Almost all theses will include an ‘Acknowledgements’ page expressing gratitude to all those supported the study: supervisors, family, participants, friends, colleagues. My thesis is no exception, however, I also took the less common step of including a foreword. Appearing in the abstract and table of contents were some terms like flâneur which I felt would benefit from preliminary explication. Since the foreword is only a page in length, I’ll provide it in full. I’m grateful to both Deborah and Craig for allowing me to include quotes from their blogs in my thesis.
My flâneuse is the undetected scholar of the world around her, a connoisseur of experience. She wanders, observes and examines, tuning in to her surroundings with intense attentiveness.
Her flânerie involves inaudibly impassioned immersion in, and expansive opening to, her environment. She absorbs and is absorbed. She pursues the poetic in the everyday. Covertly, she seeks understanding, meaning, awakening, transcendence.
The édu flâneuse applies this nomadic noticing to the educational spheres she encounters. Places, people and philosophies cocoon her until she emerges quietly transformed.
Flânerie – the art of wandering, observing and rendering the city and its life – both inspired and informed this study. However, rather than the broad, bustling, boulevards of Paris studied by the first generation of flâneurs, the focus of this thesis is an altogether different ‘place.’
Thanks to Twitter I am now more up to date with education than ever before. I now get daily professional development from hundreds of education’s best ‘tweeters’ from all over the world […] As soon as I started posting, I realised that Twitter is the most powerful tool for a teacher to use for PD.
This quote from a blog post by Craig Kemp, a teacher in Singapore, typifies the kinds of comments which increasingly piqued my curiosity and provided the inspiration for this study. The ‘city’ whose streets I intended to tread is Twitter. It is an enormous place, with a ‘population’ of over 330 million, who range far and wide. There is no intention however, to attempt to capture it all, since Craig’s comment is more specific. It is educators on Twitter who attract my gaze, and specifically those involved in ‘professional development.’ Rather than pounding the streets, I shall be scrolling the tweets.
Some travellers prefer to roam guide-free, immersing themselves in the city and experiencing its vitality in the raw. Feel free to do that with this thesis, knowing that the Streetmap or ‘Contents’ which follow, act as reference points should you become lost.
The opening chapter serves as a ‘Rough Guide,’ providing an overview of where I, as flâneur, roamed. Here you’ll be introduced to some of the ‘characters’ I met, the ‘architecture’ I encountered and the activity I witnessed. The Streetmap which follows may prove useful and if you struggle with the local dialect, the Phrasebook might also help. Unlike the flâneurs of old, I chose not to wander alone and enlisted travelling companions whose insights helped me see afresh; we’ll meet them too.
In the next post I’ll take a closer look at the opening chapter.