Friday, April 8, 2016

My direction.

This is going in my direction.

Let us leave to one side an instant where you are reading this. (Blogger)

It clearly is not a very evenly weighted exchange.

Google and I.

I own these words...up to a point.

What are you going to do when you grow up?

I never quite knew how to answer that question.

I knew that I would go to university.

People told me that was what I would do.

I had absolutely no idea what it meant to go to university.

I didn't know how to question that.

I did what I was asked to do at university...up to point.

It didn't really fit with any idea that I had about what I would be doing.

I had a very vivid and totally naive vision of what I might be doing.

I spent a fair old time in the pub with friends.

I was at a loss what to do next.

This is 'my direction'.

I have made all sorts of choices.

They weren't all very well considered.

I didn't really have the means to consider them very well.

I didn't really have anybody who helped me consider any choices that I might or might not have.

I was sort of happy to have some choices.

I was sort of paralysed with the idea of all the choices I might have.

It was a heavy weight of responsibility to make choices about what I didn't know.

"Go ahead choose your life."  

"Don't worry you only have one (life)."  

Life for many meant job.

I didn't want a job.

I preferred to hang out with climbers.

My friend who chose to solo up a Ben Nevis rock route in winter made his last choice.

Sometimes, not often, I was almost envious.

He had died doing what gave him meaning.

This is 'my direction.'

I had a short Twitter exchange

What is "'your own direction"?

To what extent do we need to deconstruct "own direction"?

I asked a Romanian girl what her ambition was.

She replied that her dream was to be a cleaner.

I didn't dream of being a cleaner when I was her age.

I have been reading Boris Cyrulnik's autobiography.

He was sentenced to die for being Jewish at the age of six.

He didn't even know what Jewish meant.

He only knew it was bad.

Was that his "own direction"?

Are these dreams "our own"?

As a teacher in an institution how can we focus on "independence" of students when often the only reason they spend time with us is that they depend on us for a grade.

Are we really interested as teachers in learners not being dependent on us?

If no learners or students depend on us how can we be teachers?

"What do you do?"

"I'm a teacher."

"Oh yeah? But there are no students."


I was reading a critique of Ken Robinson's book "The Element" this morning on Torn Halves' blog.

That is me going perhaps foolishly in my direction.

Torn asks some good questions.

What are we to do, he asks, about what he, after Max Weber,  calls the 'Iron Cage'?

I don't know.

I worry about using the word 'own'.

I worry about using the word 'independent'.

On leaving university I thought of all the things I couldn't do in this society.

I wasn't really sure what I could do.

I remember drawing a picture of myself in a cage.

I even started writing a script for the scene.

I have it somewhere.

I was screaming out of frustration.

The cage wasn't mine...or perhaps it was?

I only drew it.

Our fictions are never innocent.


I found the page with the cage that I had drawn at the age of twenty one on graduating.

It is an eery page.

How on earth did I know the word "widget" or talk of "touch screens" in 1983?

I half-remembered a T.S. Elliot quote.

I had no idea what "Picketty Witch Girl" referred to.

I had to look it up on Google...

"And the wind shall say: these were decent Godless people, their only monument the asphalt road and a thousand lost golf-balls."


  1. I often envy those who seem to have a direction and who plan every step in order to get where they want to go. My life has been full of choices-made when there were forks in the rode, going all the way back to what college I attended, or whether I attended college at all. I like that you've been able to keep archives of work you did more than 30 years ago. I have done the same. One poem I wrote while in college (1960s) compared life to walking along a sidewalk with your head down so you did not step on the cracks. When you got to the end of t hat life journey, and looked back, all you saw was a narrow track that led to a black hole of nothing. In my poem I asked if it would be better to walk through life looking all around, and not being afraid of stepping on the cracks, or of walking in the grass. At the end of that life looking back would offer a wider vista of life lived.

  2. As usual, a plethora of topics. Picking one at random: the issue of the student's own direction. You sketch the debate nicely and it is clear that the student is being imagined as someone who has fallen to earth from some unknown planet. But, few students do actually fall to earth. They are always already part of a massive historical project with its own directionality. Students need to be helped to understand the directionality that is constitutive of their lives - one which works behind their backs, so to speak.

    The really important directionality is one that no one chooses, and it is precisely the one that gets ignored when pedagogy assumes that the only directionality that matters is the one students choose when making a particular course of study their own.

  3. Skulking in the margins, a rabbit shivering in the thicket and waiting for the barn owl's shadow to pass. Cf. to right.