Thursday, April 30, 2015



1. holding or guaranteed by a certificate
2. endorsed or guaranteed: certified cheque.
3. (Law) (of a person) declared legally insane

This content is certified!

I was looking for a rights free 'Certified' image that I could stick here from Google Advanced Image Search and strangely enough I couldn't find one.

I am not making this up.

I had to make up a 'CERTIFIED!' image to use above.

All certified stamps like these ones below I am not allowed to use.

So please help me God for I have sinned!

Strange how much value people put on an ugly stamp like the ones above.

I could be Google Certified, Microsoft Certified, JC 1002 Certified, Common Core Certified, ETS Certified, Pearson Certified...

Except I am not. I am just me.

So I have no right to use the badges.

BOOOOOO (he weeps)

Apparently this is the desired outcome of education.

We are working really, really hard for an official stamp.

Why bother?

I just copied my stamps off the net and I have certified my blog post as @sensor63 genuine.

This is just like many Chinese students do when they come to study in France.

They go to Paris and spend 3000 dollars to get a fake stamp.
When they go home to their parents, they go back with a fake university degree.

The parents are proud.

Before they come to France they pay to a language testing company to get a fake certificate which attests to their proficiency in French.

I could go on a long time about certified content

I already have...

Nomad's land

Mind the gap

Divine outcomes

Good News

Oh and probably some others...

I can't really be bothered now to look.

If you have read this far.

You are a champion.

You are getting to the important bit.

If you read the other blog posts and comment I will try to reply nicely to your comments.

But if you are only interested in the important bit.

Here it is:

CERTFIED by @sensor63

Write your email in the box.

Write the name of the French education minister in the second box. If you don't like the question that is tough because I AM THE BOSS.

If you get it right I will send you an official badge.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Last Post.

That's it.

This is the last post.

I have ten minutes to write it.

I have to make it count.

What counted when all the counting is done?

Your touch, our company, the shared laughter, our hearts beating, your perfume, an out-stretched hand, the morning light,  the breeze on our faces, the light rain in our hair, that music that moves, a few lines of a poem...

Does this count for everything?

No more time.

Nothing else counts now.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Numbered stories.

Sticks and stones may break my bones...

Numbers will surely kill me.

Collected number stories.

I) A prelude of Bach. 

(I never learnt to play his preludes, it's a pity)

Suddenly, playing the cello took on a new importance. 

This time it was for money.  

I was eleven maybe twelve years old.
I felt pressure rising in my head.  
I didn't really know why.

By the end of the week, it had become unbearable.

I tried screaming.

It changed nothing. 

As the days counted down, so the pressure rose. 

Playing now was punishing.

I hated the cello from that day on.  

It had become an instrument of torture.

I didn't tell anybody. 

I kept it to myself...

I gave up music shortly after.

II) Weeping is not a counting noun.

Their eyes well up with tears. 

Their eyes are veiled out of pain. 

So many years of not counting up to many.
So many years of not counting up to much.

I can feel the anger rising in me.

I think of the wasted human resources and of the hours of alienation.

It makes me want to weep.

Everybody speaks a language of some sort.

Not everybody speaks at school.

Classroom language, that's what they call it.

"Can you repeat please?"
"I don't understand"

After years of not understanding, no amount of repetition will change anything.

Silence hurts less than ridicule.

III) Lies, damned lies...

(The following refers specifically to my French University context)

"At the Baccalaureat students will have a B2 level in a foreign language."

No they will not.
No 90% of the students we teach do not.

"At the teacher training school pre-service teachers will have a B2 level in a foreign language."

No they will not.
No 98% of the students we teach do not.

Faced with their own lies, what do they do?

They pretend that they (the lies or the students) don't exist.

Faced with their lies, what do we do?

a) Pretend that these students don't exist 
(good idea - pretend that the exam is at a B2 level, the numbers will lie) 

b) Fail 90% of the students 
(bad idea - failure is the teacher's fault and the students are not happy, the numbers don't lie)

c) Ignore their lies and use grades to help the students make some sort of meaningful progress.
(maybe the best idea - even if the numbers don't add up immediately, they will...with a little practice)

IV) Outnumbered

The mathematics are pretty clear (even for me):

There are more students than teachers.
There are more students who speak French than English.
There are not enough hours of class to hope for them to make the grade.

The students, even those who like English, will only play along in class for a grade.

We have no choice but to count, to measure the (potential) impact of our teacherly actions...



As we are obliged to have a single grading system for all the students regardless of their level, if we grade them purely on their linguistic level, we might as well just give them a grade at the start of their university cursus and cut the classes. The grade will not significantly change.

Sudden evolutions (not linearly managed progress) are possible given the right learning conditions.

Such evolutions are impossible with classical teaching methods.

The grade may significantly change if there is a sudden surge of motivation, an integration into a community where the language is used, a major increase in the time spent engaging in the language.  

As we are not obliged to slavishly follow a particular program, we can make courses as adaptable as possible by concentrating on the following:

  • Diversifying learning spaces 
  • Caring for the students as individuals
  • Regular mentoring of individuals or small groups
  • Encouragement of peer mentoring inside and outside of institution
  • Student selected formal collaborative of individual project based learning 
  • Student selected individual or formal makes from formal make bank
  • Encouragement of all forms of informal learning
  • The development of digital literacies
  • The development of online/offline personal learning networks

V) Negotiating contracts

As we are able to adapt grading schemes to our courses we are able to concentrate on increasingly negotiated criteria for evaluation.  

We put the emphasis on evaluating: 

1) Engagement of learners to make some sort of meaningful progress in an area which they choose.

This progress (not necessarily linguistic) may be a result of formal or informal learning.
2) The autonomy and reflection of learners in their learning.

We are attempting to enable them to take control of their own learning in the spaces that they choose and within the networks which we try to help them to develop.

3) The mastery in certain tasks which are defined in relation to their academic or professional objectives or by the learner personally.

4) The linguistic competence within the particular tasks and during interviews. 

VI) Numbers talk

If we really want people to learn a language (or other) then we really need to enable them to connect with communities or networks within which they will be able to develop outside the classroom.

I never learnt French before I was introduced into communities within which I could find people and cultural artefacts with which I could identify. 

Learners who are really engaged in their learning do not count the hours.  

If a learner is self-directed, autonomous, connected with a group of stimulating co-learners, accompanied by respected master learners, learning is more effective and more cost effective...

VII) Measuring individuals 

If measuring individuals with numbers results in a loss of self-worth and learner motivation, it is not only not cost-effective it may be ultimately abusive.

If measuring individuals learning only concentrates on short term learning of easily measurable items or skills it does not take into account the complexity and unpredictability of life-time learning. 

If measuring individuals denies the influence of their social context and the networks with which they are connected it is a denial of social reality.

If measuring individuals denies them the  possibility to freely explore their talents, give useful feedback to learning mentors, connect widely with people outside the classroom with whom they can identify with, we are doing less than we can conceivably do.

VIII) Body counts

Some people's bodies speak louder than words.

"On a scale of 1-10 - where 10 is really painful - how much does this hurt?"

That's what the nurse asked my daughter when she was having stitches.

Those numbers made sense to my daughter. 

The nurse was trying to help her through a learning episode.

I don't think that numbers are not useful.

I think that numbers like other symbolic systems may enable us to communicate pleasure, pain, proficiency...all manner of stuff.

I think that we have much progress to make in measuring the impact of teachers on learning...

I think this is where Dave Cormier's work on rhizomatic learning is so valuable.

Foot note and Note to Self.

I am not happy with this article. 

It changed direction after reading Nick Kearney's post 

It is not a reply to his post. 

It has become part of a process of ordering my thinking about counting and measuring...

I am going to come back to this and his post at a later date, when I have thought things through more clearly.

Much to ponder...

Friday, April 24, 2015

Black wholes in time.

What is this madness?

What the hell were we doing watching Luton against  West bloody Bromwich Albion?

I suppose it passed the time.

It took our mind off other things.

There we were watching the most boring game of football (soccer) of recent years (ever) and then with a little change of the rules we were both on the edges of our seats. 

My friend introduced me to the concept of spread-betting.

There are markets for everything. 

You decide how many corners there will be in a match and then you place money on your best guess.

I googled 'spread-betting' and the writers of the page had obviously read my blog.

Football spread betting with Spreadex can turn even the most uninspiring 0-0 draw into an edge-of-the-seat experience. Spreadex offers a multitude of football spread betting markets on hundreds of games played around the world each week.

It was one of the most memorable crap games of football (soccer) that I can remember and the score?

0 - 0 draw.

What is it about numbers, about counting which drives us crazy?


Dave Cormier in his week 2 prompt of #rhizo15 asks us to count and my mind is spinning from Schizophrenia to Quadrophenia to Rhizo-degradable tshirts.

What the hell is going on?

 I have already blogged about this insanity.

Here are just four posts which refer in some way to the numbers game, whether it be money, grades, teaching, mountaineering.

Give me money.

Disciplined minds

Mind the gap.

Because they are there.

At heart.

Numbers are infinitely generative of ideas, dreams, energy, games, plastic surgery, homicides...

Why on earth are we so obsessed with our measurements?

I slept on the question.

We escape one black hole to fear falling in another.  The night was long...


I woke up and came to the conclusion that it must be to do with the black holes which await us.

Our days are numbered.

Our fate is singular.

I looked at seventeen generations on my family tree.

Do you know what they had in common?


Whatever they had done, however many steps they had taken, however many places they had seen, they had all disappeared into some black hole.

My end is nigh.


Time - He's waiting in the wings
He speaks of senseless things
His script is you and me boys

Time - He flexes like a whore
Falls wanking to the floor
His trick is you and me, boy

Time - In Quaaludes and red wine
Demanding Billy Dolls
And other friends of mine
Take your time

The sniper in the brain, regurgitating drain
Incestuous and vain,
and many other last names
I look at my watch it say 9:25 and I think
"Oh God I'm still alive"

We should be on by now [x2]
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la [repeat]

You - are not a victim
You - just scream with boredom
You - are not evicting time

Chimes - Goddamn, you're looking old
You'll freeze and catch a cold
'Cause you've left your coat behind
Take your time

Breaking up is hard, but keeping dark is hateful
I had so many dreams,
I had so many breakthroughs
But you, my love, were kind, but love has left you
The door to dreams was closed.
Your park was real dreamless
Perhaps you're smiling now,
smiling through this darkness
But all I had to give was the guilt for dreaming

We should be on by now [x5]
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la [repeat]

Yeah, time!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Reserving judgement.

"Why this moment and not another?

I really have no idea.

You just caught my eye."


Silence spoke.

Guignol presented himself with his arms outstretched, his wrist holding a cooking spoon.

He was an unavoidable presence.

His silence spoke volumes.

I took a mental note and made my way.

Whatever Guignol would say he kept for himself.

A carousel of souvenirs.

A little further up the street, I came across Saint Augustine:

"Our route only exists through our walking of it." 

His still wisdom beckoned me.

Was Saint Augustine speaking to Guignol?

A quick spin of the carousel and Samuel Beckett appeared, diagonally.

Centuries were categorically collapsed.

It was an unlikely twist of fate, I warrant you.

Samuel Beckett met Saint Augustine as a souvenir in a gift shop.

"We say everything (We say it all.) 
(Or at least everything that we are able to say) 
All that we are able to.  
And not a word of truth to be found anywhere."

They had been waiting for this moment.

All life and essence were reduced to a paltry sound-bite on a post card.

A Sounding board.

A blank page appeared.

Its silence listened intently.

Neither I nor Guignol, nor Saint Augustine, nor Samuel Beckett could have foreseen it.

I made a note or tied a mental knot.

I beat time...

I mindlessly rushed to reach my ends.

I beat time...

I ambled aimlessly my means to test.

I beat time....

There was nothing to it....

All judgement appeared reserved.

A carousel spin away, Guignol stood, his arms outstretched.

His silence spoke volumes...

Monday, April 20, 2015

First rites...

Remark the glow in the forest.

Do you walk towards it?
Do you run for fear?
Do you halt to listen?
Do you stop to wonder?

Let your mind wander.

What do you imagine?

Step forwards.

Masked figures illuminated by fire,

are they carnival?
are they cartoon?
are they sinister?

How will you know?

Advance masked.

Be safe in cognito.

Be sane in dance.





Bodies moved to rhythm.

These are first rites...

Be sure.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Doodling in Latin...

Any scrap of paper will do.

(The scrap on the left, on which the image of an old man is drawn, is an example.)

This class has got nothing to do with me.

I shall be elsewhere.

I escape the clutches of Latin grammar and let my mind wander.

I am the archetypal distracted student.

I am the one at the back that the teacher gives stern looks to.

All those bad school reports now make me realise that the teachers were less concerned about my learning and more concerned about my playing their game.

I just couldn't be bothered.

I watched Dave Cormier's video presenting the theme for week 1 and it left me feeling a little frustrated. I didn't like the sound of 'learning subjectives'; I mean that literally I didn't like the sonority of the word subjectives.

Apart from the obvious objective subjective (false) dichotomy there was little, I felt I could dig into, to explore.

It felt to me like I was already with a spade and wheelbarrow to unearth rhizomes and all I got was a lump of concrete just under the surface.

After an initial exploration of what other diggers had come up with, I found a few rich roots to unearth and to contemplate.

They had clearly found more inspiration.

They were not bothering so much to dig downwards into the Dave Cormier prompt, they were working laterally, letting their gaze wander more widely.

I chose three posts which marked me from the first days of rhizo15:

Firstly there was Keith Hamon's wonderful swarming post:  "Ethics in MOOCS: the Two Four Ten or so Commandments of #rhizo15"  . Each of Keith's posts are a MOOC in themselves.  I have great admiration for the sobriety, the precision, the intellectual depth of Keith's writing.

Then there was Susan Watson's "Subjective Learning Subjugated-Objectives Subversive-Subjunctives." I love how Susan uses language, how she exudes energy in her writing. I love her word play, she set me off on one of the games that I prefer.

After there was Mary Ann Reilly's beautifully written, heart-breaking piece on the death of her mother "What it was I was listening for." It made me think back on how rhizo14 had been for me in part a process of grieving.

I immediately went back and read two posts that I wrote at the beginning of that course: Suspend disbelief and Life beyond the meme. Learning is often recursive. Learning is indeed grief engraved.

I came back to Dave Cormier's 'learning subjectives' what on earth could I do with it?

Prompted by Susan Watson's word play, I decided to cut up the word 'subjective'.

How many words could I find with 'ject'?

Trajectory  - that was a good start. It connected with mapping and rhizomes. Rhizomes map laterally.


Hmm.  Prefixes and Suffixes I thought that could be worth exploring.

In fact what did 'ject' mean?

Latin classes were actually proving pretty useful so many years after.

I googled 'ject' - I had never done that before.

All of that thanks to Dave Cormier!

'Ject' is a 'root' word - marvellous for rhizomes!

I found a resource for English students.

There was something in the introduction which immediately struck me:

'An oddity about this ROOT is that it never stands alone, as other ROOTS do. 
Standing alone it has no meaning.'

These ROOT-WORDS are JAC, JEC & JECT meaning THROW & LIE. An oddity about this ROOT is that it never stands alone, as other ROOTS do. Standing alone, it has no meaning. It is entirely dependent on prefixes and suffixes to be meaningful. 

1. Dejected : de JECT ed (de jekt’ ed) adj. 

Low in spirits; cast down 

2. Dejection : de JECT ion (de jek’ shun) n. 

A condition of despair; depression 

3. Adjacent : ad JAC ent (ad jas’ ent) adj. 

Next to; as, the adjacent house 

4. Adject : ad JECT (a jekt’) v. 

To add to; to annex 

5. Adjective : ad JECT ive (aj’ ek tiv) n. 

Not standing alone; a word which modifies a noun 

6. Adjectival : ad JECT ival (aj ek tie’ val) adj. 

Using many adjectives; as, an adjectival style 

7. Conject : conJECT (kon jekt’) v. 

To plan; to surmise 

8. Conjecture : con JECT ure (kon jek’ chur) v. 

To form an opinion; to surmise 

9. Ejaculate : e JAC ulate (e jak’ yu late) v. 

To throw out; cry out 

10. Eject : e JECT (e jekt) v. 

To throw out; as, eject him from the hall 

So, those Latin classes were not only useful for practising my doodling, they also enabled me to recognise how words are constructed.

I take back all that I have said about Latin.

Rhizomatic learning in rhizo15 is about making connections.

Dave Cormier you are a genius.

What a wonderful week 1 video!

We are at ROOT social  animals we are JECTS.

We are thrown out and there we lie, helpless.

Little by little we try to make sense of our lot.

I think we all come to the same conclusion: Alone we are meaningless.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

No more package tours...

I knew that I was hungry.

It was recognisably a restaurant.

There were tables and chairs on the terrace. It looked picturesque.

I imagined a number of tasty meals that I might like to eat.

When I looked at the menu I suddenly had absolutely no idea what I should choose.

Even my friend's descriptions didn't really help much.

I would have to taste the food for myself.

In the end, I closed my eyes, circled my finger over the menu and chose a dish by random.

When it appeared (see photo above) it resembled nothing that I might have pictured.

I can't remember what it was called.  I would have struggled (understatement) to pronounce its name.

I knew that Poland was to the east.  I had no picture of what the country might look like.

I had no idea of its beauty. I had no idea of the friendliness and openness of the people.

I had no idea of its customs, its costumes, its music, its landscape.

I was heading out into the unknown.

I had never learnt very much about Poland at school. Why should I have done?

There were enormous photos boarding up windows of imposing buildings in some of the streets.

They marked houses where some people had lived before the war.

Walking here, under this sun, feeling this warmth, I imagined those people doing the same.

There were not many people about.

It was extraordinarily peaceful.

We drove out of the town, my Polish friend and I.

We hadn't even left the suburbs of Lublin when suddenly I was confronted by a sight that I had told myself I didn't want to see.

It was standing there, in a convenient location just after a Carrefour hypermarket.

I had never heard of Majdanek.

Dealing with uncertainty...

How does one deal with the unexpected?

If I am writing this now, it is because I am starting Dave Cormier's course 'Rhizomatic learning: A Practical view.'

He starts the course this week with the theme of 'learning subjectives'

"How do we design our own or others learning when we don’t know where we are going? 
How does that free us up? What can we get done with subjectives that can’t be done with objectives?"

Package tours...

I think back to my teaching of English to students a few years ago. 

We were using a course book, with clear 'teaching objectives'.  

When I think about this word 'objective' now it makes me laugh.

It was one vision of what might have been 'the objectives', carefully explained in the teacher book.

The procedure was easy to teach. 

The exercises were easy to mark. 
It was easy for students to understand 'course requirements'. (that perhaps was 'the objective.')

What did this really have to do with learning a language?

There were postcard pictures in the course books of red buses,  Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament.

Kids would go to visit monuments on package tours.

What they got to see would of course depend on the number on their bus or the choice of tour guide.

You can imagine them excitedly chattering away in French in Trafalgar Square.

What did they really understand about these monuments?

Why were they looking at these buildings and not doing other things?

Why were they reading those texts and not doing other things?

Who decided that this was educational?

What did this really have to do with learning a language?

I asked myself a few questions...

How could I learn to teach differently if I was not connected differently?

How could you learn a language if you were not connected to people who you might want to communicate with?

I resolved myself to maximise possible connections for myself as a learner.

I resolved myself to maximise possible connections for the students as learners.

A few years later...

I found myself in Poland with my English teacher friend discussing how to connect trainee English teachers with French English learners.

None of that had been planned. It was not in any teacher's book. It grew out of connecting widely.

A group of Polish students came to stay with my students in France.
A group of French students are going to stay with their new friends in Poland.

They chose to do the trip. It wouldn't necessarily benefit everybody.

I don't believe in universal recipes for success.

It is not clear what they will learn.

I am sure that they will learn much more English than the kids on the package tour to London.

I think that is how I see my learning job:

asking critical questions.
enabling diverse activities in diverse spaces
enabling diverse connections in diverse spaces
enabling diverse engagement in diverse spaces
helping out when people are totally lost.

(I might add to this list...)

Back in France...

I am happy going out into the unknown, towards the unknowable again 'with' Dave Cormier.

I do believe that we have to reimagine what education means today in this world which has been technologically connected 'for us'.

Discourses are there to be deconstructed...

I ask myself questions...

Whose objectives do discourses of 'learning subjectives' benefit?

Might we be paralysed or consumed by 'abundance'?

How do we encourage or enable students to thrive in this world of what is termed 'abundance'?

Might informational abundance become educational poverty?

What do we mean by learning?

What do we mean by education?

What do we mean by success?

How can we assess success?

Who should assess success?

What sort of community do we want to live in?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

What a mess?

"L'inconscient est structuré comme un langage

"What a mess!" I have often heard these words addressed towards me... 

They would perhaps be talking about my bedroom, my desk, my filing system.  

Of course, for other people, this apparent disorder would be considered chaos. 

They would be at a loss to find themselves in my 'mess' or should I say my 'order'.  

They would be, however, mistaken to imagine that my learning was messy.

Similarly, some people might find this blog, or my way of posting images on social media or whatever messy.  

They would be, however, mistaken to imagine that my learning was messy.

Others, might find that free association, brain-storming, creativity, abstract or conceptual art meaningless junk, or just a mess.

I would say that we have to learn to live with complexity, with what appears on first sight chaos. 

We are nurtured to gradually deal with a certain amount of liveable uncertainty which is culturally determined.  

In some cultures, and for some individuals, very little uncertainty is acceptable. 

In such cultures, and for some individuals, learning is not at all messy, or uncertain; it is quite the opposite.

When we come across, for the first time,  learning spaces or classrooms which are more freely ordered than traditional classrooms, we might think that they were 'messy.'

I would say that we have to be very careful to not imagine that introducing more 'freely ordered learning spaces' will inevitably result in more learning. It may well produce just the opposite effect.

(I am speaking from experience here.)

If I am writing this now, it is because I have been thinking through what Dave Cormier writes in his 'Practical guide for rhizo 15' where he says:

"I get the feeling that learning is a very messy place, and the story of the rhizome is one that i have found super useful in explaining things I’ve seen happen in learning spaces."

Well, I am not sure that we can say that learning is 'a place' messy or otherwise.

I suppose I might agree that learning can appear a 'messy process'. It certainly is a 'complex process'.

I am not convinced by the idea that learning is 'messy and uncertain.'

I would agree that without language, the world, and our lives, our relationships do indeed appear, are often,  'messy and uncertain' so from that sense what we will learn  may indeed be 'messy and uncertain.'  

However, I think that learning is really about make sense, putting some sort of acceptable (to us) order into our uncertain lives, onto this complex world.

We do this, as far as I understand it, in order to make it liveably legible and more comfortably predictable.

What is 'liveably legible' for me may well be 'unliveable chaos' for you.

So it can be argued that learning, being socially determined, can be seen from above or from outside as 'messy' and 'chaotic'. 

We can also argue, with vehemence, that learning can not ultimately be 'managed' in a classroom.

We can try, as people in some cultures have done, to limit all unauthorised learning by using drastic punishments. 

We can reward people for learning certain things or skills and thereby entice them to follow a certain predetermined pattern.

We can imagine the students are learning something but they may be learning nothing or something entirely different to what we imagine at a particular moment. 

We cannot stop people thinking differently to how we would like them to think. 

Social change, the learning within a society and the effect that it will have on that society is nonlinear, and unpredictable.

The pace and the means by which people will arrive to learn things or skills are varied, and complex. 

I agree that learning is a 'deeply personal, individual process', or rather a 'deeply personal, social process.' 

We wouldn't have survived so well as a species if individuals only learnt what was 'managed' by others. 

No child left behind?

So for me, learning is ultimately about ordering 'mess'.

What we are going to learn as individuals or as a species is certainly uncertain, of that we can be certain. 

Finally, what we perhaps all learn is one thing:  we are together in 'this mess'. 

This is our bed, we had better learn to live with it.

Image of Bed: 'My bed' Tracey Emin.

Please push with care.

"By all means push people's ideas...
please do not push people..."
Dave Cormier

Participating in the pre-course warm-up for Dave Cormier's #rhizo15 course, I am already beginning to ask myself questions.  

(Not that I ever stop asking myself questions.)

It was these lines from his 'Practical guide to Rhizo15' which caught my eye:

"One of the central narratives of rhizomatic learning is the idea that learning is at once a deeply personal, individual process and something that only happens in collaboration with others. We are all different, but we need each other.
By all means, push people’s ideas… please do not push people.
Connect with everyone. Try and understand what they are saying and why they are saying it. And, on the other side, understand that when people push your ideas, they aren’t pushing you. We do not need to agree with each other, to learn from each other."
So can you really separate people from their ideas? 
Is it really true that: "We do not need to agree each other, to learn from each other."?
How do we know what the acceptable idea-pushing limits for people are?
We can perhaps look at extremes:
It would be not advisable to challenge the ideas of some people in power. 
They might respond to any such challenge with violence.
"I am only pushing your ideas..."
It might not be advisable to challenge some people's beliefs:
Moreover, how do we separate ideas from beliefs? 
If I have ideas about your beliefs, to what extent do I have the right to challenge these beliefs? 
Clearly, that will depend on the country in which I am doing my challenging, and in some cases even using my right to challenge them will not protect me.

"We are all different but we need each other." 

I am not sure that we need to be with some people - rather the contrary.  
I think it would be fair to say that we do need to agree on some basic rules of behaviour before we start upsetting each other. 
So yes we do need to agree with each other to learn from each other...up to a point.
We do no doubt feel confused, upset, at times when working with other people.

We all have different limits which are often unknown to us until they are tested by others.
"We’re going to take a look at some of the practical implications of saying that learning is messy and uncertain. It can be confusing. It can, sometimes, be upsetting. It’s super fun though, and it’s a great way to push your thinking with the ideas of folks from around the world."
What might appear 'super fun' for some people will definitely not appear 'super fun' for others. 

That's unfortunate, we don't all love jumping around in a mosh-pit. 

It is normal that the music will just be too loud for some of the people who turn up. 
We surely don't need to stick around with everybody being all Teletubby inclusive - that might limit learning.  
"It's super fun..."
People need to find others that they can learn with safely. 
"We need each other" but not in the same way. 
I don't believe you can separate people from their ideas.  
I suppose that that is what articles in scientific journals try to do by  'being objective". 
I think that that idea (that you can separate people from their ideas) is of itself potentially dangerous for people.
I think that the focus on the word 'ideas' already says something about expected interactions.  

  • What about media? 
  • What about language? 
  • What about spaces?
"Saying that learning is messy and uncertain." is indeed a potential recipe for tension and conflict. 
What mess is acceptable?  What constitutes mess? 
Answers to those questions can only be subjective.
"Saying that learning is messy and uncertain." is one thing but saying that education should embrace messiness and uncertainty is quite another.
How much mess is acceptable? What constitutes mess?
"Saying that learning is messy and uncertain." is one thing but saying that knowledge can only be fuzzy and uncertain is quite another.
I finish with another question about rhizomatic learning.
"One of the central narratives of rhizomatic learning is the idea that learning is at once a deeply personal, individual process and something that only happens in collaboration with others."
I am far from sure that learning 'only happens in collaboration with others'.  
I am far from sure that most of my learning during rhizo14 (the course before rhizo15) was done 'in collaboration with others'. 
Certainly I learnt much in interaction with others, in cooperation with others and sometimes in confrontation with others but not really so much 'in collaboration with others.' 
I think I learnt much about different people's limits as to what constituted acceptable 'play', 'learning', 'knowledge', 'language', 'education'.

Those limits are never clear from the outset and inevitably depend on the relationships between people. 
People will accept things said by certain people but not by others.
What I can take from my friends, I won't take from anyone, particularly someone who I feel no affinity for.

Some people are better than others in judging how to say things to others. 
I think that is what learnt most from rhizo14 - that you can't hope to learn in pushing peoples' ideas without pushing people themselves, unless of course what you say is unheard, or what you write is unread.
Perhaps that is the most important thing to try to learn from these courses: how to push ones' own limits and continue to live peacefully with others who challenge them.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


I was just reading Maha Bali's post 'When public out loud is really quietly in private.' and it struck a chord.

I thought about how I find it very difficult to sort out difficult questions or to create projects without littering the floor, table, wall with bits of paper, card, envelope or whatever which I can manipulate.

I thought about how Pinterest was useful for me to see connections between images rather than text of blog posts or other stuff that I want to get a visual over-view on. Here is an example for rhizo 14.

Funny that, I was just reading a blog post here about Pinterest from Terry Elliott just the other day.

I thought about how useful Twitter is for using as a sounding board or as a 'pense-bête' which is a lovely French term for a 'post it'.

I have transformed and extended most of what were bits of envelope into shared tweets, pins, playlists and whatknot.

People in the network who respond, animate, sort, reorientate and add random (for me) elements to objects giving me a different, enriched perspective.

"A random scrap of information can trigger just the right conceptual collision.  It's hard to know which scrap might do the trick, but that's the beauty of social networks - they constantly produce potential sparks for free."

Seth Godin. 

This for me is thinking outside the box, outside the box.

I thought about how useful Storified is for doing what I used to do on the floor (which drives other people mad at home) with bits of paper and objects used as metaphors.

I remember two Storyifys in particular - one I used for Rhizo14  'Making sense of chaos' and the other for a CCourses spontaneous chat mentioned in a previous post In Tribble Valley.

I don't know about how other people experience this but for me these tools are not two dimensional but they spacialise (is that an English word?) units of information.  In other words, I am operating in vastly extended imagined conceptual landscapes.

I thought about doodling.  

A lot of what I spend my time doing is mindless (or should that be mindful?) doodling. I empty my mind and let my wind wander.  I am not sure if this doodling in this blog is public or private. I am far from sure that a 'stream of consciousness' is anything much to do with me.

When I come to read what I have written or drawn I am constantly surprised by what has come out.

I thought about improvising.

I suppose that I am an extroverted introvert, a private person who has absolutely no difficulty playing in public. I recognise myself in much of what Maha has written and in the comments written by the others on her blog.

As I have written elsewhere, I miss improvisation exercise in theatre in which I can amuse myself with surreal context collapses and roles.  I find it very difficult to take anything or anybody seriously for long, it's that child-like restlessness that I have never outgrown.  I suppose this is why I need to write a blog to enable me to be serious differently at times.

This is recreation, a playground.

I don't know about you but here I race around, changing activities, zooming down slides, spinning around roundabouts with friends and then sit around watching the ducks.

I am not really bothered about anybody reading this, any more than I am bothered about you seeing me riding my bike through the park.

Actually, I could let you into a 'private' moment:  I just came back from the park...

This is an outlet for me to be or to act or to write differently when I need to (most of the time.)

(I don't need to bother people who are close to me differently with stuff that they are not bothered about.)

I couldn't possibly manage it if I was tied up doing 'serious' for too long.

Come to think about it, this is much more serious than serious.

Surely what you choose to do freely is much more serious than what you have to do for peanuts?

I thought about learning.

This is one place (this blog) where I do my learning, it's a sort of purgatory for lost souls, ill-formed ideas and fleeting impressions. They hang around here until they get put together in some alternative 'serious' place (hell?).  This explains, I suppose, why these poor ideas, waifs and strays have a hard time here.

Purgatory, bloody purgatory!!

I thought about rhizomatic learning.

I suppose some people might complain about littering streams with junk.
(Well, some people repurpose junk.)

I suppose some people might complain that some of these 'pense-bêtes' are just stupid.
(Well don't read them they are not meant for you, they are private!)

I suppose some people might complain that a sketch is unfinished.
(I always preferred working sketches, to still lives.)

I suppose some people might complain that improvisation is not a play.
(Life is not a rehearsal - what on earth might that mean here?)
(Oh and this is not a performance.) (much)

I suppose some people might complain that this is useless and annoying, repetitive noise.
(Exactly! That is why I have to write it, so that I can have some peace.)

Well I suppose that nature is full of junk which we can ignore.
(Yes, like trees, insects, plastic bags, foreigners...)

I don't do this on purpose.
(It is not an accident though.)

I do this with a purpose.
(Yes! So that I can have peace.)

This is, I suppose is my nature, which I cannot ignore.
(It is like that....sorry.)

That's it, I have got what is private out in the public.
(Now, I am potentially not alone to put up with it.)

I now have a clearer picture of an aspect of my nature.
(I like to sort out thoughts on paper.)

I can take a few steps back and study it.
(It takes time to make sense. And sense changes with time. And then it's too late...)

I shall shut up now.
(At last.)


Peace at last.
(Oh just shut up.)

OK. He who has the last laugh...
(Ha ha)