Thursday, October 23, 2014

Summer holiday.

The expectation is growing by the day, the crew are gathering, it's going to be fantastic.

Yee haa!

Paris, the Parthenon, the Colisseum, the Matterhorn,  Saint Tropez -  the dream of destinations is dizzying.

On the jolly red double-decker bus, there is plenty of storage and an open platform to pick people up along the way.

A dream holiday?

You want to water-ski?

Brilliant let's fling on the skis.

You want to surf?

Brilliant let's fling on the surf-boards, the wind-surfing boards, the snow-boards, the long-boards, the kite-surfs, the paddles, the wax.

Amazingly, the drivers and the crew have found a place for all the stuff to please all the passengers.

They haven't just found a place and stuffed it all in, everything is labelled according to the date of arrival, the place of destination.

The passengers spend a good deal of time gazing around in wonder at the rationalised organisation of the contents of bus and the bus itself.

It's brilliant. They feel proud to be on board.

DDDay (dream departure day)  

The crazy-gang pile onto the bus. They are dressed appropriately for a summer holiday. They have the silly hats, the shades, the hawaiian shirts, they are cracking jokes...

It's brilliant.

Nature trail

We're off, first stop to pick up the naturalists.

They are going to lead us on a magical nature trail, pointing out gorgeous grebes, moorhen, rare wild-life.

It's fascinating and they've brought along the I-Spy books to keep the kids occupied.

The crazy-gang make themselves discreet, we almost forget them, but looking around they are still there grinning.  They look genuinely interested in the I-Spy books too...that helps the more distracted of us concentrate.

First few hours on the bus, and everyone is having a ball.

We're not just having a ball, we are learning about Moorhen.

The kids are a bit tired, but that's normal after the excitement of the first hours on the bus, the preparation, the emotion...

The day dawns, we swerve around a bend...

Suddenly the bus comes to a halt.

Why are we stopping?

We haven't even got to Calais yet.

"Excuse me, excuse me, er excuse me."

We look around and one or two of the gang are sidling up the aisle with their rucksacks bashing people over the head.

What's going on? We were having so much fun.

"Sorry, we have to get off here, hope you have a great trip, love you :-)"

We all smile, we love the "love you" but we are already feeling a bit disappointed, did it have to end so soon?

We were just getting into the swing of things, we were looking forward to the singsongs, the gags, the I-Spy books, the photos of all of us all together...on the bus.

The Pyramid

We feel a bit sad, but hey there are other people in the bus who are going to accompany us to the Louvre, we chirp up.

We look at the pyramid, we learn about its symbolism, we think about how the transparent edifice looks in the palace courtyard.

We almost forget for a moment the crazy-gang...

Another wonderful day.

New friendships are being made,  stories are being told, the bus jolts into movement. 

Meanwhile, some of the passengers are getting a bit worried.

They have had the time to notice the rock-climbing equipment and the kite-surf.

In the exhilaration of the departure, they hadn't taken the time to really look at the details of what was on the program.

Some of them are silently freaking out, but are a bit ashamed to admit the reason to the other passengers, for fear of ruining the atmosphere or looking ridiculous.   

Toilet Break

The bus stops on the motorway for a toilet break. 

It's indiscernable at first, but then at each toilet break, there appears to be less and less passengers on the bus.

No worries, that'll make more space to stretch our legs. There'll be more food to share around. There'll be less queueing for the toilet.

Castles in the air

We arrive at the Loire Valley.

We head down a gravel pathway and we are immediately wowed by the Chateau.

One of the experts is standing on a box talking about some French aristocrat.

It's a bit hard to hear him as we are standing at the back of the crowd.

One guy tries waving his umbrella a bit to catch his attention.

"Yoo hoo!"

Either the expert can't see the umbrella or he is too caught up in telling his story about the French aristocracy.

The guy with the umbrella is clearly a bit miffed.

He grumbles audibly...

"Bloody package tours, I knew it would be like this..."

The people around are terribly apologetic, the expert promises a personal tour of the royal no avail.

The umbrella man goes off in a huff. 

Walking back from the chateau, there is a bit of sadness.

On the bus, the atmosphere is a bit odd.

There are some guys who are going on about the choice of destination. 

"I told you that the Loire Valley was a bit too much after the Louvre."

Some are moaning about the idea of including rock-climbing when some of the passengers get vertigo. 

Others are trying to put a brave face on patch it up.

Some can't be bothered with keeping up appearances.

They have already gone off with a few mates to have a meal in some bistro. 

A crisis meeting is held. 

Maybe the double-decker bus was a bad idea?

Maybe they tried to pack too many things into the bus?

Maybe the impression that all these guys were on the bus for the duration of the ride was a false impression.

Maybe the time necessary to let the passengers get to know each other was not taken?

Maybe a series of short-breaks for small numbers of people would have worked better?

Maybe summer holidays are always like this...particularly in autumn.

Hardcore tourists

Some guys, make mental notes to be better prepared for the next holiday.

They will need more time to prepare for the kite-surfing, they will spend more time choosing who to sit next to, they will take a day off if the proposed activity is not interesting.

The remaining guys, appreciate the space to stretch out, appreciate the choice of equipment, appreciate meeting new people who get on the bus along the way.

They look forward to meeting up with the crazy-gang who have promised to join the tour in St Tropez once they have finished their shows in Asia.

They begin to realise that the real interest of the holiday was not the bus, was not the destinations, was not the surf-boards, the bucket and spades and the whole palaver but the shared story.

The man with the umbrella joins them again in St Tropez, they sit down on the beach, they exchange stories around a glowing camp-fire, they laugh about the madness of the venture, the absurd sight of seeing Mildred trying to waterski, they sing songs, they plan new trips.

Finally, those instants spent around the camp-fire make the rest of it all seem worth it.

From afar, young kids hear the laughter, see the glow, and dream.



  1. Wonderful on many levels. Deeply wonderful.

    And also troubling, in ways I'm not sure I can articulate well. Maybe:

    This course of study has to be about more than us. The campfire should be the glow of ideas and learning around which a community has gathered. There's more than a shared journey-that-is-the-destination. More than trip activities. There's learning. Awakening. Reading and thoughtful responses (the "medieval" part I don't want to lose, but which the web can augment). The seminar where seeds are planted.

    I understand and in many respects admire, even adore the vision in this post. I feel lucky and grateful to have read it. I just have a hard time with the idea that togetherness itself is all there really is. My old notions that new learning can change the world for the better die hard. The hashtag (our magic bus?) is not the learning.

    No, still not quite right, but a beginning perhaps.

    1. Thank you Gardner for stretching your legs here.

      Random tickets picked up off floor.

      Delivery-reception-lost in transit.

      Thank you for your part in my sketching.

      More pictures to follow.


  2. I think "crazy-gang" is now going to have to be part of my active vocabulary. I love that!

    And Gardner, your comment and Bill's discussion of same at his blog (did you see that? he posted part of it at the forum too... but I am so glad I read his blog) are helping me to think through something that has been simmering on a back burner (to borrow Terry's metaphor) in my teaching life for a while: balance between content and process.

    I'll confess that if I look over my academic career as a teacher in past 15 years, I have really ... REALLY ... shifted more and more and more from content to process - but an important part of that process is helping students to FIND CONTENT, content that is really and truly meaningful to them, and also to CREATE CONTENT, building on that meaningful content.

    So, it's not so much that "togetherness is all there is" (I obviously spend hours and hours of time very much alone and on my own exploring weirdo content that I obsess about, obsessions I actually don't expect or even need anybody else to share with me) ... but I think I have concluded that top-down content is so in danger of failing (i.e. it can so easily end up being perceived as meaningless by the audience) that I would prefer not to take that risk, and instead to find a process where students are exploring content in a more open-ended kind of way, where part of that process is their continual estimation of whether that content is - OR IS NOT - meaningful to them.

    I'm not sure I have explained that very clearly here ... and it's not something I have really tried to explain in this way before. So, I see a blog post brewing, thanks to you and Bill and Simon here.

    This whole Connected Courses thing has really been prodding me to think about new things in new ways... often things that were just below the surface but which needed a push or a pull to come to consciousness.

    Thanks to everybody for pushes and pulls!

    1. Thanks Laura! I think the next post speaks of what you are raising here - content-process.

  3. I am only tangentially connnected to #ccourses and so I read this post through the lens of #rhizo14. Three comments/questions:
    I loved Gardner's comment "There's more than a shared journey-that-is-the-destination. " It has helped me think some more about the nature of 'learning' interactions in different spaces and what remains from them (Cheshire cat's smile?)
    Then I realised that the post was tagged #ccourses and not #rhizo14 and I reread it completely differently :-0
    Lastly, I had Dave Cormier pegged as Cliff Richards - so who is the Cliff Richard of #ccourses?

    1. Thanks Frances. I was more struck by the bus than by Cliff Richard, but now you come to mention it - I am open to proposal as to the identity of Cliff Richard.

  4. I love this analogy - I can see my self on this bus (and getting off and back on), but how do we get people on to the bus who have always gone by train or car or bike? What is it about this bus that entices them to come aboard?

    One reason might be the destination - how is that clearly displayed/portrayed?
    It might be the journey (type of and route taken), but again how is that made clear? Was there a brochure we could hand out, and why get on a bus when travelling in the car with your own music & home comforts around you?

    Me? I like getting the bus, I like taking different routes, but others are not so keen. But, once they get on the bus I am sure they would love it. Firstly how do we get them to the bus stop & then how do we get them on the bus?

    1. Maybe the bus is not the best possible picture, maybe we could think of the circus. The circus tours from village to village. People come to the circus with their own means. Some of them, some might be so enthralled with the circus they join the crew or set up their own circus. The type of circus will depend on the resources of each group, there might be some fixed circuses some street jugglers etc. Might blog on this - the picture is growing on me.