Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bud Goodall; Thanking a teacher

A recent facebook posting alerted me to the illness with which qualitative research guru Bud Goodall is now struggling.  With the immediacy that only the Internet can bring, I jumped from my Facebook page to Bud's blog and the powerful description of the cancer that is now his reality.  Goodall, Director of the Hugh Downs School of Communication at Arizona State, will not remember me, but I remember him.  I send him every blessing and good wish I can think of. 

In 2009, as I was preparing for the 5th annual meeting of the International Congress on Qualitative Inquiry, I decided that I needed to do something that would challenge me and help me to push through some barriers I struggled with vis-a-vis my journal project.  As I looked down the list of workshops, I noticed one titled "Writing Qualitative Inquiry: Selves, Stories, and Academic Lives", and I signed up. 

Shortly before the conference, I received an email from Goodall, providing me with an agenda and a request that I write a short memo for discussion.  I don't think my memo was memorable...but Goodall was definitely memorable.  In the short space of that half-day workshop, he communicated with ease and comfort, sharing insights and struggles he had faced with learning to link the parts of his self--academic, qualitative researcher, and human being.  He listened, affirmed, and moved us forward.  It was a remarkable day. 

So impressed with his knowledge of the academic process--its possibilities and pitfalls--for qualitative researchers, I purchased his book of the same title:  Writing Qualitative Inquiry: Selves, Stories, and Academic Life (available from Left Coast Press).  I shared it with others in my program concerned with the road to tenure, hoping it might ease their fears. 

But the most telling reminder of having encountered that I write this blog.  I was so impressed that a senior academic would speak to the value of blogs, as at my university, like most,  the blog has not gotten much respect.  I love my blog, and what it brings me--a place to practice writing, a place to begin the ideas that might become articles, and a place to think about qualitative research when it doesn't fit into a neat pre-formatted category.  Goodall served as outside confirmation that I was not insane to explore this tool.  I am so grateful to him for this. 

While I saw him in the crowd at subsequent ICQI conferences, I did not have an opportunity to speak with him again.  His teaching, however, remains with me.  He gave me, as he has given so many in the field, a piece of himself that we can carry with us--a piece of knowledge, an afternoon memory, a renewed commitment to keep on trying.  Thank you Bud.  I really appreciate it.  I want you to know that I am thinking about you and what you have done for me and others. 

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