Thursday, March 24, 2016

Love is foolhardy.

"The earth has music for those who listen."

William Shakespeare.

It was foolhardy...
[Middle English: from Old French folhardi, from fol 'foolish' + hardi 'bold' (see hardy).]

It came from reading Sean Michael Morris's post

"On love, critical pedagogy, and the work we must do."

It was his final paragraph which really touched me:

"As I finish writing this post, I can hear the distant call to prayer carried on the breeze over Cairo. I pause to listen, to wonder at why it stirs me. I must always allow myself to be stirred -- by learners, by teachers, by pedagogy, by the weird transpersonal nature of digital networks -- and I must always let that stirring call me to critical practice in my teaching."

I not so much thought but was captured by this instant.  I took a piece of paper and scribbled some words and some lines and some shading.

"What is most precious?" I wonder.

Love - that is present - in the moment.


To be attentive to ourselves, to others, so that we may move beyond ourselves.

To be alive to silence, to words, to meaning.

To accept our common vulnerability, our inability to communicate, our ability to not quite communicate...

To be alive to our common humanity and our relationship with time...

The time that is counted which counts for all but nothing.

What is knowledge without love?

It is foolhardy.

I put in the word "Love" in the search box of this blog.

I couldn't contain the was beyond me.

I strived and I failed.

I gave up. 

There were too many occurrences for me to contain them here.

I browsed through the posts, picking up pieces which caught my attention.

Other pieces will capture my attention tomorrow.

I make some sort of order of this.

It is vain.

We cannot be contained my friends, neither love, neither learning, neither education.

We are for ever in movement, spirit more than bones.

We are ether with a voice.

Making space is the most important role for the teacher,

In MemorIam
"There is no sense if there is no love.
There is no education if there is no love.
There is no learning worth learning if there is no love."

So that we may be alive.

"A light breeze is dancing on my skin.
I can feel the hairs on my arms moving.
I can hear the leaves in the trees..."

Educational Complex
"There is this idea of always striving, never arriving, of being authentic in our relations with the this our lives."

Remember Stormier Days
"Hacking 'On the shore', I discover hidden waves, hidden rhythms.
I am swept out to sea.
I love the sea."

Feint intention.
"Scrawl etched on surface
Criss-crossing haphazard lines;
Feint intention felt."

In a Different Light
"I contemplate photos in no particular order.
I am not looking to do anything.
I let myself wander.
I love this feeling of freedom.
Where will I be taken today?" 

"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."

Dear Maha
"We must unpick the colonisation of our minds, bodies, spirit, as children of the slaves and the slave-owners, as mothers, as fathers, as sisters and as brothers." 

Distance Learning
“Looking at the past must only be a means of understanding more clearly what and who they are so that they can more wisely build the future.” 

― Paulo FreirePedagogy of the Oppressed

Being Here.
"The word content is beginning to feel like a pervasive prison.
We have all the content in the world but we appear to be unhappily self-contained.

I am coming to the impression that the concept'content' hides a distinct world view...the politics, the economics of enclosure, of appropriation, of extraction, of individual isolation/wealth/poverty/identity, of identifiable authors, of 'scientific progress', of superiority over nature.."

Order from chaos.
"An inflexible frame is a corpse"

The Fear of Silence
"Colossal rigidity, whether in dinosaurs or dictatorships, has a very poor record of evolutionary survival."
Carl Rogers

"Navigating through formatted academic wasteland where orderly discussion is the order of the day, 
I soon start tapping my fingers, looking out of the window, find any distraction from the monotony."

Learning is a mechanism.
"We need STANDARDS to stand for.
We need STANDARDS to brandish.
We need STANDARDS to rally the troops."

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

"non-feeling of being undead one can get when one looks at one's watch every two minutes to see when the working day will be finished."

Time is not money.
"While it lasts...
Take your little paper envelope.
"Now hush!"
I shall not just take."

"Critical moments, of connecting with others uncritically, semenly critically, a mass of bodies, a mire."

"The definition of scholarship seems to be open to negotiation.
I prefer to be called Simon anyway.
If that name gives me no authority to be curious and to be heard...why?
Wasn't that the idea of democracy?"

"When I hear 'it is generally accepted that we need to be raising a generation of life-long learners', I fear that what we may be saying is that we need to have a generation who will have to accept geographic mobility, instability, constant retraining, for ever diminishing returns." 

Fear of flying.
"I don't believe that we can progress as communities, as societies, without play, without taking risks.
I don't believe that we can work with people as if they were disconnected parts to be machined.
I believe that we are in the dark ages of human social development." 

The Fear of Silence
"The degree to which I can create relationships which facilitate the growth of others as separate persons, is a measure of the growth I have achieved in myself."
How on earth can our growth be measured?
Can pedagogy be sustainable if it does not accept change?
Are we really concerned about the growth of others or are we too full of our empty selves?
"The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change."
Carl Rogers

"There were so many silent years.
I am beginning to miss listening.
There are so many unexplored avenues." 

Nature, Nurture, Network
"I think my educational world changed when I started viewing myself and my fellow learners as one of these 'little guys', part of a wilder, wider learning ecology."

Summer Holiday
"They begin to realise that the real interest of the holiday was not the bus, was not the destinations, was not the surf-boards, the bucket and spades and the whole palaver but the shared story.

The man with the umbrella joins them again in St Tropez, they sit down on the beach, they exchange stories around a glowing camp-fire, they laugh about the madness of the venture, the absurd sight of seeing Mildred trying to waterski, they sing songs, they plan new trips.

Finally, those instants spent around the camp-fire make the rest of it all seem worth it.

From afar, young kids hear the laughter, see the glow, and dream.

"Joyfully sow seeds narrowly and widely, nurture saplings, tell stories, share fruit...have a laugh." 

"There was a gleam in his eye.
There was a connection.
I suddenly felt a spark run through me.

I suddenly felt a whole lot less tired.

Joy rises. 
This is joy.
This is spring.
This is love. 

It is infectious."

From Mobs to Communities
"People care, people are generous, they would love a better lot for them, for us, they are awaiting a lead not a promise. We are not all maggots."

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."

"Let us weep. 
These sheets are tagged with our humanity.
Let it bleed my friends, it is that which binds us. 

Let us laugh out loud at this madness.
Laughter gives us strength.
While we may..."

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

"I suppose that when I am absent other people might imagine or say that I have 'presence'.
Well I suppose I have presence in my absence."

"I have proof that they have ceased to exist now...of sorts.
They still talk to me.
Maybe I am in touch with the spirit world.
I am still deeply attached."

"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." 

"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."

"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."

"If there is no one 'COMMUNITY' then there can only ever be personal ethics and desires which will vary and fluctuate according to who, with whom and when and where people interact." 

Random Eyes
"No matter. I am now looking at this page anew.
It is blank,  crying out for a release from its mutism.
It is a dumb waiter.
I am flying down to a basement.
If only the top will keep spinning.
I will write before it is too late."

"How did my voice escape? 
It is living on borrowed time."

"There is power in our silence."

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see."

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Educational complex

I listened with interest to Amy Collier's keynote entitled "Not-yet-ness" at Digital Pedagogy Lab's Cairo event.

I am not yet sure that I have really understood "Not-yet-ness" as a concept.

I am not sure that "not-yet-ness" is meant to be understood...

That may be problematic and/or profound.

I suppose the key takeaway from the talk was "love".

"Love" like "education", like "learning" is complex.

I nodded my head as Amy talked of the importance of being critical about a growing focus on "learning" as distinct from "education" and nodded again as she noted the parallel growth of "innovative" and "disruptive" edtech.

Indeed, when "learning" is associated with "content", it may be packaged transactionally and sold.

When "love" is associated with "sex", it may be packaged transactionally and sold.

Finding "love" is packaged transactionally and sold.

Trust may be measured with stars, followers, peer review et al, packaged transactionally and sold.

Amy is concerned at the commodification, the "measurability" of "education".

Such a commodification reduces living breathing people to binary - hard data on a balance sheet.

I share her concerns.

Where I had difficulties was when she telescoped ideas about "learning", "education", "complexity" "measurability".

"Education is messy" she said.


Are we talking about "education" within a class, a school?

Are we talking about "education" the concept as viewed from many different and diverging perspectives?

Are we talking about "education"  or "society"?

Are we really talking about "learning"?

It appeared the she was attempting to compare a past where "education" was complex with a simplifed present where we have "learnification" of "education" which reduces everything to outcomes which can be clicked.

I made a  few graphic notes as I listened to the keynote...

I honestly don't think that "education" can be considered as other than complex.

I do think that some "learning" can be seen at times as simple.

I read the relatively simple instructions and put together  a complicated IKEA piece of furniture.

The problem, it appears to me comes from the complexity of the term "learning".

A quick look at "education" in Victorian Britain reveals many of the same conflicting interests in the "educational complex".

We have Thomas Arnold at Rugby, fearful of the savage boy (blame Eve for the fall of Eden), longing to see the eclosion of the Christian Gentleman (him)

"What we must look for here is, first, religious and moral principles; secondly, gentlemanly conduct; thirdly, intellectual ability."
Thomas Arnold (1795 - 1842)

"Probably the happiest period in life most frequently is in middle age, when the eager passions of youth are cooled, and the infirmities of age not yet begun . . ."
Thomas Arnold (1795 - 1842)

Such an "education" concerns complex moral values.

We have "Ragged Schools" a means of "saving" kids from poverty (as far away from a 'Public School' as could be imagined).

We have a vast selection of "educational establishments" painted by Charles Dickens.

We have knowledge reduced to chunks...

Headstone "had acquired mechanically a great store of teacher's knowledge," to the point where his mental "wholesale warehouse" was "always ready to meet the demands of retail dealers"

We have social reformers...concerned at the ravages of capitalism.

"I have visited sweatshops, factories and crowded slums. If I could not see it, I could smell it. The foundation of society is laid upon a basis of...individualism, conquest and exploitation...A social order such as this, built upon such wrong and basic principles, is bound to retard the development of all. The output of a cotton mill or a coal mine is considered of greater importance than the production of healthy, happy-hearted and free human beings. We, the people, are not free. Our democracy is but a name." Helen Keller.

We can see the same battles for the soul of "education" as today.

I come back to love.

I do agree that love must be the basis by which we build any sustainable community.

I will need to elaborate on what I mean by "love".

For the moment, I think that you can identify "love" in the talks of Gardner Campbell of which the one below is an example where he asks "What is an education for?"

"Wisdom as a learning outcome."


I thought about "love" and "not-yet-ness". 

There is this idea of always striving, never arriving, of being authentic in our relations with the this our lives.

I could find noone better than Nina Simone to illustrate that.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Dancing for credit.

Let's face it labels are a stumbling block.

I was never a big fan of labels - particularly for people.

We're for ever putting people into categories and then deciding into which box they will go.

Different boxes are given different values.

When that box is your life-raft we need to worry about who is doing the categorising.

"Women and children to the left, men stay on the ship."  

I have been lurking around the edges of Digital Pedagogy Lab's Cairo event.

Am I a participant?

How shall I be counted?

I watched part of a "keynote".

I noted a tweet:


I thought to myself.

"Is the instructor the lord of the dance?"  
"Whatever happened to co-choreography?"

What actually is the "instructor" bringing to the dance?

I thought of street dance and went and found an image.

I got a reply to the tweet from Jesse Stommel.


So what is key here is the space where it happens...?

So what are these spaces?

I listened in to the Virtually Connecting hangout in which people were talking about:

 "Digital Natives.." (and their death) based on an article which was being annotated in


I thought.

I took a glance at the stream but felt unmoved to contribute

There were a few parts of the conversation which captured my attention.

Someone talked about innovation - about tech disrupting 'traditional' pedagogy.

I worry about the "disruption discourse" particularly as regards teaching.

What is this "traditional pedagogy" we're talking about and for whom does it require disrupting?

Someone was talking about "open" and the need to "scaffold open".

"How on earth does one scaffold open"? 

I thought.

I don't think that "open" is what you scaffold.

"So what is labelled "open" isn't really open at all."

I thought.

It's a label for something that some people want others to do.

"Is it like free?"

I thought.

"Free movement of capital, ideas, information, workers..."

I am not sure.

Labels mean different things to different people.

People gain different things from labels.

People put prices on labels...on tags.

I can put a price on training/choreography/drilling/education to achieve a tag...

Somebody talked about the need for "credit" - "credit" for their "learning."

The reason for needing "credit" concerned gaining live.

For some people, time is money and it requires spending a lot of time to earn a little money.

Someone left a tweet about time.

Is critical pedagogy a conversation for the privileged?

Is critical digital pedagogy a conversation for the privileged?

I don't know.

I thought of kids.

"Are they digital natives?" 

I thought.

My kids dance.

Are they dancers?

They don't need a choreographer.

They follow dancers on Youtube.

Does that make them digital natives?

Kids dance.

Some kids dance in the open.

Is this "open"?

If their dancing appears on Youtube does that make them "digital natives"?

Why do they need a choreographer?

Do you only need a choreographer when you dance for credit?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Dear Maha

Maha this article appears at an appropriate moment for me. 

I was speaking with a Polish friend of the language of occupation which oppresses generations of people, victims of the violent abuse of others. 

He kept repeating the idea that present generations could not really usefully unpick the past. 

At the same time he kept saying that he refused to accept the words: "Polish concentration camps" - these are German he insisted.  

I talked of reparation as recognition of crimes against humanity - the descendants of slaves, victims of all sorts. 

I asked him if he considered that it was acceptable that the descendants of the manufacturers of Xyclon B benefited from capital extracted from genocide while black descendants of slaves were still suffering from systemic discrimination and deprivation. 

I asked him whether he imagined that years of occupation/colonisation had not determined narrative, language, relations of generation upon generation.  

There is the discourse of guilt - guilt of being a man, white, elite, German, straight, English, Banker...

We do not choose our birth.

We find ourselves brought to a world in which the rules by which we will live are predefined. 

We are recognised, branded even by the language of others:

White, black, man, queer, weird, woman, English, small, snob, loser...

I have spent many years unpicking discourses which were branded into my body, into my lens to view the world, into my relations with others. 

Years of research, genealogical, psychoanalytical, nexus analysis, critical pedagogy, leads me to the writing of this at present.

I refuse to accept that this is our only destiny - that this is God's will. 

I refuse to accept the belief that we can not learn to free ourselves from mental slavery (to borrow words of Bob Marley).

Indeed, I believe that this must be our struggle, our common struggle for our children.

We must unpick the colonisation of our minds, bodies, spirit, as children of the slaves and the slave-owners, as mothers, as fathers, as sisters and as brothers. 

There must be recognition.

There must be reparation - material and/or symbolic. 

There must be a desire to create new relations between men, women, animals, plants and the ecosystem of which we are part. 

It were time that we gave up dreams of unjust "progress" - material gain for a few at the expense of the many. 

There are victims of abuse in all sectors of our societies. 

There is only one way to grow, as far as I can see. 

It entails loving dialogue, compassion, forgiveness and a common determination to imagine anew in the light of what we must learn from these stories. 

There may be need for active resistance to violence. 

Lives will be lost.

We are all lost unless we fight for justice and for peace.

Thank you for holding up a light.

We shall need such lights to guide a way.

Love to all at DigiPedLab Cairo.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Vanishing returns...

To say that we should lose all objectivity is a nonsense.

Without objective all hope is lost.

We play constantly with scaring ourselves with "conceal - reveal"  with ever diminishing returns.

Conceal - Reveal.

Presence - Absence.

With no point(s) by which to orientate.

We disorientate.

We lose our minds.

We sink into oblivion...or fascism.

Where there is life we may will hope.

Hope is the hump of a camel throbbing between our thighs the time of a blinding storm.

Is this to become camel/sand/man assemblage or a heroic fight against the odds?

Can the two be disassembled?

Would  Sean Penn's "Into the Wild" be Malick's fragrant "New World"  with masonihilistic bravado?

Is Inarratu's "The Revenant"  some sort of survivalist "Death Wish" - a sadocolonialism in furs?

What do such depictions of nature say of our nature...of our grasp on our reality?

Difficult questions...

Can empathy only ever be subjective?

If we are subject to nature, do we lose all objectivity?

If we abandon all grasp on objectivity do we lose all hope for compassion?

Is forgiveness to accept that we may be more than just beast?

Is our nature only read in tooth and claw?

Do lines of flight continue beyond a (our) vanishing point?


 “there is no line separating earth and sky; there is no intermediate distance, no perspective or contour; visibility is limited; and yet there is an extraordinarily fine topology that relies not on points or objects, but rather on haecceities, on sets of relations (winds, undulations of snow or sand, the song of the sand, the creaking of the ice, the tactile qualities of both).”

Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari. Mille Plateaux.

[Found in Deleuze and Space. The Smooth and the Striated.]