Category Archives: stories

You are #neverweird – thanks for a wonderful listen @feliciaday

imageHaving finished reading/listening to a new memoir by Felicia Day – You are never weird on the Internet (almost) – I wanted to note my thanks. So here goes:

I’ve never met you, Felicia Day, but I am grateful to you for adding your voice to the story of the Internet, of gaming, of women working in tech-focused industries and for sharing your story of incredible achievement against many odds.
It’s inspiring to read how hard making things happen can be and how the generosity and engagement of your community has made things possible. It’s important I think to tell stories about living, working and playing with technology both good and bad.

If you haven’t read it, you might enjoy it. I certainly did. The only draw back is that it will probably be a decade or two until the sequel is published…

Fictional learning places #blimage

#blimageIt’s been inspiring to follow people’s thoughts #blimage and with some encouragement for which I am grateful, I’m using this opportunity to make a contribution of my own. If you’re new to what’s happening #blimage I’ve included more info at the end of this post.

I’ve not chosen an image for my inspiration, I have ended up choosing stories instead. I hope that still counts and for me the pictures stories conjured up in my mind have been a powerful force for shaping my perspective on education. So here I am sharing some of my favourite fictional places/stories about places of learning:

First up, the Unseen University from the Discworld universe Terry Pratchett created. Over time, this university has been a fertile battleground for tradition and innovation, from the admission of women wizards to participating in community activities and its uneasy relationship with its home city and the world at large – the Unseen University for me is one of the richest reflections of Higher Education.

More traditional and still more peculiarly British is the Oxbridge of for example Evelyn Waugh in Brideshead Revisited, where sun-dappled quads are over-looked by student lodgings – or the stories of university life chronicled by Stephen Fry echoing Oscar Wilde. Or the starting point for the adventures of Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights. The setting of so many myths and stories of learning and living in an era which still comes to life at times in the Oxford I work in today when the streets fill with undergraduates in black gowns. Growing up and later when I was at university myself, the image of yellow stone and ancient libraries, of tutorials and essay writing, has always coloured my image of what a university can be.

Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book meanwhile creates a tutorial system staffed largely by the undead for a human boy living in a cemetery. In this story he learns about the world, history, maths and how to survive his adventures guided by a vampire.

My most recent favourite discovery however is The University as imagined by Patrick Rothfuss in his ongoing series starting with the Name of the Wind. Not only does it contain the wonderfully expansive Archives (complete with a story arc about the competing classification systems used to catalogue its various collections) but it becomes one of the main sites for the adventures of the main protagonist, its rooftops, surrounds and not least its population of students and staff. It’s interesting that in order to learn what he must know, the main character ends up travelling in the world – seeking what he can’t find in books or lectures.

There are so many more stories that I haven’t mentioned that I think this thread may continue – but if nothing else I must carefully plan my own reading for the weekend. Suggestions for further reading always welcome 🙂

#blimage from the blog of David Hopkins:

“…if this is the first time you’ve come across #blimage, here’s a brief summary of what it is. In short, Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth), in conversations Amy Burvall (@amyburvall) and Simon Ensor (@sensor63), started the #blimage challenge, which is:

“a confection of Blog-Image. (Yes, we are now in the age of blim!) You send an image or photograph to a colleague with the challenge that they have to write a learning related blog post based on it. Just make sure the images aren’t too rude. The permutations are blimmin’ endless.”

– See more at: http://www.dontwasteyourtime.co.uk/#sthash.VYrW98Qj.dpuf

Time for #rhizo15: Follow the tortoise

Rhizo_tortoiseThis weeks post for #rhizo 15 is all about making time and finding your own way.  Or it’s all about one of my favourite stories. The story I am thinking about is a short book published by Michael Ende, author of the Neverending Story, in 1973. The book is called Momo (and you can find some information about it on Wikipedia). The main character in the story is a girl called Momo, but the character I like best is a tortoise called Cassiopeia. It’s s special tortoise. It can make words appear on its shell and it can see a little ahead into the future. But in the story it also uses its innate slowness to navigate through the adventure at is own deliberate pace.

How does this connect to being part of #rhizo15 things? Well – this week’s prompt, about building a practical guide, made me think about what I found most challenging about trying to participate and the two things I came up with were finding time and deciding on the pace and direction of my journey.

In the story Momo’s world is shaped by the frantic pace of the grown ups around her. Efficiency rules progress, time for stories, listening and caring disappears. Her fight against the the ‘Grey Gentlemen’ (who steal time) can only succeed with the help of the tortoise. Together they walk slowly, carrying their own time with them through the city on their adventure. In many ways that is what I have been trying to do, to set my own pace, to make my own rate of engagement slow down and to create space for things which are hard to do when you are in a hurry.

By trying to discover things at tortoise speed I’ve probably missed a lot of interesting things and conversations which I would have found valuable. But at the same time the freedom to take things slowly has stopped taking part from becoming an item on my mental to do list. Instead I have imagined those weekly prompts or ideas that I have come across as messages appearing on the back of my tortoise – and used them as a hint, a trail to follow. For me, that’s been what I wanted out of this experience more than other things. Space and time to think – sometimes in company. Like an imaginary friend from childhood I am hoping to keep my tortoise as a reminder that I have time and that I am free to decide my own path.

P.S. If you haven’t read the book, I would wholeheartedly recommend it.