Here’s a (slow) wrap up post on the final and sixth session of the Philosophy and Theory of Higher Education Society (PaTHES) season on slow academia. You can access the slides below.
The slides recap the previous sessions: theorising self, place, relationships, time and institutions (the links are to summary posts). But it was predominantly a discussion session, with participants contributing their insights from the series. I asked:
- What have you continued to think about?
- What ideas jumped out at you, resonated, or jarred? What ideas surprised, delighted, repulsed you?
- What reading would you like to do?
- What will you take with you?
I am delighted to share an image created by Maria Jakubik that encapsulates our discussions. It is wonderful to see how she has perceived and organised our thinking. (I have a number of Maria’s articles on my to-be-read list, and look forward to sharing her ideas in future posts).
We spoke about slow discussions about theory as a way of explaining or making sense/meanings/patterns/narratives out of things we experience and observe. Thinking about the university in this way had us speculating about fantasies of the university; combining fast and slow work; writing creatively and collaboratively, retreating from work in order to write; the desire to recreate monastic spaces in secular cultures; university values (espoused, enacted and experienced); normative talk about goodness; conversational leadership; and relationality as a core value.
In the conversation, I shared a lesson that has stayed with me about recognising others’ bids for connection. That is, responding when someone is seeking affirmation, recognition or attention from you. With my children, this has often meant conversations about Pokémon cards or other topics I know or care little about — but the pleasure lies in the ongoing work of relating.
During the session, a question was asked about the work of theorising and how it differs from working with theory. This is something I have been mulling over, and I will write about it in a future post. Here is some reading to get you started:
- Ashwin, P. (2012). How often are theories developed through empirical research into higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 37(2), 941-955.
- Eagleton, T. (1989). The significance of theory. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
- Hage, G. (2016). Towards an ethics of the theoretical encounter. Anthropological Theory, 16(2-3), 221–226.
- Swedberg, R. (2016). Before theory comes theorizing or how to make social science more interesting. The British Journal of Sociology, 67(1), 5-22.
There was a lot recommended reading from the sessions — rich with possibility for future blog posts.
Thank you to those who joined the sessions and helped to stretch our thinking.
Finally, a big thank you to Barbara Grant for chairing the discussions at a time that was not friendly for Aotearoa New Zealand. We are collaborating on a webinar series for PaTHES that extends the discussions on slow academia with presentations from some of our favourite scholars. Stay tuned for more details!