How To Become Who You Already Are

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“What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee;

What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage.”

    -Ezra Pound

To become who you already are, you’ll have

to go looking. Ridiculous as it sounds,

you won’t find it from there, and you won’t 

Find it alone. You’ll need to keep moving

to keep up with an ever expanding universe.

You’ll need to find an island, one

with fire still inside. You’ll know you’re there

with your fingertips. You’ll feel a

low volcanic vibration, unexpected

and elevating the earth beneath you.

Consider writing a play, one without end.

Your story should reflect like sunlight on water,

and be performed on an outdoor stage.

Create characters with storybook names, 

known only to you and your closest friend. 

Name your theatrical park after memory, and 

embellish it with angels both in flesh and 

in stone. This is where you’ll find your mirror.

Build a home that echoes your voices,

leave the windows open to a cappella birdsong. 

Finally, but most importantly

If you are going to believe in anything

               (anything at all),

believe that the rest of the world 

has changed with the both of you 

for as long as you possibly can.

(For Jason and Katrina Lewis)

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A Partial Record of My Education

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“Those who love wisdom must investigate many things.” – Heraclitus

“I write-and talk-in order to find out what I think.” – Susan Sontag

In 2014, I graduated with my doctorate in education, and this seemed miraculous to me. A sustained focus, logical arguments, and the synthesis of an area of literature were inherent in the task of writing a dissertation, and I didn’t feel like I’d ever be able to live up to this challenge. As a child, I felt most comfortable with image and sound based communication. Music and visual art are such a large foundation for my thinking. I’m pretty certain this had to do with my mother taking me to museums and libraries, playing records in the living room regularly, and encouraging my growing interest in drawing.

Images could convey ideas that were both at the surface of my thinking and buried in my subconscious. Painting or creating something visually interesting and potentially communicative was something that came naturally. The imagery did not have to mirror reality. It could be completely conceptual. I was driven by the need to play with things that had an uncertain end. Not being driven to an actual destination, instead being propelled forward with intuition and curiosity, liberated me from having to make any sense of what I might be feeling in a way that would communicate to another. It was a drive to create.

This drive has pulled me in many directions at once. I have obsessively composed with sound, painted primarily textural (if not always aesthetically pleasing) images, and sometimes incorporated sound with paintings. Notes and small drafts of “diary” or journal entries have always been included as well. The outcome of these experiments was a amalgam of forms. I’m never quite certain how a thing may turn out…what form or hybrid it may take finally. I don’t even know if the outcome is the final version of a thing.

My default thinking is in fragments. If there are connections between the ideas or works, I have no knowledge of it during the process. It is always a dive into the unknown.

The past two months have included more than a few occurrences of fragmented thinking and organization that has not yet solidified into a coherent statement or group of thoughts. My regular lists of reading, listening, and watching have increased. I have rapid and incomplete connections between ideas and forms (text, image, sound, memory, etc.).

notebook march 2017

March-April 2017 Notebook, Thinking in Lists (more)

Recently, I have been reading Sloterdijk’s Spheres trilogy (Bubbles, Globes, and Foams) that have finally been translated, Hito Steyerl’s The Wretched of the Screen (2013), Kate Zambreno’s Book of Mutter (2017), Kafka’s late writings, Wittgenstein’s late writings on culture and aesthetics, Kadinsky, Susan Sontag, a biography on Eric Dolphy, so many disparate essays, and massive amounts of poetry.

Lately, I have been awed by the visual artwork of Rosy Keyser, Titus Kaphar, Fernando Zobel, Hito Steyerl, Julie Mehretu, Rebecca Horn, and Agnes Martin.

As I have written before, my sister told me once that whatever I put into my head must eventually come out. In what form will it arrive?

It eases my mind to know that others seem to have the same attraction to this process of discovery (like Sontag’s diary entry below).

From Sontag’s As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980 (with my scribbles)

Probably due to the Sloterdijk, the fact that Eleanor is beginning to trace the letter O, and my attraction to the simplicity of the ensō, circles and spheres have dominated my visual thinking. I seem to find them everywhere. From the Book of Genesis to NASA’s documentation of space trash, I seem to collide with imagery that represents a circular/spherical containment or a cyclical process.

 

Day 5 of Creation (Book of Genesis Illustration, 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle)

From Alberto Manguel’s Curiosity (2015)

Iannis Xenakis- from Formalized Music: Thought and Mathematics in Composition (1992)

Iannis Xenakis- from Formalized Music: Thought and Mathematics in Composition (1992)

Used Book Ephemera & Marginalia

*, Used Book Ephemera & Marginalia

I am, by nature, very curious and can lose myself while reading. However, I am always reading several things at once, and I can vary my selection wildly in a given sitting. Today, I moved from poetry to philosophy to essays, picking up Thomas Merton, Christian Wiman, William Bronk, Roland Barthes, Georg Trakl, and William Gass. Between books, I read older essays online, including a great one by John Yau on Christopher Middleton at the Brooklyn Rail from 2010. However, the only reason I was reading this specific essay was the fact that I became interested in the editor/translator (Middleton) of the Trakl collection, a small, gorgeous green book from 1968.

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Sometimes, I find notes in these books after searching for them or happening upon them in used bookstores. The notes can sometimes refer to small stories in themselves, pointing to emotional and psychological connections or just seemingly mysterious notes jotted by strangers. The note below, found in the Merton book, is almost not a note at all. It is simply hotel notepad paper with a phone number of a woman named Rebeca.

merton note

Mysterious only due to the lack of any context, this note does provide a place to seek out for the curious. Hotel Mora does look beautiful, situated right next to a botanical gardens and a few yards from the Atocha Station of John Ashbery’s poem from his second collection, The Tennis Court Oath (1962), and Ben Lerner’s novel of the same name (2011).

ben lerner

Some of the notes I find are more fleshed out with references and names that are recognizeable. Take the one I found within the pages of William Bronk‘s Life Supports. It is written on stationary with the title of some oddly titled journal (that doesn’t sound like it’s real…and there is no finding it on the internet), Corona Mundi: International Journal of Comparative Mysticism, Visionary Poetics & Conceptual Book Arts. The journal calls Maine home, which is interesting to me only that it reminds me of Stephen King. It is dated as originating during May 1996 and refers to the poet, Joel Oppenheimer. Apparently, after Oppenheimer died, his library was up for sale. That would have been a pretty amazing collection, and the Bronk title was only a small element of the whole. The note seems like a friend sharing a nice find with another.

bronk note

Not all of the books I acquire have these little details tucked within their pages, but I am always happy to find one. I don’t discard these small treasures. They become part of the book’s hidden story, the continuing tale of its owners as it travels from reader to reader. The book becomes kind of a communication device/time machine that allows each new owner to discover something new about another place at another time. I’m thankful that “Greg” in the note above “passed ’em on” to eventually end up at Chamblin’s Bookmine in Jacksonville, Florida.

PicMonkey Collage

Searching through Language: Translations of Hadrian (W.S. Merwin) & Limits of Human Perception

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Below, I have included a couple of translations of the only poem ever to have been found attributed to Hadrian (A.D. 76-138). The first word in the original Latin, animula, translates to little soul or small soul.

These first three photographs capture the relatively hard-to-find Pheonix Book Shop chapbook, Three Poems. I have a copy (only 100 were ever made, and it is signed by the author in 1968). The second poem is Animula. This was a kind of translation, I believe. But, it was more of Merwin’s work than an actual translation of the original.

The fourth photograph is from Merwin’s Selected Translations (2013, Copper Canyon Press) and includes a small bit of description about the origin and attempt to truly provide an adequate translation of Hadrian’s work. This is also included at the end of Merwin’s 2009 collection, The Shadow of Sirius (also Copper Canyon Press), which won the author his second Pulitzer Prize. His first Pulitzer was for the collection, The Carrier of Ladders (Atheneum), in 1971.

unnamed23413

These variations on the poem are vastly different from one another in content, form, and intent. You can read a little about Merwin’s thoughts on translation and the impact of this act on the rest of his learning in his interview with Paul HoldenGräber in 2010 (here), or watch his discussion with Michael Silverblatt in 2012 (here). A nice, printable pdf version can be found at the Poetry Society website (here). The first version included here is probably (since it was published in The Carrier of Ladders as well as the chapbook) an attempt to create anew from the inspiration drawn from the original Hadrian poem. However, it could be the lifelong pursuit of understanding that sometimes takes the form of endless revisions. This is what I would like to believe.

Language, in one description, is a temporary attempt to articulate this experience of being alive and being human. Language may attempt to communicate; however, The most important things in this life are not easily communicated in any form (including verbal and written languages, visual representations in paint or sculpture or architecture, music, etc.). Language is temporal at best. It “works” well enough for a time. Then, it must evolve to something new. Sometimes, this can mean an entire language changing or being lost. With spoken and written languages disappearing at an alarming rate, we are reminded of the temporal nature of everything. Language, like our individual lives, does not last forever (here is a list of extinct languages).

This small poem that has interested Merwin for a good portion of his life could be symbolic of humankind’s attempts to grapple with larger meaning. But, it is only a poem, a short verse. How could it convey so much? I am reminded of Adrienne Rich’s (a friend of Merwin) title for her final book, Tonight No Poetry Will Serve (2011). Poetry can be fawlty. It can evolve. It is indicative of what it conveys. It is temporary. For me, this poem (and this author) are reminders to keep searching, to not completely become comfortable with what I believe I know. Merwin wrote (in “The Nomad Flute,”another poem from The Shadow of Sirius), “I have with me / all that I do not know / I have lost none of it.” Merwin reflects often on the limits of memory and language. The Shadow of Sirius is probably the collection which captures this so starkly throughout its poems. Here is the complete text of “Going” from the same collection:

Going

Only humans believe
there is a word for goodbye
we have one in every language
one of the first words we learn
it is made out of greeting
but they are going away
the raised hand waiving
the face the person the place
the animal the day
leaving the word behind
and what it was meant to say

There is a constant wrestling with the limits of communication. These very brief poems carry the weight of the world, prophetic and powerful, not unlike traditional religious texts. This is probably not accidental. Merwin wrote hymns as a young boy. His father, a Presbyterian minister, would have probably remarked on the following passage from Corinthians (King James Bible): While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Even as language is a temporal excercise, Merwin describes the thumbing through pages of his father’s 1922 copy of Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language “in search of meaning” (from the poem “Inheritence,” The Shadow of Sirius, p. 32). In one of his three “forwards” to each section of the Selected Translations, Merwin admits that this practice of translation (and, maybe all writing) has “evolved” and is essentially an “unfinished art” (2013, p. 281).

Maybe, I am rambling beyond what I attempted to describe in the beginning, which was just the dissimilarity of two translations by the same author. Maybe I’m searching for something that’s not in these texts, something that is just beyond them. Maybe it’s in the past, and I am wrestling with some existential questions that one of my favorite poets can’t help me resolve.

These “eternal” things (2 Corinthians 4:18) are perhaps the mysteries that will keep us pursuing clearer understanding…although Joseph Joubert (as translated by Paul Auster) warns that in some cases, it may “rob them of their illusions.” Of course, Joubert is referring to one of man’s symbolic preoccupations, looking at the stars. Merwin continues to search, not worrying of the loss of mystery. He knows that his attempts to capture the uncapturable are futile, but they are attempts nonetheless. Perception changes as we age, as we experience new things. We attempt to hold experiences, thoughts, and create things from these elements. They may not be good forever. But, as John Berryman told Merwin (and Merwin passed on to the reader in the poem, “Berryman”:

I had hardly begun to read
I asked how can you ever be sure
that what you write is really
any good at all and he said you can’t

you can’t you can never be sure
you die without knowing
whether anything you wrote was any good
if you have to be sure don’t write

Knowing we may fail is not an excuse to try to communicate, to connect with others. That is where the magic is- in the trying. Maybe this is what Merwin meant when he admits in yet another poem from the life-changing volume that won him the second Pulitzer,”from what we cannot hold the stars are made” (from “Youth,” The Shadow of Sirius, p. 39).

 

Selected References

Auster, P. (1997). Translations (Selection of Joseph Joubert’s Notebooks). Marsilio Publishers.

Merwin, W.S. (2013). Selected translations. Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press.

Merwin, W. S. (2012). Interviewed by Michael Silverblatt on April 18, 2012. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/41266851

Merwin, W. S. (2010). Interviewed by Paul Holdengräber on October 22, 2010 at NYPL. Retrieved from http://www.nypl.org/sites/default/files/av/transcripts/merwin_transcript.pdf

Merwin, W. S. (2009). The shadow of Sirius. Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press.

Merwin, W. S. (1997) Flower and hand: Poems 1977-1983. Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press.

Merwin, W. S. (1970). The carrier of ladders. New York: Atheneum.

Vidal, J. (2014). As forests are cleared and species vanish, there’s one other loss: a world of languages. The Guardian (US Edition). Retrieved on April 28, 2016 from http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/08/why-we-are-losing-a-world-of-languages

Stream of Conscience Morning Rambling on Recent Reading

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Simone Weil’s describes the potential beauty of popular will in its purest form and once it is corrupted by collective passions triumphing over individuals in her last essay, On the Abolition of All Political Parties (1943).

“Similarly, a certain mass of water, even though it is made of particles in constant movement and endlessly colliding, achieves perfect balance and stillness. It reflects the images of objects with unfailing accuracy; it appears perfectly flat; it reveals the exact density of any immersed object…When water is set in motion by a violent, impetuous current, it ceases to reflect images. Its surface is no longer level; it can no more measure densities. Whether it is moved by a single current or by several conflicting ones, the disturbance is the same.”

Weil proposes that this eventual inner ethical conflict is detrimental for mankind and can have grave consequences.

“If a man, member of a party, is absolutely determined to follow, in all his thinking, nothing but the inner light, to the exclusion of everything else, he cannot make known to the party such a resolution. To that extent, he is deceiving the party. He’s thus finds himself in a state of mendacity; the only reason why he tolerates such a situation is that she needs to join a party in order to play an effective part in public affairs. But then this need is evil, and one must put an end to it by abolishing political parties.”

Although Weil is not technically discussing the social philosophy concept of “Groupthink” (coined by William Whyte in a 1952 Fortune Magazine article), the group dynamics that include the “rationalized conformity” associated with Groupthink are present. Weil is pointing to the idea that independent thinking is lost in the blind group loyalty. Weil is concerned with the individual being lost in the decisions made to support group passions. I would suggest that this inner conflict isn’t far from the concept of society’s accepted form of schizophrenia posed by Deleuze and Guattari in their Anti-Oedipus (1972). In their (arguably rambling) text, the authors describe individuals as alienated from the start in a society built upon capitalism (and I would add…any other man made conceptual structures to guide society as a whole).

Isn’t this same concept of smothering the individual in support of the group mirrored in the concepts discussed in Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Freire, 1970)? In his text, Freire uses the terms of “colonizer” and “colonized” but is accurately describing the oppression of one group by another. Some of these oppressive actions may include those that are perpetrated by the oppressed individuals, unintentionally complicit and diminishing of the self in service of the new group’s will.

Some reading from the past month (citations are possibly incorrect):

Blocker, J. (2016). Becoming past: History in contemporary art. University of Minnesota Press.

Deleuze, G. & Guattari, F. (1972). Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Penguin.

Freire, P. (1968). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Bloomsbury Publishing. New York, NY.

Guattari, F. (2008). Chaosophy: Text and interviews 1972-1976. MIT Press: Semiotext(e).

Guattari, F. (2009). Soft subversions: Text and interviews 1977-1985. MIT Press: Semiotext(e).

Weil, S. (2004). The notebooks of Simone Weil. Routledge.

Weil, S. (2014). On the abolishment of all political parties. NYRB Classics. New York, NY.

The Monkey’s Paw

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Monkey’s Paw (First Version)

1.

the stampede of lost lambs tore into the painting,

coloring the sky in Artaud ecstasy

loud & filthy with desire

strewn across the field

of bodies sewn through the fallen chain link fence.

Lifeless but full of motion,

they are a bloodless hymnal-
a flip book of photographs- discrete

images lie          sometimes, but these are at least

nine hours in the making.

Under no stars,           but so much swirling

sky drips into everything we drink now.

2.

Close your childhood, tightly.

A fleshy specter appears

in light circadian logic

behind your eyes

before everything cries through glass.

Where have you been, a sister asks

in language

woven into

water.

Everything’s slipping

falling

without

3.

                                          your boy.

Your boy has returned home

                              as broken geometry,

all angles in reflection.                   Open hymen

sounds too much like your surname,

too much like Hinderman.

Your sin sees damage like you

                              never did

(in reverse)

& no mysteries exist in these words.

Your son has returned home,

                               & he’s currently beating

prayer into the TV             while you watch.

You asked for this emptiness, he screams.

                  You’re shot talentless

into reality.

Bullets know distance
only matters in formal math.

   You have returned home in another body,

as energy,

             as longing.

You can stare into yourself       forever

              once he’s inside.

Look to the door           shaking

knocking

                 into your fingertips.

Your little boy has returned.

Your boy has come home

                 to a version

of you.

He’s waiting for you.

      Lambs will grow wild        in the absence

of good.

So,

go now.

                      Go right now.

Open your door,

                 & let him in.

Q Methodology: A Brief Background and Sample Pilot Study with School Principals (Student Paper Draft, 2007)

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No copy-editing has occured to provide this post some clarity. APA is almost ignored. But, the general curiosity remains. I have always been interested in identity and how we define ourselves throughout our lives and careers. The following was a brief paper and pilot “study” completed with a group of principals in 2006.

Very Brief Background

Q-factor analysis originated soon after Charles Spearman invented factor analysis at the start of the twentieth-century. Factor analysis, according to Steven R. Brown (1980), has been historically “used as a procedure for studying traits”. In this role, factor analysis has been popularized by social and political science. However, Brown explains that factor analysis can be used to factor persons, thereby creating what William Stephenson (1953) terms “person-prototypes”. This, Brown asserts, would require a separate methodology. This methodology, entitled Q, is described by Hair (1998) as “a method of combining or condensing large numbers of people into distinctly different groups within a larger population.”

Although G.H. Thompson was the first researcher to work with Q-factor analysis, he was not positive about its future (Brown, 1980). He believed that it had serious deficiencies, which I will discuss further in a moment. However, one researcher named William Stephenson was more excited about the possibilities of Q. Since its discovery, Q-factor analysis has been used widely in the social and behavioral sciences.

The main structural difference between Q and R analysis is summed up by Raymond Cattell’s description of the “data box” (1988). Cattell names three main components of a factor analysis: persons or cases, items, and occasions. He said that how we organize these components would structurally change the procedure. For example, in R-factor analysis the items signify columns on a matrix, while the persons completing the items represent rows. In this picture, one can see that the items would be grouped to create less factors, thereby creating types of items. Inversely, in Q-factor analysis, one can place the persons in the columns and the items in the rows. This process would create person-prototypes as previously mentioned.

The person-prototype idea is one that has revolutionized the social sciences. Researchers are able to make a case for a certain person type linked to various areas of behavioral disorders. One such study, conducted by Porcerelli, Cogan and Hibbard (2004), was created to better understand what personality traits men possessed who were violent towards their partners. The Q-sort was very large, 200 items long, and was completed by several psychologists and social workers very familiar with the many cases of domestic abuse. The end result supported the notion that these men were “antisocial and emotionally dysregulated.” Thus, it may be argued that these violent men have some things in common that make them stand out from others, person-prototypes.

Q-methodology has been employed by other fields of inquiry recently, as well. In Woosley, Hyman and Graunke’s work with student affairs problems on college campuses using a population of only three, the researchers wanted to explore whether Q would be a promising evaluation tool for the student experience (2004). They found, when asking these participants to sort ideas concerning their jobs on campus, that the students were excited about the process. During a post-sort interview, they all expressed enthusiasm for the activity and the results.

Controversy

Even with positive stories of Q like these, there are a few reasons why some researchers refuse to use this methodology or see any potential for its use. For example, one could easily discern from the discussion of the data box that a researcher could just take a set of data gathered for an R-factor analysis and apply it to the Q-structure, thereby completing another full analysis of the same information. Cyril Burt championed this form of usage in the Thirties (Stephenson, 1953). This is one point of contention for Stephenson. Stephenson explained that the procedure for collecting the data was part of the methodology. He stated that the Q-sort, the activity of participants physically sorting items in a prescribed pattern under certain conditions, was part of the overall methodology. One could not collect the data for the specific purpose of running an R-factor analysis and simply rearrange the data in a way appropriate for Q-analysis.

Many researchers disregard Q-factor analysis due to its lack of generalizability. They may claim that such a small sample could never be applied to a much larger population. In this respect, they may be correct. A Q-analysis is meant to really be something like a case study. It may be applied in some fashion to another situation, but the data collection is of a moment in time, or an occasion.

One of the main reservations I have with the Q-methodology is the focus on researcher-designated language. The language or items that are selected for the sort are done so by the researcher, not the participants. Thus, there may be some error in communication.

Sample Q-Sort Methodology

The particular focus of my sample Q-sort was a group of principals that are currently participating in the North East Florida Educational Consortium Principal Leadership Academy (PLA). The academy is only a year old, and the current version is a pilot run of the program that has been designed for principals who are undergoing some preliminary training to facilitate a school-wide action research project. The academy is comprised of twenty-four participants, principals with little experience or early-career principals to principals with a great deal of experience or seated principals. Because the leadership experience was quite varied among the group members, my hypothesis was these principals could be arranged in groups by experience and/or leadership style.

The items I decided to use in the Q-sort were the behaviors that the state recommended to the districts might be associated with the ten newly-adopted Florida Principal Leadership Standards (April, 2005). Of course, these behaviors were all optimal based on the standards. Thus, if a sort was using these written behaviors, there would be no “wrong” answers. This was important in establishing trust amongst the participants and me. This was no competition or evaluation of how they relate to and sort these behaviors. If they were aware at the outset, that there was no “correct” way to sort these items and there was no evaluative component to the sort, they may be more honest in the sorting process.

Another possible dimension that could be added to the sort that would possibly yield richer results would be the grouping of leadership behaviors into two categories, transactional leadership behaviors and transformational leadership behaviors. Due to the fact that these behaviors were never verified to actually represent either form of leadership, the Q-sort would have to be labeled an unstructured sort. (Appendix A).

After deciding which behaviors I would use as my items (16 sentence strips), I turned my attention to the actual Q-sort process.

Consulting Fred Kerlinger’s Foundations of Behavioral Research (1973), I was able to formulate a methodological plan. Kerlinger clearly maps out the process of setting up a practice Q-sort activity, or what he calls a “miniature Q-sort”. He writes that the participants may only sort a few items, as little as ten. This would not be optimal, he goes on to explain. Kerlinger insists the more items that one has available for the participants to sort, the better the results. Another piece of useful information was the discussion of the sort design. Kerlinger describes the physical act of sorting the items. He sets up a wonderful method of manipulating the items into a quasi-normal distribution, a Likert-type scale (with seven points) where the participant may choose whether the item is most like them or least like them. The participants are limited with the amount of items they can place at a given point. With this method of distribution, the sort resembles a normal curve. I used this example to help plan the sort activity with the principals in the PLA.

With the example below, the top line is the number of items that may be placed at each point on the Likert-type scale, and the bottom line is the scale itself. In this example, 7= items most like me, and 1= items least like me.

1 2 3 4 3 2 1
_________________

7 6 5 4 3 2 1

The sixteen items could be sorted in this quasi-distribution very easily by the participants. Each behavior strip contained a number, so that the participants could easily record the placement on the data sheet provided (Appendix B). I created ten identical envelopes containing the sixteen principal behavior strips. Then, I created a large poster displaying the procedures of the sort and the limitations for each placement. I would let the principals sort the behaviors after an already scheduled PLA meeting. They would be separated, mostly for the purpose of providing space for each participant.
On November 2, 2005, the participants completed the sort and carefully filled out the corresponding data sheet as I monitored. The purpose for monitoring was the successful completion of the stated procedures. This was explained to the participants. Once I collected all of the data, I began entering into SPSS 13 to start the analysis. The SPSS software is really set up with R factor analysis in mind, the columns are used for mostly organizing items (refer back to the discussion of Cattell’s idea of the Data Box). However, it is important to note that one may enter the participants in the columns as nominal data. Then, one could easily enter the numbers of the sorted behaviors as the rows. Then, the factor analysis procedure is the same from this point on.

Analysis and Interpretation

In this discussion of the results of this particular practice Q-analysis, I will be addressing the interpretation of the results yielded in Q-analysis in general. I will also be referring to Figures 1-7, yielded by the SPSS software during this practice analysis.

Figure 1 displays the correlations between the individuals based on how they sorted the leadership behaviors. We started with ten factors (individuals), and we are given ten separate factors in this table. This matrix enables the researcher to make some general statements about how each participant correlated with another. Remember, a 1.0 is a perfect correlation, so those are usually the person correlated with themselves. If one consults Hair’s opinion on the cut-off point for correlations, the cut-off for looking at correlations is anything under .450. This makes sense, because the researcher is really looking for correlations that are nearer to 1.0, as stated above. For example, one can see that there exists a strong correlation between LF and LB (.625). Thus, we could state that they may have sorted somewhat similarly. Inversely, M is not correlated to LB very well at all (.050), leaving us to assume that these two individuals may have sorted the behaviors very differently. However, this is all that we can ascertain at this point.

Table 1.

1

In Figure 2, the researcher is focused on communalities, or how much of the original participant/factor was extracted/recreated in the analysis. The glaring observation that should be seen at the fore is N (.557) shows the least in common with the group as a whole. At this point, it would help the reader to know that N was the only non-principal participant in the sort. I offered her the chance to take part in the sort to have an even number of ten participants in the activity. N has never worked in an educational administration position.

Table 2.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 11.22.24 AM

Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis.

The next step in the analysis is to look at the Eigenvalues and percent of variance that may be explained by the factor analysis (Table 3). When the data was entered, I wanted to isolate the factors that had Eigenvalues of 1.0 or greater. This would present four factors or, in the case of the SPSS output, components. These factors/components are the “person proto-types” discussed earlier. With this table, one can discern that almost 81% of the variance is explained in the analysis. This is very positive for two reasons: first, I now can see that four factors or person proto-types was a good number to represent most of the variance and, secondly, the low number of four factors is a good reduction from the original ten.

Table 3.

3

A scree plot of the factors will confirm that four factors/components is a good representation of the whole. To read the scree plot in Figure 1, one must look for the area at which the downward motion of the line comes to a plateau or a leveling off. It is apparent to me that the original interpretation of the number of factors was a wise decision. The plateau of the scree appears after the fourth factor. One may argue that this point actually does not level off as much as it jets upward slightly. However, being aware that this point represents the odd-man out, N (the participant with no experience in an educational leadership role), I believe that four factors truly does represent the whole in the best way. After reviewing this output originally, I ran the analysis again isolating only three factors. However, there ended up being a few of the original participants/factors left out of the whole. Thus, I opted for the four-factor analysis model.

Figure 1.

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In the next step of the analysis, the researcher begins to examine the extent to which each original factor is represented by the four composite factors or proto-types. The first matrix (Table 4) shows the extent to which each of the original components is represented by the four factors created before the rotation and the variance is distributed more evenly amongst the factors. In other words, we can see which of the person-prototypes each individual fits in the best. For example, M is definitely more associated with the first extracted factor. With this matrix, we can only begin to see how the participants might relate to the person proto-types created. To gain a clearer picture of the relationship between the participants and the composite factors, one needs to consult the rotated component matrix.

Table 4.

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In Table 5, the output from the rotation (using the varimax criterion) is more accurate in describing how the well the components is represented by each of the factors. With the background knowledge of all the participants, I could easily see justification for each of the participant’s placement in the matrix. I set the analysis in SPSS to create an output that would arrange according to size. Thus, looking at the matrix, the researcher can see the participants that share the most in common grouped together. In the first column, the first three participants are strongly correlated at .917, .868, and .659 respectively. It is interesting to note that these three principals represented by the first factor are the three most experienced of the participants. Additionally, these three administrators started a statewide reading reform together, meeting monthly for the last five years to discuss and share ideas with reference to the reform.

Table 5.

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In the next factor, F (-.915) and K (.904) are represented. F, it appears, is very negatively correlated to K. K has been a principal for one year and has worked as an assistant principal to one of the participants represented in the first factor. F was the principal of a failing school last year, and now is a new principal at a K-22 special needs school. They actually appear to have sorted the behavior strips almost the exact opposite of each other.

The third factor has LB (.928), LF (.716), and N (.714) correlated to each other. LB and LF are both first year principals. N is the non-principal among the group as stated previously. It makes sense to me that they may have sorted the behaviors similarly.

The final factor includes BA (.790) and R (.560). R does not appear to correlate highly with any of the four factors. This grouping is the only one that seems to contain two individuals that have very little in common in their backgrounds. When I forced the analysis to create only three factors/components, BA was left out of the final grouping of factors.

Before leaving the analysis, it is important to speak to one last piece, the variables/behavior strips and their value to each of the factors (Table 6). These values are in the form of Z-scores, making it easier to see how each person- prototype sorted each behavior (interpreted by columns) and how each behavior strip was comparatively sorted in each person- prototype (interpreting by rows). Daniel (1990) explains that these values or standardized regression factor scores are “utilized to determine which items contributed to the emergence of each of the person factors.” Remembering that the first eight strips were designated as transformational leadership behaviors and the second eight were designated as transactional leadership behaviors, one can now find some patterns in how the prototypes sorted. It could be argued that the first group organized the transformational leadership behaviors as more like them than the transactional leadership behaviors. For example, behavior strips # 1, 2, and 4 all score very highly in the matrix for the first group. In contrast, the third group scored behavior #1 negatively, less like them. However, the third group also scored transformational behavior strips # 2 and 4 highly.

Table 6.

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Taking into account that the scores did not really follow a trend that established any of the groups as definitively transformational or transactional, it is probably safe to say that the participants were grouped according to another criterion. We can say that the participants were grouped with others who sorted a set of behaviors similarly on that day at that time.

There are two facets of the Q-sort and analysis that I would change if I were to conduct a similar study in the future. To begin, it would be more structurally sound to use many more behaviors in the sort. The added information that they could rate may yield different results in the analysis. Additionally, I would not group the Florida Principal Leadership Behaviors into the two leadership styles, transformational and transactional. This created an unstructured sort, or one based on items that were not used previously in this manner. There has been no research linking these particular items with the labels transformational and transactional.

This practice Q-sort and analysis is narrow in scope. Judgments concerning the principals’ sorts are not applicable. The purpose of this study was to simply find out if the principals could be placed into groups or factors that seemed to make sense. Knowing the backgrounds of the participants allowed me a different lens at which to look at the analysis that many researchers may not get when conducting a Q-sort. It allowed me to understand why I think the participants grouped the way they did.

Citations

Brown, S. R. (n.d.) The history and principals of q social sciences methodology in psychology and the social sciences. Retrieved Nov 2, 2005, from http://facstaff.uww.edu/cottlec/QArchive/B.

Brown, S.R. (1980). Political subjectivity: applications of q methodology in political science. London: Yale University Press.

Daniel, L. G. (1990). Operationalization of a frame of reference for studying
organizational culture in middle schools (Doctoral dissertation, University of New Orleans, 1989). Dissertation Abstracts International, 50, 2320A.
(UMI No. 9002883)

Hair, J., Tatham, R., Anderson, R., & Black, W. (1998). Multivariate data analysis. 5th ed. New York: Prentice Hall.

Kerlinger, F. (1973). Foundations of behavioral research. 2nd ed. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.

Nesselroade, J., & Cattell, R. (1988). Handbook of multivariate experimental psychology. 2nd ed. New York: Plenum Press.

Porcerelli, J. H., Cogan, R., & Hibbard,S. (2004). Personality characteristics of partner violent men: a q-sort approach. Journal of Personality Disorders, 18(2), pg. 151-162.

Stephenson, W. (1953). The study of behavior. 2nd ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Woosley, S. A., Hyman, R. E., & Graunke S. S. (2004). Q sort and student affairs: a viable partnership?. Journal of College Student Development, 45(2), p.231-242.

Bergman Quote, 1964

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Why make art? Why write or photograph or paint anything?

“If you can take that first step toward communication, toward understanding, toward love, then no matter how difficult the future may be- and have no illusions, even with all the love in the world, living can be hellishly difficult- then, you are saved. This is all that really matters, isn’t it?” – Ingmar Bergman, 1964

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Recent Publications (since December 2012)

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 UPCOMING PUBLICATIONS, 2014

“Revisionism” at 5/Quarterly’s Tumblr in Spring 2014

“Wetlands” at Convergence: An Online Journal of Poetry and Art (Spring/Summer’14)

RECENTLY PUBLISHED POEMS, 2012-2013

“Occupation” at Convergence: An Online Journal of Poetry and Art

“Broken Consort” & “Silent Black Song” at Icebox Journal

“Amplifier” at NNATAN

Three Poems at Iridum Sound’s Churn Thy Butter

“Haunting” at Yorick Magazine, Summer/Fall 2013 Issue

RELATED

Painting and Process (short interview) at Draft Journal, 2013

 

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Creativity and Dr. Dorothea Lasky – Links and Appreciation

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Dorothea Lasky is a force for creativity.

Her poems burst with color and neccessity. Her short lines are full of fire. Earth, water, and wind are present in her most recent book, but there is much fire.

Not only a respected and established poet (her books- Awe, Black Life, and Thunderbird- can all be purchased at Wave Poetry), Dr. Lasky examines the role of creativity in learning. Her dissertation, her articles for academic journals, and her class syllabi all reflect this deep passion for the creative act. She creates spaces in her writing and her teaching that allow others to experience the power of the imagination and the possibility of experiencing something transcendent.

But, you can read for yourself.

Here is a small list of some of her articles, interviews, and her book on poetry in education:

Could Poetry Start an Educational Revolution?

2012 article in The Atlantic

Open the Door: How to Excite Young People About Poetry

Making Space for the Act of Making: Creativity in the Engineering Design Classroom

Examining small “c” creativity in the science classroom: Multiple case studies of five high school teachers

Interview w/ Phantom Limb

Interview w/ The Conversant