Ready, Steady Cook: The Growth of a Middle Aged Novice Researcher in the “Academic Kitchen”
Keywords:Professional Development, Mature Student, Adult Learning
AbstractThis paper takes inspiration from the work of Peter Elbow, who in his 1998 text Writing Without Teachers, described writing as a process of growing and cooking. As I read Elbow’s representations, I was struck by the similarity between learning to write and becoming a novice researcher. Elbow explained how each writer’s growth cycle would be individual and distinct. Thus, Elbow reasoned; “the main thing you must do if you want to help growing happen in your writing is to try to get a feel for the organic, developmental process” (pp. 42-43). Elbow explained that this means you need to get a sense of your development over space and time, and focus on “the shape of a set of changes occurring in a structure” (p. 43). Elbow described how if growing is the larger process, then cooking is the smaller…Cooking drives the engine that makes growing happen” (1998, p. 48). To me, this sounds like the feeling of being a graduate student and fledgling researcher. Since I commenced graduate study in 2009, I have struggled to make sense of my previous professional roles in relation to how I am developing my skills as a researcher. Life as a graduate student has been much like the process of writing as cooking that Elbow described. In this article, I tell the story of how these experiences have interlaced to represent one of the most profoundly important cooking and growing periods of my life.
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