For now, in order to get in the habit of blogging, I’m going with pieces I am calling “short bits.” Basically, what I am thinking about it. Sheri Edwards, the blogging mentor to us all, calls them blog shorts and has a wonderful introduction here. So, my short bits are blog shorts.
This one is simply about the seeming lack of nuance in all sorts of places, due I think, in large part to our continued distraction with media. We want quick answers and memes to share, diving into the ever flowing stream of stuff, generating quick comments but never really digging deeper than the surface. We label things good and bad, and certainly there are examples of both of those in the world, but there are also nuances of good and bad. Events are often more complicated than they seem. Zero tolerance policies almost never work. And, teachers and students and content and pedagogy overlap in complex ways that do not always lend themselves to easy charts or frameworks or continuums or, for that matter, 280 characters on Twitter. Whenever someone says you should ALWAYS or NEVER, I want to shout, “It depends!”
But, in the interest of seeing nuances myself, there ARE good conversations going on within communities, including Twitter. The #clmooc has made long term use of the web to connect around creativity and collaboration. I am sorry I missed the #clmooc book discussion about affinity communities online. Participation in these kinds of groups allows users to access the power behind the tools when wielded with a mission of authentic connection.
I am inspired by Austin Kleon on a daily basis and eagerly awaiting my copy of his new book. The first chapter grew from this post about doing the work every day even if it is small steps.
So, today, instead of starting with Twitter, I started with Feedly, and the writers and thinkers I have assembled to challenge me with their ideas. Here’s my brief reaction to two items in this morning’s feed. I would encourage you to explore both these writers in more depth.
Jose Vilson, in his piece Writing as Threat, points to the challenges faced by writers of color who must operate in space controlled predominantly by white people and cheers those who are meeting that challenge:
My favorite writing happens when the margins throw pinchos at the hot-air balloon that is the zeitgeist
But, his description of the insecurity of writing is universal. Jose and I share a love of language and reverence for the writers who can wield words like swords or solace. It makes us hesitate to call ourselves writers but, I agree with Jose, his own words have called him out. He is a writer.
Tim Stahmer, in his post No, They Are Not Skills?, reflects on a question I used to ask during leadership workshops: can we teach creativity? We would do a needs assessment around those “soft” skills like creativity and curiosity and then ponder how we get them into an already packed curriculum. Often, the participants came to a similar conclusion as Tim: creativity is a mindset rather than a skill and one that needs space and time to develop, something that may simply not be possible to do in our current iteration of “school.” At some point in the workshop, someone might ask how we define creativity, and that is a whole other discussion but just consider your answer to this: am I “creative” when I build a Lego model from the directions provided?
Today was supposed to be an out-of-the-house day with a trip on the ferry to Williamsburg. But, snow cancelled all that including meeting online as my colleagues on the other side of the river did not have power. We were fortunate in that way but I’m not sure how long it will be before we can get down our long muddy driveway.
I did a bit of work, but then decided that the rest of it could wait. I took a snow day. I’m working on a miniature green house that will be a gift for my sister, an avid gardener. I have not done doll house work before, but I like putting things together. The miniature work is challenging, and I’ve learned not to fuss too much. No one will be examining it too closely.
The joy of a snow day is the spontaneity. The day to day routine gets disrupted, and life slows in a satisfying way. I am supportive of schools who are implementing digital learning so snow days are seen as learning days and not something that needs to be “made up,” but I hope the snow day learning is as personal as possible. Encourage kids to do something they enjoy doing and then reflect a bit about what they experienced and learned as they engaged in that activity. Stop feeling as though we have to fill their time, give them the gift of just doing something for the joy of it.
I haven’t been home for a full weekend for several weeks and with a mostly caught up to do list, I decided to take a weekend off. What does that mean? I read Ken Follett’s A Column of Fire and crocheted while watching reruns of The West Wing. I cooked some good meals and baked scones. I meditated and did most of the laundry.
But now I am back at work a bit…it is Spring Break somewhere in the world, right? And I didn’t want to miss Opening Day. I do not have the passion for baseball that some of my friends do but I appreciate its calm cerebral pacing and would love to learn to fill out a score sheet. Perhaps a retirement plan?
For now, a few visual reminders of the nation’s pass time, discovered at the Digital Public Library of America. The collage is all public domain imagery including the sheet music.
The two postcards are from the Tichnor Brothers Postcard Collection at the Boston Public Library. I have a few old postcards but none as beautiful and evocative as these. And, they are listed as having no known copyright restrictions.
This postcard is a remix: the border is from the Pi graphic I used on Pi Day and the rails are from Birds of America.