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On dove’s wing : life story narratives of conflict resolution learners from the Justice Institute of… Hocking, William Brent 1996

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ON DOVE'S WING: LIFE STORY NARRATIVES OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION LEARNERS FROM THE JUSTICE INSTITUTE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA by WILLIAM BRENT HOCKING B.A., McGill University, 1979 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Educational Studies) We accept this t h e s e s conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA November 1996 © William Brent Hocking, 1996 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholariy purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of BQU£/)T/Dti/)LSTUQ/&S The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada DE-6 (2/88) B. Hocking, page ii A B S T R A C T My thesis is a 4-part narrative study of the learning associated with the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program at the Justice Institute of B.C. (British Columbia). This is a comprehensive continuing education program considered by many to be the most reputable of its type in Canada. The Justice Institute offers courses in conflict resolution, mediation, and negotiation through the Centre for Conflict Resolution Training. I define narrative broadly as a framework for interpreting life experiences. There are two questions that guide my research: (a) What is the experience of conflict resolution learning for adults? and (b) how does this experience fit into their biographies? I use a life story approach to explore these questions in the context of my own life and the lives of 5 other participants: Kate, John, Kevin, Sandy, and Sydney. A life story is taken to mean an account of someone's life, in whole or in part, shared with another person. I have written the life stories in the thesis using autobiographical and biographical methods. My own story is based on a series of personal reflections, journal entries, and my interactions with other research participants. It appears in two parts, at the beginning and end of the thesis, to distinguish my roles as researcher-learner-storyteller from the roles of those interviewed. Data for their narratives come from two individual interviews, two focus groups, and a written life story. I use information from these sources to reconstruct a story for each participant that highlights the meaning of conflict resolution learning. Learners for this study were selected using different criteria. I was familiar with 4 of the 5 participants. Some degree of prior relationship was important because it allowed me to collect the personal stories of other people. All of the participants, except Kate, had graduated from the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program during the past 3 years. The life stories, including my own, are the primary narratives. They are preceded by several chapters which I call "secondary narratives" because they contextualize and serve as frames for entering into the life stories. Secondary narratives include: stories about my research, accounts of conflict resolution training at the Justice Institute, reference to three socio-historical movements which framed the B. Hocking, page iii evolution of conflict resolution in Canada, and a chapter on three adult learning theories. The three movements are the human potential movement, ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution), and the historical role played by the Mennonites as peacekeepers. I refer, in this last context, to VORP (Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program). The three learning theories are constructivism, socially situated learning, and transformative learning. I situate the primary and secondary narratives in an interpretive/ phenomenological framework. There are six characteristics from this tradition which I use and describe from my point of reference as the researcher: (a) reflecting on and interpreting learners' personal experiences, (b) honouring participants' knowledge, (c) attending to narrative as craft, (d) respecting complexity, (e) modelling empathy and collaboration, and (f) integrating individual narratives of learning into broader frameworks of social discourse. After presenting the life stories in part 3, I analyze and interpret them in part 4. When working on this final stage, I themed the narratives collaboratively with each participant and then looked at the stories as a whole by myself. I discovered that the meaning of conflict resolution learning, for those I interviewed, can be expressed as five variations of authenticity. I explore these variations through a series of reflective questions and elaborations. My work concludes with thoughts about my own story and some considerations for the use of narrative in educational research. B. Hocking, page iv TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract Table of Contents Acknowledgements viii Dedication ix PART 1. STORIES OF MY RESEARCH 1 CHAPTER 1. A PERSONAL TALE: 2 GIVING VOICE TO MY LEARNING IN CONFLICT RESOLUTION A Professional Introduction 2 My Own Battle With Conflict 3 Witches and Witch Hunts 4 What Does It Mean to Be in a Place of Conflict? 5 Moving Ahead: Rediscovering Conflict Resolution at the Justice Institute 7 Living the Learning 9 Dwelling on the Learning 10 CHAPTER 2. OPENING THE DOOR: 12 AN OVERVIEW OF MY RESEARCH Research Purpose and Questions 14 Narrative in Educational Research 15 Bringing Narrative Research to Conflict Resolution Learning 22 Characteristics of This Study 22 Significance of This Project 31 Conclusion 34 Organization 35 Chapter References 37 CHAPTER 3. THE LIFE STORY APPROACH: 41 MY RESEARCH DESIGN Why Life Stories? 41 Beginning With Self: Autobiography as Life Story Research 42 Preparing to Collect Stories 44 Gathering Stories 50 Restorying and Theming the Narratives 60 Chapter Summary 67 Chapter References 69 B. Hocking, page v PART 2. STORYING ADULT LEARNING IN CONFLICT RESOLUTION: 71 PRACTICE AND THEORY CHAPTER 4. CONFLICT RESOLUTION TRAINING AT THE 72 JUSTICE INSTITUTE OF B.C. Discovering the Justice Institute 72 Conflict Resolution Training: An Historical Overview 75 Conflict Resolution Programs 94 Learning Frameworks 99 Staying Informed of Learners' Needs 109 Chapter Summary 118 Chapter References 120 CHAPTER 5. UNDERSTANDING CONFLICT RESOLUTION 122 LEARNING AS PART OF A LARGER STORY: THE METANARRATIVE Stories Within Stories 122 An Overview of Conflict Resolution in Canada 125 The Metanarrative: Developing a Sense of Conflict Resolution Culture 139 Developing a Culture of Peace in the Classroom 141 Chapter Summary 149 Chapter References 150 CHAPTER 6. THEORIES OF ADULT LEARNING: 153 THREE FRAMEWORKS FOR STORYING CONFLICT RESOLUTION The Significance of Theories 153 Chapter Overview 156 An Overview of Adult Learning 158 Constructivism, Socially Situated Learning, and Transformative 160 Learning Chapter Summary 192 Chapter References 193 PART 3: LIFE STORIES OF FIVE CONFLICT RESOLUTION LEARNERS 197 NOTES TO THE READER 198 CHAPTER 7. KATE'S STORY: 199 THE INNER WORK OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION Setting the Context 199 Uncovering Our Masks: Conflict Resolution Learning as 202 Self-Understanding B. Hocking, page vi How I Met Kate: The Study Group 206 Conflict Resolution Learning as Art: Using Skills to Transform Being 208 Living the Learning: Applying the Skills 212 Eyeing the Future 215 CHAPTER 8. JOHN'S STORY: 217 A PORTRAIT OF INTERCULTURAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION Setting the Context 217 The Roots of Intercultural Conflict 219 Group Dynamics in the Classroom: Considerations for Conflict 220 Resolution Learning Two Stories, Two Defining Moments 226 Taking Action: Towards Intercultural Understanding 229 Conflict Resolution Learning in Broader Perspective: 234 John's Own Model Chapter References 237 CHAPTER 9. KEVIN'S STORY: 238 THE MISSION OF A CONFLICT RESOLUTION PROFESSIONAL Setting the Context 238 Beginning the Journey: The Point of Readiness 242 Early Learning in Conflict Resolution: The Gut-Wrenching Stage 245 Becoming a Practitioner: Co-Mediation and Coaching 249 The Responsibilities and Challenges of a Professional Mediator: 252 Post-Certificate Learning Placing the Learning in Perspective 256 CHAPTER 10. SANDY'S STORY: 259 FINDING HOME Setting the Context 259 The Need for Conflict Resolution in the Home and Community: 261 Frameworks for Sandy's Learning Rekindling the Home Fires: The Power of Conflict Resolution 267 Confronting Old Demons 274 Striving for Balance 278 CHAPTER 11. SYDNEY'S STORY: 281 JUSTICE FOR ALL Setting the Context 281 Lessons From Childhood: Learning to Adapt 285 The Adult Years: Learning to Be a Chameleon 286 Tales From the Workplace 287 B. Hocking, page vii Entering the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program 290 Refining the Skills 296 PART 4. THEMES AND VARIATIONS: REFLECTING ON THE STORIES 300 CHAPTER 12. WHAT IS CONFLICT RESOLUTION LEARNING?: 301 THEMING THE STORIES The Ethics of Interpretation 301 Theming the Life Stories 303 Dimensions of Authenticity: Cross-Theming the Stories 310 Chapter Summary 319 Chapter References 320 CHAPTER 13. REFLECTIONS ON REFLECTIONS: 322 SOME FINAL THOUGHTS Stories as a Framework for Personal Experience 322 Challenges of Narrative Research 324 How the Research Has Entered Into My Story 325 Is It Finished Yet? 326 REFERENCES 327 APPENDIX A Justice Institute Authorization Forms 338 APPENDIX B Interview Guide: Pilot Interviews 342 APPENDIX C Letters of Contact and Telephone Contact Form 345 APPENDIX D Interview Guide: Individual Interviews 351 APPENDIX E Directions to Participants and Consent Form 356 APPENDIX F Focus Group Materials 360 APPENDIX G Follow-Up Interviews 384 APPENDIX H Peer Review: Directions for Graduate Students 394 APPENDIX I Directions to Participants for Reading and Editing 396 Life Stories APPENDIX J Justice Institute Documents 399 B. Hocking, page viii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to acknowledge the following individuals for their support and ongoing assistance: The participants in this study. Without their participation and willingness to share their stories, this study would not have been possible. Dan Pratt, my thesis supervisor. I first learned about interpretivism from his course on adult learning. Dan helped me to question the meaning of research and to walk gently when presenting my ideas. Carl Leggo from the Language Education Department. He was the "methods" person on my committee. His love of poetry and creative writing inspired me to take my first steps as a narrative researcher. Marg Huber, Program Director at the Centre for Conflict Resolution Training. Marg was the third person on my committee. She paved the way for me to do a study involving the Justice Institute. Her strong organizational and editorial skills are much appreciated. Suzanne and Kathy. They reviewed my transcripts and provided feedback on my work. My brother, Glenn. He carried work back and forth from the Justice Institute and offered to help in any way he could. Kevin K. and Thursday. They know what it means to live with a thesis writer. B. Hocking, page ix DEDICATION For Mom and Dad who waited a long time for this thesis B. Hocking, page 1 Part 1 Stories of My Research B. Hocking, page 2 CHAPTER 1 A PERSONAL TALE: GIVING VOICE TO MY LEARNING IN CONFLICT RESOLUTION A Professional Introduction I first learned about conflict resolution 6 years ago while working as an elementary French Immersion teacher. The staff wanted to build a collaborative school culture that would strengthen the sense of community among parents, teachers, and administrators. As we considered different options, our interest turned to conflict resolution. We decided to explore this area by inviting a trainer from the Justice Institute of B.C. (British Columbia) to give us a workshop. The institute's Centre for Conflict Resolution Training is well known across North America for its programs in mediation, negotiation, and conflict resolution. I remember our staff inservice clearly. It took place one day after school in a grade-seven classroom. The teachers compressed themselves into students' desks. An old overhead projector glowing through a haze of dust particles shone its light on a white, textured screen dangling from the blackboard. While we waited the trainer from the Justice Institute stood at the front of the room beside the projector and a flipchart. Her name was Paula Temrick. She was one of a small group of core trainers that had developed the Justice Institute's conflict resolution programs at the beginning of the 1980s. When everyone was ready the workshop started. Before talking about conflict resolution Paula spoke about conflict in general and the range of emotional and physical responses it generates. She described the anger cycle. A graph was used to show the different stages of anger arousal. A change in skin tone, rapid acceleration of the heart rate, a decrease in oxygen to the brain-all of these were powerful images of conflict at its worst. Following this activity, the emphasis of the workshop shifted to using conflict resolution skills in practice. Staff members were invited to participate in role plays at the front of the room with Paula assuming the mediator's role. In the first demonstration she showed us how to intervene in a playground dispute. Another role play was much more personal. It involved a husband and wife team embroiled in marital conflict. This time angry words sent sparks flying through the classroom. Tension filled the air while B. Hocking, page 3 the audience watched, waiting to see what would happen. Paula divided her attention between the husband and wife. The two disputants were encouraged to focus on the problem rather than throwing barbs at one another. Gradually, the level of anxiety decreased. Paula was able to diffuse a volatile situation. This workshop seemed to touch many staff members on a personal as well as a professional level. I was impressed with Paula's gentle, yet assertive interventions. She seemed to connect with people on a deep, human level. Once this connection was in place the disputants were able to see the real issues underneath the dispute, as if masks had been lifted. I had never seen conflicts resolved in this way. At the time I had been teaching for about 9 years. I had observed many conflicts in the schools where I had worked; sometimes in my own class, sometimes in the staffroom, and sometimes among other educators. Although I did not like interpersonal differences-especially when they involved me--l saw them as a reality of working for a large organization such as the public-school system. My Own Battle With Conflict I would soon learn how destructive conflict could be. Approximately 2 years after the workshop, I decided to accept another teaching assignment. The prospect of working at a new school excited me and I was looking forward to a change. Such hopes were short-lived. Almost as soon as the school year began some of the parents started complaining about my teaching. As the weeks progressed, the complaints became more frequent. One day I would be told that my programs lacked academic rigour; I was giving too much attention to the Fine Arts. When I made a mistake correcting a Math assignment concern was expressed about my knowledge of this subject area. One of the parents criticized my understanding of prehistory, citing the timeline I had chosen as inaccurate. She also challenged my French language and grammar skills. Although there were just a few parents behind these charges, they orchestrated an effective campaign of phone calls and letter writing to different school officials. My transition into a new school became a nightmare. B. Hocking, page 4 Witches and Witch Hunts By October the attacks against me had intensified. My evenings and weekends were spent fighting headaches and nausea. I continued to teach in the classroom but went home every night feeling as if I had been dragged into the eye of a hurricane and shaken violently. I felt vulnerable and depressed. After a certain point in time I began to realize that it was not my teaching but who I was as a person that was being attacked. I had experienced conflicts before in my role as a teacher, some of them more serious than others, but I had not encountered this degree of intimidation. It was apparent that some of the parents simply did not want me to teach their child. I had the feeling that I was being attacked for being different. I was not a jock. I was not married. My interests were in the creative arts and humanities. A parent who phoned me after school one day expressed concern that a witch hunt was under way. I was the witch--or wizard. During this period I spent much time talking through the conflict with my partner, my family, and my colleagues. Talking with others helped me to keep the situation in perspective. My challenge was to remain focused. I also began looking into alternatives for confronting the harassment. On Halloween evening I began receiving anonymous phone messages on my answering machine at home. These became a pattern. Several nights a week, many times each evening, rude and threatening messages were left. I contemplated changing my phone number but decided to try other options first. The calls continued. One evening I returned home to hear a death threat on my answering machine. It was after 9:00 p.m. I felt terrified. I decided to take the tape to the police station. During the next several days the police monitored my phone lines. It was early December. Within a few days the police had identified three of my students as the callers. A constable came to our school and arranged for the callers and their parents to meet me as a way to say "Sorry." The students were also asked to write me notes of apology. By now the first term was drawing to a close. Many negotiations had taken place over the past few weeks to try and find a peaceful resolution to what had become a frustrating conflict for everyone involved. Although the phone threats ceased, there were still several unresolved issues. Just before Christmas the School Board decided B. Hocking, page 5 to close down the class. Both the students and I would begin the New Year in other schools. What Does It Mean to Be in a Place of Conflict? This is how a particular narrative of conflict entered into my life. I have described some of its underlying elements. Others are confidential or buried and forgotten. Some still carry pain and fear when recalled back into memory. For 2 or 3 years I retold my story many times, recreating the images it left imprinted on my mind and reliving my emotions. I shared it with friends as well as colleagues. I share it again, this time in writing. I strive to understand conflict and to dwell on some of the questions it has left in its wake: What does it mean to be in conflict? How do we arrive at a place of difference with others? What makes a conflict at work different from a conflict at home or in the neighbourhood? How do some conflicts become stressful and threatening and others exciting and rewarding? And most importantly, how can I develop a sense of agency when responding to conflict? By writing about my conflict I have started to make sense of some of its dimensions. I want to continue my learning through the storying of my experience. This involves understanding and interpretation. There are certain elements that precipitate conflict but there are many interpretations of what really happens. Every time I tell my story I need to decide what is important for me and what is not. What I believe triggered the conflict may differ from other people's beliefs. Yet it is critical that I continue to reconstrue meaning from my experiences; otherwise the conflict will remain hidden. When I began teaching 14 years ago I worked hard and assumed that my intentions would speak for themselves. In hindsight, this seems naive. While honourable intentions are important, I now realize they must be matched by effective communication. This is a shared responsibility. In order for others to understand me I must reveal myself as a person and vice versa. How else will individuals understand one another? This is something I learned a few years ago. Being in places of conflict helped me to understand the relationships I had with others and the skills that could help to keep those relationships balanced. B. Hocking, page 6 I also came to question the power dynamics underlying conflicts. What types of power do disputants have? How is their power being used? Who serves to benefit from using power in a particular way? Power can be used to facilitate collaboration or to impede it. Inequalities among disputants often reflects larger social and political inequalities. Learning how to resolve conflicts successfully may require a deeper understanding of power imbalances. Power, like voice and authority, are dynamics that I began to reconsider after living through different types of conflict. I did not feel competent in my ability to resolve conflicts. As a child, I had internalized the message that differences were undesirable and should be avoided. It was better to strive for harmony rather than fan the flames of discontent. This was an important principle of Christian theology. As I grew older, I came to realize that some conflicts are short and spontaneous; some are ongoing and pervasive, and some are systemic. I think what shocked me when I became a teacher is how individuals working for an organization could suddenly become the targets of aggressive confrontations. I saw many instances throughout my career in which parents or other members of the public would bring pressure to bear on those in the public school system. This abuse of power was intended to give priority to the needs and interests of one individual or group. Public expectations about what should be done served as a political agenda that in turn influenced what actions, if any, would be taken in a particular situation. In my case, many actors became involved in either sustaining or trying to settle the conflict. My work as a teacher became part of the public presentation of the conflict. It was difficult at times to keep track of the different levels of communication and to know who was saying what. I was frightened by what might be happening. Yet in hindsight, I believe it is critical for individuals to stay informed of how their organization works and how power is being enacted at different levels. When conflict strikes it is preferable to try and resolve it in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation. However, these are not always values shared by the participants. Sometimes it is necessary to reach a settlement anyway. I now believe that, in addition to seeking collaboration, conflict resolvers must also address the restoration of human rights and justice. These are threatened when harassment is involved. B. Hocking, page 7 There is something about understanding the world in a grain of sand that has prompted me to story my experience one more time. I have learned a great deal from this conflict. It taught me about motivation and intent. It taught me about collaboration and negotiation versus other forms of conflict management. I learned how easily the tide can shift in human relationships from one moment to another. I learned how conflicts can escalate as much through inaction as action. Most of all, I learned to take pride in my identity and to value the important relationships in my life. While I was battling my conflict there were many caring people around me. Their roles as listeners was an ongoing source of support. Being in conflict reminded me about what it means to be human as well as what it means to be a teacher. For me, these two considerations have become one. Moving Ahead: Rediscovering Conflict Resolution at the Justice Institute This story would be incomplete without referring to the events which followed the closure of my class and my own growth as a learner. After moving into another school I heard about the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program at the Justice Institute. Although I was familiar with the institute, I did not know that it offered continuing education courses for adults. I thought it might be beneficial for me to learn more about conflict resolution, although I did not associate it with my personal needs. Even though I had been in a serious conflict I thought of the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program as an avenue for improving my professional skills as an educator. I decided to enter into the program by taking a course recommended for prospective applicants. The course is called Critical Skills for Communicating in Conflict. I went to the Justice Institute one Saturday morning at the end of September 1993. At that time the institute was located on a mound of gently rolling, carefully cultivated hills overlooking the city of Vancouver and the Pacific Ocean with its sailboats and barges anchored offshore. Fragrant infusions of autumn leaves filled the air. The setting was ideal for the type of training I was about to receive. Almost immediately, the course began speaking to my being. I began learning about different conflict styles and how to use "I statements" to express a feeling. I felt like I was learning how to connect with people in a way that was rejuvenating. In the spaces B. Hocking, page 8 inside the curriculum I heard how to show, respect for others, how to to collaborate, and how to build understanding with others. These were skills I had not acquired as a child. My interest in conflict resolution for professional development suddenly became an interest in my own growth. I realized that there were concrete skills I could learn to interact with others during conflicts. These skills would also help me to be a better communicator in general. Certain areas of the curriculum carried special significance for me. One was empathy. I recognized that my tendency when listening to someone was to focus on what I wanted to hear rather than what the other party needed me to hear. By practising active listening skills I came to understand what real empathy meant. I also came to understand the importance of self-disclosure and assertiveness. These were skills for identifying and expressing my personal needs. I found these skills particularly challenging to use with those in positions of power. However, I have also learned that when my needs are important to me and my intentions are respectful, that is is absolutely essential for me to negotiate my own interests; otherwise, I forfeit my right to self-expression and choice. Another area of learning was understanding anger. In the past I had interpreted anger as an expression of dissatisfaction rather than a legitimate feeling of frustration or hurt. People's anger scared me. When I became angry it was often because I had reached a high level of frustration. One of my responses was to be passive-aggressive. Conflict resolution helped me to understand my own anger and the anger of others. After this introductory course, I enrolled in one further course and then registered in the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program. For 2 years I took 30 days of training. Sometimes this required time away from teaching and paying the costs of a Teacher on Call. I felt this money was well spent. One of the primary ways in which students at the Centre for Conflict Resolution Training learn new skills is through role plays. The simulations take place in small groups and are based on real-life events. Some students in each group are role players while others observe the dynamics of the conflict and interventions that are used by the facilitator. One of my early role plays was a pivotal learning experience. I was in a course called Making it Hard to Say No-Negotiating with Difficult People. I would later realize that it would have been better to take this elective further along in B. Hocking, page 9 my training. However, I did not have this insight at the time and was motivated to learn as much as I could. During my first role play I was wedged in between two women. One was the disputant. She sat opposite me. I was the negotiator. My role was to apply my skills to help resolve the conflict. Another student watched what was happening. After the simulation ended, the disputant said, "You didn't get through to me!" I tried again with the same response. I felt the heat redden my face as exasperation and embarrassment welled inside me. What this illustrated for me was the critical importance of matching my behaviours to my intents. If the disputant didn't share my perception of the situation then I wasn't reaching her. The role play reinforced, for me, the need to clarify my motivations and to check other people's perceptions. For someone used to academic learning, this was a different type of learning. Allowing myself to experience failure as well as success was part of the training process. I felt a strong sense of commitment to my learning even though the role plays often triggered many emotions. I also had difficulties on one of my assessments after the course work. Had I not believed in the value of what I was doing, I would not have worked towards the completion of my certificate. Living the Learning The real value of my training was outside the classroom as I used my skills at home, at work, and in the community. As a teacher, I continued to encounter conflicts at the workplace, both as a participant and as an observer. One of my most difficult challenges at an early stage in my training at the Justice Institute was to confront a colleague about a situation that was affecting my teaching. My skills were rough and the session painful. Yet I was glad that I addressed the situation rather than letting it fester and create further harm. Another level of learning would occur when my skills were stronger and I could openly articulate my needs to administrators. In all of these situations I entered into the discussions with a commitment to be respectful and genuine about what was happening. I have also found mediation skills to be very useful for helping me to resolve conflicts among students. I believe it is important to teach children how to use conflict resolution skills for themselves so they will not always require an adult mediator. A few years ago the school district where I am employed purchased violence prevention kits B. Hocking, page 10 for classroom teachers. These kits include lessons in empathy, interpersonal problem solving, and anger management. More recently, the provincial government has mandated a new program called Career and Personal Planning which focuses on key life skills. As well as using conflict resolution at work, I have applied my learning to my interactions at home, among family members, and in the community. Bringing new patterns of communication into longstanding relationships has been an interesting exercise, one akin to an actor learning a new role. At first, it felt unnatural for me to use conflict resolution skills just as it was unnatural for other people to hear my scripts. Those who knew me best knew my behaviours and points of vulnerability. Today I continue to strive for a style of communication that works for me. Sometimes when I am tired or feel impatient my conflict resolution skills fly out the door and I choose screaming or sarcasm above paraphrasing and summarizing. There is no magic Band-Aid for healing conflict. Still, I feel that my training in conflict resolution has been invaluable. It has provided alternative frameworks for me to view conflict and to understand my options in difficult situations. Dwelling on the Learning This is my tale of conflict resolution learning. It is one part of my life story. Whenever conflict steps into my life it seems to encourage a new dialogue with myself. I wonder how the conflict developed, why the other party behaved in a particular way, why I behaved the way I did, and what precipitated the conflict. I think about who I am and what type of relationship I want to have with others. I also think about the kind of life I want to live and how much responsibility I have in creating a better world. My learning is ongoing. I have been at my current school for about 4 years since it opened. It is a small school located just inside Richmond, an island city connected by bridges to Vancouver. During the day planes can be seen flying overhead as they prepare to take off and land at the international airport. B. Hocking, page 11 When I think about how our school has evolved I feel proud. Our staff is committed to building a sense of community for our students. This is important since many of them are recent immigrants. We want them to feel welcome and happy in their new home. The school is their connection with other people. The types of relationships they experience will become signposts in their memories. Every year we host special events such as pancake breakfasts and potluck dinners to bring students and their families together with teachers, administrators, and other staff members. These points of connection help us to understand those who share our world. During the past 4 years the landscape around the school has also changed. I remember when there was no grass. Now there is a large field connected to a public park. Areas for playing baseball and basketball have been developed. An Adventure Playground has been installed and anchored in sand. Wooden benches have been placed around the equipment so parents and grandparents can watch their children play. About 3 years ago we invited the mayor and the students to plant daffodil bulbs at the base of young oak trees that mark the perimeter of the school yard. Their soft, yellow colours reappear every spring. I see these changes and I am reminded of the balance in nature. After the wet, stormy rains of winter, spring returns calmly bringing with it new invitations to dream and hope. B. Hocking, page 12 CHAPTER 2 OPENING THE DOOR: AN OVERVIEW OF MY RESEARCH On Dove's Wing is a narrative study of conflict resolution learners; narrative meaning stories. It presents the stories of six adults who trained in the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program at the Justice Institute: Kate, Sandy, John Sydney, Kevin, and I. All but one of us were graduates. In this thesis I use a life story framework to explore the significance of our learning. Life, learning, and education are not strangers meeting nervously for the first time. They play a constant, though complex role in one another's existence. This is true of stories as well. Learners live through stories with as much energy and conviction as stories reside in them. The challenge for me as a researcher was to give meaning to these narratives of relationship. Eventually, I decided to present my own story in 2 parts. The first part, chapter 1, describes the circumstances which prompted me to undertake this study. The second part is the close of the thesis and takes the form of culminating reflections. I include my stories at the entry and exit points of this work for two reasons. First, I want to offset my unique experiences as researcher-learner-storyteller from those of the other participants. Second, I want to leave space for the voices of other learners. Their life stories appear in part 3 and are based on a series of interviews that took place between August 1995 and March 1996. I interviewed each learner individually twice and then arranged two focus groups for all of the participants. Many of the individual interviews took place in my home around coffee and muffins while the winter rains of Vancouver slid down the windows of my sun room. The group sessions were woven in between the Christmas holiday and the New Year like a web spinning our conversations through time while merrier memories of turkey and the Yuletide lingered nearby. This is how I collected my data in collaboration with the other learners. We were able to bond as a group because many of us knew one another. Kevin was the only learner in this project who had gone on to become a coach and instructor at the Centre for Conflict Resolution Training. Kate and Sandy were friends of mine. We knew each other from the days when we had practised our conflict resolution skills in an independent study group and had served as one another's mentors. I had met Sydney while practising my research skills at the Justice Institute. She was part of a class I had observed. Following this, she had agreed to an interview. John was the only B. Hocking, page 13 participant I had never met. At the first focus group I would learn that some of the other participants were acquainted with one another. I mention these connections because a sense of relationship was an integral part of the research process. Without this, I could not have entered as readily into people's lives and explored the meaning of their learning. The life stories of the 5 participants are preceded by several chapters organized into 2 sections. I like to think of these opening chapters as secondary narratives since they contextualize and give meaning to the life stories. Within each chapter there are also several mini narratives. Sometimes these appear intertextually; that is, as short accounts woven into the main discourse. In chapter 4, for example, I have included short stories about the history of conflict resolution training from some of the first instructors who worked at the Justice Institute. Sometimes the mini-narratives are my own meta-analysis. I use this approach again in part 3 when I present my own voice in between those of the learners. Occasionally, the intertextual narratives are vignettes taken from my interviews that seem better placed outside the life stories. I use the terms primary and secondary narratives to distinguish the life stories from the material in chapters 2-6. I do not mean to suggest that the secondary narratives are less important. In fact, researching and understanding the secondary narratives required several additional months of reading and interviewing individuals whose stories had entered into those of the learners. An ongoing challenge for me has been to give meaning and shape to the notion of story. By referring to the organization of my work I have already introduced what I believe is a key characteristic of narrative: the notion of stories within stories. Sometimes these stories are our own, sometimes they have been reclaimed from other sources, and sometimes, a combination of the two. It is difficult to tell one tale without thinking of another. I invite you to consider how stories influence and enter into one another as you read about conflict resolution learning. Despite their layered and gregarious nature, they also retain an underlying wholeness otherwise we would not be able to recognize them as stories. From this perspective, it could be argued that my authorship takes precedence over my primary and secondary categories and transforms all of my work into one grand narrative. B. Hocking, page 14 This tension between the whole and its parts is inherent to narrative and highlights the importance of audience or reader participation in trying to understand the text from as many vantage points as possible. Young refers to the multiple contexting of narrative: Stories are implicated in as well as distinct from the occasions on which they are told. Their implication is a matter of context and their distinctness is a matter of frame. Contexts are the continuities between stories and some aspects of their surround, and of other relevant events. Frames mark the discontinuities between stories and these other present or pertinent contexts. Contrasting puzzles about stories thus present themselves to narrative analysis: one, distinguishing stories from contexts; and the other, connecting stories with contexts. Stories can be seen as contextual events that are situated and occasioned or they can be seen as discrete objects that can be detached and resituated. (1987b, p. 69) This shift between contexts and frames will be evident throughout my work. This is another reason why I included several secondary narratives in the first few chapters. As well as serving as narratives by themselves, they are also frames for entering into the primary stories of the learners. By now you may be wondering what other qualities of story I have integrated into the thesis. What, if anything, separates a story as literary creation from a story as research? How will I apply narrative structures to explore adult learning? In order to answer these questions, I will describe my project in depth, how I came to narrative, and its implications for educational research and conflict resolution. Research Purpose and Questions When contemplating this study I searched for a way to represent my experiences of conflict resolution learning along with those of other adults. I didn't want to evaluate the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program; I wanted to explore how adults interpreted its meaning in the forums of their public and private lives. There were two questions that guided my research efforts: (a) What is the experience of conflict resolution learning for adults? and (b) how does this experience fit into their biographies? At what point in their lives, for example, do they begin training and in B. Hocking, page 15 what type of circumstances? How, if at all, do they apply conflict resolution skills to their personal and professional lives after they complete their formal education at the Justice Institute? I was seeking a research framework that would allow participants to view their learning holistically. The Conflict Resolution Certificate Program emphasizes the practical application of skills. Learning how to resolve conflicts through the Justice Institute is not an abstract or theoretical process but one, it is hoped, that will be used regularly in diverse settings such as the home, workplace, and community. Having a research framework that would allow learners to interpret the meaning of their learning across settings was important to me. I also wanted participants to make connections in their learning that were personally relevant. Their subjective knowledge would be my primary source of information. I would need to listen to and analyze participants' responses and construct a picture of their learning. In theory, every learner could construct different meanings from conflict resolution. How would I reconstruct and represent these individual chronicles of experience and reflection? And how could I include my own description of learning while maintaining the integrity of my research role? Narrative in Educational Research Exploring the Meaning of Research: My Own Journey Deciding how to enter into the lives of other learners took me several months. Before discovering narrative I had to rediscover the meaning of research. When I began my journey I assumed research was a uniform process. "Learn how educational research is done," I thought, and my study would fall in place. I interviewed many educators with this outcome in mind. When different individuals interpreted the same research method from different points of view, I was confused. How would I be able to develop a framework for my project if there was no consensus about how to proceed? I finally realized that I would never find such a recipe. Even if it existed it would quickly be adjusted according to the tastes of those who used it. I began to understand the significance of personal interpretation better after taking a course on adult learning theories which depicted learning, not as the B. Hocking, page 16 acquisition of empirical knowledge but as the internal construction of meaning. This also characterized my exploration of research methods in education. Although I felt comfortable situating my work in an interpretivist paradigm, much of the literature on conflict resolution learning, I discovered, was grounded in another paradigm, that of scientific objectivism. Learning, according to objectivists, is an external process that can be represented objectively, not an internally constructed process. This understanding conflicted with my own meaning of research and the process I wanted to follow in this project. I had experienced conflict resolution learning as part of my being. I had participated in courses with my body and my mind. How, I wondered, could research on learning be separated from the learners themselves? My excursions into educational research also confirmed the extent to which knowledge about learning has been rationalized and fragmented. This is the case in conflict resolution as it is in other areas. Two recurrent difficulties plague conflict resolution researchers. The first is our, as yet, modest ability to analyze conflict from an interdisciplinary perspective. We are inhibited in that by our own training and by the organizational structure of the university. Our discipline-bound languages and conceptual frameworks, and our jealous guarding of home turfs compound the problem . . . . A second obstacle to good conflict analysis is the meager opportunity to test our work. If we do the research for policymakers, our recommendations are often too threatening to established policy and structures, too arcane in presentation style, or too little thought through in terms of policy implications to be useful. (Wehr & FitzSimmons, 1988, p. 475) For several months, I wandered from one university library to another trying to develop an overview of dispute resolution. I read psychological, sociological, organizational, educational, political, legal, and other perspectives. How did these fit together? And how could I represent my knowledge in a clear, personalized format? This was the path I travelled as a researcher. My three insights--(a) that knowledge was interpretive, (b) that learning needed to be situated in the learner, and (c) that traditional interpretations of conflict resolution were fragmented across disciplinary lines-allowed me to reorient myself and continue my journey with a firmer sense of purpose. I realized that the question I needed to ask in order to understand conflict resolution was not, "How should I do my research?" but rather "What does it B. Hocking, page 17 mean to engage in research?" Why I Chose Narrative I was attracted to narrative for several reasons. I love creative writing and knew that the kind of research I wanted to conduct was as much aesthetic and interpretive as it was rigorous and analytical. I also knew that stories were not closed frameworks. It would be possible for participants, myself included, to construct narratives that reflected our individual meaning systems. It is in the telling of stories that people begin to make sense of their meaning systems. Forming and articulating a frame of experience requires them to focus on the essence of their thinking. What kind of organized tale will help others to understand their personal experiences? What information will their story include and exclude? What will its significance be for others? How will others understand the twists and turns that have shaped their discourse? In disclosing our narratives, we are inviting others to enter our space of being, to participate in the sense-making, to empathize with our experiences as fellow human beings, and to respond in kind. A story can be defined as a unit of meaning that provides a frame for lived experience. It is through these stories that lived experience is interpreted. We enter into stories, we are entered into stories by others, and we live our lives through these stories. (White, 1992, p. 80) This is the definition of story I have adopted for my research. The notion that people live "storied lives" is one commonly associated with psychology and borrowed by other professionals, including those in education. Bruner, for example, distinguishes between two fundamental forms of cognition, a logo-scientific mode of thinking and a narrative mode, each with its own methods of operating: "They differ radically in their procedures for verification. A good story and a well-formed argument are different natural kinds. Both can be used as means for convincing another. Yet what they convince of is fundamentally different: arguments convince one of their truth, stories of their life likeness" (1986, p. 11). Whether or not the two forms are as clearly distinct as Bruner suggests will likely be an ongoing topic of discussion. Polkinghorne, another psychologist, describes stories in less polarized terms, stating that "our lives are ceaselessly intertwined with narrative with the stories that we tell and hear told, B..Hocking, page 18 with the stories that we dream or imagine or would like to tell" (1988, p. 160). Educators such as Connelly and Clandinin (1990) have adopted this conceptual framework for their research on public schooling. Others in the field of Adult Education have also drawn on storytelling methods in their own inquiries and practices. Within adult education and related circles, a number of counselling approaches are currently employed that are rooted in one version or another of the 'story' model. With roots in disciplines as diverse as gerontology, anthropology, and narratology, these include practices associated with labels like life review, guided autobiography, reminiscence therapy, bibliotherapy, oral history, and personal mythology. In addition, two influential movements in present-day adult education, namely feminism and popular education, share the conviction that storytelling is intrinsically empowering: that through the sharing of personal and corporate stories consciousness is raised, knowledge is generated, community is created, and a vision is stimulated that has transformative powers. The current epidemic of storytelling well outside these circles only testifies to the strength of this conviction. (Randall, 1995, p. 5) Stories represent a type of knowledge that can be used to inform as well as transform. Their value for educators and other professionals depends on the objectives and contexts with which they are associated. The ability to story experience is an interpretive process that is consistent with the way in which adults learn. Daloz argues that "in the great tales lies the syntax of our lives, the form by which we make meaning of life's changes. A good story transforms our vision of the possible and provides us with a map for the journey ahead" (1986, p. 22). Whatever academic requirements this work fulfilled, it also challenged me to understand the lives of those who had taken the same program as I. The particular approach to narrative I have used is known as the life story. Like other forms of research, it is subject to a variety of interpretations. When Bertaux and Kohli wrote about the life story they noted that its multiple applications seemed to preclude the possibility of a standard methodology (1984, p. 215). Twelve years after their work was published, I would concur with this assessment. B. Hocking, page 19 I have accepted a simple though commonly accepted view of the life story as an account of someone's life in whole or in part that is shared with another person (see Denzin, 1989; Mann, 1992). This carries different implications for research, including the assumption that people do have a story to tell. Part of the interpretive equipment furnished to us by our culture is the idea that we "have" a life story, and that any normally competent adult has one. In this nontechnical use, the notion of the life story means something like "what events have made me what I am," or more precisely, "what you must know about me to know me," where knowing a person specifies a range of. . . activities and relations by the knowers. (Linde, 1993, p. 20) I would argue that we hold many versions of our life story, not just one. The narrative told to the researcher is one shaped by a number of influences, including the purpose of the research and the focus of the topic being examined. In this project I have also identified the life story with the notion of a journey described by Daloz (1986). Each journey of conflict resolution learning, I assumed, would be framed and contextualized by an individual's life experiences across time and space. Some learners might share one grand story; others might share a more tightly framed version of conflict resolution as part of their overall biography. I would try to respect participants' freedom to tell the tale of their choice. The construction and articulation of a life story are processes that develop through reminiscence and reflection. DeConcini (1990) notes the etymological connections between remembering and telling a story: The etymologies for our English words for narrate and remember are the Latin narrare and memorare. In Latin, these infinitives are synonymous. Both translate "to narrate, to tell a story."... Etymologically, then, memorare. far from referring to some totally inner mental process or state, involves a telling--and a peculiar kind of telling at that. The Latin term suggests that to remember implies telling a story, (p. 62) One implication of this is that participants with better memories will be able to share their stories in greater detail than those who have difficulties reflecting on their pasts. However, researchers can also stimulate the recall of information through reflective questions and active listening skills. Young's (1987a, p. 19) description of storytelling as a shift between two worlds, the Taleworld and the here and now, was reflected in B. Hocking, page 20 participants' responses to my interview questions. Whenever they recalled an event that seemed significant to their learning, I would encourage them to reconnect with that memory. Linde (1993) offers two additional considerations of the life story. She says that it expresses "a point about the speaker, not a general point about the way the world is" and that it is told and retold over and over again (p. 21). Her first point is suggestive of another statement made by Ochberg, one that highlights the notion of intentionality: Narrators try to convince others, and themselves, to take a particular view of their lives: to see them as coherent, dedicated, triumphant-or perhaps as unfairly constrained. Often, these efforts at narrative persuasion matter because of the contrast they draw between a preferred account and a less palatable alternative: a latent subtext, which is never described explicitly but which is always threatening to emerge. (1996, p. 97) The challenge for narrative researchers is to identify these subtexts. And what about the intentions of the researcher? If participants are trying to make a point about their lives then surely the researcher is engaged in a similar process of argumentation. While I concede that stories reflect many hidden levels of meaning, I shall explore these in a spirit of inquiry and proceed carefully when trying to understand conflict resolution learning. Linde's (1993) second point, that storytelling is a repetitive act, also has different implications for narrative research. Not only does research become possible because individuals can retell their stories but it allows researchers a role in this process. The life story approach is highly interactive. After I had listened to participants' life stories, I shared my own. Each set of interviews I held with a learner had a particular set of dynamics that shaped the way in which a story was told. One can only know how another experiences his or her life though how it is told, and the telling of the life is in itself constitutive of those two lives--the teller's and the researcher's. The 'life as it is told' takes place within the 'interactional stream of experience' of both subject and researcher. Thus how we know another's experience of their life can only be through an engagement between each other's 'interactional streams of experience', communicated through language and governed by the social and cultural context of that situation. And the telling and the hearing of the life story is not somehow bracketed B. Hocking, page 21 out of each of our lives; the communication of the story is both about the life told and constitutive of it and the researcher's life. The telling is an event in the life, as well as a construction of that life. (Mann, 1992, p. 273) This is an important premise on which this project developed. As Guba and Lincoln have aptly written, "to suppose that it is possible for a human investigator to step outside his or her own humanness, for example, but disregarding one's own values, experiences, and constructions, is to believe in magic" (1989, p. 67). Stating who I am and who the other participants are constitutes the content and context of the life stories in this project. This approach to narrative provides more artistic licence than the life history approach, for example, which aims at an accurate, realistic depiction of someone's life. I wanted learners' stories to speak with passion as well as insight. As well as drawing on the interpretive elements of narrative from psychology, I have used certain rhetorical strategies in my work from literature such as the use of different voices. If the application of narrative to research seems unusual, think about what is gleaned by reading or listening to someone's story, what we learn about ourselves, other people, and the world we inhabit. A well-written story teaches and informs through poetry and language, rather than science. "We have forgotten how magnificently the great novelists have contributed to our understanding of ourselves, and of the complex nature of humanity . . . . The return to narrative suggests that we reconsider the value of the form and function of stories in all areas of human life, but especially in education . . . " (McEwan & Egan, 1995, p. xii). These are the two influences that inspired my work: an understanding of narrative from psychology which has been applied to educational studies of personal experience and a more literary understanding of narrative as craft. One is an interpretive framework for constructing knowledge; the other provides spaces and strategies for entering into and representing my work. As a learner and as an educator, I have felt the power of stories in people's lives. I wanted to reawaken this spirit and understanding when exploring adults' learning in the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program. B. Hocking, page 22 Bringing Narrative Research to Conflict Resolution Learning The application of narrative research to conflict resolution is a recent occurrence. Examples include the work of Duryea and Potts (1993) and Cobb's (1993, 1994) application of narrative theory to empowerment and intentions in mediation. Another body of literature dealing with conflict in the context of moral development and decisionmaking also exists (See Kilpatrick, 1992; Peckover, 1990; Tappan & Brown, 1989). Most of the literature on conflict resolution training has focused on strategies, models, and products of learning without referring to the learners themselves and the role played by training in their personal lives and relationships. A de-emphasis on biographical methods is evident in specific areas of conflict resolution such as mediation: "While the events of mediation are often emotional and dramatic, most of the books and stories we read are detached and abstract. They reduce practice to a series of technical formulas that seem far removed from the experience of a mediator caught in the heat of conflict between a couple, co-workers, towns, or nations" (D. M. Kolb & Associates, 1993, xiii). My research is intended to develop a better understanding of an area that cuts across the different areas of conflict resolution: adult learning. As well as understanding the practices of dispute resolution I also believe it is important to understand the meaning individuals attribute to their learning while becoming practitioners and upgrading their knowledge and skills. Characteristics of This Study Each research project reflects particular assumptions, values, and beliefs about knowledge. These comprise the methodology. Before discussing the significance and organization of my research I would like to try and articulate those characteristics which distinguish my life story approach. They are most often associated with the interpretive/phenomenological tradition. Although this tradition accommodates many different schools of thought, I will summarize it briefly before focusing on my own research. B. Hocking, page 23 Phenomenology: Interpretive Influences on Narrative Phenomenology as a philosophy and form of inquiry developed during the nineteenth century as part of the interpretive tradition. This tradition emphasized that knowledge was not external or objective but internal and subjective. Each individual, it was maintained, interprets a phenomenon such as learning differently. The goal of phenomenological inquiry became to try and understand how an individual constructs meaning from personal experience. Although this seemed straightforward, questions about interpretive research began to emerge. What kind of methods, for example, would best allow researchers to access an individual's meaning systems? Was it important for the researcher's own interpretations of a phenomenon to be taken into consideration as part of the inquiry or would it make more sense to "bracket" them in order to focus on those of the participants? Was it possible to separate the two? Different responses to questions such as these eventually led to different phenomenological perspectives informed by different knowledge frameworks. It is not my intent to discuss the differences among phenomenologists. Instead I would like to focus on those interpretivist approaches I have used in my role as researcher. They include: (a) reflecting on and interpreting learners' personal experiences, (b) honouring participants' knowledge, (c) attending to narrative as craft, (d) respecting complexity, (e) modelling empathy and collaboration, and (f) integrating individual narratives of learning into broader frameworks of social discourse. Reflecting on Learners' Personal Experiences Phenomenology is concerned with how individuals experience life; in other words, how they come to understand a phenomenon. What implications does this have for educational research? One is that phenomenology is highly personal. It is not a type of research that seeks to generalize or to quantify. Phenomenologists want to explore the meanings that people attach to their experiences. It is the taken-for-granted events in our life that typically provide some of the most fascinating insights when studied phenomenologically. These meanings are disclosed as the phenomenologist comes to understand people's interpretation of their life B. Hocking, page 24 experiences. This is what identifies phenomenologists with the interpretive tradition. What we know of the world, we know only through our experience of it; our experience of the world is all that we have, and this is all that we can know. We cannot even know another person's experience of the world. The best that we can do is to interpret the experience of others . . . And to interpret the expressions (and thus the interpretations) of others, we have to rely upon our own lived experience and imagination. The most that we can do is to "identify" our own experience of the experience as expressed by others. (White, 1992, pp. 78-79) In this study, I chose to explore the meaning systems of a few adults as a way to understand the significance of conflict resolution learning. I used a narrative framework to facilitate the process of interpretation. My goal was not to try and determine what conflict resolution learning "really" was but to enter into the world of each participant and try to understand conflict resolution learning from an individual's own perspective. I knew that the interpretations of those I interviewed would be situated in different biographies and social backgrounds. I wanted to ground participants' understandings in their life stories. I began my thesis by telling you how I came to conflict resolution. I shared my background as a way to show you who I was, what kinds of experiences were part of my biography, and what motivated me to do this project. Researchers in education and the social sciences refer to this as "situating" the study. The life story approach was one way to situate my reflections of learning as well as those of the other participants. Honouring Participants' Knowledge One of the most important implications of an interpretive phenomenological view of knowledge for me was that I would honour each learner's meaning systems. This is what makes narrative research rewarding: trying to understand, value, and represent the diverse ways in which people construct meaning. Personal narratives of experience are often seen as alternative knowledge frameworks since they cut across traditional disciplines and boundaries. B. Hocking, page 25 I chose to honour learners' stories in different ways. First, I allowed them to tell the tale of their choice. I did not want to question the authenticity of their narratives. Whether or not the story actually happened was not my primary consideration. I assumed that the narratives would reveal insights into students' learning on some level. I also assumed that the stories would speak by what they omitted as what they included. As I was interviewing, it became evident that there were many stories inside each individual, some hidden and concealed, some half-revealed like a secret that has slipped into the open, and some articulated but without shape. This is how learners make meaning. I also tried to honour the narratives of learners when restorying their experiences. After I wrote the draft of a particular story, I asked the learner to edit and change the narrative in order to make it authentic. During the focus groups several adults mentioned that they felt honoured to have been invited as participants in this project. Attending to Narrative as Craft When I think of a good story, I think of the creative and thoughtful ways it has been given life. I think of the tones, textures, and hues that are used to paint with language and of the metaphors that bring pictures softly to mind like the sun filtering through the trees at unexpected intervals. I think of narratives and I am reminded of the researcher-as-artist as well as researcher-as-interviewer-and-data-gatherer. Rich descriptive texts are essential for representing phenomenological findings. This is how the meanings of lived experiences can be articulated and re-presented for others. Narrative inquirers must be able to represent people's meanings while imbuing them with fresh insights, to enter into the silent spaces in people's lives as well as the crowded, busy ones, and to discern details as well as major themes. This requires interpretation as well as description. This is where narrative and phenomenology intersect. The process of constructing a story involves many interpretations. They may be interpretations about content, about framing, about voice, about tone, or about point of view. They may be decisions about resonance. A well written text will display empathy for the characters. B. Hocking, page 26 As readers, we will want to try and understand the experiences of the characters. The sensitivity and language adopted by the narrator will speak to our hearts as well as our minds. How a storyteller interprets the meaning of a story will determine which tale is told and whether or not other people will identify with the result. Representing people's experiences as narrative requires skill, imagination, and reflection. The art of storytelling has been acknowledged by educational researchers in various ways. Connelly and Clandinin (1990, pp. 7-10) note how the manipulation of time as well as the balance between the whole and its parts are essential. Elsewhere they describe the internal and existential elements that influence the crafting of a text (Clandinin & Connelly, 1994, pp. 423-425). These include the use of voice, signature, and narrative form. Van Manen, uses the term "poetizing activity" (1990, p. 13) when referring to interpretive phenomenology. Rasberry speaks of "crafting a life" when writing stories of self (1994, p. 5). Randall (1995), in his work on stories, refers extensively to the interrelationships between life, story, and art. All of these descriptions reinforce the image of narrative researcher as raconteur. I will not pretend to have mastered this art. I chose to keep the stories of learning in the thesis simple yet whole. I tried to highlight events and understandings that spoke to the experiences of each learner as they revealed themselves to me. I wanted readers to feel what it was like for each adult to have gone through conflict resolution training. In crafting stories of learning, I wanted to show what made one person's experiences different from those of other individuals. Another consideration was balance. I wanted the life experiences of each conflict resolution learner to add depth to the narrative, rather than dominate it. The significance of life events, for me, was that they would contextualize the formal learning that had occurred and create a framework for developing each participant's story through time. These are some of the considerations that became important to me as I wrote the narratives in this work. Although the stories were finally committed to paper, I continue to edit and rewrite them in my mind. B. Hocking, page 27 Respecting Complexity Although phenomenologists bring a particular focus to their research, they do not attempt to oversimplify the meaning of what they discover. Human experiences have multiple edges to them. Inquiries which honour this complexity tend to be authentic. It was important for me to keep this in mind when thinking about how to frame my interview questions around learning. Although I was familiar with different models, typologies, and definitions of adult learning, I did not want to impose these on participants. One of the reasons I chose a life story framework was that it would allow participants to integrate, as they chose, both their formal and informal learning experiences in conflict resolution across time and space. As the interviews progressed, it became evident that much learning had not occurred in the classroom. It had occurred at work, over coffee with friends, in the angst of a confrontation with a neighbour or spouse. Conflict resolution in this way resembles other forms of adult education. What adults learn in the context of formal education does not necessarily come from the content of a program: It often includes several other dimensions, such as social interaction outside the classroom and cultural experiences. Sometimes adults learn more about themselves by dropping out of a program than by staying in it. Therefore, to become better acquainted with adult learning, it becomes necessary to understand the processes through which adults have constructed what they know. (Dominice, 1990, p. 201) I encouraged learners to integrate their narratives and to include experiences on and off campus. The adults in this study had not just arrived at the Justice Institute as empty vessels waiting to be trained. They had come from a particular place and time with a wealth of learning experiences. They wanted to learn conflict resolution so they could take the skills back into their lives in order to deal with difficult situations. An educational program such as the Justice Institute's would become part of their evolving life stories. To try and understand the significance of participants' formal training without understanding their life contexts would be to ignore personal motivations, expectations, and values embedded in the learning. Conflict resolution B. Hocking, page 28 students, like other adult learners, are real people whose formal education is shaped as much by individual histories and hopes for the future as it is by institutional experiences. I decided to treat learning as part of the biographies of learners after noting other precedents in adult education literature. Daloz's work (1986) inspired me to think about learning as a lifelong journey. Like the characters in mythic tales, the conflict resolution learners in my study had ventured into new lands. Their journey had begun outside the Justice Institute and continued into the training classrooms. As I conducted my research participants were contemplating which directions they would travel in the future. Other biographical approaches linking formal and informal learning also exist. As early as 1961, Houle had noted: "If we are ever to understand the total phenomenon of continuing education, we must begin by understanding the nature, the beliefs, and the actions of those who take part to the highest degree" (p. 10). Dominice (1990) coined the term "educational biography" to reflect his life history method. These two words together remind me once again of the personal life contexts underlying adult education. Merriam and Clark (1991) researched the ways in which formal learning intersects with areas of development in adulthood. In studies of this type it is clear that learning is not so much what people do in the classroom but how they engage with life and reflect on its meaning. This is what promised to give richness and wholeness to the phenomenon of conflict resolution. I wanted to respect the complexity in each participant's biography of learning. Modelling Empathy and Collaboration Phenomenologists emphasize the need for ongoing reflection and thoughtfulness in carrying out research. Van Manen (1990), for example, refers to pedagogic thoughtfulness as a way to keep educational research focused on the individuals it serves. Ongoing reflection is needed to remain sensitive in carrying out a study of this type. It ensures that research remains ethical and that the interests of the participants are kept in the foreground. B. Hocking, page 29 Although I knew most of the learners before starting my research, it created a new space for us to meet and share stories. There was a sense of empathy and collaboration that helped to make this possible. These were values that I attempted to develop. They were also skills that we had practised in the context of our conflict resolution training. Empathy and collaboration are rooted in a willingness to understand how other people see the world. Knowing the participants ahead of time was not enough to bond with them in the interview context. I had to listen to their feedback at every stage of the research process and proceed collaboratively. Even though the kind of relationship I had differed from one participant to another, it was important to me to model respect. I found that the way in which participants responded was equally empathic. Colaizzi (1978, p. 64) refers to the complete and uninterrupted attention that the researcher must bring to those interviewed. It is this kind of sensitivity which makes narrative-phenomenological research different from other forms of research in which the researcher is distanced physically and often psychologically from participants. As researchers, we cannot work with participants without sensing the fundamental human connection among us; nor can we create research texts without imagining a relationship . . . It is in the research relationships among participants and researchers, and among researchers and audiences, through research texts that we see the possibility for individual and social change. (Clandinin & Connelly, 1994, p. 425) Integrating Personal Narratives of Learning Into Broader Frameworks of Social Discourse An understanding of individual experience from a broader social perspective is emphasized by some interpretive researchers more than others. Although I began my research by focusing on the individual meaning-making of learners, I discovered that their voices could not be separated from the voices of teachers and program planners, from those of parents, children, and spouses, from bosses, and from others working in the dispute resolution field. The story of one individual's learning took its meaning from the communities in which it was situated. Conflict resolution learning is not cerebral. It engages learners in an ongoing process of interaction with others as a way to integrate skills, knowledge, and values. B. Hocking, page 30 A social view of narrative, therefore, must integrate teaching with learning. This is consistent with the notion of a learning community which Michael Fogel, an instructor in the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program, used to describe the collaborative interactions among trainers and students (personal communication, June 3, 1996). I concur with Ramsden who says that "teaching is an activity that assumes an understanding of learning" and that teachers should place themselves in the roles of learners in order to become better researchers and instructors (1988, p. 13). Teaching, learning, and program planning are about relationships as much as they are about individual understanding. Narrative research must take the social context of personal experience into consideration. The organization of my thesis into primary and secondary narratives is one way in which I have recognized this connection. The webs of social discourse that characterize learning make it difficult to say when stories begin and end. Sometimes the participants in my study told tales of childhood when they had faced conflicts. Sometimes they spoke about training in the classroom. Sometimes the narratives that were shared were the stories that danced in their minds as they prepared for an interview with me and suddenly re-experienced an event of long ago. Personal narratives of learning are not carved in stone. They develop spontaneously and episodically as individuals reflect on the journeys they have travelled as learners. As participants in this project narrated their lives, tales of the self were nearly always woven into the tales of others as part of a shared learning experience. How the stories of individuals connect to those of others is a topic of ongoing research. Do the stories of individuals determine the grand narratives of society or vice versa? Critical theorists and ethnographers argue that personal knowledge must always be understood as part of a larger, evolving social world: "Narratives form a cultural contract between individuals, groups, and our social universe. If narratives give our lives meaning we need to understand what those narratives are and how they have come to exert such an influence on us and our students" (McLaren, 1993, p. 203). What are the implications of this statement for conflict resolution? How are the narratives of learners enmeshed with the narratives of trainers, program planners, community organizers, and politicians? How are the narratives of our culture embedded in our identities as learners? And which types of social narratives will help to nurture and sustain the storied experiences of adults in training? Stories, like B. Hocking, page 31 learning, do not exist in isolation. They exist within each other and through each other. In attempting to understand the meaning-making of individuals, it is important to remember the communities of which they are part. Significance of This Project When planning this study, I was asked to justify its value. At the time my explanation was short and skeletal. I have since come to realize that there are many ways I might frame my rationale even as there are many ways to begin a journey. From an educational perspective, stories provide insights into what learners are thinking and how they construct meaning. By entering into their worlds, narrative researchers and educators can discover similarities and differences among students. "When one considers the classroom as a setting where each person is a character in a developing story one tends to delve more deeply into the essence of each character rather than make quick judgments about students and their actions" (Sakai, 1993, pp. 3-4). Stories serve as a framework for understanding and supporting learners. On a broader level, an awareness of how adults construct meaning provides important feedback to program planners and administrators. One of the recommendations following three surveys of students at the Centre for Conflict Resolution Training this year was to review learning objectives, materials, and processes in order to improve program articulation (Keith Wilkinson Consulting, 1996, p. iii). The perspectives of learners, like those of other participants, reflect how a program is being received and conceptualized. The distinctiveness of education can be examined in terms of the meaning it holds for each component of the structure. The perspectives of sponsors, learners, operatives, and constituents overlap and intertwine in a complex of expectations and interventions. Education cannot be encompassed in factual explanations of its organizational structure and movements of the process; these weave a web of meaning for all participants . . . These meanings express implicit philosophical assumptions and commitments to education's symbolic roles. (Chamberlin, 1974, p. 135) In the case of conflict resolution programs, some assumptions may be that conflict is a destructive force in human relations, that conflict which damages relationships may be B. Hocking, page 32 precipitated by a lack of appropriate knowledge by one or more parties, and that structured, educational interventions can minimize or prevent negative outcomes in conflicts. Without questioning learners and other participants, such assumptions are difficult to confirm. Institutions are not static entities. They comprise communities of discourse which take their meaning from the perspectives of different individuals. Clues as to how adults perceive conflict have surfaced in recent years as part of broader studies on learning. One significant finding for this study is the relationship between everyday conflict and the ability and motivation of adults to participate in formal learning. Merriam and Clark found that approximately 10 times more learning occurs for both men and women when things are running smoothly for them at work and in their love relationships (1991, pp. 181-182). "We can see that pain and conflict appear to be major factors that impede learning when things are going badly in a person's life" (Merriam & Clark, p. 184). Dominice notes the ways in which conflicts of the past may motivate adults to attend programs later in life: As they trace their education throughout their lives, people reveal that they often enter adult education classes to repair, compensate for, or fill in the gaps of the past. They dream about the university because earlier in their lives they did not have the chance to study. They embark upon personal development because they hope to overcome and to recover from wounds of the past. They decide to upgrade their work skills in order to move ahead. In the narratives, continuing education is always presented as a kind of further stage in the process of schooling. (1990, p. 206) Understanding the significance of learning focused on resolving conflicts may provide important insights into the processes of learning generally and how they can be maintained during difficult periods in adulthood. A sense of what it means to confront conflict on a daily basis is implicit within my work. Conflict is a primary source of stress and dysfunction for many people. It challenges family dynamics and friendships as well as professional and working relationships. While it is often destructive and painful, it can also present opportunities for personal growth, autonomy, and insight. How does a comprehensive program aimed at resolving interpersonal conflicts fit into family, work, and community cultures? Is there something we can all learn by studying conflict and our responses to it? In the B. Hocking, page 33 final analysis, we must wonder if adult education programs in conflict resolution will change the way we conduct ourselves. Will they help us to be more judicious, democratically-minded parents, better partners in our primary relationships, more tolerant and understanding workers, more informed and active citizens? What difference will conflict resolution training make in the larger scheme of things? I have chosen not to quantify the effectiveness of training but to ask learners directly what meaning a conflict resolution program holds for them in their life contexts. By naming their learning, the adults in this study may help others to understand the significance of their experiences. Critical insights into conflict resolution learning may further contribute to a growing body of knowledge about conflict and dispute resolution from social science perspectives. Canary, Cupach, and Messman note that "conflict in interpersonal contexts enjoys a high research priority among scholars examining close relationships" and cite four primary reasons for this: (a) the correlation between healthy relationships and constructive conflict management, (b) the centrality of conflict in theories of human development, (c) the psychological and physical risks of violence, and (d) the need to understand conflict as an enduring social and communicative influence (1995, pp. 1-2). In short, narratives allow researchers to understand education, not as a fixed entity or technical process, but as a community of individuals with real-life experiences. The way adults understand their learning will vary. This is why the life story approach is well suited to my research. Just as there are many interpretations of learning, so are there many levels on which to read a story. "A good story is a kind of hologram of the life of an individual, a culture, or a whole species. Each of us hears in it, with ears conditioned by our own history, what we most need at the time to understand" (Daloz, 1986, p. 24). The development of multiple understandings is essential for improving training and education for adults. As conflict resolution programs continue to expand those who are entrusted with their survival-administrators, planners, and instructors-will need to think critically and imaginatively about the learning that is taking place. Only then will it be possible to develop strong links between theory, practice, and research. B. Hocking, page 34 Conclusion In using narrative to understand adult learning, I have argued that personal experiences are a rich and critical source of information for researchers in conflict resolution. As well as illuminating what happens in the midst of learning and clarifying assumptions about training, stories serve to keep us connected and inspired as communities of practitioners and theorists. Individual narratives of learning and identity acquire new meaning when they are related to social narratives which have influenced their development and ultimately will either sustain or discourage their survival. "Our personal stories can only ever be recounted with reference to some combination of larger stories in which we live and move and have our being. These are the stories of the families and communities, the cultures and creeds, the gender and class, in which we are always characters in turn . . . " (Randall, 1995, p. 352). Without ethnic wars, labour negotiations, domestic violence, and other disputes there would be no need for conflict resolution training. These represent some of the most damaging, yet representative forms of social interaction visible today. Even as they speak to the chaotic and destructive side of human nature so too do they challenge our ability to strive for peace, justice, and understanding in relationships. The adults in a conflict resolution program bring this hope with them. As we tell our stories and come to care for our Selves, we find to our great joy that we are less alone than ever before. We find that others, too, are wounded and struggling, and we reach out to each other in ways that were not possible before, when we were hiding and pretending. We begin inevitably to care for others, for everything. (Nelson, 1994, p. 120) I enter into my inquiry with this same feeling of connection and humanism. Like the author above who uses writing for healing and self-exploration, I hope that the stories in the thesis will offer you nourishment and opportunities for dialogue. At the heart of every well-crafted story is the offer to enter into and share the same world as the characters. The characters in this study are real people; their invitation, no less compelling. What better way to understand conflict resolution learning than by understanding the lives of the students? By sharing their stories students from the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program can strengthen our knowledge of one another as fellow learners in the search for peace and community. B. Hocking, page 35 Organization This thesis is divided into 4 parts, each with its own unifying theme. The first 3 chapters comprise part 1. Its purpose is to provide an overview of my research and to introduce myself as the researcher. Part 2 looks at adult learning through different lenses. In chapter 4, I discuss conflict resolution training at the Justice Institute. I describe the organization and history of the Centre for Conflict Resolution Training before focusing on its programs and dimensions of learning. In the following chapter, I look at the Justice Institute's training as part of a broader socio-historical context in which a culture of peace education developed. I conclude part 2 with a chapter on adult learning theories and explain how they can serve as frameworks for understanding and interpreting different aspects of conflict resolution learning. All three chapters in part 2 are detailed. In chapters 4 and 5, I offer a complete description of the Centre for Conflict Resolution Training and its programs, since there are few published materials available which might otherwise provide this kind of overview for the reader. It is also important to understand the history of conflict resolution training at the Justice Institute because the programs have continued to evolve since 1981. Some dimensions of learning have remained the same while others have changed. I have included a comprehensive overview of theoretical perspectives on adult learning for those who may be unfamiliar with this area. Although theories are bounded systems, they do offer valuable contexts for making sense of knowledge in ways which often stretch our thinking. Staying informed of these perspectives is also one way to strengthen our understanding of the links between research and practice. The focus of part 3 is the life stories of the 5 participants. Each narrative is prefaced by a section that sets the context of the story. I have attempted to honour participants by including their wishes for special wording, punctuation, and grammar. Although the theme of each story differs, I have framed the narratives around four common elements: (a) the research context; that is, the relationship I had with each participant, (b) the purpose of an individual's learning in conflict resolution, (c) the learning process, and (d) the products or outcomes of learning. I chose this structure after reflecting on the interview data. The purpose-process-products framework also B. Hocking, page 36 corresponds to the idea of a journey that served as a metaphor for the life stories. Although I developed a particular focus for each narrative, I tried not to oversimplify the complex set of life experiences in which each participant's learning around conflict resolution was embedded. One of the strengths of narrative, I contend, is that is allows personal experiences to unfold in a dynamic stream of interaction. I did not want to minimize the intricacies of each participant's story. Immediately before part 3 is a page called "Notes to the Reader." This is a reminder of the kinds of considerations I have just outlined that influenced the presentation and organization of learners' stories. After presenting the life stories in part 3,1 analyze and interpret them in part 4. This section contains 2 chapters. In chapter 12, I theme the stories individually and then as a whole. I conclude the thesis by returning to a series of personal reflections on my work in the context of my own life story. This thesis is intended for practitioners as well as scholars and researchers in the conflict resolution field. Whether you are a student, instructor, program planner, mediator, or negotiator I hope that you be able to identify with the readings on a personal level. I hope this expectation is one that is not beyond reach. Daloz's (1986) desire to have his writing resonate for different audiences is a challenge which I too have faced. His words echo in the context of my work: As I began writing this book, I struggled with the tension between writing a "scholarly" work on the one hand and something with a broader appeal on the other. Gradually I came to see that what I wanted most was to tell a good story, to engender good conversation. I have tried to do that, and because I am writing about what I do, I have attempted to remain a visible storyteller. (Daloz, p. 2) Some stories in this study may resonate for you more than others. Some may have to be revisited and reconstrued over time. Like other stories, the narratives in the thesis are an invitation to linger and to explore in the context of your own life. I hope they signify the start of a conversation about conflict resolution learning that will continue. B. Hocking, page 37 Chapter References Bertaux, D., & Kohli, M. (1984). The life story approach: A continental view. Annual Review of Sociology. 10. 215-237. Bruner, J. (1986). Actual minds, possible worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Canary, D. J., Cupach, W. R., & Messman, S. J. (1995). Relationship conflict: Conflict in parent-child, friendship, and romantic relationships. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Chamberlin, J. G. (1974). Phenomenological methodology and understanding education. In D. E. Denton (Ed.), Existentialism and phenomenology in education: Collected essays (pp. 119-138). New York: Teachers College Press. Clandinin, D. J., & Connelly, F. M. (1994). Personal experience methods. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.). Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 413-427). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Cobb, S. (1993). Empowerment and Mediation: A narrative perspective. Negotiation Journal. 9. 245-259. Cobb, S. (1994). A narrative perspective on mediation: Toward the materialization of the "storytelling" metaphor. In J. P. Foger & T. S. Jones (Eds.), New directions in mediation: Communication research and perspectives (pp. 48-63). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Colaizzi, P. F. (1978). Psychological research as the phenomenologist views it. In R. S. Valle & M. King (Eds.), Existential phenomenological alternatives for psychology (pp. 48-71). New York: Oxford University Press. Connelly, F. M., & Clandinin, D. J. (1990). Stories of experience and narrative inquiry. Educational Researcher. 19 (5), 2-14. Daloz, L. A. (1986). Effective teaching and mentoring: Realizing the transformational power of adult learning experiences. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. DeConcini, B. (1990). Narrative remembering. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. Denzin, N. K. (1989). Interpretive biography (Sage University Paper Series on Qualitative Research Methods, Vol. 17). Newbury Park, CA: Sage. B. Hocking, page 38 Dominice, P. F. (1990). Composing education biographies: Group reflection through life histories. In J. Mezirow & Associates (Eds.), Fostering critical reflection in adulthood: A guide to transformative and emancipatory learning (pp. 194-212). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Duryea, M. L, & Potts, J. (1993). Story and legend: Powerful tools for conflict resolution. Mediation Quarterly. 10. 387-395. Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1989). Fourth generation evaluation. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Houle, C. O. (1961). The inquiring mind. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Keith Wilkinson Consulting. (1996). Justice Institute of British Columbia. Centre for Conflict Resolution Training: 1996 Participant survey results. Vancouver, Canada: Author. Kilpatrick, W. K. (1992). Moral character: Story-telling and virtue. In G. F. McLean (Series Ed.) & R. T. Knowles & G. F. McLean (Vol. Eds.), Cultural heritage and contemporary change series 6: Vol. 2. Psychological foundations of moral education and character development: An integrated theory of moral development (2nd ed., pp. 169-183). Washington, DC: Council for Research in Values and Philosophy. Kolb, D. M. & Associates (1993). When talk works: Profiles of mediators. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Linde, C. (1993). Life stories: The creation of coherence. New York: Oxford University Press. Mann, S. J. (1992). Telling a life story: Issues for research. Management Education and Development. 23 (3), 271-280. McEwan, H., & Egan, K. (1995). Introduction. In J. Willinsky (Series Ed.) & H. McEwan & K. Egan (Vol. Eds.), Critical issues in curriculum: Narrative in teaching, learning, and research (pp. vii-xv). New York: Teachers College Press. McLaren, P. (1993). Border disputes: Multicultural narrative, identity formation, and critical pedagogy in postmodern America. In D. McLaughlin & W. G. Tierney (Eds.), Naming silenced lives: Personal narratives and processes of educational change (pp. 201-235). New York: Routledge. Merriam, S. B., & Clark, M. C. (1991). Lifelines: Patterns of work, love, and learning in adulthood. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. B. Hocking, page 39 Nelson, G. L. (1994). Writing and being: Taking back our lives through the power of language. San Diego: LuraMedia. Ochberg, R. L. (1996). Interpreting life stories. In R. Josselson (Ed.), The narrative study of lives: Vol. 4. Ethics and process in the narrative study of lives (pp. 97-113). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Peckover, R. B. (1990). A hermeneutic approach to moral development: An interpretive inquiry into the thematic qualities of narratives by adults committed to nonviolent conflict resolution (Doctoral dissertation, University of Kansas, 1990). Dissertation Abstracts International. 52 (02). 1095B. Polkinghorne, D. E. (1988). Narrative knowing and the human sciences. Albany. NY: State University of New York Press. Ramsden, P. (1988). Studying learning: Improving teaching. In P. Ramsden (Ed.), Improving learning: New perspectives (pp. 13-31). New York: Nichols. Randall, W. L. (1995). The stories we are: An essay on self-creation. Toronto. Canada: University of Toronto Press. Rasberry, G. (1994). Crafting a life: Craft as an element in autobiographical writing. Educational Insights. 2. 5-9. Sakai, A. (1993). Setting free the butterflies: A narrative inquiry into the teaching of science. Unpublished master's thesis, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Tappan, M. B., & Brown, M. (1989). Stories told and lessons learned: Toward a narrative approach to moral development and moral education. Harvard Educational Review. 59. 182-205. Van Manen, M. (1990). Researching lived experience: Human science for an action sensitive pedagogy. London, Canada: Althouse Press. Wehr, P., & FitzSimmons, A. (1988). Getting theory and practice together: The conflict resolution working group. In C. Alger & M. Stohl (Eds.), A just peace through transformation: Cultural, economic, and political foundations for change. Proceedings of the International Peace Research Association Eleventh General Conference (pp. 475-493). Boulder, CO: Westview Press. White, M. (1992). Family therapy training and supervision in a world of experience and narrative. In Experience, contradiction, narrative, and imagination: Selected papers of David Epston and Michael White 1989-1991 (pp. 75 - 95). Adelaide, Australia: Dulwich Centre (Reprinted from Dulwich Centre Newsletter, Summer 1989/90) B. Hocking, page 40 Young, K. G. (1987a). Edgework: Frame and boundary in the phenomenology of narrative. In Taleworlds and storyrealms: The phenomenology of narrative (pp. 19-68). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff. Young, K. G. (1987b). Multiple contexting: The story context of stories. In Taleworlds and storyrealms: The phenomenology of narrative (pp. 69-99). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff. B. Hocking, page 41 CHAPTER 3 THE LIFE STORY APPROACH: MY RESEARCH DESIGN I begin this chapter by explaining my decision to use life stories. I continue with a few words about my own life story and the significance of autobiography in education. The remainder of the chapter is about how I collected the life stories of other learners from the Justice Institute. This was the emphasis in my work. I describe my research in 3 sections: (a) Preparing to Collect Stories, (b) Gathering Stories, and (c) Restorying and Theming the Narratives. Why Life Stories? Although researchers use such terms as life story, life history, and oral history inconsistently, these biographical approaches are becoming increasingly common in educational and social science research. I chose a life story framework for many reasons: 1. Like other forms of narrative, the life story offers a framework for participants to construct meaning of multiple life experiences. The use of life combined with story makes this connection explicit. In order to understand conflict resolution learning, I would need to understand how participants constructed meaning within life contexts of personal significance. 2. Life story approaches allow the interpreter to frame the narrative of choice. The story told may represent someone's life in whole or in part. In this study it was important for participants to speak about events and periods of significance for them while acknowledging the connections between formal and informal learning. 3. Life story approaches are commonly used for retrospective accounts. I wanted participants to reflect on their learning over time. B. Hocking, page 42 4. Life stories are not based on the same truth claims as life histories which attempt to document someone's life as accurately as possible. "The life story approach attempts to represent the experiential truth of the life lived. That is, to give expression to the person's own story, as they tell it, of their lived experience" (Mann, 1992, p. 272). This was consistent with the interpretive epistemology of my work. I viewed my research as a preliminary attempt to understand conflict resolution from many different perspectives. All of the stories shared with me, I assumed, would offer important insights whether or not they were historically accurate. 5. Life story methodology may be biographical or autobiographical (Denzin, 1989, p. 42). In this study I wanted to represent my own story of learning along , with those of the other 5 participants from the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program. My experiences, like those of other learners, were personal as well as socially situated. To hide my voice would mean concealing my presence as the researcher and as a participant. Toward the end of the project, the other five learners were also encouraged to do some autobiographical writing as part of the focus group activities. 6. Biographical approaches such as the life story require a close working relationship among the researcher and participants in order to explore and give voice to the narrative. This collaborative process is similar to the one used by students at the Justice Institute when they are shown how to resolve conflict. I felt confident that the kinds of methods I used to interview would be compatible with the values reinforced by the conflict resolution training. Beginning With Self: Autobiography as Life Story Research During the past several years, the number of works on autobiography as a form of educational research have grown dramatically. These works reflect increased interest in narratives of personal experience and the ways in which they serve to inform communities of discourse and practice. Within the field of Adult Education autobiography and journaling have also been explored as tools for individual learning B. Hocking, page 43 and development (See, for example, Brady, 1990). Graham says that "if concepts like teaching and learning are fundamental to any discourse on education, then just as surely investigations into these concepts have moved quickly beyond common-sense notions to uncover other unspoken and tacit dimensions" (1991, p. 1). This is one of the strengths of personal experience methods of research. What is autobiography? And what is autobiography as research? Even with an understanding of autobiography as narration rather than description and a form of writing in which the author is the subject there is still much room to interpret this term, says Starobinski: The autobiographer is clearly free to confine his narrative to a single page or to extend it over several volumes. He is free to "contaminate" the narrative of his life with events he witnessed remotely, in which case he becomes a memoirist as well as an autobiographer (like Chateaubriand). He is also free to ascribe precise dates to the various stages of his writing and to direct his attention inward as he writes; autobiography is then contaminated by elements of the private diary, and the autobiographer at moments becomes a "diarist" (once again like Chateaubriand). Plainly, the defining criteria of autobiography do no more than establish a rather ample frame within which a wide variety of particular styles may be practiced and exhibited. (1970/1989, pp. 171-172) I came to this research through my own experiences in the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program. I was inspired to begin with my own life story after being assigned Krall's (1988) article to read in a research class at university. I thought it was important to write my own life story before expecting others to do the same. I spent several weeks reflecting on my learning and its personal significance. I recorded my thoughts in a research journal. After reflecting on my life and keeping track of my memories in the journal I began crafting my story. There were many versions that evolved. The first version was akin to the confessional tale described by Van Maanen (1988). The story was self-revealing but focused more on my life rather than the importance of my learning in conflict resolution. I had to find a suitable balance between the two. This was also a challenge when writing the biographies of other learners. B. Hocking, page 44 Another element, that of voice, tested my skills throughout this project but was particularly visible when I wrote my autobiography. Who was the "I" that would be revealed? Was there only one I or were there several? How far did I want to explore dimensions of self as a way to understand conflict resolution? Questions of subject identity were related to issues of self-disclosure and the type of relationship I wanted to establish with the text in front of me. The self was not a fixed entity; it was always shifting, sliding, and transforming itself. Constructing my story meant freezing aspects of my identity in order to represent them on paper. I finally decided to present an integrated picture of myself as Teacher, Learner, Researcher, Author, and Editor. My experiences with conflict resolution had engaged all of these roles. By the time the first focus group arrived I had thought about my life story in detail. I shared my understandings of my learning with others and was given feedback. I wrote another version of my autobiography to present at the last focus group. I continued to reflect on my autobiography while completing my research. Whenever I developed a new insight I would revisit and make changes to my narrative as I did with the stories of the other participants. In the remainder of this chapter I describe my research into their life stories. Preparing to Collect Stories Participating in Communities of Discourse A research project never just happens. It emerges in the context of one's personal identity and a particular community of discourse. The community that developed for this project involved different groups of people. One group was my thesis committee. Dan, my supervisor, had been my instructor in a course on adult learning. He supported me while I developed an appropriate conceptual framework for my research. Carl was the person who inspired me with his own love of stories to use narrative. He is a poet and creative writer. The third committee member, Marg, is the Program Director at the Centre for Conflict Resolution Learning. I will describe her responsibilities there in the next chapter. She took an active role in this project by providing information, facilitating contacts with other individuals in the conflict resolution field, and editing my work. B. Hocking, page 45 These three individuals represented one level of discourse that was both personal and academic. Their support was invaluable. We communicated with one another regularly as questions and issues about the research emerged. This was important because of the inductive nature of my research design. I presented my thesis proposal in April 1995 and met with my committee members individually and collectively several times after that date. In consultation with one another we began to develop criteria that seemed the most appropriate for my study. These criteria also became more focused as the project emerged. Some of the basic expectations for my work included: a strong rationale for my work, ease of access for conflict resolution practitioners as well as scholars, attention to the silences as well as crowded spaces in individuals' stories of learning, articulation of the contexts as well as content embedded in the learning, and a balance between writing and interpreting the stories. These were considerations that remained in my mind throughout the project. Another level of discourse came from my thesis support group. This consisted of other graduate students who had studied with me in preparation for our comprehensive exams a year earlier. After we passed this element of our program we decided to remain together and change our mandate to that of a thesis group. We continued to meet in one another's homes and to discuss our work in progress. At one point we hired someone to share ideas on thesis-writing with us. The type of discourse represented by my peers was also informal and academic. Sometimes we talked about personal matters, although we made an effort to concentrate as much as possible on the research process. Although none of us had ever completed a thesis we used our knowledge of different subject areas, our questions, our intuition, and our writing capabilities to review and challenge one another's work. I also arranged, as part of my research design, for two members of my peer group to share their feedback on my interview transcripts. The third community of discourse came from my colleagues at school. Two other teachers, including my job-share partner, were also doing graduate work at university. In September 1995 a new principal arrived at my school. He too was an ardent lover of narrative who had worked with Carl. My principal promoted the use of narrative in the classrooms and as part of teachers' professional development. When I remarked one day that the worlds of university and elementary school seemed very different he gently reminded me that they were in fact one. When I wanted to learn B. Hocking, page 46 about narrative he allowed me to borrow several of his books. When I was composing my stories over the summer he offered to read them and provide feedback. These were the three communities in which I situated my research. The individuals in these communities provided their knowledge and guidance in areas of theory, practice, and inquiry. They allowed me to articulate my needs, desires, and concerns and to ask questions. I believe there is a strong link between the discourse we speak in practice and the texts we write as researchers. By working with different communities I was able to consider different frameworks of understanding. My interactions with my colleagues and peers modelled a process of communication and collaboration that entered into my interviews with participants. Choosing a Research Site and Participants Site I chose the Justice Institute for three main reasons. First, I was familiar with the program and how it operated. Second, its geographical proximity meant that I could have regular access to plan and coordinate my research project. The third and primary reason is that the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program is the most comprehensive and reputable continuing education program of its type in Canada. Working with students from this program would offer me an in depth understanding of learning. Participants There were two types of criteria used to select participants: (a) macro and (b) micro. The first related to my overarching goals and ethics as a narrative researcher. These criteria were considered more important than the micro criteria used to operationalize my goals. I will refer to the macro and micro categories as General Criteria and Specific Criteria. B. Hocking, page 47 General criteria. I assumed that each learner would bring a rich story of learning to my study. The richness would be in the experiences and interpretations shared with me. Listening to the narratives would require time as well as a certain level of rapport with participants. After much reflection and discussion with my committee I decided to conduct in depth interviews with a few learners rather than devise a large-scale study. The actual number of participants was not predetermined but left as a consideration that would be answered as my research evolved. Although the initial intent was to use a network or snowball method of selection (McMillan & Schumacher, 1993, pp. 381 - 382), this did not prove to be as significant as the relationship between myself and the research participants. It became clear that it would be easier to converse with people who were familiar to me. This type of purposeful sampling was justified because it would allow me to enter into participants' lives without formal introductions. Given the type of personal questions I wished to ask, a positive rapport between the participants and I was critical. Participants were also chosen because of their varied experiences and backgrounds in conflict resolution. When deciding who might be included I asked the first two interviewees if they had any recommendations. Did they know anyone who might have a unique or rich story to share? I also talked through my choices with my thesis committee and thesis group. Four of the five participants were familiar to me. All of them had wonderful tales of learning to tell. Specific criteria. The most important criterion at this level was the common training received by participants in the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program. Students who had graduated during the past 3 years were chosen because the organization of the program was different prior to that time. Although participants had taken different electives their core training was consistent. I also focused on graduates because I wanted participants who had had time to apply and reflect on their conflict resolution learning in various life contexts. Following my pilot interviews, I made one exception to my choice of graduates. The participant in my first pilot interview, Kate, had an extremely rich story and was able to articulate her reflections on learning clearly. Although she had completed her course work, she needed to redo her negotiation competency assessment. I chose her for both of these reasons. The ardour and depth of her narrative would, I felt, provide B. Hocking, page 48 important insights into conflict resolution learning. The fact that she had to redo one of her assessments was a common occurrence among adults in the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program. Four out of 6 participants in this study, including myself, had to redo either the mediation or negotiation assessment. Kate's experience in this regard promised to illuminate the experiences of other learners. Other reasons for selecting participants included: accessibility (students from the Lower Mainland region were selected; that is, the area surrounding Vancouver), gender balance, availability to participate in individual and group interviews, contrasting work roles or backgrounds, and the ability to communicate clearly in English. Ethics Authorization to Begin Study Since this project involved ongoing contact and communication with other people, ethics were a priority. Three levels of approval were needed before I could start my research. The first was formal acceptance of my research proposal by my thesis committee. This was granted following a committee meeting in April 1995. A second level involved permission from Pat Ross, Dean of Career and Community Studies at the Justice Institute, and Marg Huber, Program Director at the Centre for Conflict Resolution Training (see Appendix A). Specific approval for using the Justice Institute's name was included in the authorization. Later I requested permission to reproduce two documents from an introductory conflict resolution training manual (see Appendix A). The third level of approval for my proposed study came from the Ethics Committee at the University of British Columbia. For this, I completed a 9-page form and submitted samples of my contact letter to learners, a consent-to-participate form, and telephone contact form. B. Hocking, page 49 Pilot Interviews I conducted two pilot interviews In October 1995. These were intended as opportunities to practice my interviewing skills and to strengthen my interview guide (see Appendix B). In this sense, the pilot interviews fulfilled an ethical responsibility to think through my research ahead of time. Each pilot interview lasted 1 hour and was tape recorded and transcribed. This included debriefing comments. One participant was a member of my study group from the Justice Institute, Kate; the other was a professional colleague who had completed the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program. Copies of the pilot interview transcripts were distributed to members of my thesis committee for their feedback before I started the formal interviews. Contact Procedures After receiving formal approval for my study and conducting the pilots, prospective participants were contacted by mail. I gave the names of individuals I knew from the program who might be interested in my research to Marg Huber, Program Director at the Centre for Conflict Resolution Training. She contacted these individuals from the Justice Institute. A package was sent to prospective participants which included a letter of invitation from myself, a letter from Marg, and a response form (see Appendix C). After students indicated a willingness to participate I was contacted by the Justice Institute. I telephoned participants who wished to participate, explained my research project to them, and then, if they wished to continue, scheduled the first interview time and location (see Appendix C for telephone contact form). B. Hocking, page 50 Gathering Stories Overview I constructed the primary and secondary narratives in the thesis from different sources of information. In the case of the life stories, each learner was interviewed twice individually and twice in a focus group. During the focus group every participant participated in reflective writing activities. This included preparing and completing a life story for homework in between the group sessions. The interview transcripts as well as the reflective writing served as my main sources of data for the biographies of the learners. My own writing was autobiographical and included my experiences as researcher as well as learner. Data for chapters 2-6 came from the primary interviews as well as additional interviews and written documents, both primary and secondary. I will elaborate on data collection in the following sections: (a) Life Story Interviews, (b) Focus Groups, (c) Follow-up Interviews, and (d) Document Analysis. I will describe these processes and explain how they were used to write narratives of conflict resolution learning. Life Story Interviews Overview Two individual interviews were held with each participant. Flexibility in location and scheduling was important. Several of the interviews were held in my home, although both male participants preferred to be interviewed at their place of work. All individual interviews were tape recorded and transcribed. Each session averaged 2 hours and yielded approximately 35 pages of typed data. I transcribed verbal utterances, duration of pauses, and any emotional responses. Transcriptions for learner interviews were checked a second time for accuracy. B. Hocking, page 51 Interviewing Strategies General. In the first chapter I described the significance of empathy and collaboration in interpretive research. One way to externalize these values is through the the skills of active listening such as open-ended questioning, summarizing, and empathic response. I used these regularly when interviewing. What was fascinating for me was that the other participants had also learned these skills as part of their conflict resolution training. I believe our shared background facilitated my work as researcher and helped the interviews to remain inclusive. I was not a stranger staring passively at my research "subjects" but a colleague. I wanted to hear the stories of those who had gone through the same program as I. During the interviews I tried to remain empathic and collaborative. I had to learn to be a better listener: to talk less, to shorten my questions when I remembered, and to respect each participant's need for silences and pauses. Through careful listening and careful focusing, I was able to develop my interviewing skills and begin to appreciate the rich layers of meaning in each participant's life story. Open-Ended guestioning. These are used to obtain detailed information rather than yes or no responses. My goals were to open a conversation, rather than close it and to strive for nuances and details in each participant's life story rather than a quick explanation. Following the pilot interviews, I had modified and augmented my initial list of interview questions. This process of refining the questions continued throughout the first few interviews. The final interview guide (see Appendix D) contained many more questions than those on my pilot interview guide. I did not want to use the questions in a standardized way, although I attempted to ask questions from areas that I thought were important for understanding conflict resolution learning in a life story framework. These areas also reflected a sense of movement through time and space and were therefore consistent with the notion of a journey used by Daloz (1986). Areas of inquiry included the learner's background, entry into the program, learning processes (formal and informal), application of skills, outcomes, and future plans for using the learning. I also asked learners to clarify their understanding of particular terms such as conflict and interests. Once I had inquired into general areas, I followed through with specific questions related to the participant's personal B. Hocking, page 52 experiences of learning. Summarizing. Summarizing was used to help me check my understanding of what was said at different points in the interview. It also: (a) provided a break for participants after sharing their story, (b) gave them an opportunity to hear my version of their story, (c) validated what had been said, and (d) helped me to articulate my own thinking and prepare myself for the next question. Empathic response. Empathic response means acknowledging the content and context of what has been said so that participants feel heard. Acknowledging participant responses allowed me to confirm and validate their meaning for each learner without judging their underlying validity or logic. First Individual Interview As in a mediation or negotiation session, I attempted to develop a rapport with each learner before beginning the formal interview. When the interviews were in my home I had muffins and tea prepared. At the beginning of the first session I took several minutes to explain the purpose of my research, to describe the interview process, and my expectations. Much of this information had been presented in the mailout package. I encouraged participants to disclose information at a level of personal comfort, to share any thoughts the questions triggered without being confined to a specific answer, and to interpret my questions as they chose unless otherwise directed. Participants were assured their names would not be used in the published stories. They were also promised an opportunity to review and edit the narratives that I wrote. Other details included: the time required to participate in the research project, a promise to destroy the research tapes, my intent to publish further articles based on this study, and the right of participants to withdraw at any time (see Appendix E for directions to participants as well as the individual consent form). After the consent form was signed I turned on the tape recorder and began the interview. B. Hocking, page 53 When I interviewed my first participant, I kept asking her to remember stories about her learning. I was influenced by my reading of Chase who argues: "If we want to hear stories rather than reports then our task as interviewers is to invite others to tell their stories, to encourage them to take responsibility for the meaning of their talk. A successful interviewer manages to shift the weight of responsibility to the other in such a way that he or she willingly embraces it" (1995, p. 3). In Sandy's case, however, I found that my requests for stories were a real challenge. She had difficulty remembering stories and I wasn't sure how to shift my responsibilities as a researcher to the participant. "Not everybody is comfortable with being asked directly to tell a story. The request seems to block people who may think they do not tell good stories or that story telling is something only other people do" (Seidman, 1991, p. 65). Following this initial experience, I re-examined my approach and expectations for storytelling. I decided to adopt a process similar to that used by Seidman (1991) who recommends a series of three 90-minute interviews in phenomenological research. I found I was able to model this process in two, 120-minute interviews; anything omitted could be revisited in the group interviews. I decided that I would focus the first interview on the background and life experiences of the participant. What had motivated them to take conflict resolution training? What kinds of expectations did they have for attending classes at the Justice Institute? The purpose of the first interview was to develop a rich context for stories to be developed later. I typed a summary of the first interview in my journal. I included my initial impressions and questions. The interview was then transcribed and a follow-up list of questions prepared that were specific to the participant's reflections of learning. I left approximately 1 week between the first and second interviews for the participant and I to reflect on our initial conversation. Second Individual Interview I began the second interview by noting my impressions from the first interview and explaining my goals for the session. My first few questions were the follow-up ones I had prepared. I found this to be invaluable for exploring learners' meaning systems and clarifying any assumptions I may have had at that point. B. Hocking, page 54 After the follow-up questions which took approximately 30 minutes, I inquired about the participant's current learning and future expectations. By now participants were able to tell their stories freely because I was familiar with the context and background of their learning. While listening to participant's responses I kept an eye on my interview guide to see whether key areas of an individual's learning and life story had been omitted. Focus Groups Overview Focus groups were held with different purposes in mind: (a) to provide further opportunities for reflection and clarification of content areas discussed in the individual interviews, (b) to include participants in interpreting the meaning and significance of their own stories, (c) to allow narratives to be refined and retold as well as new ones to be introduced, (d) to allow an opportunity for each adult to share his or her story of learning with a broader audience, (e) to help stimulate recall of further information (Benner, 1994, pp. 108-109), (f)) to provide opportunities for transformative learning, (g) to synthesize prior information in the form of a written life story, and (h) to bring closure to the project. Much preparation was required for the first focus group. I reread literature in key areas: (a) focus groups (Krueger, n.d.; Morgan, 1988), (b) phenomenological interviewing (Benner, 1994; Seidman, 1991), (c) strategies for understanding learning from the learners' perspectives (Griffin, 1988), (d) life story methodology (Dominice, 1990). I also prepared several handouts to help organize the first group session (see Appendix F). These included: (a) a review of my research questions, objectives, and assumptions, (b) guidelines for focus group participation, (c) an agenda, (d) statements taken from individual transcripts, (e) homework directions for a life story assignment, and (f) samples of graphic organizers to be developed in preparation for each participant's life story. As moderator for the sessions, I also had personal notes which I used to keep the session focused. The only handout used at the second focus group was the agenda, although I had follow-up questions from the first focus group prepared to ask participants (see Appendix F for agenda and questions). B. Hocking, page 55 The two group sessions were held in a common room in one of the participant's housing cooperatives. The room contained tables and a sofa. There was also a small kitchen area we used for making coffee, tea, and snacks. One group session was held just after Christmas; the other at the start of the New Year. This scheduling seemed symbolic of our own growth. Like the passage of time from one year to another we had also passed new milestones in our development as conflict resolution learners. We had all completed our course-work and were actively using the skills and knowledge in our everyday lives. A sense of temporality, a critical element of storying, was reinforced by the birthdays of 2 participants in between the focus groups. We celebrated these holidays and the conclusion of the interview process with chocolate cake and tea. As with the individual interviews, the focus groups were tape recorded and transcribed. Two tape recorders with external microphones were used. This provided back-up copies of the whole-group session and allowed me to record the conversations of two small groups at the first session. Accurate transcription of focus-group conversations was a challenge because of the multiple voices which could sometimes be heard simultaneously. Another unusual feature of the tape recording was that I also recorded whatever participants wrote and presented out loud to the rest of the group. What was written and what was read aloud did not always match. Discrepancies of this nature did not worry me. I thought of the focus groups as an opportunity for people to connect and share their stories. Whatever data I obtained would complement the individual interview material. First Focus Group The first focus group was held Saturday, December 30, 1995 from 11:00 a.m.-4: 00 p.m. As adults entered, introductions were made and greetings exchanged. Some of the group members knew one another, although this was the first time the identities of participants were made known. The first meeting was divided into two parts separated by a coffee break. The first part was a whole-group session; the second began with a whole-group discussion and then shifted to small-group work. These are described in the next section. B. Hocking, page 56 Whole group session. One of the participants began the session by asking if it would be possible to reschedule the second focus group. It was interesting for me as a researcher to note how the learners worked collaboratively to negotiate this last-minute change. The group decided to reschedule our last session 5 days later to Wednesday evening, January 3, 1996. After these arrangements were made, I spoke to the whole group. I began by reviewing my research questions, objectives, and assumptions. I had these listed on a sheet in front of me. A handout on focus group guidelines was then given to participants and discussed. It included technical points such as speaking clearly and audibly as well as suggestions for listening and sharing ideas. Discussion of the handout was followed by the presentation and acceptance of the agenda. With these objectives and guidelines established, I asked everyone to reflect on the process and content of the individual interviews. I solicited general feedback as well as specific information about what the interviews had confirmed, challenged, or offered as a surprise. Several participants said they had continued to reflect on the individual interviews. The next whole-group activity involved preliminary analysis of comments made by individuals during the individual interviews. I had read all of the individual interview transcripts ahead of time and extracted what I believed were significant comments related to conflict resolution learning. I interpreted them as "significant" using three criteria: (a) they provided insights into the meaning of conflict resolution learning, (b) they were representative of a learner's meaning system, or (c) they contrasted sharply with other comments made by learners. The result was a 9-page handout which I gave to participants at the first focus session (see Appendix F). No names were included beside particular transcript comments. Participants were given 30 minutes to scan this handout and to choose the statements that were the most significant to them in terms of their own learning. A limit of seven statements was suggested. Several adults admitted they did not know which statements belonged to them because of the similarity among comments. After prioritizing the items, each adult was asked to use the statements chosen to write one or two paragraphs about the meaning of conflict resolution. "Imagine," I said, "that someone walked into the room and wanted to know what conflict resolution learning was all about. What would you say? How would you represent the essence of your thinking?" B. Hocking, page 57 Participants worked diligently on this exercise. I also participated. When everyone had finished, we shared our writing with other group members. This was followed by a broad discussion of the process we had just followed. During this larger debriefing the learners spoke about gender issues in conflict resolution learning, power issues, cultural influences on conflict resolution, and the difficulties of teaching assertiveness skills. Our discussion was followed by a coffee break. Homework discussion. Following the coffee break I explained to participants that I would like them to write an abbreviated version of their life story and to present this version at the second focus group. I outlined my expectations which included developing two graphic organizers to brainstorm ideas for the life story. Everyone expressed a willingness to do the assignments. I took 30 minutes to explain models of the graphic organizers and to suggest options. I asked participants to do one graphic organizer on the settings in which they used conflict resolution learning and another one showing their development through time. One of the options available was a life line which I modelled on Merriam and Clark's work (1991). I was, of course, assuming that each learner had, in some way, grown as a result of their learning. The purpose of assigning the graphic organizers was to help the participants organize their ideas for their life story writing. Small group work. As well as having opportunities to discuss their homework, I also thought that it would be useful for participants to have a "trial run" at sharing their life stories. Dominice (1990) uses a similar approach but provides more time for this activity. I asked participants to separate into two small groups and to share their life stories with one another. Those who were listening were asked to help support the speaker and to suggest what other details might help clarify specific aspects of the story for others. Group conversations were tape recorded. This was the first time that I was able to share my own life story in depth. It was difficult for me to self-disclose outside of my research role. However, I felt that this level of disclosure was important to help balance the power dynamics in the group and for me to personally experience the process I expected others to follow. B. Hocking, page 58 Following the small group work, the whole group met briefly and then adjourned for the day. It was now 3:00 p.m. and everyone was tired. Second Focus Group The second focus group took place on Thursday, January 4, 1996 at 7:00 p.m. It lasted 2 hours. Changing the agenda. The main objective of this focus group was to listen to the life story of each adult. I also wanted time to ask a few follow-up questions from the first group session. These plans were modified in response to an opening comment by one of the participants about the level of self-disclosure required in the research project. I thought it was important to address this issue before proceeding further. Other group members contributed to the discussion. Different points of view were expressed. Some participants commented that they felt the degree of self-disclosure had helped them to understand their learning in conflict resolution, although the individual who first raised the matter felt that too much self-disclosure might be more appropriate for counselling purposes. The discussion on self-disclosure led to a shorter but engaging discussion of confidentiality. One participant was concerned about being identified by co-workers as a result of the research being published. Another expressed reassurance because I had promised everyone an opportunity to read and edit the life story I would produce from my research materials. The group continued to discuss these process issues. Following the formal session some of the participants discussed the issue of self-disclosure further over tea and cake. I also offered one participant the right to withdraw from the study. This option was not chosen. However, I did receive permission from the participant to conduct a follow-up interview in order to see whether the concerns raised were important in terms of the learning that had taken place in the conflict resolution program. They were not, the participant said. B. Hocking, page 59 Although this introduction to the last focus group was unanticipated and felt uncomfortable to me at the time, it was an invaluable learning experience. It served to remind me of the sensitive and deeply personal roles we take on as narrative researchers. I wondered if the concerns around self-disclosure had been prompted by the first group meeting or by the life writing assignment. I also wondered to what extent the group discussion might become a catalyst for further learning. The session confirmed the value of interpretive research since each adult brought different perspectives to the conversation that had taken place. Life story presentations. After the group discussion, the time line for the evening was adjusted. I took a few minutes to ask participants the follow-up questions I had prepared. Then it was time to present the life stories. The group members had put a lot of effort into their writing. Many shared personal experiences that related to their learning in conflict resolution. Emotion was shown by one learner when presenting the life story. Kate pulled different objects of personal significance out of a bag while recounting events from her past. The participant who had raised the issue of self-disclosure chose to frame the life story from a professional rather than personal perspective. After a student had presented, the group discussed the significance of learning as articulated in the life story. I noted the group's comments on a piece of chart paper and then took these observations home to record (see Appendix F). The evening ended with refreshments and conversation. Follow-Up Interviews I conducted follow-up interviews with core trainers and both coordinators who have worked in the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program to understand and contextualize the life stories of the learners. I conducted personal interviews with Marje Burdine and Michael Fogel. These were tape recorded and transcribed. I talked to Marg Huber, current Program Director at the Centre for Conflict Resolution, many times by phone. Several telephone interviews were also conducted with core trainers. I took notes of all phone conversations. Consent forms to participate in the study as well as sample interview guides for follow-up interviews are located in Appendix G. B. Hocking, page 60 Other follow-up interviews were conducted when I researched the history of conflict resolution in Canada. I discuss these interviews later in this chapter under "Restorying the Narratives." Document Analysis Primary documents. In addition to interview transcripts, I used primary documents which included the Mission and Vision Statement at the Centre for Conflict Resolution Training, letters written by Marg Huber to other individuals about the conflict resolution program, and survey results on conflict resolution students. Another primary source of data was my journal. It served multiple functions. It was a place for recording information such as the titles of important references and appointment times. Journaling stretched my thinking skills and creative writing abilities. In this sense, I was modelling the process I would follow in my narrative research. By recording my ideas, I was also engaging in preliminary analysis of my data and beginning to frame my interpretations. When writing my research I used my journal to refresh my memory and confirm information. Secondary documents. Secondary or published documents were used to help interpret the meaning of conflict resolution learning. For example, course manuals from the Centre for Conflict Resolution Training were used to understand the Justice Institute's programs. Brochures from the Mennonite Central Committee helped me to understand the historical role of the Mennonites in the conflict resolution field. Other secondary sources included graduate theses and dissertations obtained locally and through interlibrary loans as well as numerous works on conflict resolution, narrative research, and adult learning. Restorying and Theming the Narratives Aoki (1992, pp. 29-34) refers to the dual tasks of narrative inquirers as storying and theming. One is collecting and writing the story; the other is the interpretation of the story. The first stage I see as delicately collecting a cocoon and carrying it home; the second as nurturing and sustaining the cocoon so that it will become a butterfly. B. Hocking, page 61 Both involve the same creature yet one has been magically transformed. Narrative inquirers must not only collect information diligently, they must rejuvenate their findings in rich and evocative texts. Yet it became apparent to me as I was doing research that there were many stories to collect and many possible ones to write. Although I was familiar with each participant's narrative(s), I had to make choices about which one I would present. In this section I will use the term restorying to denote the transformation of the oral stories into a completed written narrative. This was followed by theming. Both stages involved several smaller steps. These are described under each section. Restorying Preliminary Analysis I began the restorying by reading the interview and focus group transcripts for one learner at a time, trying to get an overall sense of the meaning attached to conflict resolution. I also read the written life story from the focus group. This was a form of preliminary analysis. I did not try to categorize information or look for themes at this time. I wanted to develop some initial impressions about the learning that would enable me to proceed with more systematic analysis. My readings provided two insights. I recognized that each individual's learning in conflict resolution could be interpreted in terms of purpose, process, and outcomes. I decided to use these as elements for reconstructing each individual's life story. The second insight was that learning in conflict resolution was embedded in a variety of contexts. I realized that it would be essential for me to try and articulate these contexts in order to situate the narratives of personal experience. This led to the second stage, embodiment. B. Hocking, page 62 Embodiment I had done extensive reading on conflict resolution, narrative, and adult learning. However, when I read my data and was preparing to reconstruct the life stories, I began to re-enter these contexts with greater focus. The ways in which I framed and contextualized the stories of learners from the transcripts, I realized, would result either in texts that informed and inspired or in texts that lacked depth. I realized that one of the criteria for producing a rich text would be the contexts in which it was situated. Narratives cannot just be written; they must be placed somewhere. This was essential in the case of conflict resolution. Almost nothing exists in isolation, certainly not conflict. Conflict is both a cause and an effect emerging from complex human interactions. Conflict can exist within an individual, between two persons, between a person and a group, and among groups. Conflict often carries with it intense emotions such as fear, anger, alienation, and anxiety. Conflict also generates a variety of coping responses, ranging from complete withdrawal to enthusiastic acceptance, and everything in between. One thing seems certain: without an understanding of the contexts in which conflict emerges, finding ways of managing it in our children's and our own everyday lives is almost impossible. (Sheanh, 1996, p. 15) Rather than start writing the stories right away, I decided to try and understand their contexts better. This required further research and many follow-up interviews. I refer to this phase of my research as embodiment. I was reflecting on the stories and trying to ground them in frameworks of meaning for others. The contexts I explored were as follows: The Centre for Conflict Resolution Training context. The immediate context, that of the learning environment, had many different dimensions. There was the the organization of the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program as well as its conceptual and theoretical frameworks. In order to understand the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program I contacted the former coordinator of the Centre for Conflict Resolution Training, Marje Burdine. This resulted in a formal 1-hour interview (see Appendix G) as well as several follow-up visits and phone conversations. I also spoke in person and by phone with four trainers who had worked in the program from an B. Hocking, page 63 early date (see Appendix G). Marg Huber, the current Program Director and a member of my thesis committee, provided ongoing information about the Justice Institute's programs and edited my written work for detail and accuracy. The social and historical context. This included the history of the Centre for Conflict Resolution Training's programs as well as the broader social-historical framework in which they evolved. I identified this larger framework as a culture of peacemaking that expressed itself through different social movements. I focused on three movements because of their connections, philosophical and practical, to conflict resolution training at the Justice Institute. These three movements were the human potential movement, ADR, (Alternative Dispute Resolution) and the work of the Mennonites. Understanding the social and historical dimensions of conflict resolution training would, I hope, provide insights into the metanarrative from which tales of conflict resolution learning took their meaning. Marje Burdine, Marg Huber, and instructors from the Justice Institute were interviewed about the history of conflict resolution training at the Justice Institute as well as their interpretations of how it fit with other social-historical movements of the day. I also spoke with several individuals associated with the Mennonites' work as peacekeepers. Eric Gilman was particularly helpful for providing me with an overview of the Mennonites' history, their theology, and their efforts in VORP (Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program) in Langley, British Columbia. I talked with the executive director of the Mennonite Central Committee about the role of this organization. He mailed me pamphlets describing this role in detail. I also read extensive secondary materials on the conflict resolution movement in North America. Finally, I spoke with Michael Fogel, one of the core trainers, and Marg Huber about ADR. Consent forms and interview guides for this section as well as a letter to Eric Gilman are located in Appendix G. Narrative and adult learning contexts. In addition to my readings in these areas, I spoke regularly with Dan, my thesis supervisor, about adult learning and with Carl, my methods advisor, about narrative. In both instances I used my own research as the framework in which to understand the theory in these two areas. B. Hocking, page 64 Peer Review I would continue to spend much time in reflection thinking about the contexts as well as individual experiences of learning in conflict resolution. One strategy I used was to talk to other people. When I had first designed my research framework, I had asked two friends who were also graduate students in Adult Education to read my interview transcripts and provide feedback (see Appendix H). The purpose of the peer review was to help me consider different perspectives and significant themes when moving into the writing stage. Preliminary Writing After I had researched the contexts of conflict resolution learning thoroughly and discussed the interview transcripts with friends, I prepared to write the life stories. I began by immersing myself in all of the data for one learner at a time and took notes of significant themes. Then I extracted what I believed were meaningful sections of text and organized them into categories using a combination of manual as well as computer cut-and-paste techniques (see Morse, 1991, for a description of computer-assisted analysis on the Macintosh). I reflected on the categories and determined: (a) a central focus for the participant's story and (b) a sequence for presenting information in the categories. After I had finished, I typed my initial story into the computer, trying to capture the essence of a participant's learning. I developed my story using the purpose, process, and outcomes of learning. I also decided to included a fourth element, my relationship with the participant in question. This included such information as how I knew the participant and where the interviews were held. There were many considerations I faced when writing, including organization and voice. I decided to develop the story in sections using sub-titles that were personalized for each learner. As I was typing I had to think about the order of material in each category. Sometimes I had to bring together information across categories or between sentences. Connecting different units of data also required that I do some editing at this stage, eliminating unnecessary words, adjusting tenses, and focusing on units of meaning that would ensure the ongoing development of the story. B. Hocking, page 65 I decided to blend my voice with that of the participant's. I distinguished the two through a combination of spacing and indentation. Any words that I found necessary to change in the participant's speech were bracketed. I included both data from the interviews and group sessions as well as the life story written by participants for the final focus group. I did not distinguish between these sources when reproducing the words of a learner. Critical Analysis After writing a preliminary draft, I edited it several times for fluency, organization, and relationship to my original research questions. The criteria I used were: (a) focus; I wanted each story to reflect the distinctiveness of conflict resolution learning for a particular adult, (b) authenticity; I wanted the learner's voice to have priority over mine, and (c) framing; I tried to include life events that would give meaning to the reflections of conflict resolution learning through time and space. After writing and editing a particular story, I gave each participant an opportunity to read and edit the life story using guidelines I had developed for this purpose (see Appendix I). Learners had approximately one week to read this initial draft. Restoration Restoration included changes made to the above draft. These changes came from participant recommendations as well as my own ongoing editing. Each time I wrote another draft I would show it to the participant. For most learners, this involved an additional 2-3 visits with me. Participants would share their feedback and I would share mine. We considered content, organization, language, punctuation, and other aspects of the narrative. It was the ongoing dialogue between us that gave direction to the restoration. It was important for me to honour participants' wishes regarding the construction of their stories. This included general as well as specific requests such as the particular use of punctuation and grammar. I had followed a similar process of consultation with participants who contributed ideas to the first few chapters of this work. B. Hocking, page 6 6 Theming In this section I use the term theming to describe the process of analysis and interpretation of the learners' life stories. There were two parts to this process: (a) theming the individual life stories from part 3 and (b) cross-theming the stories. The framework I used is an adaptation of Aoki's work (1992). Theming Each Story A theme may be described as the unifying focus in a work. It is the main topic or idea that gives meaning to the details. There are two other definitions of theme that The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English notes: (a) "a prominent or frequently recurring melody or group of notes in a composition" and (b) "the stem of a noun or verb; the part to which inflections are added" (Allen, 1990, p. 1265). In all of these instances, there is a sense of ongoing presence and, in the grammatical usage, a sense of imperative in the role played by a theme. All of these definitions are inherent to the process of theming. In this chapter I will follow guidelines used by Aoki who refers to theming as "a form of experiential inquiry (some call it existential inquiry) that calls for reflective thoughtfulness" (1992, p. 32). His work shows that theming consists of three elements: (a) identifying the theme of a story, (b) developing reflective questions from the theme, and (c) elaborating on the questions. My purpose in theming each story was to focus on the meaning of conflict resolution learning for each participant before looking at cross-themes. I also decided that it would be important to include the learners in this stage of my research as well. I wanted to see what meaning they attributed to their experience in conflict resolution after going through the research process. I contacted participants and spoke with each one by phone for approximately 25 minutes. We discussed the purpose, process, and outcomes of learning and the meaning(s) these terms held for each person. The theme I wrote for each learner's story was based on what participants shared with me. I integrated their wording into my own. B. Hocking, page 67 Cross-Theming My objective here was to look at all of the stories in order to determine significant themes that would answer the question: What is the experience of conflict resolution learning? I read each life story several times and made notes of key elements. I then compared my notes for each narrative in order to determine themes that ran across the stories. This process was repeated several times as I generated a list of what, I felt, were significant themes. After this point, it became apparent that the themes I had generated were all variations of authenticity. I described and elaborated on each variation. Chapter Summary In this chapter I explained my choice of the life story for developing a better understanding of conflict resolution learning. I then described the steps I followed for writing my autobiography and the biographies of other adults from the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program. Before concluding this chapter, I want to emphasize the relationship between life-as-text and text-as-life. My research did not take place in a vacuum but was constantly subjected to events taking place in the lives of participants and I. Sometimes individuals would need to change