I am Lina and I like pictures. If asked to introduce myself to a group of academics, I would say: “I am Lina and for my PhD thesis I explored how children engage with wordless picture books.” Given my love for visual stories and my PhD topic, I hereby succumb to a temptation I always had in mind: to summarise my entire PhD life in 8 pictures. A complete thesis for the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge is equivalent to approximately 80000 words. Based on the famous saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”, for the sake of this blog post, let’s equip images with even more power and try to visualise a four-year PhD experience.
Producing well-argued, coherent and scientifically sound papers can be challenging. That is not only true for early career researchers, including PhD students, but also for more established academics. Accordingly, we all depend on the feedback and advice of peers to ensure the quality of our work. Peer reviewers can offer authors a fresh view of their manuscript, raise critical questions about aspects that may need more clarity, or point out arguments that cannot be justified based on the nature or scope of the study.
After completing my MEd (Master of Education) in my Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) year, I swiftly began to miss being actively engaged in educational research. I had already begun to ponder about undertaking a professional doctorate in Education (EdD) when I attended the first annual EdD conference at Cambridge in June 2015. I had been completely inspired by the energy and passion of the educational professionals that presented and attended the conference. Following this, I was able to gain some further insight from EdD students that were balancing their studies alongside teaching successfully.
I spent most of my PhD worrying about what I was going to do once I finished it. I had an idea of what I wanted to do but I just could not find the place to do it. My research focuses on the intersection of human rights and education and I wanted to keep on working on both aspects of it. This was a nightmare in terms of job hunting. Human Rights Education is quite a new field so there were not many positions available – only one since 2014, to be precise – and positions in education faculties had little or no connections with human rights at all.
I have recently returned from my doctoral fieldwork in Northern Canada. My research includes six Anishinaabe secondary school students who attend an Anishinaabe-controlled school. The students attending this school live in four different self-governing Anishinaabe communities contending with the ongoing consequences of colonization, including; displacement from tribal land, rural isolation, food scarcity, dependency on natural resources, and wide-spread environmental pollution.
We are living in a world marked by rising populist and xenophobic movements, political conflict, and increasing austerity. Global conflicts, the rise of the “far right” and the legacies of colonialism and imperialism are re-inscribing race and racism into contemporary society. People of colour are recast into positions of marginality whilst systemic inequality and oppression are regularized – posited as the status quo. These realities have long defined and continue to shape our world.
As I come to the end of my first year of the PhD and to the stage of handing in my first-year report, I wanted to share my thoughts on developing the methodology for my research. I should say, before commencing, that my methodology is a work in progress, and that I have a sense that it will not become ‘fixed’ for a little while to come.