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Sabbatical

Brief thoughts from the airport…

As many people who know me will be aware, I’ve been on sabbatical (called PEP, professional experience program) for the last 6 months. This is a period of paid leave from teaching and other administrative duties to support a program of professional activities that you outline in applying for the leave.

For my 6 months, I chose to go abroad, taking up visiting scholar positions at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education (in the Learning Analytics Research Network, LEARN), and the University College London Institute of Education (at the London Knowledge Lab). My thanks to the generosity of both in hosting me and keeping me and their generosity with time! I also had some side trips to Canada (partly to attend a friend’s wedding), and Mexico (for vacation and to visit my sister, who’s a teacher there), home for Christmas (and lots of time wit family and friends), and to Oslo for work. And as well as meeting academic colleagues in each place, I managed to meet folks at the Alliance for Useful Evidence, Sense About Science, and ImpactEd, all of which play interesting and important roles in embedding evidence use in practice and civil society.

There’s little empirical work on the value of sabbatical, but there’s some indication this period away (physically) from the office is useful, and certainly in addition to the networking opportunities and time to work on the things I said I would, it’s been great to (a) be away from day-to-day Sydney, and (b) be exposed to day-to-day in other places, and be able to have ad-hoc conversations with colleagues there, etc.

I have to write a PEP report, which will have more of the formal stuff in, but I thought here I’d share some of the more personal notes on sabbatical. It’s an odd year, because I knew I’d be going away although my home is certainly still Sydney, I’ve not had a permanent place since January 2019, moving around 3 places there, and then 6ish (Canada, 2 in NYC, 2 in London, plus parents’ place) in the 6 months since…I’m very much living out of a bag. I’ve also been trying to keep up the running (a reflection of going to conferences and seeing other people manage to maintain exercise), and so committed to doing a race in Sydney, NYC, and London while I was away, and joining running clubs (thanks to TMIRC:NYC, North Brooklyn Runners & Crown Heights running club; and London City Runners).

Although the sabbatical is only 6 months, really the output from it should be seen in terms of the year, and period after, because knowing I was going on sabbatical allowed me to get some smaller things done before I left, knowing I’d be able to focus on some big things while away, and of course not everything is finished (or, accepted) yet! Roughly like this…

Some outputs

I also got to read some academic books, something I find it hard to find time for usually, especially things that might be slightly tangential (but inspire new ideas as a result), these included:

  • disagreement by Bryan frances; kirsty Kitto and I started setting up more of a project around dilemmas in learning analytics before I left, and as part of that I got interested in whether or not disagreement (about non ethical issues) could be characterised in terms of dilemmas, so started reading more of the philosophy of disagreement, which is a surprisingly understudied area (in analytical philosophy). I’ve also become interested in thinking more about why people disagree and how we help them navigate that, so the philosophical perspective here (and in other bits and pieces I was exploring) was interesting.
  • The routledge handbook of epistemic injustice, again I’m interested in disagreement and how we understand that particularly in the context of injustice, and then how recent work on epistemic injustice can connect to epistemic cognition research. I just wrote this piece on that (link to follow)

and then a set of books around classroom practice:

  • Personal epistemology and teacher education
  • Personal epistemology in the classroom
  • cases of teachers data use

These in part have been in service to me putting together the. If Australian Research Council Early Career Fellowship (the DECRA), which is a significant undertaking in its own right (and one that feels a bit depressing given success rates, and the refusal of ministers to fix an outcome timetable, one outcome of which is that I may be putting in my next application prior to knowing the outcome of this one…).

That, alongside all the papers, conversations, and some new projects moving….it’s been pretty productive!


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