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Posts tagged ‘dream’

Dream a little dream with me

Learning, experience, living. These all go hand in hand for me and to be honest, I crave and thrive on them all. Last week I had the privilege of teaching an intensive module that takes the form of an international trip. (this was the fifth trip of its kind, and the first one was written up by the participants as an ebook) It was a select and dedicated group and everything about the trip is in the hands of the students. The most pleasurable aspect of the class is that the idea of my being the teacher is given up. Instead we adopt a scenario where we are all colleagues – Howard Rheingold coined the term Peeragogy, others call it co-learning, it certainly has to do with connectivism, could be called experiential learning, but I might go as far as to call it a way of living. For me it is how I work and I spend much of my ‘normal’ teaching time working to get students to realise they are learners but they are also teachers. We are all somewhere on that path.

As a part of this module, we formed a musical group, and as with any small group or working party, there are different roles to play, individual needs, and aspects of the working relationship that require degrees of support and/or freedom. We had not worked intensely together before preparation for this trip, and there were elements of musical learning where the students and I were challenged, but there were also the other aspects of travel and working together that tested and taught us so much.

I enjoy pushing myself, physically, mentally, musically – daring to be authentic as opposed to somehow conforming to someone else’s expectation or limits. That freedom to expand and explore is not always something facilitated in a typical day-to-day workplace, not because of any weakness of the place, but because of the nature of routine and familiarity. It can be difficult to see any situation for its potential when it is right in front of you. Sometimes removing the ordinary, the habit, and the associations that go with our usual people and places gives a freedom and makes it that much easier to grant ourselves permission to learn through living.

Someone asked me to describe what it is that I do, and I thought (in an esoteric way):

On both a small and large scale I enable and facilitate people to go beyond boundaries.

I think I can

Taking a step out to do something new, can be daunting for anyone. That step can be a small thing or something mind-blowingly large. One of the first things I dared to do last week was play on the rings at the beach. Sounds silly, right? I had walked past those rings several times over the years and never touched them. -sure I wanted to have a go, but something kept me back. Giving yourself permission to take that risk (even if it doesn’t seem like a risk to someone else) and feeling safe in making that effort to have a go makes all the difference.

It was a typical demonstration of the self-efficacy theory that I’ve both studied and written about for years. Having the ability to do something is not enough to make you do it. That self-belief that you can is everything. The people around me, their acceptance of me as person, learner, part of a team – meant that even if I failed, it would be ok. I didn’t fail, and the sense of accomplishment of having gone back and forth across those rings was tangible.

It reminded and taught me the value of allowing myself to believe and daring to act on it.

The walls are not real

As a teacher, musician, and person I find the biggest deterrent to both belief and action is me. Of course whatever boundaries I perceive are real to me, but they are seldom things that cannot be overcome with time and persistence. Usually they stem from something I have seen or heard – either something I’ve witnessed or experienced, and then it stuck. In my mind I may have decided ‘I can’t do this because of that‘. We watch and learn, but whether about body image, gender expectations, career prospects, social expectations, or whatever – others do not have a right to define us. Rightly or wrongly I’m sticking firmly to the idea that we can create our own paths. Sometimes the walls around us come down slowly, brick by brick, over time, but it can be done.

My voice is valid

Metaphorically and literally each of us has a voice; we have thoughts, words, and perhaps express this through music, poetry, or art. The expression that we are capable of contributing to conversations, to others’ lives, can have impacts far beyond anything we may know – from a simple smile to some profound statement. How often do we keep to ourselves? Different cultures encourage various levels of interaction and communication and each will feel comfortable with our own levels of discourse and engagement. That said, there is always room for personal growth and development and this might be in unexpected ways.

One thing I have learned is that I cannot do it alone. Bizarrely, I’ve gained great freedom by making that a part of my practice (not just knowing, but believing and realising – like making it a reality). When I allow myself to be a true learner, I am vulnerable. Connection, support, feedback, someone else on the path too – Learners need teachers, learners fail a lot, but then they get up again. Having a hand, an encouraging glance, or even just the expectation that of course you’re going to join back in with whatever it is – makes all the difference. I am grateful to the three people who came with me for this past week and to the friends we worked with, for trusting me and for letting me trust them as we explored, experienced, and lived.

Learning out loud. Living your learning. Going beyond boundaries.

Yes please, I’ll have some more of that any day.

Sowing seeds for learning

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

I have a dream, about music and you

I have a dream and a vision and I believe in connection, and that collaboration allows the creation of far more than one mind could see.

I would like to invite you, whoever you are, wherever you are, to participate in a collaboration contributing to a piece for a concert-type event at my university at the end of April.

It is a positive action event to affirm life, music, and each other called ‘Singing for Unity: Hear our Voices’. It coincides with a certain 100 days, when many of us might like a reminder of the positive aspects of education and the arts. This event is not about politics, but about people, music, and life.

All sorts of contributions are invited: spoken word, music, poetry… It is open.

I would like to make two things- firstly a song. (Yes, I know I play the cello) The old Dylan song – The times they are a changing. I love it. Now here’s the invitation. I had in mind something like the giant internet choir project of Eric Whitacre, but then I thought, hey wait, I can think broader….  And I reached out to a friend in Arizona who recorded sent me an audio track of the chords HERE

and I thought wouldn’t it be great if this could become something more? Remixed into something- a bigger work? The song is the basis and I invite people to contribute how they see – with your dream, your vision. The event will have contributions people from across disciplines at my uni, and I thought it would be a great thing to include the wider educational and artistic community as well.

I would love to have images, music, a verse without words and with different instruments. I would love to have everyone send me their voice, or a talking head, or even just some words that I could edit in over an instrumental section where people said something – a sentence.


I believe in connection.  (that might be what I say)


Maybe people’s ‘I believe’ sentences string together to become a poem in themselves. (You can see this idea developing as I type.)

I am good at ideas, but I need you to make them work, so please take up the invitation. Feel free to contribute anonymously or as you, however you feel comfortable, to either (or both) of these two things (to interpret as you wish):

1.     A contribution to ‘The times they are a changing’, which could be sound, music, image. The basic song is based on the Peter, Paul, & Mary version (because I really like that one) and the guitar backing is here:

2.     A sentence, in audio, typing (you could always leave a comment below, and I am happy to string them together), or a video of you saying something positive. I suggest the beginning ‘I believe’ or ‘I will’ or ‘I am committed to’…

Feel free to comment on the post, email me, or you could even post a letter! (that would be exciting!) Hope you join me as a named or anonymous contributor.

(featured image ‘the way the wind blows’ by Thomas Hawk CC-BY-NC)