From Telling to Listening in Lifescaping

Graduate students often have many passions as they start into their action researching careers…

Rolla Lewis, lead “gardener” in the action research practice called Lifescaping, discussed what it takes to get started in a truly collaborative venture.  Rolla shared the story of Joni, a student he advises. She had passionate ideas about how to address bullying as she started into her action research.  The trick was to really listen for how her ideas might serve the school system in which she was doing her action research.  An entirely new set of ideas, better ones, emerged.

Rolla explains

Joni knew that bullying was a problem nationally; she had a passion to stop bullies bullying less fortunate kids at her assigned school. The first day there, she entered her school knowing her action research must focus on reducing bullying at her school. She jumped right in, telling her principal and fellow teachers. Nothing happened. She talked to the kids. Still nothing happened. She met again with her action research supervisor, who felt it was timely to ask: “how might you initiate conversations WITH others, including the students, to identify problems together?”

Joni went back in.  This time primed more for listening rather than telling; she initiated conversations with her colleague teachers, and students about their different challenges. She heard a lot, only some of which at first seemed related to her own inquiry and concern about bullying. As the relational space ripened, Joni’s conversations with different stakeholders began to deepen. Sharing again her own concern about bullying, she began to see the possibility for a shared inquiry centered on expectations around, of all things, homework! How do bullying and homework connect?  In listening, Joni had heard the kids speak of homework as “jail time” and the pressure the teachers were under to have students test well. In Joni’s more formal assessment and reflection processes, which included separate meetings with students, teachers, and administrators, collective steps could be taken to define school-wide policies homework and about make-up work. Touching on Joni’s original inquiry this shared assessment became an opportunity to make school a more caring place.

No, everybody did not live happily ever after, but they did find an inclusive path for continuous life-giving development.

Rolla Lewis in his own words on video…Rolla Lewis and Hilary Bradbury talk about doing Action Research in education; working with action researching graduate students.