Memories

Sunrise

My granny loved the colours of the sky at sunrise and sunset. Once, when redecorating, she opted for blue, grey and terracotta. “Like the colour of the evening sky”, she told me. Often when I see the autumn skies I remember her.

This was the view from campus at 8am this morning

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Glowing

Glowing

I’m behind with #NovDoodle (or, taking it at my own pace!), and did the day 10 “glowing” yesterday. Above is the end result.

First I drew a silhouette of an owl with white crayon on black paper and cut it out. Then I looked around my room for suitable light to shine through it. None of my regular lights looked quite right. 
However, amongst my many Doctor Who possessions is a Tardis light.

Not perfect, but I like it.

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Invisible Grafting

Socks, yes socks! Sarah is a great knitter and Wendy responded to her call out and the results are so cool! Sarah wrote about this project but let’s get some more details on the design.

socks with Fibonacci spiral on them

Fibonacci?

This video inspired some thinking. If the Fibonacci sequence can be incorporated into music then maybe it would be a cool sock design! The swirl is deceptively simple but needed some work to go onto the graph paper. This number sequence makes a swirl that appears in nature. An image of a storm pattern gave Wendy the final design of opposing swirls as in the eye of the storm.

Why love a maths sequence?

Fn=Fn-1+Fn-2
Fibonacci numbers follow an integer sequence. Possible shown in early Indian work of poetry formed by words of two syllables. The design here took the sequence this far:
1,1,2,3,5,8,13

How are the stripes worked out?

Sarah had already made one pair of socks using the Fibonacci sequence of numbers and when Wendy produced the spirals Sarah thought about incorporating some stripes as well, running up and down through the sequence throughout the sock. Wendy’s spiral pattern spanned over 65 rows, a good number of rows for a sock is roughly 100, so Sarah played around with some numbers to make this fit. She ended up with stripes above and below the main spiral pattern in blue and green, using a sequence of: 8 blue, 5 green, 3 blue, 2 green, 1 blue, 1 green for the stripes above the spiral pattern, and stripes of 1 green,1 blue, 2 green,3 blue, 5 green under the spiral pattern and above the heel. The heel is knitted over 32 stitches, so Sarah emphasised the beginning of the Fibonacci sequence by using a stripe of alternate stitches in blue and green across the whole heel, before returning to a full sequence for the foot and toe.The foot sequence was 1 blue, 1 green, 2 blue, 3 green, 5 blue, 8 green,13 blue, 8 green, 5 blue, 3 green, 2 blue, 1 green, 1 blue; and the toe sequence was 2 green, 3 blue, 5 green, 3 blue, 2 green, 1 blue, 1, 2 blue, 1 green, then joined with an invisible grafting stitch.

What about entropy?

Nick Sousanis is an inspiration in his writings and visual work. The swirl on the entropy page here: http://spinweaveandcut.com/sketching-entropy/ is eerily familiar to the Fibonacci spiral. This page talks about the inevitable change in things and the downward flow of the river of life.
“Each of us, during our brief time in the stream, has the opportunity to reflect on the forces that set this in motion, and reach in to send up something uniquely our own against the flow.” (Sousanis, 2013)

Collaborations are like that.

Resources:
Blog Post http://www.nomadwarmachine.co.uk/2018/10/07/fibonacci-socks/
Nick Sousanis post on sketching entropy: http://spinweaveandcut.com/sketching-entropy/

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Fibonacci socks

socks with Fibonacci spiral on them

I made socks. In response to my suggestion Wendy sent me a pattern for a Fibonacci spiral.

I worked out the rest of the pattern using Fibonacci numbers for the stripes:

I’m really pleased with the result. So if you’d like me to knit you socks …

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Pollok Park

A trip out today to Pollok Park. Virginia creeper around the Edwardian House:

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Standing on a bridge over the river Cart

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Zooming in:

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Looking for horses that bite and kick:

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Autumn is here, but this Indian Balsam is still flowering

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Indian Balsam

 

 

 

 

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Miscommunication

Close up, blurry image of a pink flower

Random moments of misconnection:

George, a Chinese UG, tells me how hard it is to study independently when there is so much he does not understand in lectures. He struggles to understand aurally and finds it hard to use lecture notes to find out what he missed because he … does not know what he missed. We talk about strategies, I suggest some support networks. I tell him not to struggle alone.

Later that day some of us struggle in an LTHEChat as the terminology used by the question setter is obscure. I laugh with my network. It does not matter to me that I am not understanding as nothing hangs on it. Still, I feel frustrated that an opportunity for a conversation was lost.

Unboundeq runs scavenger hunts. These are FUN! We share blurry, close up pics of everyday objects with each other and try to guess what they are. It’s hard. I realise how difficult it is to anticipate what others will and will not find obvious.

We also talk about ALT-text, and realise how hard it is to add this in a way that makes visual activities inclusive. I don’t feel I have an answer to that.

There’s a lot to process here.

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Reclaiming Lurking

Stalker

Lurking is a potential problem for theories of social constructivism and principles of active learning. It’s also a problem for data analytics – if the student is not VISIBLE, how do we KNOW that they are learning? The invisible are easy to ignore, easy to problemetise, easy to marginalise, easy to other, easy to shame. It is tempting to chivvy them into participation, but participation without intrinsic engagement and motivation is futile, is facile, is inauthentic. A pedagogic approach that emphasises the visible over all else ignores autonomy, dismisses reasons, denies that another story might exist. This type of approach can force us all to join in the jolly learning games FOR OUR OWN GOOD.

All of this makes me shudder with memories of the forced jollity of childhood – the insistence upon JOINING IN – no sitting in the corner READING quietly while the rest of the (good) children are PLAYING NICELY together. (If you know Joyce Grenfell you will hear her voice here.) I felt odd. I am not shy, yet for most of my life I had no way of describing my need to sometimes pause and reflect before speaking. Now I know that I am not alone – that others (sometimes) feel as I do. But I digress.

When we other the silent participants we risk confusing what is countable, what is trackable, what is noticeable,  for what is important – we risk confusing meaningful learning with what is easy to assess. But learning is not a counting noun – Dave Cormier taught us that. And, if we are not careful, we send students the message that spending time in quiet reflection is somehow wrong, that spending time learning conventions is wrong, that watching is cheating, that this behaviour is FREELOADING and that is JUST NOT CRICKET.

Yet learning often takes time. Thoughts need to percolate. Fine wine is not made overnight. this blog post, for example, began with a discussion on Twitter, and has been knocking around in my head ever since.

So I am stating, here and now, that I am reclaiming lurking. I am reclaiming the behaviour, and I am reclaiming the word. Lurking is allowed. Lurking. Is. Allowed. There, I said it aloud (lol).

I’ve written about this with others before. I’ve used Lave and Wenger’s idea of legitimate peripheral participation to suggest that lurking can be a legitimate strategy for those new to a community and its norms. I’ve talked about how our Facebook groups can help shyer students, and those without English as a native language, to take their time to respond in their own way. I’ve run a Twitter chat to talk in more detail about this. I’m not saying anything new. But the current emphasis on student engagement and active learning makes me want to emphasise this more. Lurking is a legitimate behaviour. It is something we all do from time to time. I lurk, you lurk, we all lurk. (Note, by the way, that I am talking about a behaviour here, and not a type of person – lurking is relational, is situational, is context dependent.)

We learn a lot by doing, I know. We should encourage our students to participate. We should ensure that the digitally shy can be helped to find their voice, that students build their digital capabilities as well as their academic ones. All of these will help them both within academia and beyond it. But any insistence on one size fitting all, of active learning being the only ‘proper’ way of learning, needs to stop.

So the question becomes, I think: how do we, as compassionate educators, allow students opportunities to learn what, when and how they want to learn?

Image of Cagney, lurking in our garden

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A haiku for the weekend

Writing a chunk of my lit review this weekend. I am not sure if these are my favourite books, but they are definitely some of the ones that have had the most influence on my thinking. Some are old friends, others recent recommendations from friends. So it’s opportune that today’s Daily Create asks us to write a haiku about our favourite book. Here’s mine:

Creating with friends

Making, sharing, remixing

Participating

 

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Authentic writing and academic voice

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A meeting with my supervisors this week to discuss some of my work. A good meeting – they like my writing, they’re confident in my ability to finish writing up this PhD.

Then Vic speaks. He tells me that he likes my writing style, that he finds it easy to read … and I can hear the “but”  hanging in the air between us.

So is this the style of writing you are going to use for the final draft?

He asks. Or words to that effect. I say that it is, that this is my voice, and that authenticity is a value that runs throughout my thesis.

He nods. I know that he agrees with me, but that “but” still hangs in the air. I say that I’ll put something into my introduction to justify my use of my voice. He nods.

Back home, I search for “academic voice”. I find this:

We use the term academic voice to talk about distinguishing between your thoughts and words, and those of other authors.

So far, so good – I don’t want to be accused of pretending that other folks’ words are mine – I have plenty of words of my own. But how, exactly should I do that? I find this:

When writing a research paper and other academic writing (what is called academic discourse) you’ll want to use what is called the academic voice, which is meant to sound objective, authoritative, and reasonable.

No, no, no. I really do not want to use that voice. That’s not me, that’s not my thesis. This is more like my voice:

Academic voice is a formal way of writing and speaking that is clear, straightforward, and professional without sounding fancy or using unnecessarily complicated vocabulary words.

Clear – I hope so. Straightforward – that would be a goal. But what does it mean to sound professional? I suspect we’re back to that objectivity malarkey again.

It would be awful to get right to the end of this process and trip up because I’ve used the wrong voice.

But this is my voice, and it would be even worse if I stopped myself from speaking authentically.

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How to philosophise with a hammer

A concept is a brick. It can be used to build the courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window. Deleuze and Guattari ATP p x11

At other times another means of recovery which is even more to my taste, is to cross-examine idols. There are more idols than realities in the world: this constitutes my “evil eye” for this world: it is also my “evil ear.” To put questions in this quarter with a hammer, and to hear perchance that well-known hollow sound which tells of blown-out frogs,—what a joy this is for one who has cars even behind his cars, for an old psychologist and Pied Piper like myself in whose presence precisely that which would fain be silent, must betray itself. Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols 

Sometimes philosophy needs to shake things up. Sometimes we can be too polite, sometimes reasoned debate will just not work. I’ve been meaning to write a proper piece about this for a long time now. Maybe I will, and maybe I won’t. In the meantime here’s some snippets, and a damned good tune.

 

 

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