Tag Archives: learning

Heidegger and Bricolage Part 2⤴

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Fortune Teller
Fortune Teller” flickr photo by NomadWarMachine shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

In my earlier post I suggested that Heidegger thought of understanding as being an uncovering of meaning, and I further suggested that this is one of the things that we bricoleurs do when we mix and remix. In this post I want to continue with my interpretation of bricolage through a Heideggerian lens.

In his discussion of constructionism, Seymour Papert contrasts two type of problem solving – the analytical, which take a theoretical approach and the practical, which he calls bricolage. Simon Critchley makes a similar distinction in his book Continental Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction, sketching a brief history of philosophy and distinguishing between two types of Western traditions in philosophy: the Anglo-American and the Continental. The difference between these two schools of thought is not a geographical one, it is a difference in approach. The Anglo-American school of philosophy proceeds by logical analysis; the Continental school uses hermeneutics (interpretation) as its method (I am oversimplifying here of course). One way of drawing this distinction would be to think about it in terms of a scientific and a literary approach to understanding (human) nature; another would be to look at in terms of being theoretical on the one hand, and experiential on the other. This latter is the type of approach that I am characterising as bricolage.

My first two degrees in philosophy were taught in the Anglo-American (analytic) tradition, and I think it is fair to say that there was a mistrust of Continental Philosophy as lacking in rigour. However, this is based on a misunderstanding of the phenomenological approach. Phenomenology does not deny the scientific approach (or, it need not), but it does not believe that this is the only, or the best, way to understand the human experience. The analytic approach is theoretical; the phenomenological approach is grounded in the concrete. Critchley suggests that the former approach is looking for knowledge, while the latter hopes to find wisdom.   In Being and Time Heidegger suggests that what we need is an existential understanding of science, and suggests that scientific explanation alone cannot explain our practices.1 Papert agrees, and suggests that we can find meaning by playing with concrete objects without the need to move beyond them to abstract truths. Both show ways of being in the world as bricoleur.

1 Merleau-Ponty describes phenomenology as ‘unveiling the pre-theoretical layer’ of human experience on which the theoretical conception of the world is based (in Critchley, p 113). It is something that people have to do, not to theorise about.

Are you feeling more normal now?⤴

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I saw this question being asked by a teddy bear in a window as I was out for a walk yesterday. I found it quite an arresting image, it made me stop and take a picture, and it also made me think am I feeling more normal now? My answer, well to be honest I’m not really sure.

I can’t remember if has ever been “normal” to put a teddy bear in your window asking deceptively simple questions. Since the first lock down, putting signs of support on windows has become normal. Starting with rainbows to support the NHS, and then various other campaigns such as Black Lives Matter. There was a reassuring and visible sense of community and collective hope and struggle in the variety, scale and at times imagination in these images. Particularly when we couldn’t mix with each other, and our “out door activity” was pretty much limited to walking in our local neighbourhoods. As lockdown measure have eased, these signs have become less commonplace. I kind of forgot about mine and eventually took them down.

But this in the window, the “cute” teddy, the apparently comforting but actually quite disturbing (for me anyway) question. This was a different experience from the lifting of spirits that a run of NHS rainbow windows gave me. So, of course I thought I’d share on social media to see what others thought. I got a quite a few likes on FB and just one comment /question “what is normal?”, LinkedIn similar, with someone telling me that they would feel normal when they got to Jamaica next week (I’m presuming for a holiday). Thank goodness for twitter – and thanks to everyone who responded. Elaine’s response resonated with my feelings

Do we really understand what is “normal” now? Sui-Ming added to this with some really salient points about the realities that we face and the lack of meaningful contextual discourse around “normal”.

Despite political drives to “get back to normal”, COVID has not gone away. Tens of thousands of people are contracting it every week, and at least for the time being here in the UK, having to isolate. This makes “normal” teaching even more challenging, as Sui-Ming so succinctly highlighted. Consistency of experience for staff and students is constantly changing. The nuances of hybrid teaching are just starting to be understood. How to “normalise” it, imho is a huge challenge.
Aileen also shared something that resonated

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I still feel quite on edge at times, not wanting to plan to much just incase another strain arrives and we go back to more limited/lock down measures. Mind you, in the current UK political context, any kind of restrictions are pretty much doomed to fail since it came to light that the UK PM was ignoring all of them all along.

I do think there needs to be a wider discussion that takes us beyond the “back to normal” rhetoric. We are now in a new phase of, well I’m not sure what, but of something that means we can’t go back to the perceived normality of life pre March 2019. Remember that version of normal wasn’t particularly inclusive so we really don’t want to go back there. We’ve all lived, worked, learned, taught from home (generally pretty successful) now. For many support staff in universities working from home was almost unthinkable 2 years ago. Do we want those “normal” attitudes surrounding presenteeism to take hold again? But maybe it’s already too late for that one . . . Similarly with learning and teaching, do we really need to go back to perceived normal of large lectures? Can’t we really take the opportunity to make some fundamental and necessary changes to our curricula that reflect the lived experiences of the past 2 years, are inclusive and accessible.

I wrote recently about recovery and the need for it in education. I think we are all going through a period of convalescence, but not admitting that we need to allow a period of recovery for ourselves, our organisations, our society to rebuild. We don’t actually have to go back to, for example exams, it actually doesn’t matter if you get to 17 and haven’t sat a “proper exam”. There are alternatives, that work just as well that involve far less stress.


So maybe the answer to the question am I feeling more normal now? is no, and I don’t want to. What do you think, would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

The DS106 Daily Create is 10 years old⤴

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So here’s 10 reasons why you should join us in the Daily Create

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  1. Teacher owl says Daily Creates are better than apples
  2. You too can become a leader
  3. Anyone can be a Daily Create Influencer
  4. It’s free, and open to anyone to participate
  5. You will meet True Friends
  6. You might be able to solve #SockGate
  7. The Daily Create is not speciesist – we have participants from across the animal kingdom
  8. You don’t need to wear a fancy uniform to participate (most of the time you don’t even need to get dressed!
  9. Nobody is the boss of you – in DS106 rules are made to be broken
  10. #DS106 is #4life
Owl in a top hat

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk

Digital Detritus⤴

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Traffic jam
Pic of sheep on Mull

Do you tidy up at the end of a beach party? Are you happy to walk away from the embers of a beach barbeque, ignoring the empty drink cans and food wrappers, or do you carefully collect any rubbish that is there and leave the beach as clean, or cleaner, as it was when you arrived? if you hosted a party in a public place and left before the end would you return once it was all over to take down the gazebo and put away the deck chairs?

Of course you would – or you’d ensure that someone else was doing it.

If you saw others having a party, would you barge in and start talking loudly, ignoring everyone else there? Would you leave your rowdy toddler to stampede through others’ conversations, denying any responsibility for him when others gently mention it?

Of course you wouldn’t.

Two things have got me thinking about this. The first is the tragedy of the commons that is happening in the Scottish Highlands, where hordes of thoughtless tourists are defiling the beautiful beaches with litter, and worse. This makes me cry – the Highlands are beautiful, and fragile. They deserve our respect, our love, our care. Some humans suck.

The second is the tweeting of Twitter bots to some hashtags I use. One of these is a cautionary tale for educators. Some time ago, I am told, a class activity for a course was for each student to create a bot. One such bot still tweets, regularly, to the course hashtag. The creator is long gone, nobody takes responsibility for closing it down. When a friend commented that it was wrecking the tag feed, I realised I’d blocked it. There should be a mechanism for removing this digital clutter.

Soon after this conversation, I noticed another bot had tweeted to #CLMOOC. I’d not have thought much about it, but the other bot was on my mind, so I quote tweeted it. The bot owner replied from her personal account: dismissive of our point of view, arrogant, lacking in empathy. Creating the bot had been fun for her. She did not care what others thought – her five minutes of fun trumped everything. (Looking just now I see that it tweets nonsense every hour – random words taken from the owner’s blog. Not funny, or clever – pointless at best.)

Earlier this year I attended the OERxDomains21 conference, where one of the main platforms was Discord – a multi-channelled happening that had been well designed. It made the conference for me, and as the event ended and we all began to wind down, I appreciated being able to dip back in and see what I’d missed. But what I really appreciated was how the organisers returned some time after the event to tidy the space away and leave no trace of mess.

That’s responsible digital camping.

Liked: Caught in the Study Web⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Liked Caught in the Study Web (every.to)
Exploring Gen Z’s Ambitious and Anxiety-Fuelled Pursuit of Straight A’s Across YouTube, TikTok, Discord, and Twitter

Caught in the Study Web – Cybernaut – Every

Much of Study Web parallels more adult and professional spaces that have emerged in the last decade—revered influencers, a bend towards materialism, and inspiration over analysis.

Really interesting post, strangely l’ve listened to some of the ‘music’ videos as background in my classroom of much younger learners.

Study Web is the space students have constructed for themselves in response to the irl system that just isn’t working. Unable to find a place or person to turn to with their academic and career anxieties, they find internet strangers—strange kin—to speak to, or simply share the same space with, online. Lacking the intrinsic inspiration to study for hours each day, online advice and group accountability provide a solution. Feeling isolated, virtual study partners create a sense of fellowship.

During lockdown I occasionally gave my class time to complete a short piece of work. Turning off my screen and playing some music, often the lofi type mentioned in the article. I wonder if having longer ‘working together’ sessions would have been helpful? Did anyone else try this sort of thing with primary pupils?

Coincidently one year ago I noted: Our Magic Box A poem written by my class in teams w hen I gave them some 5 minute intervals to write.

Link via Waxy.org

What would Wittgenstein think of remix?⤴

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We were playing a game at the weekend, which Kevin started.

We answered by making an acrostic of the word we guessed until we got it right

Then Wendy put her twist on it. Different game, different rules. Obviously related – that’s how remix rolls, and the challenge is to work out what the new rules are, or how the old ones apply.

And that got me thinking: what would Wittgenstein think of remix? I think he’d have understood that it’s all a matter of what game you are playing.

“However many rules you give me—I give a rule which justifies my employment of your rules” (Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics [RFM] I-113).

Tying it all together⤴

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Nearly there. This week I spoke to my supervisor and my Graduate School and I have sent off my “intention to submit” by March 31st 2021. It’s almost done- I just need to finish the final chapters and give it a thorough edit.

Thesis Structure

It’s been a long journey – as I scrawled down on a scrap of paper this week, my thesis has gone through changes from looking at collaborative learning, through to thinking about peer interactions and ending with a rich picture of participatory learning.

Nearly there

I’ll leave the thanks for the acknowledgements, but for now I will give a shout out for my loyal little research assistant, who keeps me going through it all.

Research Assistant
Research Assistant

Hamish the Tour Guide⤴

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Yesterday, as part of the SocMedHE20 conference, we ran a competition to guess where Hamish the Cow was. Hamish was originally knitted by me back in the old world of social contact, before we realised we’d have to run this year’s event online. I remembered him this week, so we devised a plan to photoedit him into a series of images of Glasgow and tweet them out during the day using the hashtags #WheresHamishNoo and #WinHamishTheCoo We had a lot of fun. Maybe you will too.

Learning as Performance⤴

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Today I gave a presentation for the #SocMedHE20 conference. It was a conference with a difference as it was all online – presenters were asked to submit up to 5 tweets which we then scheduled to be tweeted from the conference account. Here’s mine – partly done to nudge myself to write a paper about it (the conference will have a special issue of the Journal of Social Media for Learning). Here’s what I said as a warm up:

My basic idea is that, at least for those of us who practice and share out in the open, learning can be seen as a performance – in a similar way to the thought that teaching is a performance (the sage on the stage). I’ll be using #CLMOOC and #DS106 to illustrate my answer.