Marica's meanderings

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The floodgates are open

I hate computers - well, at this moment I do! I have just spent the last hour writing and a few minutes ago I watched all my thoughts disappear in front of me. I sat here incredulously wondering what was happening. I had decided to write a blog entry before I did anything else today because lots of things are whirling around in my mind and I need to clear some space.

I got up from my computer. I went and had a shower. Here I am back again - a beggar for punishment. It won't be the same but I will try and capture the essence of my message.

It is annoying to think here I am back where I began a few hours ago, with a white screen in front of me and I am wondering why I am bothering. Is it enough that I have written my thoughts down once so I have done something with them? The answer is NO because I also wanted to share them. If I had written them down on paper I wouldn't be in the same situation - well, at least the content would be there!

I have been reading a lot about reflective practice and it has become very clear to me that reflecting on your own isn't enough. The power behind ascribing meaning to your experiences comes when you articulate those reflections to others and then hopefully get feedback which will help clarify your own thinking even further. Such metacognitive strategies are challenging but it is amazing the learning associated with this kind of reflection. When you dig deep interesting things surface.

My lesson from this morning's experience is to regularly save my writing as a draft if I want to ensure that I have something to publish later on. I think and research while I am writing so it is never a quick two minute job. Sometimes I think my mind is hyperlinked and at present my thoughts are jumping all over the place. As I have been writing up my research and thinking about how I learn I realise things aren't as methodical for me as I once imagined they were. I need to make connections, see the big picture and then hone in on the detail. It is a process which takes time, well, for me at least.

I had to smile when I read Trevor Romain's blog entry for 16 November:
Miss Muse, Miss Muse...where are you?

I only wish while I was looking for inspiration I could draw like Trevor. Isn't it interesting how we all look for inspiration in different places? I seem to find so many things come to me while I am having a shower. I have been trying to work out how I can capture these thoughts while I am still standing under the water because by the time I get to a pen and paper I have lost bits. My husband has suggested we buy a chinagraph pencil so I can write on the shower wall as these ideas come to me. I could then come back and write these down in a more traditional format. Even though it sounds like a bizarre idea it is a brilliant solution because I have tried taking in paper and a pencil before and believe me it doesn't work.

I remember the first time I heard of chinagraph pencils. These are pencils which you can write on any surface with and they are impervious to water. To erase the writing you simply wipe it with a dry cloth. I was taking a two day workshop for advanced assessors on designing and moderating assessments within the sports, fitness and recreation industry. I was particularly taken by the assessing skills of the white water rafting assessors who informed me they took notes as they were going down rapids and along rivers by having all the paperwork plastic film laminated and then writing their evidence using a chinagraph pencil. My husband is truly clever- if it works white water raft instructors I'm sure it will work for me in the shower!

The energy of flow can be very powerfulAs you can see the great news is I am writing. I know this isn't my research but I am writing that as well. The trickle down theory works and dramatic things have happened in the last 48 hours. The flood gates have well and truly opened. This rush is energising. I do find myself losing track of time and even though I am tired I keep going because there is something else I want write before I stop. I am behind on the deadlines I have set myself but I am not letting this affect me.

I look at this picture and it reminds me that there is always a balance to everything. Even though the floodgate is open there is the calm and peace behind the walls of the dam. There may be huge pressure as the water tries to squeeze through the allotted space but a huge amount of the water will not get through - not this time at least. Maybe this is what flow is really like. Are we ever in flow 100% of the time?

I believe we fight what is natural and we don't listen to our internal wisdom. Maybe having a "block", whatever kind of block it may be, is normal and an important part of creativity. It is our bodies, especially our minds, saying "Stop, I need time out". Do we listen? No, we struggle our way through it fighting and screaming the whole way like a toddler. That is unless you have reached a point in your life where you realise this is all part of the bigger picture, the natural flow. Why do we ignore these messages? I believe it is because of deadlines (both self imposed and those set by others), our expectations and those of others, our many life pressures and trying to be all things to all people, and most of all because we don't trust our own intuition. We don't listen to what we instinctively know is right for us.

I now know I needed this time. I feel the old drive and energy is coming back. Last night as I was working into the wee hours of the morning I suddenly stood up and started dancing to a song I had playing on the CD. I am more aware of what is going on around me. Even though the floodgates have opened there is this untapped resource waiting behind the walls of the gates that has yet to be energised or even in parts awoken. The trickle is always there waiting to become something more.

I have learnt a lot about myself and how I learn over these past months when the words just wouldn't come. I realise I need to think about things. Reflection is really important to me. I need to see the bigger picture so I can then see how everything fits together. I can then focus on the details which I love. The danger for me is spending too much time on the details and not being able to zoom back out. I need a button like we have on our digital camera to zoom in and out all the time. I need gentle reminders like a message to pop up now on my screen to say "Save this as a Draft" so you don't lose it again.

So why did I start writing this blog entry in the first place? I read an article that really excited me while I was searching for information on the EDUCAUSE website. The heading read MIT Researchers Unveil a $100 Laptop They Hope Will Benefit Children Worldwide.

Saying they hope to bring every child in the world a computer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers are set to unveil a laptop that will cost around $100, run on batteries that can be recharged by turning a crank, and connect to the Internet wirelessly by piggybacking on the connection of a nearby user.

The machine will make its debut today at the United Nations' World Summit on the Information Society, which is taking place this week in Tunis, Tunisia. Nicholas Negroponte, director of MIT's Media Lab, is expected to show off a working prototype during a speech at the summit.

MIT has helped set up a nonprofit organization, called One Laptop per Child, that is coordinating the development of the laptop and working with government leaders. The nonprofit group has received $1.5-million each from five companies -- Advanced Micro
Devices, BrightStar, Google, News Corporation, and Red Hat. Each company gave an additional $500,000 to the MIT Media Lab to support the laptop's development.

Though some might argue that poor children in developing nations have greater needs than shiny new computers, leaders of MIT's effort say that the educational benefits of Internet access far outstrip the project's cost. "There is no other way that has been suggested of giving people a radical change in their access to knowledge except through digital media," said Seymour A. Papert, a professor emeritus of learning research at MIT's Media Lab who is involved in the laptop project.

The $100 MIT laptopAccessing books has never been easier
Anders Nielsen wrote:

Have you ever wanted a laptop computer, but couldn’t/wouldn’t afford the price it costed? Then imagine how life is in Africa, Asia and other poor countries around the world, who can’t afford all the normal things we consider everyday-things - in that light, a laptop computer is not even considered.

For more pictures also look at this site news.com.

This is incredible. Imagine working on a project like this and thinking about the floodgates this might open for people who would never have imagined anything like it in their lives. The potential for learning opportunities in these developed countries becomes a completely different scenario. Following my experiences last year when I visited the Fiji Institute of Technology I gained a whole new appreciation for the realities of distance learning in the Pacific, education within a developing country, and what it is like to only have passion and no resources to make things happen. I wanted to stay there and work. This is not to be at this time but I am not discounting anything for the future.

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