19 SES 01, Doing Ethnography, Interactions and Reflexivity
This paper emerges from my doctoral work, specifically from the experience of being alongside Marta, a social educator. The research, “Caring the relationship: the sense of the educational experience. A narrative inquiry”, is based on the search and study of care relationships and the pedagogic knowledge that hold them. An educational care that, from a narrative inquiry’s approach, has required to be proactive in the relationship and to be open for the encounter with the participants; and a knowledge experience born from experience, a result of the thought experience, where unity of life is not lost (Piussi, 2000).
In this paper, I want to explore and make visible the ways Marta and I have been creating and recreating our research relationship. This journey was lived as an experience and as a possibility of a new beginning. Because the educational Centre where she was working is one of the first places where I started my professional career, for me, the research required a return and a relational process that shaped the confrontation between what I previously knew and what appeared as a new educational reality. This process set up the opportunity to rethink my educational practices, and the need to build a new relationship with her, taking care of the movement between distance and nearness (Waldenfels, 2015; Zamboni, 2004).
As I engaged in narrative inquiry alongside Marta in the Centre where I previously worked, I thought often of what happens when we believe that an educational context is familiar and known because we have previously worked there. I wondered if this shaped me to sometimes take for granted or to see as finished or completed aspects that can only be discovered anew. Research relationships do not correspond with linearity, with what is expected or what is prescribed; they are quite the opposite and, for me, this difference signals a link with the magic of what cannot be foreseen or predicted (Contreras, 2013; Ricoeur, 1996). Entering with this sense of uncertainty allows for a renewal of the relationship with what is opened and with those who share the inquiry process (Clandinin, 2013). How, I often puzzled, do I inquire in a place where I have worked as an educator and in which I have lived stories with children? How can I create the necessary detachment to do research and develop a closeness of attitude that can promote well-being for the children and a trusting relationship with the social educator? These puzzles allowed us to rethink my place as researcher in the movement, in the distance and between participants and ourselves (Clandinin, J., Caine, V., Lessard, S., & Huber, J. 2016). However, I also want to think of these experiences alongside Marta and the children, of returning and seeing again, alongside what we do, as teacher educators.
Through narrative inquiry, I have attended to Marta’s and children’s knowledge in a relational and participatory ways. By assuming this idea of a relational methodology, as inquirer I am also under study in a narrative inquiry (Rosiek, 2013; Rosiek & Pratt, 2013). In this sense, Clandinin, Caine, Lessard & Huber (2016) consider “the importance of self-facing, of turning the gaze upon whom we are and becoming throughout the study of our experience alongside experiences of participants, highlights the importance of methodological reflexivity” (p.37).
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