Summer Book Club!

I’d like to propose a Summer Book Club! Oh my goodness I am so taken with the ebook I have been reading that I’m proposing a book club. Those of you who know me will know that I don’t generally sit around reading, mostly because I read so slowly, BUT I can’t put this book down, even though it is 757 pages!!

The book is called:

 Toward Personal Learning: Reclaiming a role for humanity in a world of commercialism and automation

and is by Stephen Downes. (it is also free!) It is a compilation of very manageable and extremely well referenced blog posts and articles that have been written over the past 5 years. What I like about it very much is that one of the early-on posts explains that this is a real person, thinking, and putting his self into these pages. I respect that and it is very much my ethos too.

So I suggest a book club! Yay! If anyone is interested in having a read and commenting, please do! I promise I’ll read more slowly than you 😉 I have never organised a book club, but have learned from the masters that one of the key things is to comment on other people’s posts, so if anyone does read and write, I will pledge to comment and support you. I joined in with a book club hosted by Bryan Alexander on the Horton and Friere conversational book We make the Road by Walking, and I loved it. So why not another edu book? To get you started, have a few gems that I loved so much I wrote down (well copied and pasted):

“just in the same way as health and fitness are properties of a person, something they have all their lives, something they develop and grow and maintain, something they are themselves ultimately responsible for.” p. 51

“Good learning empowers; it doesn’t needlessly constrain.” p. 59

“That’s the thing with education. What we think is the ‘outcome’ of the process is never really the outcome. If you simply case whether or not they learn how to code REST interfaces, that’s all they will learn. But if you want them to acquire a wider range of skills, you need to place them in a more challenging environment (and then encourage cooperation so they have a decent chance of success in that environment).” p. 64

“When Abraham Lincoln taught himself to read and write and to be a lawyer, we say he earned himself an education, not a learning.” p.73

Maybe I’m an education geek and get excited about these things. (I should take out the maybe) I do get excited about these things and I find it exciting when I find likeminded people discussing things that are important to me.

I suggest having a go at reading and choosing any (or a group) of the first 80 pages to write about and to post something over the next two weeks. (that gives me a chance to get a head start on the next reading so I don’t fall behind!) I’ll suggest a schedule of 100 pages per fortnight (and you could dip into any section you like). …so

  • July: up to p.80
  • August a: 81-178
  • August b: 179-271
  • September a: 272-375
  • September b: 376-478
  • October a: 479-579
  • October b: 580-677
  • November a: 678-end!

I’ll suggest a hashtag #towardpersonallearning I realise it’s long, but it is yet unused, and heck, if you link a URL and the tag, I can find it. I might post on Mastodon as well as Twitter, because I prefer it there.

Wherever you are, please do join me. I’d love to discuss with you.



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  3. Andy Dixon

    OK – I’ve literally downloaded and scanned through the book in about 90 seconds. One phrase is ‘strive less, share more’ – which I liked, but haven’t really thought about.

    However, that’s not what I wanted to post about. What is going around in my head is the chicken and egg thing. I’m a newbie here so forgive me.

    The self-direct learning bit requires the individual to be a self-directed learner, however, most people aren’t.

    I suppose this is the bit about pioneers and being generous…..
    so that the next lot of eggs will hatch into self-directed learners who will peck at the feet of the stuck-in-old-ways chickens…..

    1. Post

      Oh Andy! I am so glad you have had a look. Thank you for those 90 seconds. I have thought about it and keep thinking as I read. I *think* I know what you are saying, but semantics are important and there is a key here… YES most people do not appear to be self-directed learners, and there are plenty of herd mentalities and sofa mentalities (says she typing from the sofa), however: All people are self-directed. Whether they choose to learn, or even welcome the learning that is knocking at the door is another thing. Only people can learn (that was the crux of my first book about self-efficacy – how people need to believe to learn and then how teachers can act as positive facilitators to encourage those individuals to take up their opportunities).

      I’ll share a short story that I’m dying to share. I have some students coming with me (for a class) to California in 2018. I met with them when the summer began and told them they had to do things… first they looked at me a little blankly, as the class starts next January. I said they needed to raise £1000 by September, and their blankness turned to slight defence. whaaaaaa?!? They could have been your chickens, but we set up a chat group, shared ideas, encouragement, and I received a message yesterday to say they were halfway there. I asked halfway where? They wrote back saying they raised £563.05 as of yesterday, with another £100 due this weekend.

      Those chicks learned to fly and they know they can be self-directed. They didn’t start that way because they didn’t know they could. It is totally not easy to encourage people, but when it does happen, it fills me with hope – I have no idea what they will go on to accomplish, but I know they have removed some limits that used to be there.

      I hope you keep reading! Please stop by and comment whenever you like. 🙂

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