Tag Archives: Critical thinking

Invitation to participate in a PhD research study


Startup Stock PhotosMy PhD research project is finally ready to start collecting data from teachers in the VET sector! This might not relate to you, but feel free to pass it on to someone you think might be interested …

Have you completed a Vocational Education and Training (VET) teaching diploma program any time since 2006? This might include:

  • 21697VIC Diploma of Vocational Education and Training Practice
  • TAA50104 Diploma of Training and Assessment
  • TAE50111 Diploma of Vocational Education and Training
  • TAE50211 Diploma of Training Design and Development

Did undertaking this contribute in any way to a transformed perspective of yourself as a learner, of learning more broadly, or to changes in your learning and teaching practice?

My name is Jennifer Miles and I am conducting a research project towards a PhD in Education at Monash University. I am seeking participants who are interested in contributing to a study that will explore the ways in which undertaking a VET diploma program (teaching) encouraged them to reflect on their identity as a learner and as a teacher, and to consider any consequent transformed perspectives on learning and teaching practice that emerged during or since undertaking the diploma.

The study involves two levels of participation, and you can choose one or both. You might decide just to complete the online survey, or to also participate in the in-depth interview process.

If you are interested, please follow the link and read the Explanatory Statement for full details, and at the end if this you will be asked if you wish to proceed with the survey


If you know of someone else who might be interested, please pass the message and link on to them. Thank you for your consideration!

The tipping point: when do you know it’s time to change?


Years ago, in another life, I listened to an audio tape discussing the process of undergoing change (it was probably related to trying to give up smoking!) Analogies were given related to the unendurable circumstances that ultimately lead to change. I can’t recall the author, but he gave the example of a young woman driving to a dinner engagement, along a winding road on a cold and stormy night, past a road accident. The car had run off the road into trees, and was very badly damaged, but the accident scene was well attended by emergency vehicles who were providing the necessary response to the seriously injured driver. The young woman decided not stop, knowing that her presence was unnecessary. It was a cold and wet night, there was nothing more she could do to help, so she decided to continue on her way to her dinner appointment in the warm car. There was nothing to be gained by her stopping, and a potential personal cost was involved (being out in the cold, wet night, and late for her appointment.)

Change the circumstances. Same cold and stormy night, same dinner engagement, same accident, same emergency response, but this time as she passes, the young woman sees that the car that has run off the road belongs to her grandmother. This time the scales of personal gain and cost have swung. Even though all emergency response is being provided, and she might be late for her appointment, were she to continue past the accident, the personal cost to her would be unbearable. She will be late, cold, wet and uncomfortable, but the pain and cost of not knowing, coupled with the personal gain of needing to be with her grandmother, necessitates that she change her plans.

My own circumstances, and those of others who have shared with me their stories over the years have often reflected that same experience. We go about our business, responding automatically to the situations in our days, making mindless changes as required, until something causes us to alter the way we view and respond to our environment. Sometimes it is because we just become aware of the need for change, other times because we are tripped up, sometimes daily, by the same troublesome conditions, other times it’s because life throws a hard ball our way and knocks us totally off our perch. But whatever it is, we reach a critical point where we can no longer continue to ignore what is happening around us, and where we have to choose a new way forward – there comes a critical point where we have to change.

There are tipping point in our lives, where critical internal and external factors can act as catalysts to a previously unimagined future. These crises – “ … the instrument of transformation  …trouble that leads to crisis … if this disruption to order is unable to be accommodated within the existing social structure, there may arise the legitimation of a new order …” (A. Nelson, 1994) – call us to make choices and conscious changes in some of our most deeply rooted behaviours, and through this, an altered sense of self can emerge that holds promise for progression beyond previous barriers.

What have been your tipping points, and how have they altered your life?

The hero/heroine’s journey


The journey – of the hero, and the heroine – has been brought to my attention this week. It has popped up in conversation in a number of unrelated contexts, and appeared in the unlikeliest of places, stirring my thinking about the stories we applaud and celebrate.

In books, in the news and on the big screen, we see people – people just like us – who are faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, but who manage somehow to overcome, to conquer their fears and insecurities and find the courage to step forward.

I went to the theatre a few week ago to see a local community group present Man of La Mancha. You know the song – The Impossible Dream – do you know the story? It is about (my impression – apologies to those who have a different perspective) a wonderfully fanciful fellow, full of whimsy and hopeful expectation about life. Through his innocent eyes, the world takes on a magical quality, and his quest in life is to embrace and honour all that is good within those he meets. Through his childlike approach he manages to find the courage to rise above the mediocrity around him, avoiding the disappointments that life hurls at him, and through his indomitable spirit, finds his way to the light of his impossible dream.

My father used to sing The Impossible Dream. He died when I was eleven, and in my child’s mind I remember it as his signature song. When he sang it, everyone left what they were doing and came to listen, to imagine, and to walk, if only briefly, in the shoes of the hero on his quest.

We have such longing to become the hero/heroine that lies within us, and I’ve realised that the story of The Man of La Mancha holds the compassionate joy and inner grit that resonates for me. It speaks to me about my own journey – my own quest – to this point.

So I went searching to see what Google found, and have posted links (see Interesting Links) to a couple of intriguing sites. Have a look and tell me what comes to mind for you when you start to consider your own hero/heroine’s journey, and we will speak some more …