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Wok Practice Intensive: Rules and Guidelines

Rules and Guidelines for Investigation and Reporting

Here is a list of minimal actions that will be required for participants in the WoK Practice, using a working hypothesis on a daily basis. The main focus is on lab work and field work. Each morning, you will spend five minutes of `laboratory time.' The only firm specification there is that you just do it, and never ever skip it just because you don't feel like it. It should be part of your daily routine. You would not normally skip tying your shoe laces or doing other small chores, unless you would be seriously ill and unable to follow your normal routine. Similarly, don't ever skip the morning lab work, come hell or high water.

What exactly you do during those five minutes is in fact less important than the fact that you make the gesture of setting aside those five minutes, really every day, to focus your mind on working with the working hypothesis. By the time you have made that a firm part of your daily routine, you will find it much easier to keep carrying the working hypothesis with you throughout the rest of the day, as an ongoing research question. Even so, it is good to keep tabs on how you spend each lab session, so you should keep a lab journal. After each five-minute session, you should spend a minute or so writing a brief entry for that day. It could be as short as writing a single word like "boring" or "done!" or it could be a single sentence or a whole paragraph or more.

During the day, try to keep the working hypothesis in mind, but please do that very lightly. In fact, the first few weeks you should focus mainly on getting into a very firm practice of not skipping your morning lab time, without worrying about how to do the field work during the day, of keeping the working hypothesis in the back of your mind. Over time, naturally, the field work will take root, and before you know it, you will find yourself suddenly wondering about the working hypothesis while waiting for a bus, walking on the street, or lying in bed.

What is essential, though, is to spend a minute each evening writing down something, anything, to summarize your field work of the day. You can keep a lab journal for the morning and a field journal for the evening, or you can take one journal in which you interleave the entries, as you like. There are clear advantages in making the journals electronic, to allow easy cross referencing and searching, but that's up to you. If you make them electronically, and you find yourself without a computer at any morning or evening, do make sure to write down your entry on paper, and to copy it as soon as possible into electronic form. And of course, if you prefer old-fashioned pen and paper, or feather, or whatever, that's perfect too. A typical evening entry can be "not much" or "nothing" or "fun!" or again a full sentence, a paragraph, or more.

Once a week, on a Sunday, you should take an extra few minutes to write a summary of the fourteen entries you've made during the week, seven lab notes in the morning and seven field notes in the evening. That summary can again be short. A single paragraph is fine, and several paragraphs would be fine too. You probably should not start off writing more than a few paragraphs, unless you really really want too. The danger with starting any new habit is that you get excited about it at first, and then, when the novelty wears off, you drop it. It is far far better to start with a very modest but sustainable activity.

Since we are dealing with a group activity, it is important that we stay in sync, as a mutual form of encouragement if nothing else. Therefore, we should all write our summaries on the same day, and send them in to the WoK Webmaster. Since Sunday may be the most convenient for most people, we just picked that day. Do make sure to finish and send off your summary before you go to bed on Sunday. It is infinitely better to submit just a one-sentence summary on Sunday than to wait till Monday or later to do so. Once you start slipping, the whole process will become far more burdensome. There is a beauty in strict practice.

If you really can't find internet access, still do make sure to write your summary, on paper or electronically, and submit it as soon as you can, without changing a word. Don't start the slippery slope of changing history -- lab and field notes should never be manipulated or overwritten. They are part of the legacy of your life.

Each first Monday of a new month, you will take all the weekly summaries of the previous month, up to and including the one you wrote just the day before, and you write a monthly summary of the summaries. Again, it could be just a paragraph; it may well be shorter than each of the weekly summaries you are summarizing.

Similarly, each first Monday of January, April, July, and October, you write a seasonal summary of the monthly summaries. And, you guessed it, each first Monday in January, you write a yearly summary of the seasonal summaries.

Here is a list of one-liners, repeating the main points:

-- each morning, five minutes (or more) of lab time

-- immediately after that, one minute (or more) of lab notes

-- each evening, one minute (or more) of field notes

-- each Sunday, a summary of last week's notes

-- each first Monday of a new month, a summary of weekly summaries

-- each first Monday of Jan/Apr/Jul/Oct, a summary of monthly summaries

-- each first Monday of January, a summary of seasonal summaries

Good luck, and most importantly, have fun!


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