years months on the road living, loving, laughing with friends old and new, I scored My Great Job as the Manager of the Learning Center at Oakton Community College (OCC).
I captured the intensity of my first week in a new place, with a new job, and a new way of life via a series of Audioboos (listen to all four if you are so inclined). The final one, “Failed Dog Rescue and Other Last Words,” recorded on Friday, February 22nd, pretty much sums up my week.
“COME HERE RIGHT NOW!”
“I’ve found my home in highered and that’s a pretty great feeling.”
Fast forward three months.
This week marks my three month anniversary and the end of my PROBATIONARY PERIOD at Oakton Community College.
Duun Daah Duuh.
Little did they know…
Tomorrow, May 17th, also marks my three month anniversary in the Chicagoland area.
I arrived by train from Philadelphia on a beautiful winter morning. Since then, my Chicagoland FEB 2013 adventures have focused on finding locales (easily accessible by walking or public transportation) that I might frequent to tend to my basic needs, enjoy life as I live it and in the style to which I’m accustom, meet a few new friends, and maybe even make a home.
Journal entry, 5.1.13, 1:42am: There are moments when I see flecks before my eyes and feel a pain in my chest and I worry I’ve not written all I have to say; that’s it not even begun.
Vagueness about home reigns. Listening to The Proclaimers and wondering if Morphine pressed any vinyl. Desiring my own nest. Push and pull. No discomfort leads to stasis. Most important is human connection then place. The favorable niche is favorable to humans first. The points on my map, in all the places, are humans–my touch points. They are my family. My Home.
Keep it Real
When this piece was published three years ago, I had temporarily left the real world of College Student Affairs to pursue the real world of PhD studies. At present, I am in the real world of searching for a full-time management position at a college or university. I long to get back to work–to once again dedicate myself in active service of human flourishing–in the real world.
Garcia, GNA. (2010). Teaching and learning in the real world, trespassers welcome. Campus Activities Programming, 43(1), 46-48.
Campus Activities Programming is the monthly publication of the National Association for Campus Activities.
[Note: I apologize for the terrible kerning within this PDF. The system @timmmmyboy excavated the article from was an early e-magazine. At least it's liberated, albeit gunky.]
Canada has been very good to me.
Well, my friends here have been good to me.
I arrived at Giulia’s place in Welland, Ontario on July 29th. Since then I accompanied her to the Ontario e-learning summer institute at University of Ontario Institute for Technology, attended Uplug’d12, did an ole granny tour of Niagra on The Lake, met some great local people, and harrased the local t(w)een and her friend, and the local dog, Stella. I spent hours squatting on the porch alone, with Giulia, with Brendan, with the neighbors, and with the INTERNET FAMOUS and locally (universally) loved, @cogdog. I also took an awesome day trip to Toronto with The Dog.
Holy moly, we’ve had some good times. [Don't even get me started about the time I spent at Casa Bava with @jimgroom and his family, with @MsArocho and her nuggets, with my DC sisters, and my oldest, surliest friend Vincent aka @OHappy (right). What a great three months!]
Lots of great conversations, good food, wine, women, song, and such around the kitchen table.
I’ve also spent time searching for a new job, working on Chapter 4 of my dissertation, and dorking around online and off e.g., doing some art and cooking. Last week, I began participating in Bryan Jackson‘s Philosophy 12 class from afore mentioned kitchen table at Forsythe Manor via DS106Radio. I posted my rumminations on this blog.
How cool is ALL that?
Pretty cool. Actually, it’s more than cool.
Since being on the road this time, and more so since arriving here, I came to solidly know something I’ve always known:
Home is where my friends reside.
Home is not where my heart is or on some range roaming around with random buffalo. It’s not a place to quest for, nor to plant my roots. Home is anywhere. It’s everywhere.
Henry David Thoreau, in his piece “Walking” (1862), republished in The Atlantic, provided me some philosophical insight on the matter, and is worth quoting at length. He wrote:
I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks—who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la SainteTerre,” to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes aSainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.
“… without a home [land], in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere” (emphasis added).
I told you all that to tell you this.
I’m leaving this home in Canadalandia in search of the next place to call home.
The Gypsy Rogue Scholar Motors West Tour
Tuesday, September 26th, I depart Welland, Ontario. I will find friends, comrades, and lovers along the way–and I will find home. I will most certainly miss the comfort and kinship 0f this home that these friends have provided me, but the fear of missing what I had will never stops me from imaging what may come next. Freya Stark, a brave, lady explorer and author of “The Passionate Nomad”, once wrote:
Most people, after accomplishing something, use it over and over again like a gramophone record till it cracks, forgetting that the past is just the stuff with which to make more future.
Fare ye well Canadalandia, I’m off to make more future.
p.s. If for so some strange reason you are at all interested in my life, as I live it openly and online, you can track my progress via
Tumblr: Notes to Self
Otherwise, see you on the other side of the other side (or at OpenEd12 in Vancouver, Canada). Yes, I’m returning to Canada. Why? Because Canada loves Mexicans. Que Viva!
9.18.12 (Kitchen of Forsythe Manor, Welland, Ontario, Canada)
I listened yesterday to what I hope will be the first of a semester’s worth of teaching and learning I can share with Bryan and his students via their open online high school philosophy course. My participation yesterday, summarized by the tweets I tweeted (below in reverse chronological order).
Last night I rumminated a bit on how Bryan’s philosophy of teaching*, as evidenced in this instance by his openness, is unique and how other educators contend they are doing the same, but are not.
Teaching and learning in the open is hugely different from performing teaching and learning online. Performance is staged, often scripted and acted out in a sanctioned (closely bounded) space. Teachers and learners are expected to be ready to perform. They behave. They play their respective roles and wait for the reviews–maybe even a curtain call.
Teaching and learning in the open is wild. Anything can happen and hopefully it does (i.e., having one’s belief that Santa exists dashed to bits by a group of grade 12s, whatever). I once heard Nel Noddings, an American philosopher and theorist in the field of education, give a talk during which she said something like the best teachers prepare thorough lessons and hope they do not have to use them.
Today I listened and participated via Twitter.
I was particularly interested when Liam St. Louis (whose voice I recognize from his excellent commentary “On Education“) started talking about what I heard as Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development in response to the discussion about discomfort and learning.
[Image from Kristy's Universe blog.]
While the discussion moved in various directions I created my own image of what the ZPD might look like.
You will note that my image has three (could be 1,243) CYCLONES OF LEARNING intersecting. Why? Because learning, development, and growth in general across all species always happens within a context, or ecology.
Q: How does context (ecological, sociocultural, historical, etc.) impact your present understanding of Plato’s Cave?
Several of the students mentioned “starting with your senses” when attempting to discern whether we were all living in “The Matrix” or as unpaid extras in “The Truman Show.” Trusting one’s senses demands a dependency on our own rational intuition.
Immanuel Kant said:
All human knowledge thus begins with intuitions, proceeds thence to concepts, and ends with ideas.
Slavoj Žižek said:
I secretly think reality exists so we can speculate about it.
Beginning with what I know through my personal experience grounds me as I move into unknown philosophical territories. If I continue on wondering, I also continue wandering. I imagine the only place neverending wondering and wandering would lead me is to an epistemic crisis, and quite possibly madness. Not cool. I prefer to pick a spot and stay for a bit to contemplate the ideas. My habit is to let ideas lie and come back to them. I circle around, reframe, consider their context, history, and possible futures. Mr. Jackson seems to agree with me (at least in this instance) as he directed his students:
Let’s pause a moment to let those thoughts land.
Q: What habit(s) of mind to you have that assist you to thoroughly interrogate new philosphical ideas?
A couple of additional resources I thought of while listening today and constructing this post:
- Art Costa’s “Habits of Mind”
- Cognitive biases, check out “Top 10 common biases of human belief” or the wikipedia site which lists about 109 different ones, YOWZAH!
- An excellent documentary about Slavoj Žižek, a brilliant and trippy Slovenian philospher. You can find it free and online in it’s entirety on the Open Culture website.
Around minute-30 of “Žižek!” the philospher remarks [WARNING: He's doing a half-naked bed-in during this scene. No idea why, but if you watch the whole film, it makes sense.]:
How does a philosopher approach the problem of Freedom? By asking, “What does it mean to be free?” Philosophy asks when we use certain notions, when we do certain acts, what is the implicit horizon of understanding? What do you mean when you say, “This is true?”
Bryan called this question today as well at the end of class when he challenged the students to begin thinking about why they are using certain terms and words in their written reflections. This reminded me of the work of James Paul Gee, a educational theorist who focuses a lot of his work on Critical Discourse Analysis. However, when I was identifying a solid reference for this work, I found another piece of greater interest. This one is for Mr. Jackson, who’s pedagogy includes many of the positive attributes Gee describes in his post, “Beyond Mindless Progressivism.”
According to Gee (2011), one of the “key features of a well-designed learning environment” is:
All learners are well mentored by “teachers” and peers at various levels, as well as by the presence of smart tools and well-designed problem solving environments (both real and virtual). All learners must learn to mentor.
I’d say we’re doing just that in Philosophy 12 and that makes me happy–John Cleese on The Muppet Show happy.
While it took me the entire day to construct this post, Mr. Jackson pulled everything together on the course blog, taught a bunch of stuff, ate lunch, learned new things, and probably even played the guitar. Basically he wins the day.
*My attention to Bryan’s teaching dates awhile back to when I was teaching preservice teachers at the University of Connecticut. He has always stood out to me as somone who consistently does his work with an open heart and mind for the good of his practice and his students’ learning. See my Storify “practicing theory and theorizing practice” for a good example.