Theory has layers. You have to get into it. Up close and personal. It’s not enough to be an observer. You need to read, reflect, write, read some more, and more, and more….
From no where has come a ‘blast from the past’. A memory from The Teachings of Don Juan. Finding a theory is like finding your spot on the porch. Carlos Castaneda writes:
He [Don Juan] asked me to remember the time I had tried to find my spot, and how I wanted to find it without doing any work because I had expected him to hand out all the information. If he had done so, he said, I would never have learned…. If, however, he had told me where it was, I would never have had the confidence needed to claim it as true knowledge. Thus, knowledge was indeed power. (1968: 20)
Theory isn’t fixed. It’s like wearing glasses. My prescription won’t work for you – yours won’t work for me. I don’t like your choice of frames but I can see how they suit you.
Theory offers explanations but I’ve found it difficult to pin myself onto the theory map. So I turned it round. Instead of trying to find a theory for me, I started to read about the theory searching of others. Here I discovered the layers. A triad of them. I like threes. They’re manageable and magic.
When it comes to research on learning technology, approaches range from theoretical absence, theories about learning and theories which adopt critical social perspectives. Within each layer are strata; multiple perspectives, all with their own separate theoretical approach and continually evolving and reforming – like amoebas. As you read, reflect and read some more… certain stands begin to emerge as structures. These form a framework enabling you to position your reading. Here, there, and everywhere – into the different perspectives – individual, institutional, national. All contained within visible and invisible discursive practices through which power and control are exercised. Yes, it does all comes down to power and control. Foucault remains relevant.
Once the layers take on a broader social and cultural identity, the PhD begins to take shape. Ontology makes sense. The being, seeing and positioning of yourself has to happen. You need to decide who you are. Find your purpose. Locate your spot of power.
Castenada, C. (1968) The teachings of Don Juan: a Yaqui way of knowledge. London: Penguin; New edition (22 Feb 1990)