Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Conflict, Cognitive Dissonance, and Staying True?

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You go through journeys of personal growth where you pass through conflict and struggle until you find your equilibrium and feel comfortable where you are at. Finishing my PhD was one of those moments. As I re-wrote my research methodology chapter to highlight my paradigmatic stance of intrpretive/critical research, and as I wrote the conclusion chapter of my thesis where I critiqued my own work and decided that the whole idea of defining critical thinking using skills, etc, was… Not only useless but reinforced a white male Western ideological stance… Those were good moments for me. When I started reading then writing for Hybrid Pedagogy in my own voice, finding space to be critical of my own pedagogy even while striving to implement praxis, and trying to find ways to apply this to faculty development… Those were good times. Doing collaborative autoethnographic research? That felt good and it felt right. So right.

And yet. I read this wonderful reflective piece on critical pedagogy today and I loved it. It reminded me of how I feel and what I believe. As did the entire Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute experience. No. I was not there in Wisconsin-Madison- but the twitter stream (#digped) combined with the virtually connecting meetings we had and now the videos of the keynotes and all that – it all reminded me that some of us can find solace and community in our dissent. We are not alone in the world, even if we feel we are relatively alone in our institutions.

I also remembered, though, that I am involved in two research projects that conflict a bit with my own values. Working with people who are leading these projects who are comfortable with other paradigms and a different worldview, part of me wants to be open-minded and to listen- to try to do something different from what I would have done had I been leading. To learn from others. To not be closed-minded about being open-minded.

And yet of course I drive my colleagues crazy at each turn because I resist every step of the way because I am critical of almost every tiny little detail (or so it seems)

And so the reality is catching up with me that

A. I have a lot of control over my teaching and can continue to apply critical pedagogy and evolve there. Thank God

B. I have a lot of control over my personal research that I lead but cannot always apply it in practice where others are involved. So i am writing a book chapter with a postcolonial perspective on MOOCs but supporting the design of MOOCs at my institution that cannot possibly do everything I think they should (but I am trying)

C. That when working with others on their terms I have to make choices to either stick with it and be a difficult person to work with and learn to somehow listen even while I resist…. Or to leave. I would rather not leacr unless it gets too bad.

I think I am approaching a new stage of maturity. I am just not at equilibrium yet.

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