Days come when I’m not sure what I’m doing and the questions and doubts overwhelm me. Is this a feasible, viable, defensible thesis proposal? This is only the beginning and it would likely go through overhauls and drastic surgery so why not make life simpler and do an independent research or a book or why not just blog? It doesn’t have to be a PhD thesis, does it?
It happens as with any endeavor that there would be days like these when the point is lost even to me and it’s tempting to abandon ship except there’s a voice that says don’t.
What is the purpose of this? Academic muscle flexing? Research out of sheer curiosity? After watching many TED Talks and asking my students to watch those as well, I am compelled to visit the model schools mentioned. After collecting books and downloading Youtube videos on the subject, I want to know more directly, see with my own eyes see and hear with my own ears. I want my husband and children to know those schools as a way to expand our horizons — there are other ways of education apart from the traditional. Witnessing is different from reading about it. Coming face to face with alternatives, we could then be better informed of the future we want for our children.
However, these random musings do not necessitate a thesis. Plugging in the school addresses in a travel itinerary is probably enough. Blogging is probably enough to document the whole process. Why complicate life with a thesis or a book? Each person’s life is an art and whatever art you want your life to be about is completely up to you. Not everyone will understand but it’s essential to live it.
I’m following a trail of thoughts apparent to some, not to others, but pertinent to me. It is an idea that won’t let go unless it’s written out. I want to make connections where there is none. The thesis allows me to analyze and investigate more deeply as an outsider looking in and gain insight as a neophyte practitioner.
I need and appreciate guidance from experts and people with experience and that’s why this undertaking becomes particularly pressing. It allows me contact with people who have worked on these issues and advocacy for years. I am barely scratching the surface. Why not interview the resource persons as a journalist? I want to create something, a product that may be a hazy seed this moment, but followed to its organic conclusion may prove useful and relevant.
I look forward to attending the Asia Pacific Democratic Education Conference in Taiwan this coming July and listening to people who can inspire and point me towards a better direction. I look forward to the Skype dates with two professors who are helping me thresh out the methodology and review of literature. Till then, I continue reading the books lined up in my kindle. Till then, I can consult Yoda and spill the fears and anxiety clouding my mind. He asks me to summarize my thesis in five sentences.
1. The thesis is both a documentation of an experience and a research into other people’s experiences that when put together hopes to validate and promote the ideas of alternative education.
2. The personal experience is a drive around the world while roadschooling our children.
3. Studying the experiences of others involve visiting models of alternative education around the world and interviewing the stakeholders.
4. It is hoped that after the process of documentation, research and investigation, the author can make a worthwhile contribution to the growing literature by tackling the parallel tracks of on-the-road learning and learning from best practices in alternative education.
5. The study doesn’t aim to prove the validity of one form of education over another but to show that they can exist side by side, potentially strengthening each other through an evolving path.
Over time, these five sentences could change or remain but it doesn’t matter. The whole project is a work in progress and keeps me trusting the unknown.