Hulihutu is a Chinese word that sounds very much like its definition.   It means and sounds confused. Once again in overthinking matters about my PhD, DIY PhD, book, journal article, I’ve ended up in a tizzy.  So with my cousin’s words in my head – reverse engineering, I set off to begin with the end in mind and work backwards.

Two main goals motivate and inspire me to undertake this huge project, the largest one in my life thus far.  The first aim is personal – to expose myself and my family to alternatives in education that will inform and enlighten us in the education of our own children.  The second objective goes beyond the personal to encompass a community, society and hopefully, the world.  The ultimate dream is to set up my own non-traditional school.  If that’s too much of an implausible idea, working for an alternative school or for an organization that facilitates change in existing education systems, would be welcome options.  The practices I will have seen live and in action, I hope would find actual application.  They should not stay in the realm of theory or wishful thinking.

My research proposal concludes with this paragraph:

In the future, I also hope that I can establish an alternative school in China and in the Philippines that embodies the lessons that I learned from this research endeavor.  This particular dream scares me.  I’ve thought about it and imagined it in my head but the reality of it seems remote and farfetched.  It’s hard for me to believe.  Perhaps in undertaking this journey, it will not seem too impossible. 

In my head, I’ve pictured how it could happen in China and in my own country.  A multitude of doors must open themselves or be pried open and a confluence of sorts must transpire before a project like this could materialize.  Regardless of the unseen and unknowable future, the two goals nevertheless influence the current path of investigation and study.  Whether the end product is a book, article or thesis, it doesn’t matter as much as keeping those two goals in focus and in balance vis a vis each other.  The personal must naturally take precedence especially now that my children are young but as they become older and more independent, I imagine the social aspect would slowly encroach on the personal, time and energy-wise.

In the long list of 20 to 30 schools and centers to visit and many organizations to network with, I’d have to conduct a lot of interviews with people including founders, leaders, teachers, students and parents.  The choice of the end product (book, article, thesis) would dictate the thread of questioning.  If it’s a scientific research paper, there would be more things to consider and prepare such as methodology, random sampling and reviewing related studies.

If it’s an academic research – there’s a theory that needs to be proven and justified by the sample obtained.  If it’s a book, it could combine investigative journalism and straightforward narrative, documenting everything from the author’s view and the encounters and talks with others.

It seems the best way to go about this project unencumbered and with less baggage would be to regard the initial trip around the world as a preliminary research that could eventually lead to other possibilities in the future such as journal articles and a PhD dissertation.

First and foremost, I’d like to develop a deeper understanding of alternative education from experiential views, from firsthand accounts rather than books and journals which tickle the interest but don’t satisfy the curiosity to know more.  It’s an opportunity to get an insider’s view of the pleasant and not so pleasant, the successes and challenges, the noteworthy and the plain.  This trip can then be released from the burden of having an overly ambitious schedule because it’s only an initial data gathering phase that could lead to more in-depth studies in the future.  I could chill, relax and enjoy the journey more with my husband and children.

This takes me back full circle to what my friend, Daniel said about letting the whole process write itself and letting go of the manic chandelier swinging between official and DIY PhD, between thesis and journal article, between book and whatever.   There’s a writer, a blog and a dream.  Let’s take it from there.  Wherever it takes us, it would be a fun ride anyway.  Hulihutu be gone.


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