Re: [xmca] Point of view in writing

From: Kimberly <mik88 who-is-at>
Date: Thu Aug 16 2007 - 09:56:52 PDT

Hi Mike,

I'm a little confused by your response. It almost sounds as if you are
saying a third person approach doesn't have the same "potential pitfalls"
that you mentioned. My understanding is that data collection must be
systematic, thorough, and well-organized no matter what the writing approach
used. Fieldnotes, personal notes, transcriptions, triangulation through
correspondence, public notices, student work/journals, interviews, etc. are
the empirical bases for the interpretation of the data. First person
doesn't necessarily mean just a retrospective account or memoir. I think it
can be just as systematic, rigorous, "objective," and empirically-based as
any third person approach. Writing in first person, however, puts the
inevitable subjectivity of the author up front on the table. I think, too,
the personal voice (at least in education) may help to bridge the gap
between researcher and practitioner.


On 8/16/07 11:36 AM, "Mike Cole" <> wrote:

> Hi Kimberly (and Paul) (and)
> I started this with a new header because the previous notes were carrying
> very long string of prior notes in them. Something to
> do with problems Bruce wrote about yesterday I think.
> If there is disagreement about the disutilities of writing in pseudo third
> person, as if objective, fashion grovelling on our bellies, handcuffed,
> etc, in order to publish someone will have to defend such forms of behavior.
> My own view is the the method of explication should fit the subject matter
> being discussed. You can get a feel for how I mix the two genres
> in Cultural Psychology.
> In so far as I am using method of long term participant observation, which
> is one approach I use to some of the topics I work on, I find that a
> potential pitfall of the first person approach arises if one fails to create
> systematic fieldnotes of one's activities, interpretations, guesses about
> what going on, etc. from the beginning of the research up to the point where
> one is writing the account. This hit me most forcefully when
> trying to account for three years of work creating and trying to sustain
> afterschool activities at four sites here near UCSD. At the end of the
> period I wrote up an account of what I thought had occurred. I believed it.
> Then I listened to audiotapes of discussions I had had with key
> players three years earlier during which we planned what we would be doing
> and what we thought had to be done to make the work
> successful. I was stunned in listening to the tapes, to learn how much my
> retrospective account had selectively forgotten lots of events,
> lots of pointers (had I been able to interpret them properly) to upcomping
> problems and changes.
> So, when using first person approaches, its nice to have lots of bits of
> "objectified" materials, including one's own fieldnotes and notes
> to colleagues (email is great in this respect) as a materialized record of
> what you USED to think, or what you USED to believe was important, etc.
> And, in addition, including information that does not arise from sources you
> helped to create is also useful as a way of triangulating and
> being self critical.
> mike
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Received on Thu Aug 16 09:59 PDT 2007

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