QUALITATIVE RESEARCH SERIES
Doing Phenomenology: Introduction to Phenomenology 101
Copyright, 2016 by Vanessa Jae Paradis
This free online course provides an introduction to Phenomenology with a focus on how it intersects with the theoretical
work of Joe L. Kincheloe. Learners will practice processes that incorporate cross-disciplinary knowledges and analyses of
multiple viewpoints as an aid to interpreting, understanding, and applying Joe’s theoretical work, and in particular,
incorporating phenomenology. This is accomplished in context with learners’ personal interests and desired applications
of critical pedagogy. The course will assist learners with gaining a broader and deeper understanding of the issues within
their areas of interest, as well as provide a deeper interpretation of Joe’s work that will help them apply it in all
areas of their lives. It is also provided to benefit scholar-researchers who wish to gain a deeper understanding of phenomenology
and how it impacts their research findings.
Phenomenology of Practice: Meaning-Giving Methods in Phenomenological Research and Writing (2014) by Max Van Manen
Mead Five Star 8-1/2" x 11" Wirebound Notebook, One-Subject, College Ruled
in your favorite color (or equivalent)
Art Supplies (crayons, colored pencils, watercolors,
colored markers, or other media)
Pens with black ink
Access to the Internet, including the capability
to view YouTube videos
Note from the course developer, Vanessa Jae Paradis: My biographical and contact information is available here. However, I will probably not be able to
answer all emails due to volume and time constraints, among other factors. A separate page on the site will be developed and
made available in the future that covers all of the common questions and comments I’ve received. Educators who wish
to use this course or elements of the course may do so without written permission. Please provide a link to this website so
that students can explore these topics in greater depth according to their interests.
spirit of faithfully representing Joe’s theoretical work, many different viewpoints and interpretations are presented
in this course. They do not necessarily represent my own views just because they have been included in the course. I will
describe how various ideas intersect with my experiences and how different perspectives offer explanations or viable interpretations,
as well as a discussion of the ways they fail to provide adequate representations. As Joe advises us, we look for good ideas
from wherever they may emerge, even if the viewpoints totally counter our own. Reality construction is always “a work
in progress,” and learning and teaching must also involve the personal. As Joe puts it, “When educators dismiss the intersection of personal experience with
multiple knowledges, they take an important step toward constructing education as a mode of stupidification.” (Knowledge
and Critical Pedagogy: An Introduction, p. 249). I do not intend to stupidify these learning experiences by leaving out
my highly relevant personal experiences.
The videos that I provide links for in this course have been handed down to me in a similar
manner as had been done for the blogs on this site and represent what I am also learning at this time. In order to get the
most out of the course, it’s important to watch/listen to them (most can be listened to while multi-tasking, which is
what I do). The videos highlight specific knowledges and processes that will be covered in the course. I will be synthesizing
what is covered in the videos with Joe’s theoretical work combined with my own personal experiences to demonstrate what
Thus, to get the most out of these lessons, complete as many of the activities you can, especially those
that intersect with your personal interests. Use the spiral notebook as a Journal to answer questions, describe your experiences,
and make notes on your research. Also feel free to draw or paint some of your experiences and feelings as you work your way
through this course. The standard process is to write in your journal each day, if possible, and at the very least, several
times a week. Joe highlights the importance of writing, which I will cover within the course.
It is also
important to click on the links, and do additional research in areas of your interest. Follow where your guidance leads you.
The Great Master Teachers (the so-called “gods,”) in the Celestial Realms are sitting on the sidelines, ready
to help anyone who asks and is willing to listen.
That reminds me of this quotation from Joe which I have
posted to the home page of this site: “To become a seeker of new knowledges
and new ways of being we must be willing to sometimes be seen as the fools of the gods.” (Kincheloe,
Knowledge & Critical Pedagogy, p. 19). He is being a bit facetious, of course.
Well, sort of. He is being funny AND he is also being very serious.
As you study Joe’s work and experience being
a “fool of the gods” you’ll come to understand. The Celestial beings, in reality, do not consider themselves
gods, nor do they wish to be worshiped…they are humans just like us. They are on a learning path, just like us. But
they have the advantage of being further up the mountain path where they can see a bigger picture, which, out of their own
passion, they love to share with us. Joe hinted at this in Knowledge and Critical Pedagogy when he stated that “knowledge
is something human beings produce—it is not sent by God or by the aliens….Beings who came from particular places
and times have constructed what we call valid knowledge—these knowledge producers were individuals with many of the
great strengths that humans can develop and with many of the weaknesses that afflict all of us who claim to be human”
(p. 226). And knowledge production breaks free from hierarchies in that it flows both “downward” and “upward.”
What we might come to learn is that John Lennon was right. And the world is nothing like we’ve been taught or
led to believe. If Joe is also right (and biased as I am, I totally believe he is right), then whatever we can “IMAGINE,” we can create,
but the caveat is that even what we’ve been taught about imagination is not reality. We will need to reconstruct what
constitutes imagining. We have a lot of learning yet to do.
LESSON 1: Introduction
Reading Assignment: Feel free to read the entire book, Phenomenology of Practice, but we will first focus on the Preface,
Chapter One, and Chapter Two through page 39 (pp. 13-39).
Thursday, June 16, 2016
I am excited that I have been guided to creating a lesson on phenomenology for both qualitative researchers and those
concerned with everyday life alike…this course is very introductory, so please don’t feel challenged by the terms
used, such as phenomenology. If you would like to learn how to pronounce it and some of the other “big words”
that come up in the endeavor of learning Joe’s multidimensional critical complex bricolage (of which phenomenology is
a very important piece), just visit an online dictionary such as http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/, type in the word and
click on the speaker. I remember when I had to keep a dictionary by my side just to read Joe’s work…before I
had this strange phenomenological experience of our consciousnesses merging. When that happened, I had the problem of learning
to sort my thoughts from his thoughts.
That we were connected and transmitting thoughts and feelings back
and forth to each other had been proven to me multiple times during the nine months I worked with him on his research site.
It was what Einstein referred to as “spooky action at a distance” when I’d receive emails from Joe addressing
questions I had at the very instant I had them. “Great minds” was his explanation when I commented to him about
it one day, telling him we were “on the same wavelength.” I now know he was not exactly referring to our minds,
but rather the great minds we work with via our connections to great beings in the cosmos. They love sharing knowledge and
transmitting the promptings that will facilitate love. One day I was extremely upset, had no real understanding as to the
reason; I just felt a bit “discombobulated” and blamed it on outside things. I had written to the web developer
of Joe’s discussion forum (we had a friendship at the time), expressing my emotions for which there was no explanation….and
just a few minutes later, I received an email from Joe telling me he was at the hospital for treatment of precancerous skin
lesions—but that he was fine, not to worry. And a little while later he wrote to me again, telling me he was out of
the hospital and everything was good. I felt a little weird (a phenomenological experience) that he would share his medical
information with me when I really had no idea that he was experiencing this; I felt our relationship was a professional one,
and yet there was always this sense of our relationship being more than personal on another level. I also thought it was very
nice that he shared his personal life with me and wanted to alleviate my concerns. From a new perspective, now that I understand
how these deep soul connections work, it was clear that Joe understood I was actually picking up through the “airwaves”
what was happening to him, which explains why he went out of his way to fully inform me. Joe practiced what he preached—the
alleviation of suffering in other people.
Also, in his email, just like Joe, he took far too much responsibility
for participating in the website discussions. He reassured me that he had a blog written, which he would post within a few
days. I felt bad that he took on so much of the responsibility for the site…and had wished more people would more actively
participated. Ultimately, more did, but apparently there were some serious issues, because just before Joe passed away, he
had made the decision to leave the project.
And this brings me to the purpose of this course. This example shows
just one manner in which Joe engaged in a “Phenomenology of Practice.” He practiced what he preached. It’s
a huge and very important part of his qualitative research process, the multidimensional critical complex bricolage. Thus,
it’s important to gain and understanding of what phenomenology really is and how we can “do phenomenology.”
It will also assist us in understanding how we can “do” Joe’s critical bricolage.
As Max Van
Manen states in the textbook we are using, “When it comes to the ‘great minds’ in the tradition of phenomenology,
what sets them apart from many other philosophers is that they write in an originary manner of phenomenology while actually
doing it” (p. 24).
Originary, according to Max Van Manen, is that the text does not derive from previous
phenomenological texts, but rather is emblematic of being “constantly renewing.” There are many places in Joe’s
work where he expresses this renewing—as remaking ourselves, making the world “anew,” changing who we are,
etc. Things cannot stay the same when we are also “doing.”
Activity: What does Max Van Manen say
about this “problem” of phenomenology, the impossibility of capturing the immediate “now”? (See page
34). Why is writing about our experiences important? (See pp. 30-31). What might the consequences be of not revisiting our
experiences—even everyday experiences? (See bottom of page 34).
As Van Manen expresses, “Importantly, the
lived experiences that we have never revisited may nevertheless leave latent and powerful consequences on our present and
future being and becoming” (p. 34).
Psychology might describe this as the effect our subconscious minds
have on our behavior if we do not bring these effects to conscious awareness. This points to the many ways we are programmed
and indoctrinated daily and why it’s important to take the multidimensional critical complex analysis that Joe encourages
us to do…when we bring these effects to the surface, we regain greater control over our own behavior. We can make more
Activity: In this first reading assignment, Van Manen describes a simple everyday experience of
having coffee with a friend. He demonstrates how revisiting such an experience brought up numerous phenomenological questions.
For this activity, recount an everyday experience you’ve had. What are the questions that come up for you? The following
is my entry.
Coffee with A Friend by Vanessa J. Paradis
I often feel that Hermes Trismegistus is actively teaching me because his sense of humor and ability to engage
things like Super Synchronicity, Super Serendipity, and Super Synergy (as discussed in my blogs) and his Super Sense of Humor
pop up so often. Today is no exception.
Joe also experienced humor often during his research…it’s
encapsulated in his work. I love how he referred to all of this as an “amusement park ride” since that captures
the wild ride it can be as well as the wild humor that seems to pop up from nowhere (see Knowledge and Critical Pedagogy).
Even his own unique definition of research bricolage has incorporated a nod to Hermes.
I have quite serendipitously
been called to develop this course. I had read a few pages out of the book by Van Manen, which I had been recently prompted
to purchase, and this particular morning I decided to engage in a special treat. A friend had just purchased a new patio set
and had delivered their old, but still very nice set to my door a few days ago. How nice! The set is much nicer than I would
have gotten had I gone and purchased one (I must get them a thank you card!). It is now arranged nicely on my small patio.
So this morning I decided to try out the patio set for the first time. The weather was very pleasant so I decided I would
go out and sit in the sun, have my morning coffee, and do some more reading from Van Manen’s book (and now, here I am
writing about this phenomenological experience).
Lo and behold (I think I got that from Joe, lol) the
next section to read, where I had left off previously, was about a guy who was having coffee outside in the sunshine. (See
page 32). Interesting and how apropos….my teachers are good! They provided the setting and all of the props for this
reading assignment. It must be important, lol. As I sat there reading the excerpt, I felt Joe’s presence sitting across
from me in the “empty” patio chair. I smiled, said, “Hi, Joe.” I wondered whether, if someone saw
me, they would think I was crazy, lol. This is a true phenomenological experience, one that I actually have many times throughout
the day and it always reminds me of a statement he had made in his seminal work on bricolage about fourth dimension research.
His exact words were, “the notion of rigor transmigrates to a new dimension. As in a 1950s sci-fi movie, bricoleurs
[researchers] enter the 4-D—the fourth dimension of research (“On to the Next Level: Conceptualizing the Bricolage,”
2005, p. 346). He was talking about the invisible “4-D Man” in the movie of that title. I feel like I am in the
fourth dimension most of the time (which actually constitutes many dimensions above 3-D). However, as is being increasingly
revealed, this phenomenon may not be so strange after all. There is ample scientific evidence as well as spiritual phenomenological
descriptions that help explain these types of experiences. There are people who can actually see “spirits.” In
fact, my own son was born with this ability and it distressed him quite a lot. In time, the ability was squelched. But many
have written about it, such as Emanuel Swedenborg, Rudolf Steiner, Madam Blavatsky, and many others. It seems that the phenomenon
is increasing. The explanations vary and in my view, it’s a worthy topic to explore.
to this, the phenomenon that strikes me as being so prominent in this experience of being multidimensional, is my constant
experience of synchronicity when it comes to learning from seemingly “invisible teachers.” They are so good at
teaching that they can even adjust my physical environment in ways that are conducive to the teachings they provide. This
is demonstrated to me over and over again to the point it would be ludicrous to deny that it happens. Jesus (AJ Miller) speaks
and teaches about this experience of learning from “Higher Sources,” and encourages participating in The
Experiment. When all of this stuff first began happening to me, back in 2008/2009, I felt like I was in some
kind of experiment, even mentioned that in the dissertation I wrote in 2013…and according to AJ Miller, it is, indeed,
an experiment, but we have free will to participate or not.
The Experiment: Making Meaning or Doing Phenomenology
As Joe mentions in his article, “On to the Next Level: Conceptualizing the Bricolage,” 2005, “meaning
does not ‘just happen’—we do not see bumper-stickers proclaiming ‘meaning happens’” (p.
338). So where does that leave us? We must make meaning…but it can’t be just any meaning. He
provides many guidelines to help us with this. Yet too many people today want to assign their own meanings
to things without any philosophical foundation and often with a lack of logic. The lack of philosophy in our education process
(and the dumbing down of education) rears its ugly head, which is perhaps one reason Joe emphasizes philosophy so that we
learn to question our assumptions and ground our interpretations. Otherwise, as he puts it, “meaning is imposed upon
the world, and if researchers are not aware of such dynamics, they will unconsciously join in the imposition” (p. 339).
Personally, I am sick and tired of people imposing their lame and often ignorant meanings on my Divine experiences. I have
my own very grounded meaning…but please don’t take that as an imposition. First of all, I do not impose my meaning
upon you; secondly, I am always open to expanding meaning—after all the cosmos itself is expanding according to many
You can read more about the Great Experiment here:
Ponder the questions Mary has raised in the above article. How do they relate to phenomenology? How do they
relate to Joe’s work? I will have some thoughts on these questions next time. In the meantime, enjoy completing the
activities in this course and the other free courses on this website.