I am struck by how ideas form. This morning was like waking up under a bucket of cold water with various inputs – all enlightening, some glimmering sparks like stars, while others made me aware of darkness. Over the past few days thoughts have been bubbling about learning, as I read writings of others.
‘Learning is this’, ‘learning is that’. It makes me itch when theorists or educators so firmly define learning as a something. Imagine the teacher standing over the desk, asking the student, ‘What are you doing? Why aren’t you learning?’ really? Who could be expected to answer that? I certainly didn’t know how to answer the substitute teacher, so just turned my face back to the book, in grade school.
Sometimes learning is as etherial, something delicate and almost passive that is woven into our essential everything. I cannot just ‘learn’ just like I can’t just dream, but I can become more receptive to having ideas, and if you know me, I am indeed likely to blurt out with an ‘OH!’, mid conversation, because something popped into my head. Is that step one? It’s probably step 47, but recognising it is a good thing and certainly fits along the path somewhere. It is far less often the thing that happens when someone shoves a book under my nose and says: learn this.
What is learning? -Can anyone put their thumb on it?
Learning happens through experience and is the result of experience, but is not an experience. Thinking existentially: I am learning. Read more
At this time of year, there are countless reviews – looking back, the year in brief, the best moments… It is important to look back, to review and reflect, but also to move forward. Yes you can are three very powerful words. I wonder if we hear these enough? Do we say them to our families? Do we say them to our friends? Do we say them to ourselves?
Saying them is the first step. Living them comes with time.
There is an art to progress, and perhaps it is a delicate blend of the details and the doing. That doesn’t make sense by itself, but imagine the scene:
The tree growing its leaves: each leaf has incredible detail, but the leaf doesn’t make a tree, but it would be impossible to have the tree without the leaves, and the quality of the details makes the whole so much more rich. Read more
The title of this post comes from a phrase coined by Stephen Downes in a Mastodon conversation where he said:
“This and the related discussion led me to think of a ‘pedagogy of harmony’ as my own perspective (as opposed to pedagogy of small, say, or pedagogy of slow – buy also, on reflection, as opposed to Friere’s pedagogy of the oppressed (and later pedagogy of hope’)).
What is a ‘pedagogy of harmony’? I’m not exactly sure, but it combines a feeling of well-being and comfort and inclusion.” (source link to the full thread here)
A day or two later, I received an email from Matthias Melcher suggesting perhaps the concept could perhaps be explained by melodic dissonances and maybe with an audible demonstration. This unexpected email sparked a firework of ideas in my mind. I’ll do my best to put a few of them in an understandable order here.
My frame has to do with painting different images of harmony, how we can practically understand it, and what it has to do with people and pedagogy/learning (that ‘p’ word is a good one, but laden with baggage). Humour me with explaining and dancing around a topic that is as big as history itself, well nearly.
Last night I had the pleasure of performing a recital accompanied by my friend and colleague on the University’s lovely 1876 Dancy D Steinway piano. Oh I love my cello and I love to play for people. Performing for me is interesting because I am trained to do it, but in life I do many other things as well and this kind of solo performance is a slice of the pie. Finding balance is a quest. (recordings from the concert are at the end of the post, in case you want to skip the reflective part!) Read more
I love a good story, and hopefully my students will too! Tomorrow we meet for one last session at the end of the term. At this time of year tensions run high. There are huge expectations on people and with exams and concerts looming, we could all use a little light-hearted silliness.
I made my class a little game: A Mad-lib (I made more games too, but thought I’d share this one) Read more
This question popped up in conversation last week, and it was one of those to which I had an instant reaction:
Of course hugs aren’t free.
Wait- Why? How? What? Surely they are?
For me it was about considering the who and the what and the perspective. There are many things that don’t cost money but still come from somewhere, or someone, and are not blowing in the wind, removed from attachment or origin. Read more
California here we come! (yes, again!!) Remember that crazy trip where my students fundraised their way to America? and then it became a credit-bearing class? The one that also became a book? Well this is that class, we’re getting ready to hit the sunshine in 2018!
…not just yet, actually the class doesn’t ‘officially’ start until the new year, but the students joining me this year started their work back in May. They spent the summer fundraising and playing together and now they have been devising workshops for groups of students in primary schools and also for staff as well. The sessions for staff aim to give camp councillors the foundations for some fun summer workshops they can use with their campers.
Every year the cohort on this module is different. Last year I was busy preparing formal recital material with one of the students so we could perform as a duo. This year the group have formed a folk band with me on cello, a drum/bass, ukulele, and singer. They will be teaching the underlying chords and components of some great tunes, as well as presenting elements of their own instruments and interests. The singer will be teaching some traditional Polish songs, and the ukulele player just shared this with me: (can you identify the tune? … my 10 year old can!)
I can’t wait to see what they come up with in the coming months. This is one of those classes where students put into real life use the skills they have learned throughout their degree. We’re even hoping to go to a conference together.
Our trip to California is in February, and in the meantime we’re working on fundraising to buy ukuleles for all the kids we work with. We would love to do workshops and leave instruments with each of the schools. Watch this space for updates on our trip and fundraising.
As they say … pass it on! 🙂
Booked in to fly from Kamloops to London I was sad to leave beautiful friends, but eager to see my family again. I spent time in the morning soaking up the surroundings one last time, and all was well. The taxi driver and I talked about London, as he grew up there, and all the changes that have happened over the past 20 years with the roads.
Delay number 1.
It was only a 14 minute delay, and heck, they sent an email about it. No worries.
but then, another few minutes, and then a bit more, and then we took off. The land was too beautiful to think of delays, but as we came in to land in Calgary, over the loud speaker came, “We have a passenger making a very tight connection to London…” Everyone was lovely and let me right to the front to get off first, but then… Read more
Kamloops. Creativity in the Open. Out in the open. The Wilderness stretches as far as the eye can see, and there is water in the valley, snow on the distant mountains, etched clouds above, and wonderful smiles to surround us on the TRU (Thompson Rivers University) campus here in Canada. It was an opportunity to push boundaries and explore. My appetite for learning is large and this was a feast.
The convergence of beautiful surroundings, people, thought, has been magic over the past few days during the Creativity in the Open event, organised by Tanya Dorey. It has been a privilege to share so much with these people. It started as a conversation at an online meeting between academics from diverse fields – a curriculum designer, a biologist, a philosopher, and a musician. It was our ‘play-date’ where we could talk and snatch a precious few moments to know one another better than text-base interactions allow. (there’s a story connecting that meeting to the event that just happened, and that will be in the collaborative magazine Kintsugim issue coming out in about a week)
There is an inherent joy for me, in being at a place and an event where creativity is valued, welcomed, and fostered. I knew that I came bringing something that would be new for people – playing instruments and giving them the tools to make some recognisable sounds in a short space of time. Working together in different ways than the everyday desk environment provides, and using a different medium to convey creativity – sound. I would be pushing people, but there were also opportunities for people to push me. Read more
Yes you can. That’s a powerful refrain in my life, and it underpins so very very much. I had the privilege of teaching on the ‘Applied Imagination’ module at the University of Warwick yesterday. To contextualise, this class sits within Warwick’s Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning (IATL) and the students come from all different departments and schools across the university- trans, inter, cross disciplinary are all big themes of the class, as well as thought, imagination, belief, and accomplishment.
It was such a special morning. I set off pre-dawn with my little care packed full of instruments, as my session would use music, but music as a metaphor. I know that people are not going to learn to be ‘musicians’ in a couple of hours, but music is so wonderful – it moves, it grooves, it makes you feel, and for so many of us it remains untouchable. I love to bring people to something that is perceived as being outside their reach. <— Hold that thought; I’ll return to it in a minute. Read more