Archive for July, 2010

Very strange feeling now that the Programme Director role at Henley has all but ceased (just a few remnant pieces of work to finish off) and the responsibility for being on call and on-the-ball now sits with someone else. The volume of emails in my inbox has decreased dramatically (almost to the point where I’m wondering if anyone out there still remembers me!), but that is no bad thing as there were upwards of 70 a day to deal with usually.

I’m spending as much time as I can in an iterative circle of reading, writing, thinking (not necessarily in that order) on topics to do with the PhD. That project has now got a little more focus, and a new direction. The current title is “The Discursive Foundation of Learner Identity at Henley Business School: narrative lessons for post-experience Management Education”.

I’m not one of those people who finds a title and never changes it. It evolves all the time.

I was asked to author a short chapter in a proposed practitioner book on personal development and leadership, and in doing so came up with a diagram which has helped me sort my thinking about the twin subjects of “learning” and “identity”.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I can paste it here from a Word document, but perhaps it can figure as a topic in its own right in another post.

Currently reading Paul Ricoeur’s “Time and Narrative”, volume 1, which is hard going but interesting. He starts by considering how time might be said to exist, in reference mainly to Book 11 of St Augustine’s Confessions. I think the perspective on time and narrative will become important when I am writing about my choice of methodology and method. I have also ordered Paolo Freire’s classic “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, which I think will contain ideas relevant to the substantive domain of Education Research (my lead in topic).

Sadly, the world of Gregory Bateson will have to wait until after I do my PhD!


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On Radio 4’s Today programme this week there was an item about a widening gap in life expectancy in England. The interviewer was John Humphrys, who is a bit of a “marmite” character, I think.   John interviewed two people, one the head of the British Medical Association, the other a General Practitioner (GP)  from Tower Hamlets, an area of East London.

As the Today web site says, the story is based on… “A report from the National Audit Office indicates that the gap in life expectancy between the poorest and wealthiest parts of the population in England as a whole is continuing to widen, despite a target set by the Labour government in 2000 to narrow the gap.

Speaking on the programme, Dr Sam Everington, GP in Tower Hamlets in London, said that the government needed to address the fundamental cause of ill health. “What I would argue is what you need is a much bigger and wider role for GPs, so in our centre we provide a hundred different projects which includes a job advisor,” he told Today presenter John Humphrys.

“The evidence is absolutely clear, that if you get somebody into work or if you get them trained almost in anything you will improve their health.”

The last comment by the GP, and ensuing debate with Humphrys (who, oddly, kept on insisting that Doctors should focus on doling out medicines, not than treat people as wholes, as a remedy for poor health) reminded me of comments made in a much older interview with Dr Jonathan Miller on the Dick Cavett show in 1981. Asked about the fad of alternative medicine, he discusses advances in medicine over the last 200 years, and concludes surprisingly that the skills of medical doctors have had very little to do with improvements in health, which has nearly everything to do with measures (usually embodied by law) to improve air, sanitation and nutrition – all wider than the ever-improving laser beam of scientific knowledge. It was not that there was no link, but just that the improvements in general health and well-being are mostly down to other factors. Yet we remain a society obsessed by deference to medical professionals and “hooked” on the idea of treating everything with drugs.

All this got me thinking as to whether there are parallels to draw about the role and activities of managers in business. Do we attribute economic success and happiness to (or even expect from) our management profession (is management a profession??) ?

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