• Achilleas Kostoulas

    On that note, Dörnyei explicitly stated (in one of the coffee breaks) that he felt ambivalent about his position. He said that he was beginning to question much of the work in psycholonguistics that has been carried out in the positivist tradition ‘including much of my own’.

  • Juup Stelma

    Hi Lou,

    A wonderful narrative of your Finland experience – mosquitoes and all. Like others I was particularly intrigued by your experience of Dr D. I have always understood Dornyei as being firmly in the positivist camp; adding complexity to this makes him a post-positivist, yes?? Although I don’t think positivism or post-positivism is dominant in any simple way anymore, there is still a great deal of currency in this straight-forward and uncomplicated way of thinking (spot the capitalist metaphor?). Personally, I think the position of (post)positivism is supported by the mass of ‘average’ PhD students out there being told by Dr D, Dr X and Dr Y what to do and how. Stronger PhD candidates will either approach positivist ideas with intelligence, or will develop or adopt something ontologically more coherent. I think then that positivism will remain as a mass-consumed perspective (yes, more capitalism – I blame Lou) – but what kind of dominance is that? This whilst others (of course including us at Manchester) move onwards to ever greater and better things … constructing our own ‘prrrecious’ perspectives – LOL.


  • Thanks for the post on your blog Lou! I found it really interesting to read other people’s perspectives of meeting the “stars”. To add my two cents (in addition to Mariam’s always astute observations *yay*) I found listening to well known authors in person helped to put their work in perspective. What I mean is that behind the eloquent prose and high flying theoretical constructs lies a very real person. And that makes me feel better that a) These ideas actually do come from somewhere (duh) because they seem more “real” when listening to an actual person talk about them and b) These people are human, and will disappoint in one way or another and aren’t “above” making mistakes (so to speak) and c) People change, ideas are adapted – which I find the most exciting.

  • Thanks for that, Mariam – and for making the link between how the ‘high-profile’ academics behave and how we respond to other students. I think this is something I’ll definitely be more aware of in future.

    I think my feeling about Dornyei’s talk wasn’t quite disappointment in him personally – more the general kind of disappointment/sadness one might feel when encountering what one perceives to be an extremely narrow-minded viewpoint. But again, as you say – this is all part and parcel of being human…

  • Mariam Attia

    Hi Lou,
    Thank you for a detailed post. I was particularly intrigued by your personal and professional reflections on meeting Dornyei . Many times, I observe the behavior of ‘high-profile’ academics as a learning experience. I think to myself, “If I ever become so well-known, will I say this or do that?”. These are also opportunities for us to reflect on our own attitudes toward people who might need a bit of our time, attention, or emotions. For example, how do we react to UG or MA students who approach us ‘PhD experts’ with inquiries about this or that which, to us, may seem veeery basic or perhaps unworthy of our ‘precious time’? And when we decide to give them answers, are they in the form of “THE ULTIMATE” (as described in your entry) because of that academic experience we have?

    Some months ago, when I was working on my thesis, it occurred to me to check Arabic literature on researcher competence/ research methodology. In several references I came across, there was emphasis on humility as an essential attribute. In fact, if we think about it, the beauty of humility extends beyond professional development to cover all aspects of our lives, for it is an amazing way of growing richer by doing without.

    Finally, I think we need to remind ourselves that ‘authorities in the field’ are human like everyone else. They might have lost their key ring right before their keynote, had flat tyre in the morning, or spent the night before in hospital with a sick child. Because there is so much under that thin professional glitter that we know nothing about, there is really no need to be very disappointed by unexpected reactions, or overly impressed by those conference “rock n’roll” effects nicely depicted in your post 🙂

  • Richard Fay

    A very full account Lou, fascinatig, many thanks.

    Am just back form a conference too and this mix of excelelnt, poor and run of the mill presentations would describe this experience also.