It is really interesting how initial questions can lead us to something that you were not expecting at all!
After a really successful away day with work, I returned to my current office (my bedroom/gaming room) and started to further immersive myself in my reading. Before I started I had a quick look at twitter and something caught my eye.
Focault as a kid. pic.twitter.com/QfgFbb2Xu3
— Chiara Russo Krauss 🇪🇺🇮🇹 (@russokrauss) July 15, 2021
Support from an expert
It was not the image that caught my attention, apart from the fact it reminded me of the Peter and Jane Ladybird books that I used to read at school, but the comments below it. There was so much laughter and agreement with the caption that I had to investigate.
Although I had heard of Foucault I am the first to admit that I was no expert on the author. However, I knew someone who was so I sent him links as soon as possible. Pressing the send button I awaited his reply with eager anticipation.
After reading the experts reply I saw the humour in the image. Along with the meaning, the expert directed me to a book about Foucault. I was pleased to see there was a Kindle version, since this is the type of book I am purchasing at the moment (more about why in another blog post), so quickly bought it, downloaded it, and started to read.
Foucault: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) 2nd Edition, Kindle Edition
This quote rang true!
If I said it is easy reading, I would be lying. It is one of those books that I find myself reading sentences or sections more than once and then having to think – what does that mean? I’m not complaining. I think it. It is really important that we challenge our grey cells constantly. I do only read one chapter at a time. This not only supports my understanding but I want to think about what I have read to decide what I think about it and how it relates to my own research and thoughts/values/philosophy.
Right near the start of the book there was a quote that made me stop and think straight away – I even shared it on Twitter!
Are we really all doing this?
‘The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning’ (‘Truth, Power, Self’, 9).
Gutting, Gary. Foucault: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (p. 6). OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition.
— Wilson Waffling (@WilsonWaffling) July 19, 2021
Becoming someone else?
The more I thought of it the more I agreed with it. Ever since the start of my life, I have been working towards being something different. Becoming a teacher and now becoming an academic. But this journey or transformation goes beyond titles and jobs. I constantly strive to learn new things, to improve my blogging techniques, to promote myself so people see and recognise me as an expert in my field. I was so captivated by the quote that I was thinking why had I not thought about this before!
But is this transformation my main interest in life and work? Well yes. I don’t have the time or word count to share with you aspects of my life away from being an academic, but becoming something that I was not is such an important part of my professional life at the moment. As you might be aware, my PhD proposal is focusing on the journey from being a teacher to becoming a teacher educator and this journey is definitely the main focus of my work at the moment and will definitely lead me to be something I was not at the beginning.
Extract from the proposal (first draft):
“But this transformation is not as simple as signing a new contract, entering a pupated state one day only to emerge from my chrysalis of change overnight to unfurl my multi-coloured wings of academia.”
Something we are not?
As I continued to think, I wanted to take the quote one step further. I agree that my main focus of life and work is, at the moment, trying to become something that I was not at the beginning but I got thinking about whether I should become this new ‘being’.
Could it be possible that we are trying to become something that we either was not destined to be or that we don’t have the skills or intellect to become. Imposter syndrome is a phrase I hear a lot, but it is not about pretending to be something but more about actually becoming something. If we are moving towards a role that is different from our beginning but a role that we don’t have the skills to become, the journey is going to be fraught and full of tension. It might make for an interesting journey, but it would also be a struggle and might mean that we fail to reach our end point.
And at this point, I find myself in a dilemma. Yes I am on a journey and yes, I agree with Foucault that the journey will be the main focus of my life and work as I change from something I was not at the beginning. But my concern is whether I am on the right route to change and will the end point be where I am meant to be, or will it be just a staging point in preparation for my next transformation?
And on that point I will leave you. Not because I like a cliff hanger. More because I don’t have the answer to my own question.
As I continue to read the book, my understanding of what a unique person Foucault was is increasing. Whether he will make an appearance in my final thesis I am not certain but I am aware that he has already contributed to my current thinking and possible transformation.