The Scamp and Her Philosophical Approach

I did not get out of bed until 2 pm today.

I slept. I moped. I stressed over all of the things that needed to be done, what I’m doing with my time and energy, and trying to figure out why I just don’t want to get out of bed.

When I did get out of bed, I moved my pj bottomed ass to my couch. I put on Drag Race and attempted to sort through emails, and maybe get a little writing done.

It is 20 after 5. I’ve written seven words on the ethical considerations of my research, and spent a long time staring at the empty section of my philosophical approach to research.

Which is odd considering the writing challenge for this week is to sum up my world view in one page. This is something that my supervisors asked me to do almost a year ago. I have what I wrote, but trying to say that in academic terms is really difficult. Here is what I wrote a year ago:


Here is what I can say about my world view in non-academic terms: I believe in justice. I believe that those with a voice, those with any sort of power have an obligation to use that power to help those in need. I believe that reality is not a fixed thing, and will not be the same for everyone. My reality as a middle class Cuban-Jewish woman who grew up in California is going to be different than my best friend’s reality While we share common interests and some views on the world, it is impossible for us to understand the world in the exact same way. I believe that we all interact with the world in which we are a part of, but that interaction is different for all people. The way that we process knowledge, and the way that we understand the spaces that we inhabit, is based on the way we grew up, where we grew up, and how we grew up. Because of that, I do not think it is possible to make blanket statements that truth is universal for everyone. I believe that the best way to figure out what everyone’s “truths” are is to talk to them, interact with them, and not try to make their truths the same as my truths. If epistemology is meant to ask questions like: “What is knowledge?”, “How is knowledge acquired?”, “What do people know?”, “What are the necessary and sufficient conditions of knowledge?”, “What is its structure, and what are its limits?”, “What makes justified beliefs justified?”, “How we are to understand the concept of justification?”, “Is justification internal or external to one’s own mind?”, then the best way to describe my approach to the world would be somewhere between camp pragmatist and camp constructionist. I am constantly trying to make sense of the world, but try to do so in terms of how those around me come to their understanding of ‘truth.’ I believe that it is dependent on convention, human perception and social experience. Within that though, I am also interested in the importance of practical consequences, and how the theory, and the ideas that we generate from our research, really affect people. I’m also concerned with what those consequences mean for moving forward with new research. It is my hope that practical and useful knowledge can come from social inquiry.


            This one is a hard view to pin down. I believe that our perceptions are what shape reality. More importantly, since I believe that knowledge is constructed it would be impossible to get to the ‘true’ nature of reality, since that reality is created by each individual. I guess this would make me an interpretist or relativist. The pragmatist in me doesn’t really worry about the ontological issues because I am more concerned with real world applications and have always felt that if I had a clear epistemological position, then my ontological point of view would not be as important.

My main supervisor said it was pithy. It’s still the nicest thing he has ever said to me. Really, I am not sure that that really explains my worldview. I think that bad things happen to good people. I think that sometimes life sucks. I think that family, however you choose to define it, makes everything better. I believe that the world will never be a peaceful place until people learn how to have a real conversation, and how to actually listen to what is being said. I believe that animals make everything better. A puppy makes a world of difference on a bad day.

I believe that the only way I will truly be a good educator is through seeing the world and learning about people. I believe that everyone should be able to get an education if they want one, whether it be university, a trade, or learning through doing. I believe that therapy is a girl’s best friend, and there is nothing wrong with admitting that sometimes I cheat on my diet and eat an entire large chocolate bar by myself. I believe that the world would be a better place if people put down their phones and pick up a book. Reading is after all, fundamental.

I believe that as I get older my worldview will change. I think that is a good thing though. I think my worldview should change as I change. I’d like to think that as I meet and interact with people, as I learn more and experience the world that I will become a better person with a better world view.


The Scamp’s World View

I had a meeting this week with my supervisors. They mapped out the next three years of my life, complete with a little sad face of death in the third year.

2015-10-22 17.05.17 2015-10-22 17.05.33 2015-10-22 17.05.40

As you can see, year 1 (my current position) is booked from now until July. I start to get a little more frazzled in year two, and by year three I have died before being reborn and achieving glory! I have sense added some things to year 2 and year 3 in terms of deadlines and things that need to be done, but I’m choosing to stay with these pictures because they make me a little less sad than the full chart.

Goodbye social life, hello burning the candle at both ends.

Despite this, I am excited that things are finally getting to the point that real work is getting done. For the last year I have been dealing with the disappointment of CSUF and the way that I was treated. It seems like forever ago that I was collecting data, doing research, and really doing something worthwhile to contribute to the field of education.

The problem is, before I can really get to the nitty gritty of collecting data, I have to settle on my world view. My supervisors asked me what my epidemiological and ontological views are. Now, this is a question that all researchers are asked at one point of another, especially PhD students as these views shape the way they gather data, the way they analyze the data, and the way that they present results. The answer to these two questions set the tone for the entire project.

The answer to these two questions are thus far eluding me.

I had to answer these questions when I was at CSUF, but I no longer view the world the same way.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. For those of you who do not aspire to be a student forever, or those of you who are a little rusty on your word parts, let me start with a simple definition of the two words.

1. Ontology and epistemology are both branches of philosophy that try to explain the existence of an entity or something.

2. Ontology which indicates the study of how something existed, its nature, or being, usually answers the question ‘what’.

3. Epistemology is often considered as the theory of knowledge, in which we know something exists, and it answers the questions ‘how’ and ‘what’

So now it is time for me to sit and think about how I think, how I construct knowledge, and how I go about answering questions in those categories. Easy right?

Wrong. First, I am not good in silence. If I spend too much time in silence then I am liable to go to the dark and twisty with my thoughts, so I always have music, podcasts, or TV playing. That does not allow for a lot of serious contemplation about the way in which I construct meaning in my world. Am  I a realist? Am I constructionist? Am I an interprestist?  Where does my belief in Critical Theory come into play? How can I explain my view in 500 words to my supervisors, and how can I spend more than 500 words explaining my views when the first chapter of my thesis is written? Do I want to do a Phenomenologicastudusingroundetheordiscourse? Do I even understand what that means?  I’ve been sitting with my laptop on my lap for the last three hours, and even with my crack skills as a researcher, I feel like I am no closer to answering the question than I was two years ago when I encountered them. 

Right now, I feel like I am sitting in the Pragmatism camp.





Anything that allows me to do action research is okay by me. We all know that I have had some battles with action research (Scamp on the Battleground), but luckily for me for the UK does not have the same hangups about a valuable form of research. I thought that maybe by the end of this I would have some better insight into the inner workings of my own mind and how my world view shapes my research, but I think that I have to spend some more time in the quiet to really figure it out. It might be time to unplug, turn off, and really get my shit together.

I am looking at my flow chart and I see how busy I am. I really need to refocus and get those 500 words written so I can start setting up the rest of my research I need do to stay on track with my three year plan.