Friday, January 24, 2014

Beyond me.

So many words. So many stories.

A benign presence behind me. A wall, unlistening, unyielding, uncaring, but solidly present. Over 15 years, I came to realise that the moments when I had nothing to say, when I was still, were the moments of truth.

Nothing to say, nothing to prove, nothing to fear.

The silence was around me. The wall, was no more than a choice. I moved my eyes to a horizon.

I took a step, I was gone. These words are beyond me, they belong to the wall, this page, the moment.

When, I am present, I wait for my distraction to leave, to be absent, to make this present, for you. 

These words are not mine, they are not yours, they come from beyond a wall. 

Who cares to follow these lines, does so at his own pace, at his own risk.

The owner of this page takes no responsibility for any (be)longings which should go missing...

A wall punctuates your silence.

Be still.


Monday, January 20, 2014

They get it eventually.

Working with young undergraduate students who have been institutionalised over years, the first battle is to convince them that they stand to gain something from not being force-fed. 

As photos of student strikes in our 'open-classroom'  remind us, independence is not at all necessarily part of their agenda when it comes to their education. 

Their independence they seek elsewhere, and they joyfully consume themselves without a care. 

Stand firm
If we are serious about enabling critical thinking, autonomous, creative learners, we are in for a rough ride. 

Stand firm
If we ourselves are not convinced of our own possibility to act independently as learners, then our plans go pshchhit. 

Stand firm. 
when they are scared, when they start to panic, when they demand content... their dummies. But, be prepared for compromise, careful planning, to provide clearly defined signalling: 'One way' (yours). This is a long campaign.

Patience, patience
years of conditioning don't come out in a wash. It takes years of insistence. 
With Youtube, blogs, gdocs, anything publically shared it is beginning to be apparent that independence is a question of culture, generation after generation we are working with more assurance, connecting ourselves more widely for stability.  The students have stories which they tell which help us help future generations. When they cease to be students they continue to help us, help the others. If we are serious about enabling independent communities of learners, learning webs, then it ain't going to happen of its own accord. 

Concentrating on process rather than product, looking at long rather than short term outcomes, (Yes Simon, I am using the term outcomes. Crikey!) being open to the idea that alone we can doing nothing, is a start. Yes independence depends on recognising our limits, our incompetence and the human reality of emotional and material interdependence. 

We can not force others to be independent. We can strive to be independent forcefully.

We are not alone, alone. They get it eventually, if we care.

On the edge.

I have relived this moment so many times, but it comes back in many forms. Here it is again. I am on the edge, exhilarated, terrified, infinitely alive grasping up for an easy hold, and at an instant I am flying through the air downwards...

Oh dear not again!

The final words are always something like:

 "You idiot! with one or two f***s and f****ing as qualification."  

Why didn't you keep your feet on the ground? Why weren't you sensible, like normal people? Easy, life, easy job, easy TV, easy holidays, easy death (not necessarily in that order.)

Here it is again. I was on the edge of saying NO! to #rhizo14, NO! be sensible, no you don't have time, you have real work to do, real projects to lead, you have no time for a bloody course!


I don't know about you but there are many times when I don't have the courage of my convictions. The system, the calendar, the clock, the routine are things which scare me still. I am inevitably off course, off the wall, out to lunch.

It scared me for many years, it scared my parents, it scares people.  However much I try, their order is beyond me. I was and remain the kid with the scuffed shoes, crooked tie, and a mischievous tendency for inappropriate laughter, inappropriate, unwelcome questions.

So what?
I am learning, with the #rhizo14 community that much of my schooling cheated me, I was eager to please; I shouldn't have bothered.  I didn't cheat, I withdrew into graphic reverie, scribble, dream. Drawing, drama, nature, sport, laughter, there was hilarious absurdity when the best laid plans went West.  In fact, #rhizo14 is a rather graphic representation of learning "on the edge of chaos". We are perched uncomfortably stretching out our hands for welcome solace, reassurrance, a firm hold amongst the nonsense flying past our heads.

This is what sport is, this is what teaching is, an opportunity for personal profit, personal glory, good figure, good figures, good job. Pathetic nonsense! They are cheating our kids, they are cheating themselves, they are cheating the goddam world with their paltry body-counts.

Drone on Simon, drone on.
Are you hearing our voices in #rhizo14 the guys in the NSA? Your country is our country, your freedom is our freedom, your children are our children.

Cheat on, idiot!
I have had three or four excellent teachers who understood what learning can be. My art teacher, my English teacher, my first EFL boss, and now, goodness so many others.  I started this blog with a picture. I was 19, I was happy, I had no idea where my path led. Nothing has changed.

You guys in the #rhizo14 community and particularly those in the #rhizo14 #communityofpraxis (you will know who you are even if I don't know you) have given me more time than I feared I didn't have, more energy than I felt I didn't have, more meaningful connections in a week than those made over a number of years.  All this my friends, is because I have simply followed my scribble, been incompetent to resist my instinct, been deaf to fearful good sense.


#Rhizo14 Nomad's Land Refound
This 'course' Mr Cormier is a joyful representation of  my learning path. A path which, I had no idea would lead to this current piece of text. 3 poems, unregulated networking, and lots of 'praxis' later, I have a model for these notes I shared in Plymouth a few years ago. #Rhizomatic learning lies on...

A little while ago, another (yet another) tweet led me back to Manchester circa 1981, about the year that I nearly died hitting the ground with impressive impact from 13 metres off Stanage Edge.

Factory records (a joke name) was flung together by a certain Tony Wilson. Fans of Joy Division will maybe find meaning in his name. My word for the year via @teachnorthern (after glancing vaguely at in a @timbuckteeth article) will be #PRAXIS. Here is what Tony Wilson wrote about it:

Praxis is "doing something, and then only afterwards, finding about why you did it." 

This is the story of my life, this is the story of my learning, this is the story from week 1 of #rhizo14.

Thank you my friends for your company, you make this nonsense more bearable.

After listening to Howard Rheingold speaking on about being 'On the Edge' in Connected Courses last night. I feel that I must repost this piece...not sure why.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Rhizomatic learning ~ WMD...

It all started so well. Swimmingly. Massive participation, fervour, willingness to serve. We were so impatient to tear down the walls, we were so aware of the short-comings of their education.

#RHIZO14 Call to arms! Hurrah!
Then the clearly voiced instructions started to grate. "I want you to investigate how you can use Rhizomatic Learning as a Weapon." was what I remembered him saying. I, like the others, had had this planned for years. Revenge was nigh, the years of humiliation were coming to an end.

Not so hasty mates!

It dawned on me, draftily,  I can not sleep, God damn you Cormier! We all have bloody work to do, and this is an unwelcome distraction. We have to educate them, for God's sake, for the country's sake, for the planet's sake.

Not so hasty mates!

I was hastier than most, so eager to wield newly found weapons, powerful weapons, massively cons/des/ins/tructive weapons.


Tired, in front of the Experts, I browsed the columns of the Guardian.


Those bloody rhizomatic connections led me here, at 5 o'clock in the morning, half-dressed, half awake. Fuck it.

Thanks a lot mate!

Lest we forget...
2014 is not so far away from 1914, that I can remember the boys, my ancestors who served. They flew, my friends, the first aeroplanes, they signed up, they bore their weapons with pride. Heroism beckoned them to dig their trenches. They ducked, they duck-boarded, they made brave faces of it, together... until disillusion struck.

The telegram arrived, I have the copy, I have the despatches, I have images of the tidily cared for plot. He was the age of my son.

Poetry, war poets.
#Rhizo14 started so well, already friends met, poems written, new lands glimpsed. But, I am here, at 5:13 this morning to announce with regret that I shall not be following orders, I shall show patience where before I had the hot-head of my own unfettered passion.

Fight not over the ruins of a crumbling sand-castle. Its time is numbered by the coming tides.
The Rhizome is a pathetic weapon, used in the wrong hands, to impress the locals, to impress the girls. Pick the irises if you will. Decorate your offices, if you must. But don't miss the point. There is no point. Leave them alone, the dinosaurs will disappear without our willing. Let's use our time well.

Sing, dance, be merry while we can. There is much good company to be had.
When I am gone, the boys will lay down their arms, will sing their songs, and will drill past the weapons of the past barely noticed.

They will drill to plant seeds, they will see the seasons turn, they will learn, living together apart from us.

Let the ivory tower crumble, the massively 'open' 'online' courses run their course, cheat the system if you must but don't forget the others, or we are the system we despise.

No Mr Cormier I shall not. I shall be patient in my passion.

Bah!  humbug...

I no longer believe in Santa Claus.

Life beyond the meme.

Trembling apprehension, fearful expectation, beyond the meme lies open space, breathe deeply. 

In, out, connect scribble dot. 

We have no time my friends to cheat ourselves. We have no time to unbuild, to deconstruct, to rebuild, to repurpose Jersusalem. 

We are left with this connection. 

Friends, family, gardens, rivers, homes, the birds as friends, the time as breath. 

Little as I have tried, the time spent learning has unchanged the joy, the secret of unconsidered sketches, ill-considered ventures, misspent schooling. Connect, don't judge, let it out, let it out. We are nothing, we are nobody, we are all we have, don't judge, let it out. 

He was there, he gave me gruff reassurance, he is my secret, he is buried, he is alive in this, in this.

Nobody will capture, nor repurpose our connection, our meaning. 

Beyond the meme, beyond the meme, down along the river, to the sea. Sea-change, heartfelt, gale, storm, spray, fear, we are walking afar on the beach, on the shore, on the edge. 

No don't try, you won't, I can't, you wouldn't like it, I won't insist. 

This will rest, when he will not, his ashes now a futile mist. 

But we have meaning, we have hope, we have time, we have time, my friends. 

So little, so little. 

Give up and dream, give up to dreams, give up to us. 

You are us, never forget, the river, the river, the river, the waves. 

You are gone. A meme lives on. REPURPOSE it Now. REImagine ours now. now. now.

For us.