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Fig.1. I like spirals. Thirty years ago this was just a photo. For me it is an expression of what learning looks like. (I think this is St.John’s College, Boat House – or is it Balliol?)
At the base are the undergraduates, the first years, as you climb the steps you find the second and third years, then the middle common room the MA and D.Phil students while at the top are the lecturers, senior lecturers and professors.
And when you die they raise a flag.
In 1983 (or was in 1982?) this was the epitome of ‘closed learning’ – the Oxford College boat house.
Not so much ‘dreaming spires’ as ‘dreaming spirals’.
- It was a privilege, but like many of these I’ve been either in denial or trying to shake them off for the best part of 25 years.
- ‘Je suis comme je suis, je suis faite comme ca’ (Jacques Prevert)
- And there’s no going back.
I was up at 4.03am. Back to bed at 6.15am. Then up again 20 minutes ago.
- My body was tired, my head continued to buzz.
Regarding ‘Open Learn’ what’s all this fretting about process for?
Have we all forgotten the purpose of research????
Not ‘how?’ but ‘why?’
Why? Why? Why?
We are seeking answers, not trying to construct a bridge across the English Channel with chopsticks and bendy-straws.
Not to get the process right, but to get answers to problems, to find better ways, to understand and share what is going on so that we can act, or not act on it?
Sometimes I read an academic paper and it is all about the process.
Too often I write an assignment and it has to be written to be marked – not to generate ideas. In fact, my finest few hours, a total End of Module Assignment rewrite was a disaster for a set of marks but is my theory and philosophy of what learning is. It was the culmination of months of work, years even. Expressed somewhere like the School of Communication Arts I would have had the attention of eyes and ears.
Fig.2. Submitted as the hypothesis for an End of Module Assignment the grade was catastrophic – it is of the module, but the examiners didn’t have a grid filled with the appropriate crumbs that would permit them to ‘tick the boxes’. (I did submit more than the image, 6ft high and drawn on a sheet of backing wallpaper).
Creativity doesn’t fair well in a process driven system, either in research or in marking assignments.
This isn’t an excuse regarding a grade or the need and value of process drive, guideline controlled, parameter set research, but rather a cry for some ‘free thinking’ the ‘parcours’ of mental agility and expression.
Fig.3 The cliffs below Roche de Mio, La Plagne
There is value in going off piste.
It isn’t even the democratisation of education and knowledge either, it is the Tim Berners-Lee rather than the Google approach to knowledge – i.e. give it away for free.
It is ‘communismization’ – which is a word, however horrible it sounds, I just looked it up.
This moves me onto dwelling on Creative Commons.
If the idea of openness is to give it away for free what is the reward for the author? Recognition as the author. However, I get the feeling that unless it is published some readers think they can help themselves to the ideas and words of others and claim them as their own.
There will always be theft, but as children aren’t we told that for someone to copy your ideas is a compliment?
We need to behave like the children we still are.
But does even that matter in an open society – theft of intellectual property I mean?
If the spreading of the word is all important should any of us give a fig?
If we have a roof over our heads, food and water, electricity to charge the iPad, the BBC … a health service like the NHS what more can we want?
- Better schools.
- Better roads.
- Better weather.
‘Peace on earth and good will to humankind’.
A better word needs to be found for what is meant by ‘communismization’.
Is is just ‘communization’?
- Is it simply ‘open’?!
- ‘Open’ might do.
As the air we breathe …
P.S. I worked the season in Val d’Isere in my gap year and returned a decade later and stayed in La Plagne from December to May researching a book and a couple of documentaries for Oxford Scientific Films. None saw the light of day, though after several weeks thinking about it I came down that cliff face. I made a big mistake by slowing down at the edge and nearly didn’t have enough distance to clear the rocks. I no longer have a death wish. And it wasn’t even fun. It focused the mind though. In fact, the best way to stop yourself thinking about other stuff is to take such risks. Racing Fireballs in the English Channel has its appeal – I have a tendency to end up in the spinnaker or under the hull though.
- Web Inventor Tim Berners Lee Shares £1m Prize (news.sky.com)
- Fostering Creativity – The Use of Open Educational Resources (classroom-aid.com)
- Tim Berners-Lee: The Web needs to stay open, and Gopher’s still not cool. (boingboing.net)
- Tim Berners-Lee: ‘You can do anything with a computer that you can imagine’ (venturebeat.com)
- Inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee says web neutrality crucial (radionz.co.nz)
- What I wish Tim Berners-Lee understood about DRM (guardian.co.uk)
I caught this passage read out on Radio 4 but forget why if for whom – but the inclination of a troubled soul to set ou on their travels. I feel the same whenever I am by the sea – airports do the same, Gare de Nords and now St.Pancras International – but never bus stations.
‘Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship’.
Herman Melville, (1851) Moby Dick, opening lines.
There were twelve machine gun companies.
There were mules and officer’s horses and the limbers to transport. It took two train loads. We travelled down to Southampton arriving at about 4 or 5 in the morning.
We had to wait around all day on account of enemy submarines in the English Channel.
Then onto a troop ship, or something to take us over to Le Havre. It was accompanied by a destroyer. We spent all night on the ship. They were watching out for submarines. I had a walk about on the deck. We got a cup of tea and a bun. It was packed. The following afternoon we landed at Le Havre accompanied by a Destroyer. It was a beautiful hot sunny day. I remember the cobble stones.
We just got out and fell asleep; we were dead beat.
Eventually we were loaded into cattle trucks, not carriages.
We crawled up to the rail head at Bethune. We passed a farm, an orchard, the thing was travelling so slow the lads jumped off and pinched apples then got back on the train.
When we got to the railhead we were near as possible to the Front Line at Neuve Chapelle.
There was no real action when I was there, no one went over. There was plenty of sporadic shelling, otherwise it was quiet. They were getting ready for the Somme do.
I was in four places:
Vielle Chapelle, Arras, the Somme and Passchendaele.
We moved about there.
We were gradually taking parts of the line over from the French in the South.
104th MCG arrived on 28th April. They were in Peronne by 22nd May. (From the History of the 35th Division)
- Download The Somme (ojwatiti.wordpress.com)
- History: First day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916. (17thmanchesters.wordpress.com)
I swim out to the bathing zone marker buoy 200 or 300 m offshore. I go in gingerly wearing windsurfing boots over the shingle and a ‘shortie’ wetsuit. I have latex bungs in my ears and a swimming cap. It is cooler already than a week ago; I let myself in gently, not repeating the mistake I made a week ago setting off in a Triathlon by leaping in dry and racing off for the first marker as I were the sprint swimmer in a water polo pack determined and used to getting to the ball first mid-way up the pool. I let the wetsuit keep me buoyant and I set off my head high, only lowering it further into the water to tip my eight forwards after a few dozen strokes. I rested up a couple of times too, my excuse was the water in my goggles, my excuse was I did a half hour pool training session this morning, my excuse was the swell coming in from the South East that could fill my lungs and belly; I made that mistake last week too, taking several mouthfuls of sea-water within minutes of setting off. Not today.
The sun sets, the beach is quiet
It could be the Mediterranean in March, Cannes in November. I rest at the buoy, threading my feet around the rope that anchors it to the seabed. Rested I head back, this time without a break, a steady, relentless swim, head down for six strokes, checking my way forward on the seventh. It’s easier with the swell coming over my right shoulder as I find breathing to the left less forced. Once used to the water I breathe bilaterally for a stretch, not for long, just to see if it can be done in the sea. I’ll bring a football out next and swim with it, water-polo style, head up; that’ll work the shoulders more and prepare me for the more upright position that is sometimes required when swimming in the open sea.
I would never have expected to sunbathe in mid-September and feel flushed; I would never expect to swim in the sea, but I did.