In Search of Sophia: Seeking wisdom in adult teaching and learning spaces - An Autoethnographic Inquiry

Fraser, W. (2013) In Search of Sophia: Seeking wisdom in adult teaching and learning spaces - An Autoethnographic Inquiry. Ph.D. thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the relatively under-theorised relationship between wisdom and adult teaching and learning. Whilst studies of wisdom are usually couched within a psychological framework, and/or one related to gerontology, this work poses key questions about what wisdom means, whether it can be taught, and the extent to which its elusive and allusive character has rendered it marginal to the design and delivery of adult and lifelong learning. Using autoethnography as both method and methodology, and by drawing on a diverse range of sources, including six interviews, this pursuit of wisdom is anchored in the reflexive relationship between the author and her subject of study. Key ontological and epistemological questions are posed as I seek meaning in relation to my lifeworld and lifespan. I also examine autoethnography’s efficacy whilst acknowledging criticisms within the academy, including accusations of narcissistic irrelevance. This study also incorporates the use of ‘writing as inquiry’ by way of offering a further challenge to the more traditional bounds of the social sciences. The interview material is couched within a fictionalised framework, and the whole thesis unfolds, conterminously, as both analysis and quest. In keeping with the methodological approach, the thesis concludes by offering a synthesis of certain of its propositions, rather than resolution.
By adopting Sophia, the ancient goddess of wisdom, as metaphorical guide, the basic proposition that is shared across the text is the epistemologically fragmented nature of our understanding of wisdom and her relegation in a frenetic world which can be obsessed with the measurable as against the deepening of understanding. Yet the paradoxical nature of wisdom’s manifestations might also offer a degree of hope, should we heed her call…I argue that she is intimately intertwined with learning itself and with the potential for heartfelt and imaginative openness to the wisdom of ‘unknowing’ and the possibility of transcendence. However, Sophia demands our imaginative, authentic, loving and courageous attention in the process: in writing; in the classroom; in understanding the play of history, culture and the self. This autoethnographic inquiry is my response to that demand.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
Divisions: pre Nov-2014 > Faculty of Education
Depositing User: Roz Bass
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2015 10:11
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2016 23:55
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/13303

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00