Thursday, September 7, 2017





An instant.

Can you hear the beauty?

That song?

"What are we/they ACTUALLY doing? That's what matters." Peter Goodyear.

I sat down this morning with my friends and colleagues, early.

Early enough to REALLY appreciate the coffee.

Somewhere, PEOPLE had decided on PLATFORM POLICY which was stressing out my friend.

WE DIDn't FUCKING EXIST (on their platform).

That was causing problems.

Because despite the digital policy evidence to the contrary,



For a moment, I am brought back to listening to Bonnie Stewart's keynote at the ALT conference.

In the light of recent discussions, in the light of the morning coffee, I am feeling that I need to come back, to walk slowly with Bonnie's keynote, to listen to it with new ears.

Years and years of Inuit oral culture.

I think for a moment of that story that Bonnie refers to:

Sir John Franklin, a Western explorer, undoubtedly well-financed, attempts to "force passage."  

His ship sinks into an oblivion.

SIR was remembered by Inuit oral histories but lost to Western science for 168 years.

Bonnie, in the light of her experience attempting to "teach" the Inuit asks us to think critically about our use of educational technology, of education (which is a technique, a technology) and challenges the "NORMAL".

Where is the space for those without voices?

How can we learn from those whose voices are SILENCE?

How can we learn from those whose science are STORIES?

I think of this as a parent of children who use SILENCE as a weapon.


The day before in the VConnecting session with Sian Bayne, Peter Alston and others, we had spoken about anonymity.

How do we situate our practice in a world governed by platform capitalism?

I wondered.

I wondered.

Wendy took her time, a napkin, a pen, Twitter and amplified and extended the WONDERING.

So there I was after coffee with my friend Leisha.

We were brought together to talk of connecting students in France and the UK.

Being just the two of us, we took our time.

Documents, led to photos, to videos, to VConnecting, to a research survey which stopped me in my tracks. (NB TRACKS - WHOSE TRACKS?)

I had written about being stopped in those tracks here:

"Survey and Surveillance".

I had wondered.

"How can I position myself as a researcher with friends and colleagues?"

I had lined up a conversation with my friend Maritta Riekki to talk about this tomorrow.

I have always had a problematic relationship with research and researcher identities.

I had noticed my colleagues' intake of breath on the mention that I was working towards a thesis.

"Who does he think he is?"

"What am I?"

"Who do I think I am?" IN DEED.


Quite naturally during our conversation, we moved from a submission to a conference, from informal conversation to agreement that we would capture our conversation, to agreement that we work together on reflective practice and extend our conversations within our local community.

What REALLY counts is the TIME we spend giving attention to OUR COMMUNITIES.

I underline the words: OUR COMMUNITIES.

I remembered a post of Maha Bali: Keynoting and Impostering ,talking of the conflicting feelings which concern the words:


In the light(darkness?) of:


What constitutes  OUR COMMUNITIES?

Who do we spend our time with?

Who do we really give our attention to?

Who do we ignore?

Do we extract resources data and privilege from from subjects, THEIR COMMUNITIES?

Do we protect ourselves in WALLED COMMUNITIES?

Do we protect our power behind PERMISSIONS TO EDIT/CODE/MODERATE?

So that we may add value to our brand in OUR REPUTATION ECONOMY?

I hear a blackbird singing.


What constitutes OUR COMMUNITIES?


It so happens that at noon, I had a VConnecting session.

It was, amongst others with the morning's keynote speaker: Peter Goodyear.

I went back and noted some words.
And some other words:

And some ideas:
And some pictures which echoed conversations with Leisha.
It was perhaps a coincidence that a question came to the fore:

"How do you, as a researcher, present yourself to "'practitioners"?"

This came from my conversation with Leisha about how our colleagues perceived the words:


We decided that the power differentials inherent in the terms made the colleagues defensive.

I mentioned to Leisha that I myself had been aggressively defensive to what I considered appropriation of my work for the benefits of "researchers" and their CV's.

I remember "What are you?"

I remember feeling excluded and belittled by academic language.

I remember a conversation with a student who talks of academics deliberately marking rank with "academic language"

I remember Bonnie talk of IQ tests, Bell Curves, and how they are culturally biased.

Innuits: "What is this dahlia?" "What is a blackbird?"

What might we learn from Inuits about orality - history, knowledge, song?

The conclusion that I am coming to is the following:

We must walk the walk, taking time to treat people right, to respect our differences.

Science may give us massive data sets, neutral objectivity.

Does Google do no evil? (ERR?)

Can we trust Facebook at face value? (NOPE)

Do researchers have the right to do wrong to the anonymous?

The darkness that binds us.

Life reminds us that however distant we are from others' reality there are universal facts.

We are born, we move, we die and then we know no more.

We spoke of that with Leisha, we have a duty to revise the old odysseys with our learners.

"Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none."

William Shakespeare.

All of this entails: care, love, humility, trust, time, attention, craft, artisanship.

I am reminded of a little girl who used to play in the sand-pit with me as a child.

She used to play with the Inuit in the snow, as her parents were missionaries.

She opened her eyes to the reality of life dying in the street in India.

KNOWLEDGE may BLIND more than it allows us to see.

I wrote about her story.

It was called "Blinkers and Socks."

I have a difficult relationship with my missionary past - Nagasaki Mon Amour.

I am reminded of the writing of my friend, Paul Prinsloo.

Who consitutes OUR COMMUNITIES my friends?

I hear a blackbird sing.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for the moment to arise

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life,
You were only waiting for the moment to be free

Black bird fly, black bird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Black bird fly, black bird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

What/Who is on your "to do list" today?

"What are we/they ACTUALLY doing? That's what matters." Peter Goodyear.


  1. Hi Simon. Lots to digest in this post. I'll pull out one quote to comment on: "We are born, we move, we die and then we know no more."

    In this digital world ideas we put on line may be seeds that others find and nourish at some point in the future, meaning that while "we die" our ideas may live on. As educators and mentors, both in the classroom, in non-school programs, and on-lines, the people we touch on our journey through life may carry bits of us forward in their own lives.

    Since after death we "then know no more", we'll never know if any of this really happens.

  2. We don't know if we will not know, Daniel :-)

  3. In the hedgerows with the hedgewitches and the hedgehogs and yew and the black haw and the blackbirds. Marginalized. Again. An off-handed set of notabilia in 9/4 time.

  4. In other words, check your margins. Or don't.