My first exposure to action-research and observation methods was in 1986 when I took a psychology class under the legendary James Maas. It was phenomenal to squeeze and sit in the aisle because the lecture theater only had 1000 seats for the 1000+ of us who waited a whole year on the waiting list to take this class from this weird professor who flew in 3 times a week from London to Ithaca simply to share with us his 16mm films of his recorded experiments.
15 years later, I revisited these ideas when I went back to grad school to switch careers from architecture to education. It was then, when I was first introduced to the idea of proposing a radical new research method, when I first read Wolcott’s “The Man in the Principal’s Office” (1973), and was blown away when I read his latest controversial book “Sneaky Kid and Its Aftermath: Ethics and Intimacy in Fieldwork” (2002). If you are unfamiliar with Wolcott, here is an article about him: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/45/93
Wolcott was my research methodology-idol, not because his subject area of research, but because he dared to propose a new model of research. My regret is that I never did meet him before he died last year. This was a man who was stripped of all his academic titles and served jail time for his “radical experiments”. Ironically, (some of) his ideas did eventually become adopted by qualitative and mixed methods gurus, such as John Creswell.
Till today, if you ask most qualitative researchers, they might not even know who Wolcott is, let alone the impact of his radical experiments, and definitely, most people do not realize the price that pioneers need to pay for proposing their radical ideas. Dian Fossey died for her gorilla experiments, and Wolcott did jail time. I am nowhere near these giants, but I did eventually give up my PhD because I refused to rewrite my methodology chapter to “fit” into the norm. I gave up. I dropped off the grid. I allowed personal family issues to become an “excuse” to go into intellectual-hiding for 7 years.
Then, in 2012, I attended my first MOOC.
I interacted online with amazing people from all over the world.
I realized that I am not alone.
Life has not been the same since…
Article on MOOC almanac http://www.eurodl.org/index.php?article=516#Evolution
Article on alternative tenure endorsement method: http://www.communitycollegetimes.com/Pages/Campus-Issues/Changing-the-faculty-culture-leads-to-better-student-outcomes.aspx