Deaf geographies, and other worlds.
With Christmas intervening – and then a frantic new year of catching up, I’m only just getting to the point now where I can come back to the blog.
And I do so with news… I have reinforcements 🙂 In the last week, the long awaited replacement Client Support Officer has started at work. The hope is that… in time… he will learn to do everything that I’ve been doing, and effectively replace me – freeing me up to do other (and more interesting) things.
His arrival has, however, brought an interesting challenge to light – which is the amount of time and effort that it takes to effectively train and mentor someone.
This is a challenge that I suffered from… from the other end – as a PhD student.
I’m sure some academics are very good at passing on their experience, but as a PhD student – there was literally no mentoring or training in the academic post-doctoral game. There was knowledge there – masses of it, but it was like a sea of information that was just ‘out there’; accepted as common knowledge by those already involved, but inaccessible to the novice… and not made accessible either.
It wasn’t really until I’d finished my PhD and was back working at the university and able to actually be part of a research application that information on how things actually worked came my way. But by then, I was somehow expected to already know how to play the game and to be part way down the (particularly post-doc) road. So from no knowledge, I had to quickly try and catch others up on a near overhang learning curve.
If it were not for a few friends who have been there, done that, and have been able to fill in some of the blanks, I’d have been completely swamped.
Even now, several years post-PhD, I’ve still not got the practical experience of funding applications – something that I’ve got to fit into the next couple of years.
So… about to prepare my presentation for the AAG in which I’m talking about the past, present and future of Deaf geography research – one thing that’s very present in my consciousness is the question of how we can prepare future generations of researchers so that they are not as ill-equipped or unprepared as us.
It may be, that for Deaf geographies research to succeed, we (I, as an ‘older researcher’ maybe) have to partially sideline our (my) own ambitions in favour of future researchers…
It’s almost certainly true that – if we ignore the need to correctly inform, train, mentor and guide future researchers – a body of research will simply not build and, rather than a sustainable field, Deaf geographies will continue to be little more than a collection of individual research projects that just happen to coalesce around the subject.