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In academia, eclecticism helps us draw useful insights from all schools of thought. Perhaps that explains why rather than use quantitative or qualitative data in isolation, I have always combined the two. Triangulating data at the end of the day makes for more reliable research findings and conclusions.

Some critics of eclecticism have referred to it as sitting on the fence. I came across this analogy in the process vs product debate on writing. On the other side of the divide, are those who talk about throwing away the baby with the bath water. Often we focus on what divides us that we neglect the things that unite us - such is human nature. I'm uncertain whether I use the phrase "human nature" derogatorily, with contempt, with resignation, or with acceptance. Regardless, we all have been culprits to narrow- minded reactions, at least once thus far. Human nature. But is that really how humans are made to operate or interact with one another? I doubt it.

Not everyone is ready to eat humble pie now and again by accepting a misdeed. Not everyone is tolerant or accepting of anything different. Our society thrives on stereotyping. That is a reason for the continued existence of many forms of discrimination. The good news is that we can choose to acknowledge our weakness and strive to become better people.

I found it interesting and ironic when I observed that the same problem exists albeit in a different style in academia. As an undergraduate, I was unaware of the in-fighting among professors - I guess every work place has some of that going on. It was during my graduate studies when I had to attend several departmental seminars that I witnessed some of the emphases people put on things that divide but these were of a different kind. I had two professors who never seemed to like each other; so much so that as students, we noticed. One professor was a world class scholar in sociolinguistics and an advocate of varieties of English (such as American, British, Canadian, Australian, Nigerian, Ghanaian and so on). The other was one of the most intelligent professors that had taught me. I credit him for my research skills. He was also internationally known in the field of syntax, semantics and pragmatics. He had zero tolerance for any variety of English that was not Received Pronunciation. I saw the two professors defend their positions unyieldingly at a seminar. Academics have decorum, so there were no raised voices or fists (not like we see on TV among some politicians in some countries). It became obvious that the difference in intellectual leanings affected the relationship between these professors outside the seminar rooms.

We do not have to be friends with people to be accepting of them. We could even smile a greeting; but what really is going on in our minds about them reveal who we truly are.

In February we celebrated the Black History Month. March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It commemorates the anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960. A day peaceful demonstrators against apartheid were killed in South Africa. It is an instance of how far "human nature" can be stretched to become destructive and inhuman. We see people as different based on race, tribe, social class, religion, physically challenged ; the list is endless.

I started by talking about ecleticism in academia but for some reason shifted focus. I must say that I agree with my thoughts in writing this rather than making a brief intellectual virtual stop at the ivory tower. It is time well spent.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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