead you NOT for you to lead the research. This is a lesson for Module Threes also as they begin writing-up there research now.

What do you think?

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Weeks 6,7,8& 10 (Module three particularly)

This week I am writing particularly for people on Module Three, although I think it is important for everyone to think about … analysis. According to the Addendum page on Libguides in week six

“Students send adviser 1-2 paragraphs as a sample of your inquiry analysis. Formative feedback will be given on the structure, the quality of the arguments and the quality of the supporting evidence discussed”

I was talking to one of my students about this and we thought that some of our conversation would be good to share on the blog. So here is my take on how to address this. First this is not about writing the whole analysis section of the Critical Review Think of the analysis as an actual activity and you need sometime to do it. What you are meant to be sending is something that explains how you are addressing the activity of analysing your data. This is to check that you are actually doing it and not just writing-up an ‘incident report’ type piece of writing instead of a Critical Review.

So here is how I would do it. Summarize the following:

1) What kind of data is it that you gathered? – you may have intended to get one thing and in fact when you did your data collection you got something else. So although you said what you wanted to do in your project plan (and you will also explain this starting point in your introduction in the Critical Review) it is important to show you know what it is you got. For instance in my last research project my data was:
i) The narratives of eight people about what it feels like to learn to dance.
ii) Literature by dance academics that discusses what it feels like to dance, I particularly use McFee.
iii) My own observational data from watching the eight people in dance classes, and from doing the dance classes myself

What is important here is that I know the kind of data I gathered and I can put into categories of like kind – narratives, literature, observational. What did you gather?

2) What are you doing with it? This is hopefully some kind of triangulation (if you don’t know this word you should by now). But how are you triangulating – for example I am:
• comparing what the people said with what I felt within the classes
• comparing what the people said with watching them in the classes
• comparing what the people said with what the literature says
• comparing what the literature says with what I observed of the people in the classes
• comparing what the literature said with what it felt like in class
• comparing what I observed with what the people said
• comparing what it felt like in class with what the people said
• etc…

3) What themes are emerging from the data? From doing this I keep noticing certain things, ideas, theories. Some ideas reoccur to me or some questions keep coming up. Organising these I can group them into themes. So this step is

4) What you are doing next? These themes are where you do the activity of analysis in that you start to look deeper into them. For each theme you might need to read more of the literature focusing on the aspect of one of the themes. You might want to go back to the place you collected the data and look at things again with a theme in mind. You are starting to inquire into how the themes that have emerge relate to the initial research question that you started out from. You will need to ask yourself questions like why do you think you (yourself) noticed this in the data. Is it unexpected? Etc…

Then you need to look at what relationship the themes have with each other and with the research question. So lastly in your summary you need to state what ‘more’ you are doing which of the themes you are looking at more deeply.

So a summary of your analysis would be:
What kind of data you have
What you are doing with it
How you are doing this.
What themes have been emerging.
What more you need to know and/ or what questions have they raised
Any ideas you have at this point in terms of how this relates to your initial research question.

This should be short and clear for your own clarity and direction. In terms of what supporting evidence is, this not to build an argument yet. You need to do the above. Think of the use of the word ‘evidence as ‘illustration’. See my blog on my MAPP site March 8th
RoL 'evidence'

Now in week 10 you are asked to:

“Students send to advisers the last two sections of your Critical Review (Analysis and Critical Reflection) in draft for written feedback”

at that point you should have done the activity of the above and be able to start to put it into the words you are going to use to explain it in the Critical Review. But the words themselves are not the activity of analysis; analysis is the activity of thinking!!!

Before that in week 8 you are asked to have a draft of the first two sections of the Critical Review.

“Students send adviser the first two sections of your critical review in draft form (Introduction, Evaluation) …..”

Much of the ‘knowledge’ for this is already known by you. It is the outline of what you planned to do which is all in the work you did in Module two. It is just that in module two you planned it now you write have done it. The introduction would be to say why your interested, where you are carrying out the research, a bit a about you as the Researcher etc… the evaluation is saying what happen if any of the data collection activity changed from the plan, if the you used a different methodology than you had planned etc… This should not be a problem to write because you already know it all. Getting this bit written is just helpful because psychologically (and actually) it feels like you have a chunk of the work done. OF COURSE you will need to go back to this draft at the writing-up period and work through the text incorporating a little bit about what you found (your analysis) which will not be complete at week 8 so that why you will have to go back to this draft.

Long post!!
Does that make sense what do you think?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Dance UK - Healthier Dancer Conference

Monday 30 April 2012, 9am - 5pm
Healthier Dancer Programme Conference:

Nutrition and disordered eating in dance: Artistry, athleticism and the role of the multidisciplinary support team.

Book Now for EARLY BIRD rates (until 2 April) Dance UK members from £40 and students from £30
Venue: Royal Society of Medicine, LONDON, W1G 0AE
Key topics: Demands on dancers, healthy nutrition, and the prevention and treatment of disordered eating.

This conference will aid the dancer and their multidisciplinary support team to identify and encourage healthy behaviours and deal effectively with disordered eating patterns when necessary. It advocates a multidisciplinary approach, with presentations from leading artistic directors, health professionals, and support staff in addition to personal insights from dancers.

Speakers will include: Dame Monica Mason DBE, Artistic Director, Royal Ballet; Lauren Cuthbertson, Principal Dancer, Royal Ballet; and Huw Goodwin, Research Associate, Loughborough University Centre for Research into Eating Disorders (LUCRED).

Dancers are expected to train hard and perform excellently. This, in turn, puts particular nutritional demands on the body and psychological demands on the person. This conference will explore the technical, aesthetic, social, and personal demands on the dancer. It will ask how these demands can be managed to achieve optimal health and performance, rather than disordered eating.

Sessions include:
• The technical and aesthetic demands of dance and whether they are realistic and healthy for dancers; to be debated by a panel of artistic directors including David Nixon, Artistic Director Northern Ballet and Ann Sholem, Artistic Director National Dance Company Wales.

• A panel of dancers and educational staff will explore experiences of disordered eating in educational and professional environments.

• Recommendations for identifying and treating disordered eating.

• Recommendations for best nutritional practice, education, and the prevention of disordered eating.

• The day will finish with a discussion around the role of the multidisciplinary team working with dancers, including recognising and managing maladaptive strategies and supporting dancers’ ultimate goals of optimal health and performance.

For booking details please go to: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/3053540221

Thursday, 8 March 2012


Well, hard to believe it’s week 5!! Hopefully you are well into everything, possibly getting acquainted with the feeling of ‘not knowing’, which comes before that light-bulb moment as things click into place. I think the biggest thing to check at this point is that you are ‘in it’. That is you have done the things you set yourself to do and if you have not just get on and do them as best you can – get messy.

Module ones are trying out different kinds of reflection tools, writing different journals. And going further than the handbooks by looking at books in the library by theorists that have interested them from the Reader.

Module twos are really looking deeply at the ethical questions that their experiences, and professional environment raise – maybe asking uncomfortable questions of themselves or looking at things differently.

Module Threes are coming to the end of data collection and starting to try to find meaning in all the pieces of the research.

Emergence: it’s a messy, wonderful time! And then it’s Spring the perfect illustration of growth as dainty buds move stones and dirt in order to push themselves into the sun and flower. You might be pushing some stones too.

A word about books: (still thinking about literature for all modules)

Below is a really interesting TED talk. It is about the way Google, Hulu etc… find things ‘you would be interested in’. That is the mathematical patterns that computers run in order for listings to be produced. When you Google things for instance. Now how do things pop-up when there is so much out there… its not magic.

Watch the video, which is a word of warning about the trust we place in these patterns. It is clear that it can not be ‘fair’ because how does anyone decide what should be first etc. So as something goes viral it can be ‘real’ be what it appears to be or it can be something else – marketing. How do you check its authenticity?? It is why the internet is problematic as your only source of information gathering. There is an in crowd.

Books that have been published go through extended checking because they are out there and people can question them. Authors have to cited other authors to show where things have come from. Now I am not saying that this is not exactly the same situation of in crowd. There is an in crowd in the literature too. Judith Butler who writes about women’s profile in the crowd and Cornel West who writes about the non- caucasian’s profile in the crowd. The point is that the bias in the book has been better documented than the bias in the internet. The books have been going on for thousands of years and the internet is new to us. So ideas from cross across a range of sources seems to be most useful. I highly recommend you look at published works as much as the internet.

What do you think?

Kevin Slavin: How algorithms shape are our lives


Kevin Slavin: How algorithms shape are our lives


Thursday, 1 March 2012

Having fun, chatting and being brave!

Module One people you are starting reflection tasks these can be a lot of fun. In the past, as well as the tasks in the Handbook, we have tried writing a poem each night. It is a fun way to see what you were thinking, often it is quite a surprise what you write about. Reflection is at the core of this work since it is the process of analysis (looking at the things around you and finding meaning, relationships and connections between things. The reflection reader is your first introduction to theory in the course. Take the time to find out more about some of the people you are reading about and also to apply (link) the theory with your own day-to-day experience -  reflection. 

Module Two people a word about the SIGs each year the students in this module have found different ways to make groups. The goal is to have a group of people to discuss with. In the past facebook has worked well but this year Linked-In seems to be working well for some people too. Go to the notice board on Libguides to see which groups have been formed. You don’t have to make a new group for every thought or theme you have. Just find / create a place where you can exchange ideas with peers. Remember it could be a regular meeting in a coffee shop with other students near you, but for most people the internet is easier because they are moving about because of work or do not live near other students. The point is the get chatting with people.

You are also thinking about ethics. I really would like to stress that ethics is partly about what you create for others. It is about thinking about what your actions will create and also thinking about how one can not control what people receive from us but we can put in checks and reflection points for ourselves to consider what our actions and perceptions create.

Module Three people – artefacts!! You know its great to start to think about what you could do for an artefact, but I want to ask you to consider being brave and allow yourself NOT TO KNOW yet. It is pretty hard to know at the moment because a large part of your inquiry is your analysis (thinking, reflection) of your data. You cannot really know what your inquiry is really about until you have done that part. At the moment as you collect data you are following ideas, intuition, literature but putting it all together happens in the analysis which is down the line yet. So of course you don’t know what the artefact is yet. Remember it is an artefact of the inquiry not a solution to the ‘problem’. The inquiry is not about problemtising elements of your profession (to which the artefact is a solution) rather you are inquiring to find out more for yourself.  The artefact is the manifestation of the experience of the inquiry. It is a way to move from a totally theoretical piece of work to something that expresses outside words something that stands physically outside of the pile of words in your report.

What do you all think? How is it going?