I was led naturally to following Stephen Downes, Steve Wheeler, Graham Attwell through my aversion to 'Learning Management Systems' or 'Virtual Learning Systems' or 'Content Managment Systems.' I had used internet technology early to break out of the box of course-books, resource books and all.
Technology was not really the key, nervous exhaustion was. Chronology is of no importance. A story written remixes time. When you have no time to prepare, to follow the rules, hell you either just don't turn up or you just turn up. Just turning up, on the edge, I can recommend. When nothing really matters, when you have no care for what anyone might think, then magic may happen.
I had a very difficult relationship with course-books right from the start of my one month accelerated TEFL course in London. I simply didn't understand them, their thinking, their rigidity. I got in trouble very quickly with some managers by not following their program.
I was fortunate to have done my early teaching in a progressive language school which allowed me sufficient freedom to deal with all sorts of uncertainty. I learnt the eclectic way: teaching blind and sighted students together, teaching an evolving group of mixed-level unemployed learners. Learners would arrive at different times, with completely different backgrounds, objectives, levels. Frankly the idea of people turning up 'mid-course' was my normality, similarily the idea of community being the curriculum. The real issue here was not me (it was impossible to have a teacher-centred classroom) nor the books but the connections between learners, the organisation of events, plays, poetry-readings, karaokés, nights-out.
Coming to the university where now I teach, I was lucky on a number of levels, I had experience of learning language informally, I had virtually no formal teacher-training, I had ended up being a teacher as the result of an extraordinarily twisted path. All those life experiences enabled me to just see the next step as part of a wider adventure.
When you are the son of a clergyman, if you have no belief in God, integration in the world of work is far from straight-forward. What on earth is work? My playground was the cemetery, I enjoyed grave-digging; closer than the beach and you got better spades. When your father started formal schooling at the age of 12 what on earth is schooling? When you leave formal education and say to yourself, life is an adventure, you are on pretty healthy ground. When you are sacked from the first two proper jobs that you fall into, well taking risks is easier. On top of that I always got offered a last cup of coffee, a last meal.
#Rhizo14 came naturally at the right wrong time. I am gaining great creative stimulation from an eclectic bunch of fellow-learners. I have enjoyed the banter, the poetry, the intellectual gymnastics. I am getting a much clearer view of my own limits and strengths. I am reinforcing my learning of the lie of the land, the dynamic topography of Twitter compared to Google Plus, Facebook and P2PU's platform. I am beginning to meet new potential allies.
Watching the unhangout from week 4, I am struck by the sensation of reaching a watershed...we are now beyond the book, beyond the page, beyond the word.
This is war.
When I think of my children, your children trying to negotiate their lives with book-bound adults, I am intensely unhappy. I am unhappy at my/our own impotence.
We have a new opportunity. We have a small window of opportunity.
We don't, they don't really know what we are doing at the dawn of a revolution which is far greater in its potential than the printing press which brought the renaissance. We have the tools to enable our learners to develop real life skills using the leverage of globalized community. We have the means to overturn the times-tables which are keeping them down.
We live in uncertain times. We must be certain that we are able to meaningfully lead learners to connect beyond their constraints to build a new future together. At the heart of this are the literacies that we ourselves are toying with. Let the play-ground be widened. This is a co-creation, a co-operation, a coincidence. This is our time.
"Your task is not to foresee the future, but to enable it."