On Hegemony, theory, transdisciplinarity and creativity

#Becomingeducational W24 – after the dancing – a little bit of theory!!
Here’s a blogpost from Maha Bali a #rhizo14 classmate from Egypt. She is wrestling with the role of theory in shaping our thinking about teaching and learning… as are you!! Do read her blog and see how it helps your thinking!!

(Initial) Reflecting Allowed

This is going to be a heck of a messy meta-blogpost! it might only make sense to someone who knows me really closely, and maybe even not, but I need to blog to organize my own thoughts.

I have not blogged in what seems like ages (but is really only a few days) mostly because of other writing commitments. It seems funny to me, because I was originally worried my blogging would detract from my academic or semi-academic writing, but now I am actually a bit upset that my academic writing is taking me away from blogging! Go figure!

I am going to mention snippets of thoughts from different avenues and try to bring them all together somehow. Though they don’t need to come together, really, one’s life is multifaceted and we read and think about different things all the time. We just don’t usually write about them all in…

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Wanna do a cMOOC?

#becomingeducational – we thought you might be interested in this blog post from one who SINGS THE PRAISES OF #DS106 – and who has helped facilitate #rhizo14: the community is the curriculum. Have a read – have a think – post a Comment!


I participated on the P2PU course called ‘Rhizomatic Learning – the community is the curriculum’ (#Rhizo14)   on a previous post I talked about how it was an unplanned participation driven mainly by my own need to be a helper – I knew the organiser Dave Cormier from my DS106 connection and somehow I found out he wanted some help on Google Plus.  I volunteered and he accepted my offer.

I made a choice to only use the social media spaces I normally use for the course. I only engaged on Twitter and Google plus. I went to the course site only to get links for G+ and access link not to join the discussion. I do not have a Facebook account and did not participate there. I used Netvibes and created a dashboard just for the course, fed…

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W22 #becomingeducational: The Essay – Our Essay

This week by popular demand we explored issues with essay writing. As we have all already had the: The Essay – what, why, how session; we chose a different approach. The lecture opened up with a quick investigation into current essay writing strengths (people did not want to admit to any of these) and weaknesses. With the weaknesses people were concerned about structure (which is important – good structure can take your mark up by 10 points) – and about being too definite (assertive) rather than argumentative (we need to give evidence for the points that we want to make). The biggest question was: but where am I in my writing?!

This sense of the loss of self in academic writing is really familiar to the course tutors. For many students, starting a University course can feel like being told: Shut up – listen – read – parrot it back; we are not interested in what you think! This is why we talk about finding your VOICE in the academic arena.

Finding your voice can mean finding ways of saying what you think and believe in a way that is appropriate for the academic subject that you are studying – or – in other words – using the appropriate epistemological practices of your discipline. And this can feel very frustrating – even more so when you are a mature student bringing with you a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Academia should not be about losing or hiding YOU – but hopefully it is about utilising a space in which we can stretch, challenge and extend ourselves.  It should be a place that allows us to develop our voice – and to use it! So we need to learn how to use the codes and genres and forms of academia to say what we want to say. At the same time, we should be prepared to change and adapt what we already think and ‘know’ in the face of the new arguments and evidence that we encounter as we study. A good tip here is to find your authors.

Find the people out there who argue for the things that you believe in. These will be the people you refer to and quote as you construct your own arguments. Of course – you also need to find those other authors – the ones you disagree with – so that you can argue against them… But, start collecting your authors now – and keep a record of all your reading – so that you build upon your thinking year on year – rather than every module feeling like you are starting over.


Blogging to find your voice

One thing that we have done on Becoming is to ask you to write a weekly blogpost on your learning – and this can include the reading that you are doing. In the blog you can be yourself: there can be humour, outrage, indignation, uproar – and joy. You can play with ideas in a semi-public space. You know that you are in dialogue with your readers – and that you are telling them stuff – or persuading them about stuff… This allows you to be all of you as you learn – and from this holistic nearly-academic you, you can then select the elements that you use in your more formal writing. As Winnicott (1971) might say – your blog is the play space where you are fiercely alive and wholly you – coping with the implicit threat of transition – and making the learning your own.

Even if you have not blogged before – start an academic blog now – and use that space to record your thoughts about the learning you are doing – the reading – the ideas… Take ownership of them in your friendly space… Find your voice.

Our essay

‘To what extent has the module ‘Becoming an Educationalist’ prepared you for the reality of becoming an educationalist? Justify your answer with reference to at least three aspects of or activities on the course.’

We brainstormed the question in the lecture – breaking it into component parts that would need to be addressed in a final essay:

The module – Becoming an educationalist

An educationalist

? Education

Three aspects/activities:




The trick with assignment questions is not to think you know the answer – but to break the question down into yet more questions… So – for each of the above you might ask yourself:

What is this?

When did it happen (why then)?

Why is it important?

Where does it happen (why there)?

Who writes about it?

How does it work?

What if (it were different)?

So what?

What next?

Struggling to find answers for these questions helps us to process the course itself – and our learning. This makes even more of the learning conscious to ourselves. Once we have rough ideas drafted out – we struggle to write – to shape – to refine. This takes TIME!

Next steps

In class we played with learning styles to take our thinking forward – so we drew, we free wrote, we made collages to develop our ideas for the essay… (No one took the option of interviewing another member of the class – to utilise audio learning styles – but next time.)

A little bit of theory

And right at the end we threw our theorists who we might want to read to help us make a really good case. And just in case you forget – do not ignore the reading list:

Academic phrasebank: http://www.phrasebank.manchester.ac.uk/

Burns, T & Sinfield, S (2012) Essential study skills: the complete guide to success at university, London; Sage

Burns and Sinfield resources (also see the Journal articles that accompany each chapter) http://www.uk.sagepub.com/burnsandsinfield3e/study/default.htm

Buzan, B. & Buzan, T. (1995) The Mind Map Book BBC

Elbow P : FREEWRITING by Peter Elbow Center for Learning  – mgunby


FREEWRITING by Peter Elbow. The most effective way I know to improve your writing is to do freewriting exercises regularly. At least three times a week.

Jeffers, S. (1997) Feel the Fear and do it Anyway London; Century

Last Refuge Blogspot: http://lastrefugelmu.blogspot.co.uk/

London Met Study Hub www.londonmet.ac.uk/studyhub

McIntosh, P (2010) Action Research and Reflective Practice: Creative and visual methods to facilitate reflection and learning London; Routledge 

McIntosh, P Postgraduate nursing students – drawing-only reflective log: http://qmul.academia.edu/paulmcintosh/Papers/731108/Creativity_and_reflection_An_approach_to_reflexivity_in_practice

McNiff, J Action Research in Education website http://jeanmcniff.com/

Malone, G The Choir episodes


Robinson, K. (2006) Ken Robinson says ‘Schools kill creativity’ (speech) ONLINE: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html accessed 10.12.10 

Robinson, K. (2009) ‘Changing Education Paradigms’ (speech) ONLINE:

http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/ accessed 10.12.10

Schmidt, Laurel. Great Teachers Don’t Take No (or Yes) for an Answer: Teaching by Asking Instead of Telling in Classroom Confidential: The 12 Secrets of Great Teachers . Portsmouth: Heinemann, 2004. 

Shuh, John Hennigar. Teaching Yourself to Teach With Objects in The Educational Role of the Museum: Second Edition . New York: Routledge, 2001, pgs. 80-91. 

#FOLC W1: Facilitating on-line learning and communication

Hello to my new learning community, #FOLC. I am looking forward to working with you all – and learning new things to bring back to my own practice.


Okay – that’s not really my picture – but it represents how I am feeling right now – what a year!

Bit of history

Just recently I have taken quite a few MOOCs (massive open online course) to experience virtual learning from the student perspective – and I learned much to bring back to my F2F classrooms – including the need for every member of every class to help build a welcoming and supportive learning space for us all. We all need to be friendly, welcoming and helpful: make a Comment, ‘like’ a post, ‘Reply’ where possible. We are the course 😀

I am also taking #LiveArtHistory – a Coursera MOOC for artists, animators and gamers: https://class.coursera.org/livearthistory-001/wiki/overview . Last year, I took Penn State’s Introduction to Art (#artmooc: http://lastrefugelmu.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/artmooc-introduction-to-art-concepts.html) – and loved a course that had me making art – and thinking about building art practices into all my teaching and learning: to build confidence, to develop multi-modal forms of expression, to experience different ways of thinking and communicating. In this digital world, it has never been more important to bring real art practice into every day teaching – learning – and most importantly into assessment. I hope that I get to explore these ideas with you, my fellow #FOLCers.

For me – art is fundamental to learning – to expression – to being human, we are art. We are often taught at school that we cannot ‘do’ art – that we are not good enough – and this cuts us off from ourselves.  I re-discovered the place of art when I started doing a daily water colour to de-stress – a meditation to start each day. Soon my walls were covered with my misshapen pictures – and I discovered new joy and a new confidence. I try to build artwork into all my teaching – and helped put on a small conference to help others do this also: 


These are the pictures that Chris O’Reilly took of our artful day: https://plus.google.com/photos/111292261919257411213/albums/5974268028746180785 – and if you look at the very last couple – you can see that Raquel Duran, our Visual Scribe for the day, illustrated a bit of Tom Burns and my comment, ‘We’ve always been visual’ with an image of a cave painting.  

And that is art – the magical mystical boundary between us and what we see, hear, feel, believe, imagine, seek… and that hopefully is our teaching and learning also!


W20 & W21 #becomingeducational: the music of Get Ahead

W20 we flagged up the Get Ahead Conference and the Music Improvisation sessions coming up in W21. We stressed that attendance was essential – to support #becomingeducational students presenting at the Conference – and for everybody to experience these alternative teaching and learning events. We moved on to plan the last few weeks of the course – and gathered volunteers to run sessions… We have coming: Music workshop; Go-Karts sessions; Developing Emotional Literacies; Digital Artefact workshop; Labyrinth production; and workshops on the final assignments for the module. We are really looking forward to your sessions peeps!!!

W21: Sandra says farewell #rhizo14: the community is the curriculum – and thank you to the Get Ahead Team… Read on…



 #rhizo14 – De-schooling to Get Ahead

I have a couple THANKS to offer this week – one is to all those that have buoyed me up during #rhizo14 – and the other is to the student team who devised and delivered this year’s student-facing Get Ahead Conference. They are my answer to this week’s ‘what next’ question: we need a re-schooling rhizome and creative learning space!!

W8: Demobbing Soldiers (Mar 4-?)

Video introduction to week 8

“the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed [is] to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well.” Paulo Freire via Maha Bali

From Maha’s Blog Post – Liberating the Oppressors…

Question: “How can we take people who’ve spent their whole lives believing that [BLAH] is ‘learning’ and MAKE them … [plan towards their obsolescence] ? (Remix of Dave’s thoughts from week 2 and week 6.)

Demobbing soldier

Dave Cormier: Workers-Soldiers-Or-Nomads

W8 Challenge: Help us think more clearly (big challenge!). Do we demob soldiers? Do we de/re-school soldiers? Do we mob soldiers? Who needs soldiers? Who is we?

And Sandra says, Thank you to all of you whose blogs, poems, songs, voices and stories have made this such a special special rhizome. Many of you are in the auto-ethnography project – https://docs.google.com/document/d/1mSrZFBt1cYjDSAaFc6Et-BAZ95oEEBMi-AvAX8Fz8Qs/edit – and you are in my mind and in my heart. 

My small rhizome…

… and one possible answer to this week’s question: keep fighting for creative learning spaces for students. Our non-traditional students especially need physical real world and real time spaces to be with each other to feel their power – to gain their voice – to SING! And that is where our Get Ahead conference comes in.

Get Ahead

Get Ahead is our conference by students for students. Ostensibly an event that promotes study and employability success – it becomes a student generated space where students have permission to be with their University and each other: to experience university as a place of opportunity, energy and excitement.

We sponsor one annually – and each year we recruit a team of students to design the day – to get students to present – to drum up interest – to run the day itself. It is hard work for a small team whose other academic work goes on regardless and relentlessly – and who may also have paid employment and families to support.

So THANKS to the Get Ahead Team! They were fearless in their attempts to drum up interest in the Conference – talking their way into lectures – talking about Get Ahead and talking people into the Conference. It was a buzzy, exciting and engaging event – and they were amazing: http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/get_ahead_conf/

Where next – and how: Staff Buy-in to student as agent

For this student initiative to work, we need Lecturers to sign up to the Get Ahead idea and help to engage their students with the Conference.

One of the Education Studies tutors worked with a Team of Education Studies students – including a couple of our first year #becomingeducational students – to produce a session for other students. They chose ‘Networking’ and spread the rhizome! The Get Ahead Conference and that session were flagged up in Education Studies Team meetings – and those staff recommended the Conference as an Enhancement Week event. Our own ‘Becoming an Educationalist’  students had Get Ahead as their Enhancement Week activity – they knew about it – we made time for it – and they attended with a sense of excitement and expectation.

Initiating big ideas like ‘student as partner’, ‘student as producer’, ‘student as change agent’, ‘student as rhizome’… takes investment of mind, body and timetable. We think that it is worth this time and effort…

But how?

One thing this year’s Team suggested is that they build on what they have learned this year – and run next year’s Conference. They have also suggested that the Conference is ‘built up to’ from the very beginning of the year – this way staff can write it into module handbooks – and the students can run pre-conference events – with *staff* and students.

The pragmatics

We would love it if staff substituted engagement with the Conference for one small piece of course work; we can offer a menu of possible ‘buy-ins’: students from one Module could put on a poster exhibition – perhaps students from Work Placement can present about that – perhaps Computing students could run something ICT – Maths students could run a Quants session…  Events Management students might still run the Conference – and if so – Events Management staff would ensure that attending the conference was either a module requirement or an enhancement Week activity for *ALL* Events Management students…

We could go International?

As a second year literature student our Tom ran the first ever International Dario Fo Festival. This event was a mix of academic symposium and Theatrical workshop and performance. Alongside an International Fo Symposium, to which students were also invited, there were theatre workshops for students and people from the local community… And there were big theatrical performances as well – including Fo’s ‘The bosses funeral’ (!!).

This mix of the academic and the theatrical or the more fun elements seems a great model – we can help students do better with their studies and with their job applications – but we also provide opportunities for some of the cultural and play events that the University also offers.

De-schooling society

If students are to embrace different concepts of learning – and the what – where – why and how of it – staff have to buy in to that as well. Or… ‘that’s all folks!’

Last Word

The Music Improvisation session was wonderful – so how about an artefact as beautiful as this people! http://zeega.com/163227