OK so at 45 your eyesight deteriorates badly. Don’t worry the optician says – it happens to everyone. There’s nothing you can do about it. It’s nothing to do with the hours and hours you spend staring unblinkingly at your computer screen. I could hardly see my computer screen any more! But – now I have my new glasses and well, I can see a way forward with my thesis too…
I met with just Julie on 24th May as Nicola was taking some research time. In my previous supervision, Julie had suggested going back to the Threshold Concept conference proceeding books and the Flanagan website. I borrowed the ones Julie had got and started ploughing my way through from the beginning. What a good idea that was! I read each chapter and made quite extensive hand written notes. I found that as I was thinking and writing and reading, thoughts would emerge around how I might interrogate my data. So as well as developing the bones of a literature review chapter, I was developing a methodology too. Then I went over my hand written notes and started to assemble a chapter on the computer, shuffling bits around and being assiduous with my referencing. I sent this to Julie before our meeting, along with a confirmation review document that I thought I needed after 33 months into the PhD process.
I was amazed that Julie had printed out my work in Braille – it really gave it a level of importance I wasn’t certain it deserved. However Julie was really positive about what I had written. She also liked the things that I had called “hypotheses” although questioned the use of the word. She thought it was a nice place to start and had been really useful in distilling the key bits that were relevant to me from the literature.
She recommended a further critical piece by Sarah Barradell – I think it might have been this one:
(2016) Putting threshold concepts to work in health sciences: insights for curriculum design from a qualitative research synthesis, Teaching in Higher Education, 22:3, 349-372,
It seems fruitful to treat entrepreneurship as a PRACTICE.
We wondered if VALUE was perhaps a threshold concept within this practice – entrepreneurs have to see value in a different way. The concept of value could make the practice of entrepreneurship bounded. I suggested moving it on to VALUE CREATION.
We discussed the complexities of hearing the student voice in the investigation. There is a problem here…some criticise the literature because the student voice is not included sufficiently. Others say you can’t ask students as they don’t know the answers – how can they know what they don’t know?
Am I looking for alignment in perspective between entrepreneurs, educators and students? Perhaps I am looking for alignment and misalignment.
There is a methodological challenge here in gathering a valid student perspective.
Moving on to curriculum design – this also has implications for when the student are asked to face up to the threshold concepts – what needs to be in place first? If they are asked to face up to the “jewels” straight away – I’m not sure that will deliver the best learning outcome for them.
Consider also the assessments – maybe we don’t need to assess the thresholds, maybe we can’t. Maybe the thresholds of the practice are not crossed until after graduation – maybe much, much later after graduation.
So if we are treating entrepreneurship as a practice – perhaps what we are talking about here are threshold practices. This would mean I need to bring the literature in on communities of practice front and centre.
As you move from the more traditional academic disciplines – you could argue that the nature of the knowledge changes.
Entrepreneurship as a practice needs to be embodied, enacted. Crossing the threshold is achieved in the embodiment of the understanding.
We also discussed troublesomeness. And how important it is to make the student comfortable, accepting and tolerant of the difficult bits. Students need to be OK with troublesomeness – to be assured that it will be all right in the end. This might link to psychological capital. They need to remain engaged despite coming across problems in their learning journey. They need the courage to believe it will be alright in the end. It reminded me of a quote from Rilke,
“I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.