Sunday, August 31, 2014

Nagasaki mon amour.

"23rd October 1868. Shanghai. Had a discussion with a man about the religion of Jesus, his retort was we had bought opium. 

He was met by the reply that we bought the gospel to counteract it. It certainly taxes the missionaries' wisdom much to reply to such a charge."

I am a child of Empire, I am a child of evangelists. 

In 2010, after 142 years I heard my great grandfather's voice for the first time. He was 24 years old, he was on a ship bound for Nagasaki. He was to be the first Anglican missionary to Japan.

It had taken years of research to track down his ship's journal hidden in a database in a university library somewhere on the internet amongst an enormous archive of missionary society papers, unread except no doubt by specialist historians.

On receiving the facsimile of his journal, I was met with a shock, it was illegible. 

Of course, fountain pens were not to be patented until twenty years later, I was translating quill.

To leave to Japan, just after the defeat of the Samurai without speaking the language, to go to convert the Japanese to an alien religion while knowing that missionaries had only recently been massacred must have required unimaginable courage.

What movement was my ancestor participating in?
What can one say about connecting those (un)fortunate Japanese converts to our Empire faith?
Where did he imagine he was heading?

2008, my Facebook experiment had been a great success. 

A student wrote eloquently about his impressions of connected learning, here is a translation from the original French:

"Creating social networks in education could reveal to be a major development...As a student, I know one of the attractions of the university is the notion of Freedom, Free-will, Motivation, Equality.

Paradoxically the major problem is that of Free-will. I often hear students around me say 'What do we have to do?' 'We have to do...' I rarely hear students say, 'I want to do something.' I have the impression that we have less and less will to take our lives in our hands, we look rather for paths which are traced out for us. But I think this sort of site (Facebook) could help us by bringing together students around affinities, allowing us to connect with researchers in our fields, to work on common projects."

Over a period of six years, I have been working to enable this students' vision to come to fruition. I have been using Google's tools for over five years now. I am asking myself more and more questions as to the ethics of this.

Gradually, my work is having an effect on students, teachers, and researchers within my institution and others that we are connected to.

I started with missionary zeal.
I still believe that I must go in this direction.
I have over the years become much more critical.
I no longer have the same faith.

Into what Free world am I leading my students? 
For whom am I enabling them to be digitally literate?  How will their paths be traced on the internet for whose ends? What is my responsibility in opening my students to a world through the lens of a globalised world vaguely glimpsed on a screen, where culture is squashed into bits through a browser?

What of the dark areas on the heat map of connection? What do they tell us? Shall we talk of a digital divide of those unfortunates to who we must bring the light? Shall we see those who are not trackable via their wifi signals as poor savages?

It is too late now for me to head back, the connections have already been made, I am lost en route to this globally connected state, a connected educator. 

I shall however go forward with my questions.

I shall share those questions, those doubts with my fellow learners. 

I am not sure my friends that I will not lose my faith. 

My great-grandfather, sailed the trade routes, opened up a port of call for Christians, he is buried in Gibraltar, a monument to a lost or perhaps a remodelled Empire. 

His voice lives with me, and haunts my doubts. 

A few months ago, I posted a theme on Dave Cormier's rhizomatic learning course.  It was to be week 12 1/2 of 6. Here is some of the words I wrote:

We are pushing frontiers...
But are we misled, misguided?
What if we were simply well-meaning missionaries for a neo-liberal colonisation of education, the necessary social glue for the message of Massive (profit)?
George Siemens has blogged his views on neo-liberalism here. enter link description here
Richard Hall responds in his blog here. enter link description here

In Africa, the Colonists grabbed the land, the missionaries brought the bible. 

They learnt to pray with their eyes closed. 

China got Hong Kong back, their power stretches daily... 

Dearly beloved brethren and sisteren let us learn with our eyes wide open as to our possible destinations...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Prerequisite for play?

"She's got absolutely no touch," my mother whispered over-audibly during the performance of Celia Buttercup.

"Phff, she's one of her pupils, they're all the same," she puffed with a certain disdain, "well-drilled but no musicality."

That, I suppose gives a glimpse into the value system into which I was born.

So, I would like to thank Cath Ellis for inspiring me to write this post which is annoyingly keeping me from sleeping at 6.00 am in the morning.

Her 'Some thoughts on theory' has helped me understand better my relationship to theory and perhaps a certain amount of the conflict which existed in the early days of  Dave Cormier's Rhizomatic Learning Course between people who had difficulty in understanding the others. I had read it before, but not paid it the attention that now I feel it deserves, I apologise.

In her post, she lays out what she considers well-reasoned advice in how one can participate in a course on rhizomatic learning based in part on the work of Deleuze and Guattari, a pair of French counter-culture heroes of 'deconstruction.'  I confess to not having dwelt much of my previous life on their no doubt important (no irony) work.

Before I continue I would like to give a few references to my relationship with theory.

Taken in order of appearance, the following randomly remembered instants from my life,  will illustrate what I consider to be the problem of much of education, at least in France and explain why I find Cath Ellis's suggestion to spend two hours a day making notes with D&G not the only way forward towards learning for an uncertain future.

Learning to teach.
On arriving in France, by accident, I had no means to make a living, and no means to communicate with the inhabitants beyond vague remnants of school French grammar classes and a few relics of disconnected vocabulary. (Ah yes, I also had been forced to read but not to act out Les Mouches of Sartre)

I could, I reasoned speak English and people would perhaps pay me to 'teach' them to speak. As I prepared for my first class, with a group of (for me) intimidating business people, I was in a total panic as to what I had let myself in for.

The Cambridge-stamped book which I had been given to 'teach', was in a language that I did not understand. Suddenly, I felt dispossessed of the very language which I had been brought up to speak. What on earth was the 'Present Continuous'?  and why was I expected to press on a cassette player to hear some disembodied BBC sports-presenter give a commentary of a football match between Martians and Manchester United? I didn't question, Cambridge seemed like they would know better.

Learning to cry, learning to live.
It was not in my plans to find myself in ill health on my own, with an infant.  It was not in my plans to find myself confronted by nervous and moral exhaustion.  When you are at a low ebb, expressing it helps.

Critical analysis, my friends, is hard, it had never been in my plans.  I thought that that sort of thing was reserved for loonies!

Deconstucting the language within which one has been bathed and bred is not straight-forward, is not something one can do by reading self-help books.

Others may be able to tag what they consider symptoms of an ailment you are suffering from, speak eloquently on theory of "transfer", be a walking catalogue of Freudian slips but when you are the subject in question it is of no succour to tag your pain.

They may be able to describe, discuss, deliberate, but ultimately they will have to have been there themselves to really start to understand.

It's absurd, it's uncomfortable, it's life. 
I cried in class, it is not what I intended.
The students were much nicer than I had feared.
I tried jovially to tell them to do exercise 6.
My body knew better; that going through the motions of teaching wouldn't be enough to get through the day.
While they were filling in the gaps, I wept.

Needing theory so not as to feel alone.
"Epiphany", pronounced "epifaarnie" with the stress on the third syllable is all that I remember of the literature classes of the university teacher that I had the misfortune to have to follow during the year I spent studying for French competitive exams to qualify me to teach my language.

Katherine Mansfield was murdered in Clermont Ferrand in the mid 1990's.
I know this may be a surprise for you, but believe me, I was witness to the crime.

How do we allow teachers to get away with the murder of Lady Scarlett, or unsuspecting authors, artists, in the amphitheatre, 'with the literary criticism'?

I had a book of terms for literary criminals in my book-case, I mugged it up for the exams, I knew it perfectly, I had it off pat. I even got reasonably good at the game, could hold my own in the game of literary commentary, in the classroom.

It was fun. I like games, I fully understand that gamers get together and get off on serious lectures and the dreaded disco dance at the end of the conference.
We need company.

Needing theory, so as not to feel alone.
It came to me in a rush, when I was weeping. I started to get a taste for grammar (of all things!!). I started seeing English tense structures graphically, dynamically, simply.

It was bloody irritating.  I drew pictures, I drew pictures, I drew pictures...they moved.

These pictures didn't exist in the Cambridge books I had been given to teach.
I spoke with the analyst, he suggested that I look into it, do some research.

I did research to keep me sane. I feared that I was not sane.  I did it because I didn't want to be alone, to see what I saw.

It's so much more comfortable to be conform to expectations.  I was rather surprised to discover that I actually enjoyed reading the books on time, prepostion, grammar, space, philosophy, it was fun.

I worried that I was turning into a nerd. I didn't recognise myself.

Making maps
When your plans don't work, the plans that others give you, you rip them up and start again.

When you fear you have nothing more to lose, you begin to learn to live.

Certainty maybe comforting but it is no question an illusion...even certainty how to play Deleuze and Guattari.

Living critically on the edge of reason is not the same as being reasoned.  Guattari was not working in a psychiatric hospital to keep the patients quiet, to give them their dose. He was a marginal militant doing ground-breaking work on the edge of the reasonable. You don't write Mille Plateaux by numbers, by formula, off pat. It is an embodiment of a deconstuction of a system.

Critical pedagogy
I don't believe that Dave Cormier's interest in Deleuze and Guattari is simply academic (though I may be mistaken), I do believe that he is putting his life and soul into including people in a pedagogy which he feels and reasons challenges many current educational practises...but not just.

There are many ways of dealing with our human condition made up of  complexity, uncertainty, chaos. Language, music, dance, science, faith, would be among those means of making sense of this.

Theory has been developed over the years to help us live with our fate, theatre is another. Shakespeare didn't read Shakespearean literary criticism to write bloody Hamlet, he was immersed in a culture, he had to write, he did. Maybe his parents would have preferred him to conform and sew gloves?

If I am engaged in critical pedagogy, it is because I am unhappy at the games that some adults ask children to play to secure them (us) in their certainty.  My daughter asked to play violin when she was five years old, a French academic musical school destroyed all joy, all curiosity she had for the instrument by making her spend three times as much time scribbling abstract notes on lines than on letting her make noise and listen.

My students weep in the belief that they will never speak English because the system makes them fill gaps in disembodied texts and then makes them feel bad when they can't make sense of it.

Yes, now I understand the need for defining terms, the reasons why articles in scientific journals are not necessarily poetic masterpieces or great rap. I understand that it takes time to get to grips with the world of Deleuze and Guattari, if you were not raised over a number of years in their shadow.  It took me years to master French. I did it for love.

I am writing this for love. I don't want to hurt anyone.

Blogging, Bonnie Stewart writes here in her article "the story of education: a Grimm fairy tale"
"requires you to dare to paint a map in your own voice".

Well Bonnie, I read some blogs over the years and at first thought,

'Blimey, I could never write that, with the long words and all!"
I lurked at conferences and thought
'Bloody hell, I could never speak with such assurance with all those references." 

I read Paul Prinsloo's article this night

A few years ago, I would have freaked at the long words in the title. 

Tonight I didn't;  it made sense.

This makes sense much more now. 

Guattari working with the lunatics in the asylum, got them to engage in theatre. The catatonics (the immobile ones) seemed to perk up a bit if he gave them a mask.

He was curious.

He asked one,

"Why do you move when you are masked?"

He continues the story;

"He never answered me, then one day he said, 'because it's not serious.'"

Rhizo14 worked for me because it was not too serious Cath.

This is my voice.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Deconstruction... & Construction

Now, what just happened then? 

Can I map the connects which guided the contours of a blog post  (A Doll's house) I just wrote?

Without too much data-mining effort, I shall attempt to trace the steps backwards.

I was just looking at data from our autoethnography spreadsheet.

I headed tab-left (tab-left of this blog) to a link for an article by Ellis et al that Maha had given in her blog post which I just opened tab-left. It's contents immediately connected with me.

The methodology of autoethnography as described by these authors gives me answers to what I was trying to drum out with my frustration with  'science-bound'.

I see no reason in participating in research which simply calques discourses to reinforce an unsustainable (education) system.

I have been trying to draw a picture of what I mean over a number of years.

Are we talking about conservation or preservation?
(not sure those are the pertinent terms - never mind I shall check later). Are we as teachers enabling learners to express what is inside them outwards or are we trying to keep a check on them to mould them to a common core?

In the case of language learning, are we teaching forms of a dead language, or fostering desire to communicate within foreign language communities as actors moving from the periphery towards a centre (their centre)?

I am digressing a little.

I had looked earlier at Keith Hamon's coding in our autoethnography file.

I had already been aware of him being interested in prepositions.

At first I took no notice. I didn't really take it in.

It is often like that, it was the same process with Kevin Hodgson's poetry remix activity 'Steal my Poem'.
It was the same process with Terry Elliot's Zeega's which I loved.
It takes time for whatever attractors to connect, to connect to create, to question, to play.

I tweeted a quotation I remembered, from a moment years ago, when this sense stuff started flooding out.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ― Marcel Proust

(I often thought before it was/had to be nonsense particulary as I was surprised at its speed and its unfortunate habit of forcing itself out in the middle of the night uncalled for. Bloody nuisance I agree!)

Damn I lost internet connection.

I tweeted to Keith and we tweeted back and forwards
very interested in your preposition study- that would fit in with work on time/space worked on before and then forgot about
  1. help me tie the prep study into desire. I suspect it works. I'll have a post soon.
  2. that connects intimacy spaces, death, all sorts. That's exciting.
  3. "Ask not what's inside your head, but what your head's inside of"

I had already noted a draft post yesterday entitled 'Map in space' which may or not come to something. I had already found the image of Noman's land which would be the trigger.

I have been thinking about landscape, spaces, time, perspective.

I had found the following image on a Pinterest board of Vannessa Vaile with a quotation from one of two books I salvaged from my uncle's house following his death.
I should add that often images act as trigger, or scenes, they become alive for an instant. 

Something happened, happens and I can not stop it. The image of the doll's house came back to me. It is an image of confinement, of conservation, of anxiety. It is an image which came to me when engaged in psychoanalysis. It is a key image for me. It is a key image for how I felt at school, at home, at work, and about certain academics. I am their object, a potential toy in their games.

As the picture came back, it connected to quotations of Ibsen (A Doll's house). I like quotations, they fast forward my reflection. I have been collecting them since the time IT all started flooding out. I had been thinking of how to include theatre in my writing - I love theatre. Ibsen was a good start. I have never seen an Ibsen play. I shall now.

From Ibsen I connected very quickly to an image which has stayed with me from what I now remember to be one of my favourite films ever: Bergman's Fanny and Alexander. Here is a taster (note I am coming back to add this after I had first published this post.)

That will do here. 
Thank you to you for reminding me of this film.

I am not a toy. I am a very busy man.

I toy with images, with spaces, with words, with sounds, and they come out here and elsewhere.

I keep a bank of images on pinterest, they help guide me in Rhizo14 - RhizoKaleidoscope is the biggest - it is here. The images help me connect, help me create.

This rhizomatic learning course is working for me, because I am finding sparking nodes, who stimulate me, the space is only defined by the map which is constantly drawing itself.

I have little to do with this post.

It wants to be written.

I guess IT is


I am nothing, without connections...
I am nothing worth much if I follow their instruction manuals.
It came out this way.

Methodological Footnote
The "crisis of confidence" inspired by postmodernism in the 1980s introduced new and abundant opportunities to reform social science and reconceive the objectives and forms of social science inquiry. Scholars became increasingly troubled by social science's ontological, epistemological, and axiological limitations (ELLIS & BOCHNER, 2000). In particular, scholars began illustrating how the "facts" and "truths" scientists "found" were inextricably tied to the vocabularies and paradigms the scientists used to represent them (KUHN, 1996; RORTY, 1982); they recognized the impossibility of and lack of desire for master, universal narratives (DE CERTEAU, 1984; LYOTARD, 1984); they understood new relationships between authors, audiences, and texts (BARTHES, 1977; DERRIDA, 1978; RADWAY, 1984); and they realized that stories were complex, constitutive, meaningful phenomena that taught morals and ethics, introduced unique ways of thinking and feeling, and helped people make sense of themselves and others (ADAMS, 2008; BOCHNER, 2001, 2002; Fisher, 1984). Furthermore, there was an increasing need to resist colonialist, sterile research impulses of authoritatively entering a culture, exploiting cultural members, and then recklessly leaving to write about the culture for monetary and/or professional gain, while disregarding relational ties to cultural members (CONQUERGOOD, 1991; ELLIS, 2007; RIEDMANN, 1993). [2]
Gradually, scholars across a wide spectrum of disciplines began to consider what social sciences would become if they were closer to literature than to physics, if they proffered stories rather than theories, and if they were self-consciously value-centered rather than pretending to be value free (BOCHNER, 1994). Many of these scholars turned to autoethnography because they were seeking a positive response to critiques of canonical ideas about what research is and how research should be done. In particular, they wanted to concentrate on ways of producing meaningful, accessible, and evocative research grounded in personal experience, research that would sensitize readers to issues of identity politics, to experiences shrouded in silence, and to forms of representation that deepen our capacity to empathize with people who are different from us (ELLIS & BOCHNER, 2000). Autoethnographers recognize the innumerable ways personal experience influences the research process. For instance, a researcher decides who, what, when, where, and how to research, decisions necessarily tied to institutional requirements (e.g., Institutional Review Boards), resources (e.g., funding), and personal circumstance (e.g., a researcher studying cancer because of personal experience with cancer). A researcher may also change names and places for protection (FINE, 1993), compress years of research into a single text, and construct a study in a pre-determined way (e.g., using an introduction, literature review, methods section, findings, and conclusion; TULLIS OWEN, McRAE, ADAMS & VITALE, 2009). Even though some researchers still assume that research can be done from a neutral, impersonal, and objective stance (ATKINSON, 1997; BUZARD, 2003; DELAMONT, 2009), most now recognize that such an assumption is not tenable (BOCHNER, 2002; DENZIN & LINCOLN, 2000; RORTY, 1982). Consequently, autoethnography is one of the approaches that acknowledges and accommodates subjectivity, emotionality, and the researcher's influence on research, rather than hiding from these matters or assuming they don't exist. [3]

A doll's house.

Still from Fanny and Alexander. Bergmann.
Sight came quite unexpectedly to me, late in years, one moment in the early hours.

A model existence...

There it had been. An ideal interior it was, insistent, in intelligent design. Cutesy curtained windows, cottagey feel, it was life in toy-form.

As I dreamt, I was able to lucidly study the space that I had just left.  

It was really quite attractive. It felt homely. While on first inspection alien, it had a strange familiarity. What had fooled me were its interior dimensions.  They were tiny, clearly inadapted to any adult life.

I was certainly outside now, I could stand up.

I had been lodging quite unconsciously until that moment, in a cramped-up bijou habitat.

How on earth could I have been so blind, or small?

"Bloody ridiculous!" I blinked stupidly.

I could just about put a foot through that front door, down there, but no more of my body would now fit in.

Dull for so long to pain, the diagnosis was now apparent.
Looking back, I was there...standing above a wavering light.

I took a deep breath.  The door was behind me. 

I took my bearings, in the darkness.

I felt a slight sea breeze, its perfume filled my nostrils.

I felt no longer the dulling anxiety.

I had changed position. It was over.

I was no longer accessory to someone's play-space.

I felt a sad empathy for the child, the children.

Consumed from inside, hollow, hollow they had been, ever greedy for fill a void.

Shh! Shh!
Listen to a soul.
"What is inside was becoming doubt.  Fear not. There, is your way..."

"For things are things because of mind, as mind is mind because of things."
Hsin Hsin Ming


“HELMER; But this is disgraceful. Is this the way you neglect your most sacred duties?

NORA: What do you consider is my most sacred duty?

HELMER: Do I have to tell you that? Isn't it your duty to your husband and children?

NORA:I have another duty, just as sacred.

HELMER: You can't have. What duty do you mean?

NORA: My duty to myself.” 

Henrik IbsenA Doll's House

Monday, August 25, 2014

On becoming.

After no doubt lengthy discussion and debate, they settled on giving me the name of my father's defunct dog: Simon.

One doesn't get to choose one's tags for quite a while, if ever.

Never mind, that's how it is.

I have never had a problem with the dog-tag.

For reasons unknown, but no doubt analysable I wasn't what they expected.

I never really fit hurt.

I did the analysis over many years.

It doesn't matter now...

Now I am here to write here...for reasons unknown, but no doubt analysable. It wasn't what I expected.

I am beginning to put together pieces of puzzle.

Such work is impossible alone, one must do it connected.

I enjoy puzzles. 

The ones I prefer are the ones that can be put together in ever so many ways, generally with colour, improvisation, and why not music and laughter and a strong sense of the absurd.

Note to self:
If only I could include a bit of theatre. That would be marvellous! I miss that.

I don't like conforming to a model.

They can measure me later.

I am just so.

I am becoming...

How many uniforms are we given to wear?
How can we be free to become what we will?

I did their education. I felt it had to do with them.

I did my research.  I feel it has to do with me.

I read their learned papers. I felt it had to do with a kit.

I never liked kits.
You spend hours sticking fiddly bits of plastic together to build their bloody Spitfire.

It is never as good as the picture on the packet, beautifully coloured, zooming through the skies, guns blazing shooting up Fokkers.

There's always some clever clogs who shows off his obsessionally finicketedly constructed plastic scale model.

I just can't be bothered, it is no doubt to my detriment, never mind.

I am not up to their standards for now.
Maybe tomorrow?
Who cares?
I shall improvise.
Maybe one day, I will be up to my standards...and they will have to change theirs!


That's the spirit. Sod the Spitfire!!

I like writing this, I love stories.

I like working stuff out, trying to figure out how it is put together.

I don't want to build bloody kits of bloody Spitfires.

They seemed harmless at the time but then little boys get to fly them real-scale and kill other little boys who only have bits of wood to represent Kalashnikovs.

I like working with others who challenge me to travel to places I would never be able to glimpse without their eyes.

I like to do stuff that I would never have been able to do alone. I have no idea where all of this is leading...but it appears to keep on. This is fun. What will appear next from this mind-field?

I love adventure. 

Thank you.
Maha you and many others are helping me to make some sense of it.
What ever it is.

How strange, I was not expecting that to come out. 
Never mind, it did. It's here now.
I don't mind you knowing.

Here's a quote: (Note to self: that will look seriously learned)

“The goal is to practice an artful, poetic, and empathic social science in which readers can keep in their minds and feel in their bodies the complexities of concrete moments of lived experience”
Geist-Martin et al cite Ellis (2004, p. 30) 

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Totem stands silent in chaos.

Let us study it awhile.

Prismatic effect of light on its forms.

Solidity at a distance is feint.

Come closer, it appears alive, organisms, neurones, nodes, connecting to give semblance of unity.

How should we name this... swarm?

Contours dissassemble, becoming particle, parsing pole.

Complex, fluid, composite-Ied totem.

Pole of attraction.

Go on, capture its grains.
Seize its shape.
Celebrate acquired understanding.

Lose your frame, it contains your empty reflection.

Snapshot annihilates sense of life.

Be in awe.

We are DESIRE...

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Try as I might, I was unable to recognize the great bear, the white rabbit or the bull raging sky left.

Clearly, I had never spent enough time gazing upwards at the night sky. 

With carefully trained eyes and an imported telescope by brother was able to recognize the constellations and point them out on his star map.

How much I wanted to be able to have his pattern-recognition-ability, but try as I might I only saw twinkle twinkle little stars, and that was enough.

I digress...

Constellation, was an image I picked up just now from Kevin Hodgson (@dogtrax) on the connected learning course I have been actively lurking in.

Frankly, it didn't really make an impression on me at all until I started writing this retitled post spurred by Frances Bell's "Reflections on Community in #Rhizo14 - more questions than answers."

As I am writing connections are sparking. 

How do other people see the stars, I mean other people apart from my brother and his big blue American map?

That was the thought that just crossed my mind....there a shooting star or a satellite or maybe a divine message?

Where my brother saw bull, the Hopi or the Cherokee saw other patterns.

Their patterns framed their spiritual existence. 

Another star discovered with my brother's telescope might have made a blemish in their cultural landscape...

As we have gained better lenses, better telescopes, so we have been able to see the appearance of new planets  in our universe like Pluto.

So with social networking graphs, we will be able to get a better view on connections and their movement in the #rhizo14 constellation.

I digress...

All this brings me to the troublesome question of community.

Where does one draw the 'community lines'? How much do people need to 'care' for each other to be part of a 'community'? Who decides who is in and who is out? What are the criteria? I am getting the distinct impression that 'community' is a problematic pattern  which hides more than it reveals.

In the case of #rhizo14 or the rhizomatic learning course, when did the 'community building' start?

In my case, I have not made any particular decision as to whether I am a member of any 'community'.

I have never felt very comfortable with tags, labels, categories for myself. I am very happy to feel attachment, to feel common purpose, to feel valued on my terms, I am interested in learning language to be able to communicate with others, to satisfy my curiosity to learn to play others' games but I don't like being part of a 'guild'.

I find it interesting that Frances writes:
"We also have to beware over-interpreting the views of others and making assumptions about their thoughts and opinions."
Indeed, this connects to my suspicion about 'science' and 'research' - whose story are we telling 'objectively'?

I am intrigued by the search for 'flower-patterns':

"How can we know about all the flowers that bloomed? And some of the ones that failed to thrive or died? Of course, the answer is we can't but we can try to draw in as many flowers as possible..."

How shall we decide on what constitutes a 'flower'? Is it appropriate when studying rhizomes to concentrate on 'flowers'? I remember here an image of Apostolos's of a desert flower and his "creativity in arid environments" week.

If we are to study the 'emergence of community' are we going to be stuck with a particular 'pattern of community' which doesn't necessarily reflect the diverse perspectives of what constitutes 'community' or 'membership to a community'?

Bearing in mind the various 'communities' which  Dave Cormier talks about existing in #rhizo14 , I would say that it would be very difficult to determine at which time a person was acting as a member of one or another community, particularly as a tweet for example might include a number of  tags #clmooc, #rhizo14 #clavier.

Another problem as to how communities may be defined is the questions of longevity of connection. Heli Nurmi illuminates us on some of the pre-existing connections which existed before the course started.  It became clearer and clearer for me as I played in #rhizo14 how these powerful relationships affected activity within the course.

As one gazes at the movement of the stars one gains new interpretations on their relationships.  As one moves within the universe, one gains new potential for pattern making.

I am coming now to my own ever changing perspectives.

My secret activity, my pattern-making would have been invisible to all those who would not have noticed that I signed on to the first MOOCs set up by Stephen Downes but did nothing more.  Nobody would have read anything that I had written or thought before 2008.  They might have seen an anoynmous presence of a reader on their blog.

Nobody would have known that Dave Cormier was fairly early on a distant twinkle in my star-map, in my world. I was not sure at that time whether it was an asteroid...

I can fully relate to Dave Cormier's upset that others took his work as their own.

It was only in 2008 that I decided that I must learn to use others arms to defend and to make public my own perspectives.

Over a period of maybe 5 years I had lurked, I was on the periphery, I followed, I dared to comment on Steve Wheeler's blog 'Learning with e's", and then it built momentum.

I escaped to meet up with other like-minds at the 'Learning without frontiers" conference  London in 2011, I learned to use Twitter, I began to build my network, I began to blog...

I have been working with the idea of 'community as a curriculum' for at least 8 or 9 years when I worked at building 'community' with an ever evolving group of unemployed language learners. It has been a constant feature in my pedagogy. These connections, these lines, these patterns are not haphazard, they have meaning for me even if that meaning changes over time, even when scribble emerges as stream of consciousness. Until now these patterns would have been unobservable...even to myself.

Before now, I never had the competences to participate openly in connectivist MOOC's but that doesn't mean that I wasn't participating, it doesn't mean that I wasn't trying to make sense of 'blog', 'network', 'community'...

If I let others tell my story, I am not respecting myself.

Patterns in the sky made visible may be beautiful, may make me dream that I know, but I question the authority of the astronomer who pronounces that mine is a lesser star in the universe.  I may question his choice of 'telescope', I may question his obsession with stars when what binds us is darkness.

Science bound? No we are darkness bound.

I am story-teller and researcher, I would like to enable others to share their perspectives, if they will...

There is much beauty in our patchwork existence.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Just playing around?

There was an audible crack as his sabre movement ripped my muscle.

One of my hands was still attached to his collar.

I had learnt a painful lesson:

"Don't lark around with an aspiring 4th Dan the week before the assessment."

No amount of enthusiasm or adrenaline-spurred determination, could make up for my lack of technique or for my lack of respect for his mastery.

"Sorry about that", he offered, "I shouldn't really have done hurt you..."

Sometimes one learns the hard way. 
No, one always learns the hard way.

Hours of practice, hours of not getting it right, hours of dreaming it's right.

So many dreams we have... to whose ends?

Ticket inspectors and their kin, the train enthusiasts, would have us working on their scales. Schools are their train-sets.

They organise their tracks, they play with the points, they privatise the carriages. They publicise the fancy rolling stock. They use the truth that talent is not enough to standardise the timetables, to drill the kids to their predestined tracks.

They celebrate the share-holders' profits.

“If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Play-school proponents, on the other hand, put the accent on the innocence, the creative imagination of the child, the idea that they only need to be left to their own devices to make a marvellous new Play-world.  

"Kid's have you finished Playoutopia yet?"

We dream our worlds on Youtube, on Second life (not many of us now), on cable-tv. We identify our dolls, our icons.   We consume our life-analysing iPad anyone? 

"I lost 200 grams."

They celebrate the share-holders' profits.

When I was a kid, I played at being a grown-up. 
We were commandos, I was an actor, a journalist, a musician, a social worker. 

I was a "Jack of all Trades and a Master of none.".. A happy Joker.

Learning mastery may enable self-respect.

I lurked, I played, I came to realise that learning around is not enough. 

Drilling without reflecting deeper as to the choice of our master is blind subservience. 

You must work hard to see. 

There is no alternative, we must learn to handle their arms to neutralise them, if we must. 

  • Education is not training?  
  • No, training is what one does best with education.
  • Education enables us to make considered choices about the form of our training and our relationships to masters.

I shall work now.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lost in space?

The chances of this robot appearing here on my blog today were next to zero.

I was officially planning to continue doing the DIY in the house.

Not once today did Robbie the robot cross my mind, until now.

I was secretly wanting to hang out with some friends of mine in space.

Unusually on time, I dug out my PC from under a heap of washing, and looked for the head-set. Nope the headset was nowhere to be found.

I sighed and typed in the password.

To no avail.

At 17:00 French time the PC for the first time in its short life had decided not to understand keyboard.

Damn you!

I restarted, I restarted, I restarted.

No worries, I am used to these sort of games.

I got the iPad out, logged into the hangout from Google+ and saw I was still on time...

A reassuring message appeared:

"The hangout will be going live shortly."
(or something along those lines).

As I waited patiently, I found a ctlr key stuck in my PC keyboard (probably the cat had lain down on it) and looked up on the net for hacks to break into a clueless, keyless PC safe.

I got through security, phew! The keyboard had not been catastrophed!

I arrived at that reassuring message of welcome:

"The hangout will be going live shortly."

As I was waiting, some other of my friends turned up in the event waiting room, (purgatory perhaps?).

There were a few brief exchanges: "Was this the right room, the right platform for #rhizo14 catchup?"

Yup, it was. We waited, we waited, it was over.

It was a girl.

The delivery was a great success, this "midwife" assured us. It had happened. The meeting, the catch-up. There were no photos, no videos. A feeling of frustration, we had missed the birth. We were there. We were witness to the event...sort of.

Nevermind, there will be another time.

This time will not wait, it is here, marked in this space, curiously evident of something difficult to define.

It is a time, when I was looking to meet up with friends, that I have never really met face to face so to speak.

It is in the middle of the summer. There is something which connects us. It is not easy to define.

We shall call it for want of a better word: the Rhizome.

Earlier today I read these lines of Jung. I am not sure how I found them, I am not sure why they are being placed here at the end of this post. I shall leave them to keep Robbie the Robot company.

Unlike him, I am not lost in space.

"Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome. 
Its true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that 
appears above the ground lasts only a single summer. Then it 
withers away —an ephemeral apparition. When we think of the 
unending growth and decay of life and civilizations, we cannot 
escape the impression of absolute nullity. Yet I have never lost the 
sense of something that lives and endures beneath the eternal flux. 
What we see is blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains." 
(Carl Jung Memories, Dreams, Reflections 4)

I am connected...