Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Centering on our Values and Strengthening the Core posted by Mary Brydon-Miller

I often use the metaphor of dance or yoga when I introduce the idea of using self-reflection in order to examine how our values inform our practice as action researchers. Both dance and yoga emphasize the importance of centering--drawing attention to the core muscles that support the body and finding a position of balance.  They also stress strengthening these core muscles in order to provide this balance and to allow the practitioner to move with grace, fluidity, and balance. When the core muscles are strong the body is able to respond to forces that would pull it out of balance and we are able to use our bodies in creative and unexpected ways. Just watch the dancers in Pilobolus if you want to see a remarkable example of the miraculous ways humans can use balance and strength to work together to create amazing art.

Or take a yoga class and feel how your body responds as you move through the poses in the Sun Salutation.

Just as strengthening the physical core allows us to move gracefully and prevents us from falling despite unexpected obstacles in our path, so strengthening our ethical core can provide us with stability and balance when our work as action researchers leads us into unpredictable dilemmas or conflicts—and as we all know expecting the unexpected is something every action researcher must learn to deal with.

So how do we go about building a strong ethical core? I encourage my students to start by articulating the values and principles that have the greatest meaning to them and by critically examining how they embody these values in their practice as action researchers.  If you value social justice, how does your practice reflect this principle? If you see yourself as a caring person and this aspect of your self-image is important to you, how do you embody caring in your interactions with others?

This past year the students in my action research course engaged in a first-person action research project focused on how their own value systems inform their practice. I’ve invited some of them to share their projects and what they learned through the first-person action research project in next week’s post.

The images included in this post were found through Creative Commons

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