My 3 Minute Thesis

At the last minute I quickly put together a "three minute thesis" for the Grad Studies Office competition. I wasn't able to be present physically, but recorded my thoughts via video. Have included the video and text of what I said as well.


In my work I am most interested in exploring the spaces where who we are as teachers and learners is brought to light. Education has long been dominated by knowing; we speak of knowing things, dates, names, and facts. We deal in terms of knowledge. Knowing is a criteria for advancement, it is a critical factor in deciding who is smart, who is right, who has power. Surely knowing has been helpful. But to move forward, to truly think differently, we need to consider questions regarding the being of education.

We have become addicted to knowing. We are complacent in our knowing; once we know something -- we are content. "I already know that." Yet the fundamental, the who we are - gives the context where knowing is possible. My life's work is to create paths to being in such a way that who we are is accessible to language, available for negotiation, a place from which all of the possibilities of being can be opened.

What might be possible in educating (not just schooling, but learning as broadly defined as possible) were being brought into the conversation? Not to supplant knowing, but to complement. For example: Who am I being such that teaching and learning is possible? Who am I being such that this lesson flopped? And for the learner: Who am I being such that this activity is not engaging me? Questions of being change the game of educating. They rewrite the rules, invent new rules.

Consider the young female student who declares, “I am bad at math!” For this student, she is bad at math. In the speaking, in the declaring, she is bad at math. Imagine as she utters the words walls coming down around her enclosing her in a room plastered with wallpaper emblazoned with “BAD AT MATH.” How might a math quiz occur for a student who is bad at math? (And I must be clear: I am not saying that the young lady is bad at math, she did.) What may look like future-telling is actually an example of a probable, almost certain future for the student. If she approaches and is “bad at math” with her math quiz, what is most likely going to happen?

We can continue to speak and write and research in ways of knowing, it is a fruitful discussion. But I am not convinced that we can know our way into our answers. I think it more likely that being, and specifically questions of being, may remind us of just how much of a say we have in teaching, learning, our relationships, and our lives.




  1. [...] few days ago I shared my 3 Minute Thesis in this post. Just got feedback from the reviewers and thought I’d [...]


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