Sunday, November 29, 2015

Hybrids Rising.

"I love you not for who you are but for who I am with you."
Edward Scissorhands.

This is a declaration of love. 

It came to me suddenly as I was drawing diagrams on a piece of paper.  

As I was drawing on the paper, I became aware of my deep hybridity.

I am becoming increasingly aware of the hybridity of these spaces, these times, these relations.

From these relations am I born, am I growing, am I I i to die, to live on...

We are become multi-handed, multi-brained, multi-eyed monsters...

How shall we draw this our monster?

He is our shadow...

I am reminded of an earlier post....The Darkness

I am reminded of a Twitter profile, that one of Bonnie Stewart:

"educator, researcher, social media fortune teller - part LEGO, all cyborg."

Cyborg, hybrid monsters...

Capable of monstrosity, of poetry...

I think of how my last month has seen emerging, deepening, unpredictable, complex connections through attachments to those who are become part of a hopeful monster.

Let us embrace our monstrosity, let us have compassion.

I surprised myself writing the word compassion to a student in an email today.

I have no memory of using that word in my work before.

It is a first, a first step.

Do androids dream of electric sheep?
(Philip K Dick)

I was reading 'Five ways work will change in the future."

I am thinking of my co-existence with robots...

I am thinking of my co-existence with corporations...

I am thinking of my co-existence with totalitarian sects...

There is cause for fear.

Cause for hope.

I watched a talk of the Dalai Lama, thanks to connections within the #Workingoutloud group 

I fell upon a video, in it the Dalai Lama was talking about ISIS. 

I have become familiar with the actions of ISIS via grieving students.

What do we have to lose, all of us who work in education, each and every one of us, in working towards a more hopeful world?

"The twentieth century was a violent one, and more than 200 million people died due to wars and other conflicts. We now see a spillover of the previous century's bloodshed in this century. If we emphasize more on non-violence and harmony, we can herald a new beginning. Unless we make serious attempts to achieve peace, we will continue to see a replay of the mayhem humanity experienced in the 20th century."

"We need a systematic approach to foster humanistic values, of oneness and harmony. If we start doing it now, there is hope that this century will be different from the previous one. It is in everybody's interest. So let us work for peace within our families and society, and not expect help from God, Buddha or the governments."

Dalai Lama

Fellowships of hope.

I think of my diverse, complex, multifaceted friends around the world.

They are helping me to enable those around me to learn, to be enthused, to be valued.

Shall I name those friends?

Shall I give them away by symbols that they cluster around?


Symbols count. 

Tags and banners count.

"The Islamic State’s design of the Muslim profession of faith is different from every other attempt to replicate the prophet’s flag: “No god but God” is scrawled in white across the top and “Mohammed is the Messenger of God” is stacked in black inside a white circle."

ISIS counts.

Lives count.

Deaths count.

Hybrids rising.

Our lives are becoming ever more hopelessly intertwined.

Our lives are becoming ever more hopelessly intertwined with robots...

It is our lot.

What is our purpose here?

Swarm life.

Are we simply to be reduced to worker ants in a datamine?

All signs indicate to me that answers to such questions are inevitably ambiguous, inevitablly hybrid...never fixed.

But at heart of this all, there is a deeper, a much deeper quest.


What sense am I, are we, to give to this our existence?

I am aware of my own essential unimportant importance.

I am given meaning by my friends.

I think for an instant of Hybrid Pedagogy.


All learning is necessarily hybrid.

I think of the people that I have met who have compassion.

Then I recognise myself.

We are unfinished monsters....

We are alone, at the mercy of others, helpless...

What is needed my friends is not passion driven learning but compassion driven learning.

"Life is not about creating yourself, it is about finding yourself."

George Bernard Shaw.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Walking out loud...

This is a fragment of a doodle, a much larger doodle.

 After a week of emotion, connection, experience, I had many ideas buzzing. I had to get it all down on paper. This is one of what will be a series of posts which I shall attempt to write to make sense of this larger doodle.

I have a great deal of thinking to do.

I have a great deal of working through, of walking through to do...

It was a week of walking out loud, which started with a need to get out of the classroom box.

After the flood of emotions resulting from the Paris attacks, by the time I got to Thursday, I felt exhausted.

I am pretty sure that this line of Maxime's post "L'homme libre" had made a click in my head.

"Fermez vos ordinateurs, allez courir, allez rire, serrez vos proches dans vos bras, envoyez un message d'amour."
("Close your computers, go and run, go and laugh, hold those close to you in your arms, send a message of love.")

I suggest to the group who had arrived for a class that we go outside, that we feel the sun on our backs, the wind on a our skin, that we should walk and speak together.

They were a little surprised at the idea, but they agreed, packed up their bags and we left for a rambling tour of the campus plateau.

We spoke together in little groups, sometimes coming together to look at the surrounding landscape, a flower, a landmark on the horizon. We shared photos of where we were from, we spoke of the time that we spent in classroom boxes. We visited regions through the eyes of others, through the words of others unknown to us. We spoke of imaginary friends...

On coming back to the classroom, we sat down and each wrote or drew his impressions of the time that we had spent together.

This week we are to collect our fragments together to reflect our different experiences of walking out loud.

Distant connections?

I met Tanya Lau from Australia during Rhizo14, we have worked and played together intermittently since then.

It is difficult for me now to disconnect my trail through the various hashtag communities that I have journeyed. At one stage, I don't remember when, Tanya introduced me to her friend Bruno Winck. Over a series of tweeted conversations, and to cut a Storifed version of the circumstances of our meeting short, we met last Friday, in the flesh.

It is this which is surreal, really: here was a person who I knew little of a month ago, who perhaps a few months before I had suggested meeting (because I learnt he lived in the same region as I) for a walk, now standing in this same classroom in which I am writing now.

This is a fragment of a photo, a much bigger photo.

All of this resulted from a spark of inspiration, a reversal of a position and the acceptance of an invitation from the faciliators of #digiwrimo to contribute a piece.  I had thought (as often) that I would really not have the time to participate in #digiwrimo, like I had thought that I wouldn't have the time to participate in #rhizo14, #clmooc, #ccourses, #rhizo15...

So here I was actively participating in #digiwrimo and Bruno suggests that I involve some of my students with #wolweek.

What the hell was #wolweek I asked?

A few days later, not really knowing what might happen, I managed to get a group of students to blog every day for a week.

They had pretty much never blogged before...

Not only did they blog, but one or two of them also started making connections with people participating in #wolweek...

This is the moment when lessons learnt from Laura Gibbs during #ccourses came to the fore.

I curated all the student blogs into Inoreader. 

So there he was, Bruno Winck, standing in my classroom.

Very quickly he had gathered students around him and they were listening to him explain networking on Twitter, innovation,  MOOCs...

As he spoke, I was myself beginning to learn a little about him, this person who had appeared from a Twitter stream....

We went for a meal afterwards, our conversation flowed from one theme to another, pretty much uninterrupted, apart from by the four courses of the meal.

We left the restaurant to walk a little way up Ceyrat gorge, one of my favourite local promenades.

It is the background image to my Twitter profile. 

Conversation continued upstream and downstream.

On getting back home, the following morning I found no other means to try to make sense of it all than to doodle.

As I was scrolling through my photos over the past couple years, I was struck by the diversity of people met, experiences had, places visited, connections made.

I see that this connected world maybe digitally connected but it is physically enacted, emotionally embodied...

I thought back to Maxime's lines:

"Fermez vos ordinateurs, allez courir, allez rire, serrez vos proches dans vos bras, envoyez un message d'amour."

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


You never quite know what will pop up.

Wild flowers scatter seeds around the meadow.

Some are carried by animals others by the wind...

A little while later, you discover that some of them have fallen in fertile ground.

As you study the different species and take soil samples, note the season, the humidity, you start to see patterns.

What is apparently chaotic, haphazard, is not.

Chaos has order...of sorts.

If learning is a mechanism (a word which I think is inapplicable to the natural world) then this is how it can be observed.

I have witnessed some examples over the past few days.

I asked my students to create tutorial videos last year.

One of the students, Maxence made a rock-climbing video with his friend Romain.

It suddenly and quite unexpectedly popped up in a Twitter conversation between somebody in Australia and someone in France.

That work which had been done a year before suddenly had popped up.

A conversation with an ex-student the year before had led to him coming to participate in class. I have learnt to capture instants so that others may benefit from them at another moment.

I videoed a conversation in French.

As I had the video, I posted it into a a document for students in the Sports Management class.  Now most people would say that if you want people to make progress in English you only have documents in English. Counterintuitively the French video sparked English writing.

Here, in Sylvain's blog, he responds to the video which captured his attention his reflection written in English.

I comment on the blog, giving him the link to the video, now on Youtube, to enable him to reflect on using diversified media in his blog. His blog added to the video, enriched by comments by myself and Bruno Winck now becomes a powerful tool to demonstrate a simple principle.

What counts for me, is not 'content' per se, but people who share personal or personally sourced resources with others

A book as Dave Cormier would say is a stupid person who can no longer interact. 

Appropriately, unexpectedly the concept of rhizomatic learning pops up here.

Learning in open networks is messy and challenging.

Learners need to develop 'crap detection' skills

Learners need to understand the importance of networking with people to find mentors and experts and friends.

Learners need to learn the importance of sharing their work.

Learners need to learn how to curate.

I found a student, Huseyin who blogged on the question of information overload.

I can see now what the next classes will include...

Monday, November 16, 2015


Pride is not a word that I use often.

I was proud of the students today...

I was evaluating their research projects which they were presenting without notes to read.

It was not easy for them.

They, for the most part, overcame their fear.

It was a start, it was more than a start.

They were courageous.

I learnt from them.
They made me think.
They made me want to know more.
I listened to them for six hours.
The day went by in a flash.

I was proud of the students today...

I asked them to share their work, their reflection on their learning with others.

I explained to them that it might be of help to others.

They seemed to understand the message.

I was proud of the students today...

I challenged a group of them to share their learning in a blog.

Some of them really have to struggle to write their thoughts in English.

They have had so little practice, for the most part, to write for others...

They have had so little practice, for the most part, to receive the encouragement of others...

I was proud of the students today...

I showed one of them a blog post in French by one of their peers written on Saturday the 14th November.

It was entitled: Ce matin.

I had told them, how it had moved me, how it had moved others, how it had moved others to write.

I showed it to one student.

He looked at it.

I didn't see him after.

A while later he sent me a tweet.

It was short and to the point.

I read his post, in French, and I was moved once more.

It was entitled: L'homme libre.

I went back and went through the other blog posts in my RSS reader.

I gathered them together in a collection here.

View my Flipboard Magazine.

I don't know if there will be more.

I don't know if others will have the courage.

It is a start.

It is more than a start.

I was proud of the students this morning...

That I can say that gives me hope.

These people have things to say.

We must listen more often.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

What the hell is going on?

The problem is that it doesn't look like working.

The problem is that it perturbs peoples' ideas of what learning looks like.

The problem is that it isn't linear.

The problem is that it demands learning new skills.

The problem is that it is not controllable.

The problem is that it does not have predictable outcomes.

This is learning.

This is me reflecting on learning process.

This is the outcome of a process which is a process....

Where the hell is this going next?

I am excited to find out.

New people, new encounters, new applications, new experiments, new risks, new adventures...

After a crazy week of connecting, of dialogue, of experiment, of pushing things and myself and probably the students to the edge, I returned to Storify my apparently chaotic work (even to me - and that's saying something).

We need to order, to reflect, to summarise, to digest, to learn....

This is an example of learning out loud...

Thank you all for your part in my learning.

Friday, November 13, 2015

La Vie Active

Nothing would have changed if I hadn't opened the door to my classroom.  

I might have satisfied 'my students' in 'my classroom' and nothing would have changed. 

It is only by working/learning out loud and understanding that the classroom walls are virtual that things have changed.

The majority of the students that we work with have English language skills which are limited by their limited access to English speaking communities. 

If you have family who is connected to English speakers or who has the means to send you on a language exchange your privileges guarantee less limited skills. 

It is a question of access. 

As there is a 'digital divide' so there is a 'linguistic divide'.

If learners already have a network of English language speakers (not especially) natives then this is reflected in their social media networks and also their digital literacies. 

Research carried out for the CLAVIER project demonstrates that the challenge which faces us is to build the bridges between learners and (language) learning communities via afffinities.

The practices of language teachers (as other teachers) in the public sector here in France are largely protected and linked to the interests of institutional deciders, publishers, testers, and education equipment suppliers. 

There are many good reasons for teachers to continue practices which have hardly evolved and where 'new' technology has largely reinforced existing practices of teacher controlled/centred closed classrooms.

Learners are a captive audience for a captive educator, behind 'closed doors.'

Learners may well also be a captive audience for 'individualised learning paths' behind the closed doors of the walled garden of a 'Learning Management System.'

What a teacher does (once the door is closed) may be largely unknown.

Younger teachers (good students) largely reproduce teaching that resulted in them becoming good students encouraged by traditional peer teachers.

Bridging the connection between digital practices in informal learning and in formal learning may well be considered as largely incompatible.

Research into inservice and preservice teachers perceptions of Online Intercultural Exchanges reflect stories of informal learning/formal learning in business and individual experiences of education. 

Learners with innovative teachers remember them.

Teacher centred teaching produces teacher centred teachers.

It is a question of  first "educational culture" and second access to innovative networks.

"Teaching space" architecture often encourages 'closed door policies'.

Research into alternative spaces, research into alternative teaching/learning organisations has resulted in open learning spaces and ,networked enhanced team teaching.

Research into meaningful networked enhanced active learning, have resulted in making global connections which are reflected in transformation of the learning space. 

How do we transform pockets of innovation into wider uptake of innovation?

What can be learnt from studying the 'learning spaces' and practices of the most innovative companies?

Working out loud, sharing photos of new spaces inspire others...has succeeded in opening a little more than space.

"Networked market-led/PISA innovation"

What a teacher does in some institutions (once the door is closed) is largely his problem until standardised testing of some sort is introduced and a compulsory course book imposed. 

What a teacher does increasingly in many institutions is fill in forms for data retrieval and centralised analysis and control.

American language testing services impose technology specifications to become a recognised tester.

Out go the French keyboards in comes Qwerty.

The language training market is enormous.

A quick Google search brings up astronomical figures: the market is projected to rise $193 billion by 2017.

The students that we work with are not necessarily the most connected in terms of network.

The students that we work with are not necessarily going to benefit from foreign language certifications - even if obliged to study for them (unless they become passports to advancement).

Education or protection racket?

The question I ask myself at times is do we want education for our children or a corporate protection racket?

Note references to the research publishing mafia.

"Academic publishers the most profitable obsolete technology in history"

Note response of Steve Wheeler:

"Inspire to learn."

Meanwhile there appears for many of them to be a yawning gap between their 'education' and what they call in France 'La Vie Active' (the rest of their lives).

La vie inactive

I am never quite sure what one might term education - 'La Vie Inactive'?

Work is done largely for a grade. No grade. No work. No grade. No degree. No degree? Anxiety.

Anxiety: what am I going to do next?

Networks are everything.

The challenge is enormous.

The importance of meaningful networked learning can hardly be understated.

As Steve Wheeler says: "Networks are everything."

The unattractiveness of unmeaningful commercial networked teaching and testing can hardly be understated.

Peer support.

A recent interview of an ex-student underlines the challenge.

What students need he says is meaning, and dialogue with their peers and elders.

As, I connect with Working Out Loud via Bruno Winck, as I attempt to connect students struggling with English with Working Out Loud Week #wolweek, I wonder if we face an impossible task to really open up public education.

Will these students take an opportunity to share their learning with a wider network seriously?

Will these students think of it as a reason to pander to the whims of an unrealistic teacher?

Will the other learners be patient with their faltering attempts to communicate their learning?

Will we be able to go a little further to bridge the divide between active more expert learners and those who need their advice, their encouragement, their ideas most - these young students who waiting to enter into what they term 'La Vie Active.'

As I see the classroom open up, as I see more and more students connecting with their peers around the world, I see reasons for hope.

These are our children.

Please help.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The darkness.

Writing Lest we forget kept me awake at night.

In the morning I remembered that the story of my great uncle Wilfred C. Hunter, victim of the Great War, had moved me to create visual imagery in the past.

The image 'The darkness' was produced using Paper by 53 on iPad.

It was drawn after a photo taken in my garden in summer and then modified with filters.

I find rather scary and appropriate, considering the theme, how we can transform a beautiful summery day into a vision from hell.

I had used PicPlayPost  and Strip Designer to create collages which were then assembled in Steller here:

And here

I had used the much lamented defunct Zeega to mash up the images with a soundtrack here.

The Darkness on Zeega

Finally, I was moved to read Wilfed Owen, war poetry. I chose one:

Dulce et Decorum Est and decided to record an interpretation of the poem. I uploaded to SoundCloud here:

After recording the first version, I realised that I had missed lines, the most terrifying lines.

On relistening, I felt that the second complete version missed something.

I prefer the first version with the missing lines...

I put that second version here for future reference.


Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares(2) we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest(3) began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots(4)
Of tired, outstripped(5) Five-Nines(6) that dropped behind.
Gas!(7) Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets(8) just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime(9) . . .
Dim, through the misty panes(10) and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering,(11) choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud(12)
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest(13)
To children ardent(14) for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.(15)

Wilfred Owen
Thought to have been written between 8 October 1917  and March, 1918

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Lest we forget.

Yes, they were still there on my phone.

His photos were there.

They were the last of the very few I had kept from those taken while clearing out my uncle's house.

He refused to be buried, to be trashed.

I had only been vaguely aware of his existence when I was younger.

He was one of those half-remembered names among those half-remembered lists of family names. 

He was my grandfather's brother.

He was the one brother who didn't get through the war. 

In the last years of my parents life I was driven to capture every last story. 

I spent hours going through names, relationships, addresses, anecdotes... 

Before they spoke no more.

Who are those sepia people staring so blankly at us?

What are they trying to say?

Why do they refuse to be forgotten?

Rekindling memories

I left messages on forums, in the hope that someone, somewhere might give me a scrap which might rekindle long forgotten story.

A distant relation emerged in Canada, an Irish second cousin,  I can never remember how many times removed, responded too.

Suddenly, I had my name connected to 14 generations. 

I had an Excel file with a family tree.

I was discovering my plot among the stories. 

I started to make more sense to myself. 

I was one among many, so many.

Our crosses on a map

A visit to a war cemetery in Flanders on a website brought me face to face with a stone cross bearing my great uncle's name, age, rank and regiment.

It was him. 

"His" stone cross, was one among many to scroll.

Wilfred C. Hunter. 24. 2nd Lieutenant. 121st Heavy Battery. Royal Garrison Artillery.

He was 24. 

Grief salvage

Sorting through my uncle's papers, a few years on, my parents long gone, I came upon his name again.

I took a photo of a document before filing it away with others salvaged in the grief. 

He was there, resolute, on my phone.

I find it hard to let go.

2015 seems so much closer now to 1915.

Histoires d'identification

2014, he appears in my writing, for an article for a French teaching  journal.

In the article I speak of how digital tools enable us to give new life to the past.

Noman's land

2012, he appears as inspiration for a blog post written here three years ago:

"Dust to digits" 

2015, he appears here again on reading a blog post written by Michelle Pacansky-Brock with a memorable title:

"Dust to digits"

These stories of loss are alive still. 


Lest we forget.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Stop Turning the Pages.

Stop turning the pages.

Has it been unseen by another?

I never remember.

It has taken route.

Since I wrote it, the rhythm is write.

Is < better or  > worse?

I never remember.

Where next? What next? Who next?

We are becoming meme, from capturing the unexpected.

Is all not well in this multiverse?

I never remember.

Is this text sacred
(he asks after already embedding it)?

It is only what you perceive.


That last chord fades away.

Since I wrote it, the rhythm is write.

Don't you prefer to listen at full volume?

I never remember.


So much that is written in Twitter exchanges is never remembered.
I took ten minutes to stroll down a stream...turning the pages.
 I added a line which stuck me from Wendy Taleo.
I scribbled down some lines on a piece of paper (rare for me).
I looked at the jumble.
I reassembled and muddled around until the above emerged.
What is hidden here?
The source tweets.
The original meaning.
The people.
The contexts.
The times.
All  lost.
Perhaps never to be remembered.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


We are embraced by sound, light, shadow, relationships, emotion,  memory.

We stretch out, we point, we cry, we crawl, we walk, we run, we embrace, we walk, we crawl, we stop.

We surround ourselves with objects: clothes, furnishings, company, weapons, words...

All is in movement, all is in movement.

We stop, we observe, we make connections, we note, we keep for ourselves, we keep for others...

What is monumental, what is iconic, what is sacred, what is mysterious, we worship.

We celebrate our exploits, our kills, our scrapes, our epics.

I am reminded of Mes Emmerdes and a living monument that is Charles Aznavour:

We aspire to meaning, to leaving a mark of our passing.

We are as leaves to the wind, ephemeral, dependent, soon to fall, soon to be raked up. I suddenly remember those Feuilles Mortes of Jacques Prévert.

Those feuilles mortes...

We are constantly looking to beauty to remind us of the height of our summer. 

Those relics, which we embellish as the days shorten.

We are transfixed by those burnished images, fearing to look past a fixed mirror...

Can that really be us now?

What appears permanent, we hold onto desperately, a buoy in an ocean of alienation...

We stretch out, we stretch our for sure footing and to leave a mark, however futile, of our passing.

If I come to write all of this now, it is because I have some dirty secrets...

Behind these lines are the words of others, always the words of others....

Here are pages and pages of the words of others...

There was the writing of Kate Bowles.

I didn't search out her writing alone.  

I followed the traces of someone I trust:

I have been immersed in the conversations of fellow travellers...

I did not discover Walter Ong alone, nor the recorded conversations of Socrates.

I did not start independently to reflect on the nature of books, on the nature of social media alone....

I have been overhearing the conversations of others, and I have reflected...

What is the nature of this writing...this digital writing?

I fell upon an article in a Facebook stream, shared by another that I trust, it reflected on the 'Decay of Twitter', so young and yet prematurely mourned.

We are voracious culture vultures, swallowing icons, likes, kisses, quotes, beauty, terror, horror...

Such is our hunger for distraction.. from our own impermanence.

We erect statues: 

Shakespeare, Leonardo, Gandhi, Callas, Churchill, Monroe...

We protect their higlighted 'memories'.

We prefer to see the objects of our worship thus:

Better dead young
The Lonesome genius.
The rebel with a cause.
The martyr with a stirring soundbite.

Our reality is less statuesque.

What is the nature of our worship of books?

We carefully prop up their memory with convenient authorship, with defenders of the faith...



We hold onto our myths, our stately lines as ships wreck...

We throw up our arms in ephemeral empathy before sinking into drunken stupour.

We find another icon, another golden calf to help in our distraction.

We take the moral high ground with fervour, I am not one of those, I am not one of those, those trolls.

We are above it all...

No we are not.

We are it all.

SMOOSH a word invented in an article already referenced

Discussions with article concerning Hyperobjects...

A question: What is the nature of digital writing?

An article here "Behind the image: Effortless - Essena O'Neill.

Followed by a discussion.

A reflection on loyalty and on the interest of memes...

A laugh which attracted my attention to some words...

"This is not a whole lot better".

A concern of a friend concerning the nature of reality and social media.

A meme.

An article from the Atlantic:

Twitter is in decay...we are in decay....

We are becoming ever more aware of the lies, the more or less savoury social ties behind our images, our icons...our cvs...

We stretch out for ship wrecks...for certificates of conformity, or quality.

We are becoming ever more aware of the lies behind our fixed images, our fixed borders, our icons, our words...

It is not comforting.

Everything is in movement, everything is in movement.

We try to hide our sorrow.

We try to put on a brave face on things...

But we our books are falling apart at the seams.

Navigating our reassuring 'reality' is becoming increasingly difficult.
Our sacred texts are brought down to earth.
There is no magic button.
However frantically we pour out our dismay.

There remains beauty in our digital decay...

We are humbled one and all the same...with the tools which become heavy in our hands.

So heavy in our hands.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Road trip

This road was the picture which appeared on my first post: 'To boldy go'.

I didn't know then if it would be the last.  

A few years on now, the road keeps rolling.  

The destination is no clearer but rather than bemourn uncertain outcomes, I am reveling in the adventure.

This is how I view learning, teaching, living.  

I am reveling in the adventure.

When times are hard, I think of all the people that I have met who have shared a smile, a beer, a laugh, a story, a song and they are the ones that keep me going...

Every day, I drive the same route, in the same car, struggle to find a parking space, and think to myself: "I wonder what's going to happen next."

Invariably, if you are patient, if you are lucky, things do happen to keep you going...

In the classroom yesterday, there were a number of students who were sharing what they had learnt, or at least stuff which appealed to them:  sailing, rugby refereeing, mental preparation, Ellen de Generes, the Walking Dead, a football match, others were actually (to my astonishment) choosing to in speak English to each other.  

Others were busy preparing their work on a gap year project which was due for the following week. 

In the background there was a group of students gathered around a guitar who were singing covers of Daft Punk, perhaps John Lennon...I don't remember.

There was also an ex-student, Julien Diot, who had studied with me 6 years before- who was taking a break from his globe-trotting, before going off to Costa Rica, to help the other students with their gap year projects.

There are so may stories...

Julien shares stories here:

There is one photo of his which resonates with me, it is a collage of photos of people who gave him a place to stay in New Zealand.  

It is a testimony to the generosity of people.

People's generosity keeps you going...

At about 11:30, I wandered over to listen to what the students, Etienne with a guitar and Loic had prepared for their 'learn and share' session, I was expecting another cover version of a song. 

Nope...they had actually written a song in English - entitled...Road Trip.

I took a photo of their manuscipt

I then got another student to capture their performance to post to Youtube.

They then did an encore of Get Lucky - captured by another student on another phone. 

At 12:00 I tweeted the following message:
Three hours later, a tweet arrived from Egypt:

A tweet in appreciation of Maha's singing and Etienne and Loic's lyrics arrived from Maha (another one) in Egypt:

Three hours and forty five minutes later, a tweet arrived from the USA:

There were a number of conversations going on about the song between people in at least three continents.

One problem of the original tweet was the manuscipt. It wasn't adapted to all the people who might want to contribute but were prevented from doing so by problems of legibility.

Not everybody wanted to sing or play guitar, Ronald transformed the song into a poem:

In Australia, Wendy Taleo wrote a poem inspired by the theme of the song:

In the middle of the night, the afternoon, the morning, Alan Levine, perhaps in Arizona shared a new version of Road trip:

The following day, a new grunge version arrived from Bryan Murley over in Illinois. 

After a bit of faffing around I worked out how to embed it from Google Drive here:

(I recommend turning up the volume to fully appreciate the effect Bryan :-)

And then a few hours later...Kevin in Massachusetts posted a completely different version with totally remixed music.

Then Bryan came back and shared his grunge on Souncloud, Thanks to you Bryan I have learnt how to embed audio from Google drive :-)

And then Sarah up in Scotland kilted the song out completely differently....

Then a bit later on she blogged about her remix here:

I have really no idea where all of this is going. 

There is some talk of a country version, 

Maha commented: 

Maha is talking about a lyric hack:
This Road Trip is really becoming illustrative of the complexity of Road Trips.

Travellers come together, spend time in conversation, tell stories, sing a few verses, and part going off on different routes, where they will take parts of their learnt songs and stories to new conversations in new places with new people.

I am becoming unable to follow their traces. I am now reliant on others who will be able to tell their part of the story, a part in which I am now absent. I am becoming to think that this will be a fascinating collaborative research project into creative emergence.  

I finally get round to reading Bruno's Road Trip Story here in his blog where he has embedded the image of Etienne and Loic's manuscript,... I in turn am beginning to be inspired by this story of a Road Trip song to write...

I shall look forward to listening to how the other branches of the story mutate.
 There are too many branches for me to collect here. 

I decide to attempt to follow the different routes that this Road Trip is taking.

Bryan comes up with not one but two country versions:

And then for good measure uploads them to Soundtrap to enable people to record tracks to accompany him.

Meanwhile over in Australia Wendy has curated the story of another strand of Road Trip which arose from Maha's aforementioned image in response to Maha's aforementioned singing.

A series of six word stories inspired by two lines of Etienne and Loic's song, written by Wendy, Ronald, Maha, and others have been assembled and are going to be put to music by Laura's music students over in the UK.
Meanwhile, over in Canada, Maureen is contributing to a collaborative story with #digiwrimo and hears Kevin's aforementioned version of Etienne and Loic's song.

She includes the song in part 13 of the story quite unaware of the origin of Kevin's rendition of Road Trip.

Meanwhile, somewhere upstairs in a house in Glasgow Scotland, someone is doing a Road Trip song:

The person in question, Niall is the aforementioned Sarah's husband, he comes downstairs:
He goes upstairs, a tragic crime is committed:
Will we ever get to hear the lost Scottish version of Road Trip?

Meanwhile, I am waiting with impatience to hear what Laura's music students will compose, I am waiting to hear if Maha's guitar-playing friend will be heard playing with Bryan in Illinois.

I don't how Etienne and Loic will respond to the Road Trip that their song has been taking.

I know that Etienne tweeted this reaction to Maha's interpretation:

This is perhaps the most important lesson I have learnt: we don't need to leave the walls of a class room to appreciate the diversity, the creativity, and the generosity of the people around us...around the world.

We don't have to travel to have a Road Trip, to have an adventure.

We do need faith.

There was another tweet I shared yesterday:

I think that I would like to remix that quotation:

To write is to throw yourself into an abyss while telling yourself: I'll be caught no people who find meaning in this.

There are days when we get lucky...

Thank you Etienne and Loic, Maha, Ronald, Wendy, Alan, Bryan, Kevin, Julien and you all for sharing with us.

It means a lot.