The great social commentator Paul Weller (cough) once said “the more I know, the less I understand” in his three minute masterpiece that was The Changingman. I always thought it was about him, and his experiences of going through divorce and becoming a new person. Just lately I have been thinking about the phrase as my attempts to settle in to life as a PhD student. In October I gave a talk at the University of Leicester, brimming with confidence that what I was saying, as a practitioner, was correct. Now I’m trying to study the theory about what I think makes my ideas correct. The result is that my confidence is suddenly not as wilful, and my ideas are changing. My knowledge is growing – so I should be even more confident surely? But that is not the case. The more views and opinions I read, the more my doubts grow. I saw a graphic of a PhD researcher’s journey earlier this week. A linear scale shows the student at the start being unconfident in their argument and ended with the student being less unconfident in their argument, so I guess these feelings are natural if uncomfortable to live with. I read an article last week that claimed Great Britain gave Community Development to the world, yet was hopeless at it. It made so much sense. It’s ideas like that that make me realise that the more I know, the less I understand.
Published by Mark Charlton
I’m Mark Charlton, Associate Director of Public Engagement at De Montfort University, Leicester, United Kingdom. I’m passionate about universities using Service-Learning, community-based learning, civic learning, the scholarship of engagement, learning-linked volunteering and all the other ways we describe students sharing their skills and knowledge beyond the campus. I encourage all staff and students to embed the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals into their work. I also lead the United Nations Academic Impact Initiative Global Academic Hub for SDG 16. I am a PhD Scholar, researching the impacts of civic engagement on students’ political participation. View all posts by Mark Charlton