The uses of writing in action research

What are you writing, and who are you writing for?

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What are you writing, and who are you writing for?
Writing can take many forms. It can be a detailed diary produced over time in which you explore through the medium of writing your thoughts, feelings and intentions. This is, as I am sure you are already saying, time-consuming and involved, and therefore every bit of writing you do, just as in the collection of data, every piece of evidence you gather has to be worthwhile and meaningful. Doing it for its own sake is hardly worth the ink or computer-chip you use. However the writing of a journal can become almost an end in itself. Certainly I have always felt when writing a journal, that I am learning an incredible amount about what my own values are, and how I can try to channel my understanding (see later examples in this chapter). I have always wanted to explicate my values, but until I started to write in this way I had never really taken the trouble to do so. In Action Research it is vital that in some way you do explore your values. It is almost inevitable that you will do so, because of the nature of the question that you are posing yourself. And if you are challenged on what you are doing in your Action Research, then you will start to realise from what value-base you are operating. Part of any such enquiry necessitates at some stage an exploration of your own values.
In my experience (and I cannot speak about yours) writing in such an involved way has helped me to clarify my understanding of what I am doing. This is also done very effectively through discussion of course, but words spoken can be forgotten unless taped, whereas the written word is there for good. It is advantageous for you to write about your ideas and feelings as you are doing this research. If the research is close to your heart and you feel very strongly about it, you will probably do this more readily: you can write a personal log that is not for any kind of public consumption but enables you to organise your thoughts and feelings.

During this year I have kept a detailed log about the work I have been engaged on with Justine and others. I was lucky enough to see Justine teaching once during her second teaching practice. I was not her Method Tutor but wanted to see the sorts of things she was doing in her History teaching. In my log I wrote the following after my visit on 15.3.92.:

What I saw this morning didn’t surprise me, but it took my breath away! I

knew that she was going to be good in the classroom. I had a feeling about

her, from everything she’s said and done since I’ve known her. Today I

saw someone who was really engaged with the children. It was a privilege watch them learn. She has created something with those children that

goes beyond rules and formulae. If she could only explain what she is doing

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