Theory and Practice – The Apprentice

Having completed my dissertation and graduating in June, naturally I am looking at what is next for me in my life journey.  I admit, I have no idea what lays before me.  I have searched for some glimmer of the future but never seem to have a clear picture.  Times like this, I often turn to tools that may give me some insight into my current situation.  I may meditate, write in a journal, and look for repeating “signs” in my daily life.    An image/concept I have seen a few times now is the “apprentice.” I have taken notice of this image, but I have been confused about how the apprentice relates to me at this time. 

     Yesterday, while teaching my Women and Religion class, the image of the apprentice made sense to me.  We discussed creativity in relationship to feminist spirituality.  I had my students do a quasi-photovoice project.  They paired up and walked around the university looking for an object or a scene that represented their understanding and experience of creativity.  All of my students had camera phones to take pictures.  I did not have a plan on how to share the photos – I thought we might huddle around and look at each other’s phones.  When it came time to discuss, I thought out loud about putting someone’s phone on the document projector to show the pictures.  My students said they could just email me their pictures from their phones…GENIUS!!!!! So students emailed their photos, and I projected them on the screen through the computer.  Not only were the students technologically wise, the words and images they produced were profound and transformative.  They brought the concepts of creativity and spirituality to life with image and words.

     So what does this have to do with being an apprentice and action research?  Yesterday in class reminded me that even though I am the facilitator of the classroom experience, I continuously learn from the people around me.  The class was better yesterday because my students took ownership of creating knowledge and of our technological needs to create a place for sharing.  When I looked at the apprentice image, I had forgotten to look at in relationship to all of my roles, the people around me, and my experience of action research. 

     Action research welcomes me into the role of being and doing, continuously learning my trade – whatever that may be.  The apprentice challenges me to continue to learn and grow in community.  An apprentice is not an isolated individual – but a person that works with others.  I am thankful that I took notice of the “sign.”  I am now playing with the idea of how to be an apprentice and a master at the same time.  A paradox that honors the hard work and knowledge I have generated and the experience of continuing to learn and grow from community – in all of its formations.