• Author Response: Provocative Education: From Buddhism for Busy People® to Dismal Land ®

      Wall, Tony; University of Chester (Springer, 2016-03-11)
      When we engage with Žižekian thought, we might conceptualise contemporary education as part of wider machinery to perpetuate and deepen the grasp capitalism has in a globalising world (also see Furedi, 2006, 2010). We might see how ideas, knowledge, and ‘everything else’ (c.f. Hawking, 2001, 2007) can and is packaged up into forms that are easily consumed by audiences buying the educational objects. Such processes of commodification actively render objects to the audience for sale, and appear across all spheres of human activity; this is why we must remember that according to some philosophical stances, the signified has a slippery relationship with the signifier (c.f. Lacau and Mouffee, 1985). Three examples help animate this phenomenon and some of the different consequences of it. The first example illustrates how commodification can apply to areas of life that we might think of as difficult to capture spiritually or experientially: now, for time-poor people who want to quickly reap the existential benefits of Buddhism, there is a wide range of easily accessible texts at affordable prices to choose from. Titles include “Buddhism for Busy People”, “Buddhism Plain and Simple”, “The Little Book of Buddhism”, “Buddhism Made Simple”, “Buddhism: for Beginners!”, “Buddhism for Dummies”, “Sit Like A Buddha”, “Hurry Up and Meditate”, “Enlightenment to Go”, and “The Dalai Lama's Cat”. In and through such texts, commodified versions of Buddhism appear, much the same way as Buddha-like statues appear in NASA photos of Mars (Feltman, 2015).
    • Business schools as educational provocateurs of productivity via interrelated landscapes of practice

      Wall, Tony; Jarvis, Madeleine; University of Chester; University of Chester (Chartered Association for Business Schools, 2015-12-01)
      In an ever-changing and global marketplace, it could be argued that the role of business schools is no longer to train graduates for specific roles. Whilst this concept that we are educating ‘for jobs that don’t yet exist’ has become more widely accepted, educational practices in business schools are arguably still contained by traditional Western practices of individualistic student instruction. Indeed, even the relevance of academic theory to practice has sparked heated debate in business schools for some time and has led to calls for a different attitude of engagement with theory (Ramsey, 2011, 2014). Some have pushed the debate from relevance to relevating as a process of challenge, change and impact (Paton, Chia and Burt, 2014). But even this is insufficient to spark forms of business and management education which provoke new ways of thinking and acting in practice which are infused with social connectedness and are beyond single discipline thinking. Notions of ‘autonomous learning’ and working ‘critically’ may be viewed as a positive development from pedagogy to andragogy in UK tertiary education. However, these can still be interpreted in deeply individualistic ways which are oppositional to notions of learning rooted in and oriented towards larger social groupings (Goodall, 2014, Yunkaporta and Kirby, 2011). Simply ‘training’ individuals in specific management activities is likely to be insufficient in unlocking transformative (and productive) community action. A new educational ontology of being is needed.
    • Exploring the Impact of Reflective and Work Applied Approaches

      Wall, Tony; University of Chester (Emerald, 2017-12-04)
      The impact agenda is now a global phenomenon with great expectations for ‘transformational’ impacts in the wider world (Gravem et al 2017). Paradoxically, such demands can hinder discovery through the avoidance unpredictable outcomes (ibid), and problematically, there is an over reliance on very narrow conceptualisations of impact, oftentimes adopting the metrics used by research councils or governments to allocate research monies. Such metrics are fiercely debated, partly because of a disconnect with practice, and their significance in creating and shaping industries whose primary purpose it is to administer and optimise the administration of research assessment activity...
    • Poignant Pedagogies for Discovery – or of Compliance? The Case of Negotiated, Work-Based Learning in Higher Education

      Wall, Tony; University of Chester (Deakin University, 2014-08-21)
      Work-based or work-integrated learning manifest in a colourful array of forms; from classroom-based where the teacher sets the learning outcomes and activities (perhaps in groups) – through to a fully negotiated, work- based experience where the learner works with the teacher to negotiate their own personal learning outcomes, activity and assessment (a personalised experience). Educationally, such curricula can provide a rich and authentic pedagogic space in which to grow personally and professionally, where the learner has the opportunity (and ability) to explore from their own cultural perspective. But this place of discovery can also become a place of compliance; where learners mechanically do what is required of them, without creative engagement, curiosity or connection to their cultural perspective. This talk draws on qualitative and action research undertaken over the last 6 years in the context of negotiated, experiential curricula to examine some pedagogical practices. The question is asked: are we crafting poignant pedagogies for discovery – or of compliance?
    • Provocative Education: From Buddhism for Busy People® to Dismal Land®

      Wall, Tony; University of Chester (University of Wyoming, 2016-03-14)
      In 2015, the OECD reported global investments in expanding and enhancing work-based education to better meet the needs of employers (indeed, the US Department for Labor has just announced its highest ever investment in apprenticeships). Within this ongoing trend towards conceptualising education through an economic lens, what do our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours tell us about how we (unconsciously) conceptualise contemporary education? This presentation experiments with a form of Žižekian ideology critique as a research methodology to examine (and intentionally provoke) how we relate to and engage with education as a student and customer, or teacher and service provider. Two examples of how education is commodified are examined: the "Buddhism for Busy People®" book, and the "Dismal Land®" theme park. Consistent with the research methodology, the presentation seeks to provoke sparks of insight and ideas rather than dictate learning outcomes.
    • Revisiting impact in the context of workplace research: a review and possible directions

      Wall, Tony; Bellamy, Lawrence; Evans, Vicky; Hopkins, Sandra; University of Chester (Emerald, 2017-12-04)
      The purpose of this paper is to revisit the scholarly impact agenda in the context of work-based and workplace research, and to propose new directions for research and practice. This paper combines a contemporary literature review with case vignettes and reflections from practice to develop more nuanced understandings, and highlight future directions for making sense of impact in the context of work-based learning research approaches. This paper argues that three dimensions to making sense of impact need to be more nuanced in relation to workplace research: (1) that interactional elements of workplace research processes have the potential for discursive pathways to impact, (2) that presence (and perhaps non-action) can act as a pathway to impact, and (3) that the narrative nature of time means there is instability in making sense of impact over time. The paper proposes a number of implications for practitioner-researchers, universities/research organisations, and focus on three key areas: the amplification of research ethics in workplace research, the need for axiological shifts towards sustainability, and the need to explicate axiological orientation in research. This paper offers a contemporary review of the international impact debate in the specific context of work-based and workplace research approaches.
    • Towards a national-institutional policy for high-impact research

      Wall, Tony; University of Chester (2016-03-14)
      Austerity has sharpened our attention on 'the impact debate' and has reinvigorated interest in action oriented and collaborative forms of research which create results in practice. At the same time, the potential of the University College Isle of Man (as a deeply connected part of the Isle) offers the rare and unique possibility of developing a strategic national-institutional policy to drive particular forms of research. This presentation envisions the possibility this ambition and highlights some of its rewards and risks. In this way, the presentation aims to both spark and contribute to collaborative research which involves results in practice.
    • Transforming research-learning performance with professional lifelong learners

      Wall, Tony; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2014-02-21)
      In Europe, universities promote accredited professional development opportunities as a key strand of their lifelong learning commitment. Within this context, learning about research methods can be problematic to busy professionals, as it can appear dislocated from practice and unworthy of the energy and effort it takes to understand what might be perceved as a purely academic pursuit. The purpose of the study was to tackle this situation: to enhance the professional's experience and learning performance in research methods, in the context of work based learning Bachelor's and Master's degrees. Action research was used to develop a pedagogic approach to faciliate learning with busy professionals. The results suggest a significantly more positive experience for the learners, and a verified increase in performance (% grades) in assessed work. This paper gives an overview of the pedagogic approach and tools developed.
    • Why Educational Reform is Like 'looking for the Donkey whilst sitting on its back': provocations from a Zizekian analysis

      Wall, Tony; University of Chester (Deakin University, 2016-02-12)
      Why is it education is supposedly failing to meet the demands of our society? Why is it there are record levels of stress for teachers? Why is it there is a record level of complaints from our university students? How is it now possible to compare a higher education course with a vacuum cleaner, toaster or television? Through the analytical apparatus of contemporary philosopher and politico-cultural theorist Slavoj Žižek (who introduces a cocktail of Lacan, Hegel and Marx), this seminar offers an alternative perspective on these modern challenges and tensions in education.
    • Žižekian ideas in critical reflection: the tricks and traps of mobilising radical management insight

      Wall, Tony; University of Chester (Emerald, 2016-04-01)
      Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine how deeper psychosocial structures can be examined utilising a contemporary provocative theory within workplace reflection to generate more radical insights and innovation. Design/methodology/approach This paper outlines a provocative theory and then presents case examples of how deeper structures can be examined at the micro, meso and macro levels. Findings Deeper psychosocial structures are the forces that keep the status quo firmly in place, but deeper examination of these structures enable radical insights and therefore the possibility of innovation. Research limitations/implications Deep psychosocial structures shape and constitute daily action, and so work based and practitioner researchers can be tricked into thinking they have identified new ways of working, but maybe demonstrating the same workplace behaviours/outcomes. Workplace behaviours, including emotional responses to apparent change, are key indicators of deeper structures. Practical implications Ideas and processes for examining deeper structures can be integrated into daily reflective practices by individuals, within organisational processes, and wider, system processes. However, because deeper structures can appear in different forms, we can be tricked into reproducing old structures. Social implications (if applicable) Examining deeper structures increases the possibilities for more radical insights into workplace structures, and therefore, how to potentially mobilise innovations which may better serve people and planet. Originality/value (mandatory) This paper is the first to examine the work of Slavoj Žižek in the context of work based learning.