All entries for August 2004

August 25, 2004

responses to predictable process etc…

Follow-up to predictable process of personal blogging? from Kay's stuff

These responses are really interesting and insightful – and actually demonstrate the use of discourse blogging (with a touch of the personal).
I think that Steve may be right – that two systems may be running concurrently: the public and the private. That seems entirely reasonable, in fact most of us don't reveal that much about our thoughts and feelings to people outside a quite restricted circle (in some cases a circle of one).
Mike Rawlins – Chalybeate Training – draws a distinction between an intellectual route to learning from experience and the parallel emotional route. Whereas the intellectual route goes from 'situation' to resolution via 'awareness to acceptance to application of new insight' the emotional route may include some or all of frustration, disappointment, anger, hurt pride, fear, exposure. The reward for working through these is a much deeper learning that includes the ‘reward’ of renewed confidence, self awareness and another step towards self-realisation.

Is it possible that the public blog will show the intellectual reflection on progress and the private blog the emotional? In which case blogging may be uniquely suited to fearless (?) self-development and learning from life. But if the emotional route (which I guess most of us recognise) is important, then should we make our private blog accessible to somebody? some people? everybody? since feedback and shared recognition of life’s dilemmas are part of the learning process too.

Or is this all a bit much for a new e-learning tool to carry…..


predictable process of personal blogging?

Follow-up to does blogging change the way you think? from Kay's stuff

Alison and I have been talking about the way that a new blog changes in style over time… and how this can replicate the development of a conversation with somebody new. I think I recognise the following stages in blog postings:
First blog: a slightly self-conscious ‘hello, this is me – don’t know how this will work out’
Then ‘about me’ blogs, followed about ‘what I've been doing lately’ blogs, often with photos
Then a more discursive style evolves – the blogger contributes to, and initiates topics, in style that invites responses, at this stage the more reflective thinking kicks in – and a new discourse may develop.
Finally, and not inevitably, the blogs become more personal, issues are described in terms of personal dilemmas and concerns rather than abstract ideas. This is where a log can become more of a personal journal. Different temperaments will be more or less self-aware and/or self-revealing so this stage may never appear in the blogs of the naturally introspective.
Does this sequence make sense?

does blogging change the way you think?

Following from yesterday's thoughts on PDP and blogging – what impact (if any) does blogging have on our habitual thought processes? Does the blog-writer develop new ways of thinking reflectively – or this just a new way of getting ideas 'out there' ... or wasting time! ...?

In short – has blogging changed your mind/your life??

(by the way – ?time to start a new blog thread about eccentric punctuation – including the misuse of dots and dashes instead of commas and stops…..?)


August 23, 2004

PDP and blogs – review and rethink….

For the last few weeks I have been going around the university pointing out that PDP (according to the QAA approved definition) can include the use of blogs to record informal learning (or learning from experience); similarly, blogs can (and now do) include a specialist section to encourage PDP activity. Imagine a Venn diagram of PDP and Blogs overlapping by about 1/5th…. In other words – 'PDP is not a blog' and 'a blog is not PDP’. But looking through the postings of staff and students I'm beginning to think that the second statement (a blog is not PDP) is over-stating the case.

If PDP is seen as a natural reflective practice, just a new name for the considered 'learning from experience' thinking of all mature adults, (and should we even include the unconscious process by which everybody makes sense of their lives – whether reflected upon or not?), then many – even most – of the blog entries so far are examples of PDP in practice.

I'm thinking of back-tracking on my message to academics and others new to blogs and to PDP. The new message is:
'Students encouraged to keep a personal blog will usually grow towards a reflective style which is the necessary – if not sufficient – foundation for PDP'

Not quite so snappy – but more accurate – than 'A blog is not a PDP'


archaeology, wallpaper and DIY

Task to patch and decorate the back wall of my 1902 terraced cottage.
1. Start: digging through the 1" of multilayers of wallpaper and paint; through (among others) the dark floral papers, the 1950's mini-prints, the green paint, the brown and orange wallpaper, cream paint and 1980's laura ashley. Who were these people that put up this stuff? All, I guess, thrilled with their own efforts to transform what was there before.
2. Then – hitting the bedrock – the old (and crumbly) plaster underneath the century of decorative additions. Thinks – the last time a person saw this bit of wall was before the first world war – wonder who that was, what happened to him…..
3.Then – patch, repair, plaster, paste up textured paper to cover ‘imperfections’ – easy? Don’t ask! Sufficient to say that the venerable wall is now in the process of shedding the wall covering applied (with considerable unladylike language) on Saturday. It is beginning to balloon away from the wall, the edges curling back and the whole thing, frankly, a complete botch….
4. What would all those competent wallpaperers of years past think of the sad state of the wall they loved (or at least cared enough about to decorate)
Sorry guys! (guys, in this case, includes any non-blokes who may have had a hand in the evolution of this wall of 20th century taste…).
Back to the concept stage I think….

August 11, 2004

these I have taught

To mark 40 years of doing teaching of one sort or another – have been going though a little mental list of people who have been on the receiving end:

Secondary girls between aged 11 to 15: Biology and Drama,
Chinese boys, 14 to 19: English grammar;
Mixed Chinese secondary pupils, in classes of 50+: English including 'Pride and Prejudice' (I had the only copy…);
Adult learners of English for University of Hong Kong – evening classes;
Hong Kong Police officers for the Government Training Division: a crammer for English tests;
New arrivals from China (during Cultural Revolution): how to use a sewing machine;
Mixed class of Italian and Iranian pilots: English for special purposes;
Housewives in Witham: 'O' Level Sociology;
Mixed adults, Open University: Social Studies Foundation course;
Male inmates in Norfolk prisons: Sociology;
American airmen and women, for the University of Maryland in UK: Social Divisions and Sociology of Education;
Undergraduates at University of Essex, Gender and Employment;
European Social Funded projects: Assertiveness for women;
Community workers and employees of Employment Services: Adult Guidance skills:
UEA mixed undergraduates: work-based skills….

I'm exhausted just trying to remember all this stuff, but, luckily, I’m nearly up to the point where I came to Warwick and everything became much more sensible….......

It’s made me think though – has teaching actually been my career? Even though I never wanted to be a teacher, have never described myself as a teacher and have done many other kinds of work?


August 10, 2004

more about life and walking

I spent part of last weekend – Sunday in fact – walking in North Norfolk with a group of friends. This particular mini-trek included open fields, little roads, bits of woodland and finally, as a reward for keeping going though all of the above in 25Cdegrees, a long shoreline walk from Eccles Beach to Sea Palling. This bit of coast has few visitors and a dozen or so people dotted around is the nearest it ever gets to crowded.
For me – flopped down on the beach in the hazy sun, boots off, some breeze, warmish sea and cheery company, this the nearest I get to blissed out!

Oddly, none of us who were there would have dreamed of spending a Sunday like this when were younger. And most people who walk around the countryside are mature (middle-aged to be truthful).

Is low key walking – like unskilled-gardening – something we grow into? I'm not talking about competitive, committed and knowledgeable walkers/gardeners here (I guess they can start at any age) but those who drift into this mild engagement with the countryside and the little plots of land they have responsibility for.

I had planned to spend my mature years in dingy bars, dressed in black and accessorised with red wine and black cigarettes, being wise and (a difficult combination this) loveably eccentric. Instead I read the Millets catalogue and occasionally prod my patch of earth – perfectly content.
Young persons – take note and be very afraid!


August 05, 2004

more about staff walking group

Follow-up to evening walks… from Kay's stuff

Staff working group – details:

WEDNESDAY EVENINGS FORTNIGHTLY DURING THE SUMMER
DISTANCE c5 MILES, EASY PACE

Meet at 6pm on alternate Wednesday evenings at the big metal sculpture (called ‘let’s not be stupid’!) by car-park 4A, near the bus-stops between the Arts Centre and Gibbet Hill Road.
Car share available to the start point and back if required. Meet at the big sculpture at 6pm; park in carpark 4/4A for a quick departure –

18 August: Stoneleigh

1 Sept: Beausale

15 Sept: open to suggestions !

29 September: not yet decided – but will need to be shorter and closer to the university so we can get back before dark..

13 October: The Sculpture Trail & Social – one-hour walk then drinks in Arts Centre

For grown-ups – bring a drink; wear strong shoes or trainers and bring rainwear if the sky threatens. If the weather looks really bad, call or email to check whether the walk is still going ahead.
Please contact Kay or Jan to give us an indication of numbers and car share requirements, or just turn up –
Kay Sanderson: K.Sanderson@warwick.ac.uk ext: 73720
Jan Scrine: jan.scrine@warwick.ac.uk ext: 74115


evening walks…

You know how sometimes there is a perfect late-summer evening? Soft warm air, dark green trees and just a hint of pre-autumn mists as the sun goes down? Last night was one of those evenings and 15 of us (misc. Warwick staff) set off for a four and a half mile walk around Ashow. This is almost a perfect walk, including Ashow village (pretty but posh) the little footbridge over the Avon, water-meadows, paths through woods and so on. Walking with pleasant but undemanding company and back to the start by dusk.

I rarely set off for an evening walk nowadays, but this planned event has reminded me of why I liked it. So expect to see lone bag-lady look-alike roaming the Warwickshire countryside until the evenings close in again.

There are another two evening walks planned – ask me if you would like to know more.


August 03, 2004

how to spot PDP

Recap: PDP is a process, an activity undertaken by an individual for his/her own development.

Some PDP verbs: learning, thinking, planning, reflecting, recording. If you are doing all these things you are, almost certainly, engaged in PDP. Well done!


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