I live a secret, split life.
By day, I walk on the practitioner side of the street. I’m practical and results-oriented; I speak the language of business and work hard to support and promote learning in organizations, especially among those whose job it is to support and promote learning (like the learning leaders and practitioners at my company and the graduate students I encounter in instructional design programs).
But at night, I quietly look both ways and cross over to the other side of the street – the scholar side. There I find endless fascination with the kind of theory and research that others shrink from… For example, this week’s evening reading has been Andrew Van de Ven’s Engaged Scholarship, wherein an entire chapter is dedicated to parsing out the differences between positivism, relativism, pragmatism, and realism, a conversation which makes most people’s eyes glaze over. But these arguments are about how we think, how we know what we know, how we understand our relationship to the world around us, and how we theorize about how the world works. What could be more practical than that? Sigh.
This coming week, I’m going to cross the street and spend a few days at the conference of the Academy of HRD. For four days, I’ll get to revel on the scholar side more or less full time (and trust me, if you hang with the scholar-practitioner crowd at AHRD, revelry is what you get). I’ve looked over the program… I’ll be taking in a workshop on qualitative research design and analysis and can choose among symposiums on situated learning, coaching, informal learning, experiential learning, knowledge sharing, positive psychology, strategic HRD, critical HRD… I’m verklempt!
I would so love to find a way to walk more down the middle of the street rather than having to constantly switch sides… But as we know, walking down the middle of a street can be quite dangerous. In the meantime, I continue to enjoy time I spend with friends and colleagues on both sides, occasionally trying to introduce them to each other. But most of the time it’s best to just cross the street alone and keep my secret, split life to myself.
Now that my secret is out, let me know if you, too, occasionally cross the street. We’d probably have a lot to talk about.