Archives for posts with tag: teaching and learning

Here is the abstract for a paper I presented at the Student Education Conference and Digital Festival, “Evidencing Excellence” in at the University of Leeds, 8 January 2016.

“Shut up and write!” Making academic writing social

Abstract
Writing is an area with which many students (and academics!) struggle, particularly as it is inherently a solitary practice. “Shut up and Write!” (“SU&W!”) sessions make academic writing social. The format which has recently become popular with researchers (Mewburn et al, 2014) can also be a powerful tool when shared with taught students. “SU&W!” was a departure for Skills@Library with a stronger experiential emphasis than traditional workshops can allow. This session will address how and why “SU&W!” helps students tackle procrastination and lack of focus. Skills@Library first trialled “SU&W!” for taught students as a one-off experiment. Feedback was extremely positive, so in summer 2015, ten “SU&W!” were offered, targeting primarily Masters students. This session uses personal reflections on the “SU&W!” process and analysis of student comments. “SU&W!” provides structured and focussed time with clear goals, providing students with immediate feedback on their writing process. Peer pressure prevents distraction; peer support helps with motivation and encourages student-to-student exchange of strategies for becoming better writers. Sessions are relatively simple to run and can act as a catalyst for students to set up their own groups.
By the end of this session, participants will have learned how and why “SU&W!” can be a powerful tool for reducing student isolation and developing excellent writing practices; and will have the tools to set-up sessions within their own context.

Link to Evidencing Excellence theme
“Shut up and write!” develops self-awareness in managing academic writing through modelling best practices. The session will also highlight applications and digital resources which can be used to support the writing process, both face-to-face and online.

How do you evidence excellence in use of this initiative and/or technology?
“SU&W!” sessions work with undergraduates, taught postgraduate and research students. They fit well with peer support initiatives; study skills sessions taught within modules as well as central provision. Once students have experienced the format they are encouraged to run groups themselves. Similar sessions could target other study skills, such as “Shut up and Read/Revise!”.
“SU&W!” may also be particularly appropriate for supporting part-time and distance students, using Skype.

Ways in which content or technology could be used in other disciplines / services
The session will include the student voice through examples of feedback on “Shut up and write!” sessions, including how it has informed/improved their writing practices.

Here is the hand out as used in sessions with students: Shut up and write2.

 

 

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Here is the abstract for a paper I presented at the BAJS conference in September.

Kuden: The use of oral transmission in a traditional martial art

This paper will explore the role which kuden play in the learning of the classical Japanese martial art (koryū bujutsu) of Takenouchi-ryū Bitchūden (TRB). Kuden refers to the oral transmission of knowledge characteristic of other traditional arts, including tea, garden design, and calligraphy. Kuden are found in Japanese performing arts, such as kyōgen, dance and music; and the term is also used in Buddhism. Although kuden are often mentioned in relation to koryū, these (secret) teachings are reported with little explanation of how the kuden relate to the rest of the curriculum; their purpose; and how they are perceived by teachers and students.

In TRB, the kuden come in different forms, including those traditionally attached to particular kata, whether in the movement itself or the kata names; explicit precepts; or newer forms such as those the current head teacher has derived from a retelling of the TRB foundation myth and recorded in his blog. This paper will explain how the kuden are used as teaching tools and explore how contemporary practitioners relate these teachings to their life outside the koryū. The primary data source is fieldwork based at the head dōjō. The koryū are impenetrable, even for Japanese, however, a longstanding association provided unprecedented access to conduct in-depth interviews with both new and senior group members. Selected data from participant observation—including fieldnotes, photographs, and records of online discussions—will be used to document examples of kuden. The kuden associated with a core kata from the TRB curriculum will be explained in detail to show how practitioners have applied its principles in the business environment and personal relationships. Far from being esoteric and archaic forms of knowledge of only historical interest, the research shows that kuden continue to permeate the daily lives of modern practitioners.

The following abstract and slides were from a paper I gave at the International Symposium on Japanese Studies in Bucharest 1-3 March 2014.

 ‘The importance of doing and being myself’: The impact of traditional martial arts practice on the lives of contemporary practitioners.

My research takes an ethnographic approach to examining the classical martial system of Takenouchi-ryū Bitchūden (TRB), exploring it as a form of education and character development.  Students devote years to this intensely mentally demanding and potentially dangerous physical combative art.  What practitioners learn; the impact it has on their lives, identities and conceptions of self; and how koryū bujutsu1relate to life, leisure and education in Japan are the main focus. Fundamentally, the aim is to discover how and why the practice of TRB affects the lives of its members.

Research on martial arts includes translations of samurai literature; studies of the samurai; histories of the martial arts; modern writings on techniques and philosophy; catalogues of extant koryū and their characteristics; and popular manuals. However, studies taking an ethnographic approach are concentrated almost exclusively on modernmartial arts and there are very few in-depth explorations of the koryū. Although they no longer play a central role in the training of the élite, the koryū ethos and values continue to influence both current sports and wider aspects of contemporary culture.

This paper will focus on individuals’ experiences of and attitudes towards this traditional practice and the role it plays in their modern lives. The primary source of data is from fieldwork carried out at the head dōjō. The koryū are impenetrable, even for Japanese, however, a longstanding association provided unprecedented access to carry out in-depth interviews with both new and senior members of the group.

The research shows that far from being ‘just a hobby’, for exercise or a form of historical reenactment; what people learn influences their daily existence, including work and relationships with others. Long-term participants see it as an integral aspect of their lives, an important source of well-being and intrinsic to how they deal with the challenges of life in contemporary Japan.

1 Koryū bujutsu = ‘old’ style pre-Meiji martial traditions

This is a poster I put together for the ‘What does it mean to do a PhD today?‘ interdisciplinary conference at the University of Manchester, held on Monday 2 December, 2013.

The spiral represents how all members of the system experience the same elements of the curriculum repeatedly at different points in their journey. I have also included some of the ideas and opinions on learning taken from recent interviews carried out during fieldwork in Japan. I think there are elements of learning a koryū which have parallels in the PhD process and I want to explore this further. A deeper understanding of what it means to engage in an intense learning process within a small group and how this can be facilitated are possibly going to be the most transferable outcomes of my research.

Poster presentation: What does it mean to do a 'koryū' today?

The following abstract and slides relate to a presentation I gave for the Communities of Practice strand on EDUC70500, Social Theories of Learning in Research and Practice. More information on the course (which I can thoroughly recommend) available here.

Shoshinsha to Shihan: The Community of Practice in a Japanese martial art

There is a lack of studies of kobudo, the classical martial traditions of Japan which originated before the Meiji Restoration (1868), and in particular, of those taking ethnographic approach. Furthermore, whilst Communities of Practice theory has been used to discuss aspects of modern martial arts, it has not been used as a theoretical framework to examine the workings of a martial arts’ dojo (training hall) in detail. This paper will explore CoP theory in relation to learning and teaching in the classical martial tradition of Takeuchi-ryu Bitchuden Kobudo which has been in existence since 1532.

My thesis is that TRB is a highly evolved community of practice, exhibiting many of the characteristics outlined in Wenger’s Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity (1998). As such I aim to explore how participant trajectories through the CoP have an impact on their lives, focussing on the idea of ‘learning as becoming’. I am particularly interested in how and why long term practitioners have succeeded in making the transition from shoshinsha (‘beginner’) to shihan (‘teacher’). A framework from CoP theory will be used as a lens through which to analyse data gained through participant observation carried out at the main dojo in Kyoto.

Concepts from CoP theory provide useful terms for examining what happens within the dojo. Legitimate peripheral participation is built in to the process of becoming a member of the group, (for example, newcomers have the task of recording names and the day’s training in the register); mutual engagement in the shared enterprise of passing on the techniques and traditions of the system is at the heart of daily practice and events in the dojo calendar; the idea of transition from periphery to core is reflected in the naming system to distinguish techniques for beginners from those for advanced practitioners (mae = front, outer; naka= middle; oku = inner); and different members display varying levels of knowledgeability and competence, but all have a role to play in how the community sustains itself.

Furthermore, I believe that opportunities which occur in the dojo’s practice for the implicit form of communication characterised as ishin denshin (literally: ‘what the mind thinks, the heart transmits) or ‘tacit understanding’ suggest this may be a useful concept for exploring those aspects of communities of practice which are often difficult to ascertain.

Here’s the abstract and poster I presented at the Japan in our Futures one day conference in Sheffield on 5 April, 2013.

Lessons in survival: The community of practice in a Japanese martial art

The classical Japanese martial tradition of Takeuchi-ryu Bitchuden Kobudo has an unbroken line of transmission dating from 1532 and as such could be seen to be a master of survival. Rooted in the past, yet located firmly in the present where it thrives through its role in the lives of its members, like any traditional pursuit it faces challenges if it is to continue into the future.

Using the theoretical framework of Communities of Practice, this poster examines how the group’s approach to teaching and learning enables the communication of an established body of knowledge, yet is flexible enough to deal with challenges such as lifestyle changes, economic fluctuations and the increasing involvement of non-Japanese practitioners. The research takes an ethnographic approach, analysing data gained through participant observation at the main dôjô in Kyoto. What practitioners learn from their experiences; the impact it has on their lives, identities and conceptions of self; and how traditional martial arts relate to contemporary life and education in Japan are the subject of my work.

This poster focuses on providing insights into how and why the group endures, which may have lessons for ways in which other groups could ensure their own sustainability into the future.

Seabourne_JapanInOurFutures_Poster_FINAL

These are the abstract and slides from a presentation I gave at this one day workshop in London. It was a fantastic opportunity to gain feedback and to meet other postgraduate researchers in Japanese Studies from all over the country. Highly recommended.

Teaching and Learning in a Koryu Bujutsu

My research takes an ethnographic approach to researching Japan’s classical martial tradition of Takeuchi-ryu Bitchuden (TRB), exploring it as a form of education and character development.  Students spend years practicing this intensely mentally demanding and potentially dangerous physical combative art, which has been passed down from teacher to student since 1532.  What they learn from their experiences; the impact it has on their lives, their conceptions of self, issues of gender and group and individual identity; and how the koryu bujutsu[1] relate to contemporary life and education in Japan are the focus of my work.

This presentation will focus on approaches to teaching and learning in TRB at the head dojo of the tradition, based on data gained through participant observation and consisting of field notes, photographs, audio recordings, copies of internal documents and records of online discussions where members exchange ideas about training and their experiences.

TRB offers an example of a rich learning environment outside mainstream education. Teaching methods include demonstration, oral instruction and some use of written materials. However, although the head instructor plays a central role, this is not the only way that learning takes place. The learning is highly experiential with most work taking the form of paired practice where a senior student works with a junior.  Formal practice begins with kihon, basic moves which are practiced many times, even by more advanced students. This is followed by kata, or ‘forms’ where practitioners alternate between taking a ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ role. Kata are central to the process of passing on the techniques as they codify the knowledge in a form which can be both practiced and remembered. They have names which may range from a simple description of movement to the esoteric. The combination of the sequence of a kata, its name and when and how it is taught all have a significance which may not be apparent to the novice, but which is revealed as the student progresses.

Koryu rarely include sparring or free form practice in their training methods, so performing kata in formal situations (embu) is one way in which participants ability to perform under pressure can be tested and this is therefore a core element of the training.

There are also aspects of the philosophy of the tradition which are learnt outside of the formal training, in the informal discussions after practice, through shared participation in events and the sharing of stories. For example, the preparation of tea is the job of the most recent recruits, as they learn how to do this they become legitimate peripheral participants in the dojo community through interacting with more senior students.

The presentation will explore how these formal and informal methods create a community where individuals through shared practice can develop their character and identity.

 

[1] Koryu bujutsu = ‘old’ style pre-Meiji martial traditions