On Friday we had a Module Two session on SKYPE. We talked about three A’s
We were talking about the ‘finding a question’/’area of inquiry’ section of the module. This begins Module Two but it is not about finding a complete question or defined area. It is about finding a general direction. During Module two you are carving out an Inquiry Plan. The different tasks help you refine the general direction into an Inquiry plan BY THE END of the module. You are not expected to start the module by finding a completed question /inquiry. What would the rest of the module be about? You are carving out the plan and the first part is just deciding what it will be generally about (what it’s made of). Just like: if you were carving a sculpture you would need to start by deciding what material you will be using (what it is made of) – ice, wood, marble??? Then once you have the general shape of it then you carve at it bit by bit to make the final sculpture. At the beginning of Module Two all you are doing is finding the general material you will be working with. Through doing the task in Module Two and thinking and reading about the general direction you are going you will slowly carve away to make a final Inquiry plan by the end of the Module in December (January hand-in date).
[Ambiguity = uncertainty, indistinctness.] It is ok for you to have some ambiguity around what exactly you are doing at this point. What you need to be able to do is describe in general terms what area you are looking at. This is quite hard because some people make the question/field too specific and others make it so general it would be impossible to research in 12 weeks.
So how do you find the middle ground. Look at your questions or statements about what you want to explore in your inquiry and ask yourself what assumptions you are making.
My question might be “what makes a good dancer?”
What assumptions are there here when I ask this question?
1) That ‘good’ is the same for everyone. As if there was actually a good you could attain that everyone agreed is ‘good’.
2) That we can define ‘dancer’.
When you look at it closely this question becomes so general it is practically impossible to research. (Especially in only the 12 weeks of Module Three). Or if you think well I mean good = triple pirouettes, and dancer means ballet dancer age 20-30 years old working in USA or Europe. The question becomes “what makes a ballet dancer age 20-30 years old working in USA or Europe do triple pirouettes?” Now it is so specific it will be hard to find information just about this and do you really want to spend 12 weeks on it. Is it likely you’ll actually find out?
The spirit of the question is something about wanting to know about dancers, you and other people admire. The assumptions of ‘good’ & ‘dancer’ are part of the spirit of the question. You might realise you have a particular idea of what ‘good’ is and what a ‘dancer’ is. It is these assumptions that could be what your inquiry is about – you know what you think ‘good’ is so why not find out what other people think. Hearing what other people think might inform your ideas or offer you ideas about dance you had not thought about. Your question could be ‘How would people describe a good dancer.’ Or ‘what makes a dancer ‘good’ to you?’ Then you are naturally led to start to think about the inquiry tool you need. How will ask people question about what they think? You could interview a dancer who is working on a contract in West End, another dancer who is on a cruise ship, a dancer who is training, a dance teacher, a dancer who has retired. You are interested in what all these people say about your question to them. They are not going to answer your question because they are just giving their opinion but their ideas will help you better understand and challenge your own. It is better understanding what a good dancer is in your own terms that was the spirit of the original question.
I am saying you are not trying to find a question you can ask and then go find out the answer to. Like asking a question and what people say is the answer. It’s not a treasure hunt or a telemarketing exercise. You are going out to gather data to add to your own ideas and then you are going to analyse the data. By analysing it you consider what it is telling you not just the direct answers but how the answers happened and why. That is all part of the analysis too. You compare what people said to what people have written about and what you have experiences and then you discuss how your own ideas about the topic has changed since doing the Inquiry. So your question is not to ask and be answered, it is to asked for conversation to happen: for inquiry to happen.
I feel that if you look at your own assumptions you find the places you could find out more about because assumptions manifest when we have one story about something and don’t realise it is one story. Finding out more is at the heart of Module Two and Three. Have a look at this video to think more about the danger of one story: