This blog is created to support conversation generated from and about the learning process for MA Professional Practice (MAPP) in the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries (ACI) at Middlesex University.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Methodology - Sunday Discussions

Sunday discussions went well – in the morning we talked about a range of topics converging on methodology – how we go about things. How we notice significant things - things at sparkle in our memory or imagination when we consider an idea. The conversation suggested that this was about ‘narrowing down’ ideas to better manage them. In other words not to be overwhelmed by the on-going growth or wonder of finding out more but to follow the trails of the things that compel you and inspire you as a starting point of finding out more.

We talked about the use of confidence to keep you moving forward and not second guessing yourself. Then we linked the points we were making in the conversation to positivist and non-positivist methodological approaches. We noted that a non-positivist approach is really the design model the course calls for. It does not involve certainly as a guiling principle so the uncertainty of the wealth of ideas people were experiencing (the feel of sometimes being lost) could be seen as part of the terrain of this kind of research approach. It is not about fixed facts it is about a process or journey to asking deep questions.

So maybe some of this is about shifting our perception of what research is and what it can do. We talked about it being like layers, or watercolour paints that bleed into each other rather than about finding out an answer to a fixed question.  It became clear reflection and reflectivity are key. Also how the past shapes our present perceptions of education and research.

We talked then about how a change of mind is not isolated to the mind but a shift in approach to everything because everything is connected. Research is about being sensitive to how even the smallest shift in experience reverberates across our understanding of everything.    

People in the conversation and who are posting on it also are:


In the afternoon we talked about objectivity, artistic v academic, learning through dancing. This conversation included talking about the low value dance has in some peoples hierarchy of learning. “wow you can do a degree in dance – I’ve heard you can do a degree in anything nower days.!!’ This returned us in many ways to the positivist non-postivist of the morning. The value of dance, or the academic-ness of the arts etc… are measured differently depending on what model for understanding what the world is you use (ontology). And what model for understanding what knowledge you use (epistemology). Whatever your area of scholarship you first need to have a theoretical framework (a sense of where you stand ontologically and/or epistemologically) this is because you do not want to spend all your time justifying what you are doing in some models your work will not be valuable. You want to know the framework you are working in order to make sure you keep moving forward and challenge yourself meaningfully. This awareness of where you stand is important because otherwise you are fighting the personal fight of your own study against gigantic models for research that have nothing to do with what you are doing. In other words, you cannot spend your time persuading yourself you are academic after a history of not feeling academic – you may very well not be in the terms you are setting out.  But you can shift what your perception of academic is to better understand the learning you have done. Then the question is not ‘artistic or academic?’ ‘It is artistic academia how and where do I fit in?’  Then you can spend you time finding the theory and thinking and frameworks that make sense for your embodied approach to the world.

We talked abit about the blog post on Theory, theoretical frameworks and ethics (see below posts) . It only has one comment please comment there too.

The pm discussion was with:

Please have a look at each other’s posts on the two discussions, comment there and here.

Helen and I reminded you the Dancing and writing  Professional Practice Summer Intensive is fun and inspiring and helpful  and open for  registration now. See post below.



  1. Thank you, Adedsola for this blog post.

    Great discussion last Sunday, I felt. Biggest light-bulb moment for me was the positivism/non-positivism points in discussion - what it means and what it entails. I believe it kind of squares to what I am reading at the moment on reflective practice and critical thinking. One quote is 'to be able to critique means being able to acknowledge that there is more than one way of looking at an issue'. I suppose that's a non-positivist approach, right?? Quite often, I look for that certainly, that fixed answer, rather than letting it be a process or a journey. Guess I'll have to get my head round this in regards to 'research'!

    yes, that validity of a degree in dance! It is so true that we should be aware of where we stand and where we are standing is important. I am certainly not an academic and definitely not feeling as one at this time!! But thank you and wow - I can shift my perception of what an academic is to better understand the learning I have done - artistic academia.

    But I think this would not have been possible (or even being considered), maybe 25 years ago! I don't think that kind of mentality or accessibilty existed at that time - this kind of a degree in dance or an MA in Professional Practice ( in Dance!!). Certainly didn't exist in my time - and not even a BA in dance! Hence, the low value in dance (degrees) in some people's perception of higher learning....

    Thoughts, anyone??

    1. Yes great quote to sum up the possibility within things - not a fixed approach bit an approach that is in the moment - responsive. (reflective).

      Yes but in some USA universities there have been dance departments for over 100 years.

  2. After Sunday discussion, I began to think deeply about what others said and how different perseptions can shift one's thought process. Adesola clarified the concept of positivism as a scientific approach which remains fixed whether one discovers it or not, it will not have any inflence on them. and Positivism is not being Positive as it was wrongly assumed. Non-positivism on the otherhand was compared to our MA course beautifully as our works are constructed from number of elemnts, as we all have different approaches and different ideas.Our discussion continued around research methods adopted as per our relavance and creating research framework having a sound ethical considerations. However, talking about ethical consideration I realised that perception and principles are the two inseparable aspects. In our lives,Self-concern is the reason why we see things in a certain way and in a certain situation. In my recent experience I felt,that while focusing on my studies I avoided spending time with my family,as I was deeply engrossed in my work. To my surpirse I realised that my actions did hurt my my point was perceiving a situation does not mean seeing oneself as being confronted by something rather being involved in someting in someway. Thus, persons who are able to appraoch a situation empathically grasp it more precisely and assuredly than those who react rationally. Talking in research terms, I learnt that empathy has two fearures: makes it possible to see the way in which other persons are involved. makes it possible to see oneself as being involved in situation by perceiving them, caring about something can be an important aspect of a person's perception in ethical terms.
    Helen concluded with a lovely suggestion that all our perceptions in our learning process are like different coloured paints spread across a white paper and individual reflections and ethical conideration as a drop of water can merge them to bleed to create a beautiful work of art. Other aspect of the discussion was filling employer's consent form. Being a self-employed what would be my responsibility to fill that form? How do I ensure that I will conduct research ethically?
    I am still thinking?? Do leave comments. Thanks.

    1. Graceful summary of the conversation Parimala

  3. This feedback post is very helpful, because although I may have questions, for some reason,

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