So Jeff, what exactly is a Bricoleur?

If you have joined my network over the past year, you would have been greeting with a message that begins with:   “Welcome to the Bricolage!”    Of the 3000 plus new LinkedIn connections since April 2016, more than a few have asked me, ‘What exactly is a Bricoleur?”

Traditionally, bricoleurs were artisans that were able to create great works from whatever materials and tools (some times manufactured for purpose) were at hand.  Today, my Bricoleur-ism produces a bricolage: that is a pieced together set of representations that are fitted to the specifications of a phenomenal or complex situation.

As I was making a deep dive into some personal research around, ‘How do we know when we learn?’ during the latter part of 2015 and into 2016, one of the texts I was working through with a fine tooth comb was the Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research by Denzin & Lincoln (4th Ed.).  (LOL, Yes I bought a textbook for personal research – bit of Hermione Granger complex I guess?)

According to Denzin & Lincoln, there are five categories of Bricoleurs.  A masterful piece by Matt Rogers explains them quite well.

Interpretive Bricoleur: This approach involves a shift in our understanding of data collection from something objective that is accomplished through through detached scrutiny of ‘what I know and how I know it’, to recognise how we actively construct our knowledge.  (Rogers, P. 4)

Methodological Bricoleur: A methodological bricoleur is a researcher who combines multiple research tools to accomplish a meaning-making task.  The qualitative-researcher-as-bricoleur or maker of quilts uses the aesthetic and material tools of her craft, deploying whatever strategies, methods or empirical materials are at hand.  (Rogers, P.5)  This means bricoleurs have an aptness for creativity – they know how to artistically combine theories, techniques and methods.

Theoretical Bricoleur: “the theoretical bricoleur reads widely and is knowledgeable about many interpretive paradigms (eg., feminism, marxism, cultural studies, constructivism, queer theory) that can be brought to any particular problem.”  (Rogers, p.6)

Political Bricoleur: Political bricoleurs are researchers who are aware of how knowledge and power are connected.  The political bricoleur is aware the science is power, for all research findings have political implications. “There is no value free science.”  (rogers, p.6)   As their aim, political bricoleurs produce knowledge that benefits those who are disenfranchised by everyday taken-for-granted workings of neoliberal, capitalist, white, patriarchal, and heterosexual social structures.

Narrative Bricoleur: Because true objective reality can never be ‘captured’, research texts can only represent specific interpretations of a phenomenon.   Narrative bricoleurs appreciate how ideologies and discourses shape how knowledge is produced. Instead of taking these knowledges and texts for granted, they seek to understand their influences on research processes and texts.  (Rogers, P.6)

Those of us with diverse background and living experiences will naturally integrate various aspects of all five in our lives.  My Bricolage exists out of complexity of the lived-in world and the complications that arise from various relationships. It is grounded on an epistemology of complexity. I guess this is why I have spent most of my life trying to simplify the complex.

Put simply, Bricoleurs are the types of researchers who will take on projects that most would think are too complex to tackle – and make-sense of it all.  Bricoleurs are the types of managers who would willingly walk into a company in crisis – and pull things together.  Bricoleurs are the types of professors/teachers who can explain insanely complex concepts in simple terms  – that anyone can grasp. They see life from many different perspectives, sometimes simultaneously!

Please feel free to share your experiences of pulling together treads from different disciplines to create your various academic/literary/business masterpieces.

My Philosophy of Learning (& Education)

Learning is an action verb. Education is a noun.

For decades I used to believe that education (not educators) and learning were so interconnected that I assumed they were two sides of the same coin. However, over the past 10 years I have come to realize (through Masters research, working in a number of different countries, and a deep dive into tacit knowledge research) that learning and education need to be as conceptually separate as the church & state discussion. (More)

I see learning as ubiquitous in human activity. The only thing that changes is the context or setting. This has huge implications about one’s epistemology and ontology. How we as individuals define (whether implicit or explicit) learning will influence assumptions we make about how others ‘make-sense’ of content in any situation. (More)

From both a research and instructional design (ID) mindset, I have come to greatly appreciate a cluster approach. For researchers, it provides yet another option for deconstruction of learning phenomena. Within ID, it allows for a flexible design of how, when and where content/activity is delivered, as well as being able to build in time for individual purposes and processes.

If life-long-learning is nonlinear, then should not a certain amount of content delivery also be nonlinear? This greatly changes (and frees up) course/program design and provides the educator with much more flexibility. This also changes the role of the educator! A realignment of our role from content expert to ‘content curator’ also puts content itself into a new perspective. (More)

Just as Schon made the distinction between reflection-on-practice and reflection-in-practice, I will make a distinction between ‘context-of-curriculum’ and ‘context-in- curriculum’. ‘Context of’ refers to the “why” we deliver content we do, and ‘context in’ deals more with the “what” – specifics of certain content. (More)

International Students

For those focusing on International students I ask, how familiar are you with your international students’ pain points? How well are your international students adapting to the tacit expectations of your learning and assessment processes? If you are actively targeting international students, you need to get a handle on your CIP (Culturally Inclusive Pedagogy)! [More]

The ROI of CIP is pretty obvious:

  • Greater retention rates
  • Increased completion rates
  • Increased student success rates

Any or all three can lead to increased financial growth, more word-of-mouth referrals, better marketing stories, and a potential for more institutional partnerships.

Evaluations

Any evaluation of a program, course, person (teacher, instructor, etc.) or student should be focused on the achievement of authentic measurable and observable outcomes of the student. This holds true for any setting, whether academic, vocational training or corporate contracts.  The challenge is, sometimes that which is observable takes longer for some than for others.