If you are interested in having Si as your thesis supervisor or having her on a committee please read samples of both her scholarly work and her creative work. Assess whether her core values, beliefs, priorities and imaginative style will harmonize with yours. Also assess whether she has a strong enough back ground in the content areas you wish to explore. Your best bet is to find a project or theme area she is already substantively involved with. This will mean that she can richly and robustly assist you, you’ll graduate sooner, all involved will have to do less work, and your learning journey will be that much more fun and memorable (in a good way – not a traumatized way!).
Further, ask yourself if you are able to make a commitment to attending the First Friday Research Group which meets in the afternoon on the first Friday of every month. If there is a month in which you cannot attend it is expected that you will send a written page or so of what you have been doing/ what you will be doing/ where you’re at in your thesis process. Your peers will appreciate that update and it is part of the good manners and protocol of belonging to a research group.
In this group you will be expected to share your successes and glitches and learn from the other students in the group. You will be expected to share drafts of your chapters with others AND to read and care about the draft work of your peers. The group will support you to the extent that you also offer support to others. If you are a rugged individualist and are focused only on your own needs please do not consider having Si as your supervisor or mentor. Also, please be clear on your own energy level and time frame before you become involved. Your thesis work is very important – if you are simultaneously expecting to raise a family, work full time, manage a dozen crisis and life changes a month, change the world through your volunteer work, etc. etc. WHILE doing your thesis – this might not be a good time to approach Si and the FFRG to become part of the learning/ writing/ researching process.
This FFRG is intended to be a place of potential connect for years to come. Graduates have reached back to assist others in the group. FFRG members have helped each other find jobs, prepare for conferences, write publishable papers, write and publish creative pieces, do creative performances of their writing, polish their CVs, manage personal troubles, navigate through the administrative systems of the various levels of government or the university maze. This FFRG model is the one that Si had the privilege to become part of during the 1990’s at University of Toronto with scholars such as Margrit Eichler, Sandra Acker, and Roxana Ng. Ten years after graduation with her doctorate in Equity Studies and the Sociology of Education Si still communicates regularly with these mentors, connects in meaningful ways with some of the others in her equivalent of a FFRG, and has encouragement and assistance from her peers and mentors in most of the spheres of her life (such as publishing, conference attendance, managing stress, understanding how research projects can best be initiated and forwarded, etc.).
Stray thoughts about the FFRG process/ practice/ praxis:
- sometimes we conduct ourselves in a way similar to a consciousness raising group, a recovery group and/or a First Nations talking circle
- at times students have brought their children (re if finding appropriate child care wasn’t possible or affordable) and the children have played or done their reading/ writing in the same room
- we always ask who needs to leave early and that person can take the floor first
- if someone from the group has missed a couple sessions (and even if they’ve sent their expected email summary update) someone else from the group might contact them and ask to go for coffee and see what might be done to assist them to get back fully on track
- we share research tips, reading resources, contact names, job ad info, information about upcoming conferences or speakers, travel or accommodation at conferences, transcription or editing sources, etc. – and kindness!
- we encourage and celebrate humour – a vital resource while attempting to do progressive research in regressive times
- we build upon each others themes and discoveries
- all administrative paper work re the ethics proposals documents, progress reports, etc. should be brought to the FFRG and discussed and signed here
- Si shares her own mistakes and successes and that can demystify the research process and encourage equality among the group
- we can be vibrantly enthusiastic about each others accomplishments (when it may seem like no one else in the entire universe cares!)
- we recognize and respond to the personal being political (i.e. most people who do go off track with their thesis work are side tracked by issues in their personal life such as a divorce, an illness, about of unemployment or employment, the loss of a family member, etc.). we try to not reinvent the wheel in that each of our projects probably have some element of northern focus, poverty focus, inequality focus, autoethnography focus, etc.
- we share ‘show and tell’ in that we bring newspaper articles, quotes, reference to the group that might uplift and/or further the work of the others in the group
- we bring cookies, muffins, marvellously fresh veggies and dip…. and comfort ourselves when the world seems cold and indifferent to our concerns