Being a writer is a state of mind

The changes to working life, location and pace due to be COVID-19 lockdown have been strange but have led to a lot of new opportunities for professional learning for me. It’s been wonderful to participate in #APConnect #joyFE and @PDNorth FE community events.

What’s particularly inspired me has been the 3 #FEVIrtualResearchMeet events organised in June/July by the amazing @FEResearchMeet team. Keynote speakers Professor Sam Broadhead and David Powell posed us some real challenges around taking practitioner research forwards, both individually and in collaboration.

Sam gave us fascinating thoughts on writing itself as being a physical, embodied, situated process, an artistic, craft endeavour which forms an important part of our identity. Telling us that writing is akin to running, in that it requires commitment, self-discipline and precision, she urged us to learn from other writers, to develop good habits, to use community writing opportunities.

David used the work Pale Rider (which documents deadly misinformation circulated around the ‘Spanish Flu’ epidemic of 1918-20 due to narrative control) as a call to us to ensure that FE voices do not go unheard. He urges us to write about our FE work, to shape and lead the FE narrative, to tell our story. Draw the map. If we don’t, other voices with other agendas have control of what is said of FE in these times. By documenting our experiences we will also give other practitioner-writers encouragement to do the same.

Good intentions are often what immediately stems from these inspiring events, then life intervenes. To quote Atari’s founder Nolan Bushnell, ‘everyone who has ever taken a shower has had an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it that makes a difference’. Sam and David encouraged us to act, beginning by thinking of ourselves as writers, believing that this is a core part of our identity.

So, at least I’ve made a good start following that sage advice, firstly with this short blog. I’ve also set up an identity on Google Scholar and published my doctoral thesis on ResearchGate under a Creative Commons License. There is a handy blog summary available for those who want a 5-minute precis!

It was eerie how both of those actions really triggered my impostor syndrome, but that’s just the way it is. Get over it, Lynne. I have 750 words to write on my experience as an FE educator in the COVID-19 times, so ‘fake it until you make it’ will be my new motto.

Published by ltaylerson

I am a former FE Computing and Teacher Education Curriculum Leader and ex-BBC engineer and trainer. Worcestershire-based, I specialise in teacher education and CPD, educator mentoring, digital skills and pedagogy, I am director of Real Time Education, an independent provider and a keen commentator on further education and digital skills on social media @realtimeedu. I completed a PhD in Education investigating teachers' use of informal social media dialogues for professional learning in April 2020.

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