Everyday we live out our lives in many different spaces and places, thanks to the society we live in, most of us have the freedom to choose which spaces we want to occupy and how we want to occupy them. In these spaces we make decisions about what to be involved in, we meet and interact with different people, have different sorts of relationships, adopt different roles and identities, and think, behave and communicate in different ways. In these different spaces we encounter different sorts of challenges and problems, seize, create or miss opportunities, and aspire to live and achieve our ambitions. It is in these spaces that we create the meaning that is our life. I know I am very fortunate in the spaces and places I have to be myself and become the person I want to become. My scraps of life blog details some of the ways I am learning and developing through my daily experiences.
Family & Home I am fortunate indeed to have a large family. Three older children from my first marriage, who are now established in their own lives and three children from my second marriage two of whom are still at home and one at university. Sadly my first wife Jill died of breast cancer in 1999 and my second wife Taraneh's first husband also died of a heart attack in 1999 so we share our loss.
The only good thing that can be said about our shared loss is that our family now extends in many directions.
On my wife's side to her family in Iran and other parts of the world, and to her first husband's family in Norfolk. On my first wife's side to Manchester and on my side to Manchester, Australia and other parts of the world like Dubai. My mum and dad sit on a vast population of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and
it's nice to see that our children see the benefits of this large extended family.
Families are one of our most important spaces for learning and development, they are places where a lot of intimate and complex relationships are acted out. As parents we try to control behaviour, or influence thinking in more subtle ways. We pass on our traditions, values and beliefs and our perspectives on culture. Our children express their own views and influence us in their own ways. They develop and express their identity in a secure, tolerant and considerate environment.
Families are also great places where the older members pass on their biographies and life stories and personal knowledge
that has been gained the hard way, and younger people pass on their knowledge and understandings of the world so that the generations can be connected and personal wisdom can be shared. Although the boundaries of coolness, prejudice and lack of real understanding of context, can sometimes get in the way.
There are few things more satisfying to a parent than when your children have their own children and they want you to be part of their lives. I'm now blessed with three grandchildren Max (5) - who thanks to David Attenborough wants to be a zoologist and twins Alfie and Archie - who have yet to decide who they want to be.
And our most recent member - Sam who isn't even aware of himself yet.
Families also provide support when difficult challenges or setbacks are encountered, important decisions have to be made and members have to make big changes in their life. Over the past year we have helped one daughter make decisions about university, another decisions about changing school. I have taught one grandson to swim and I am now providing practical child care one day a week for one of my daughters.
As a family we also had to deal with our sons illness in June/July which was a serious challenge to all of us.
In return I have been helped enormously by my family as I have made the transition from fultime employment to something else.. they tell me.....
I have come to see this as a wonderful opportunity to be more useful to my family.
Chalk Mountain is the name of my business. Its also the name I have given to the hill behind my house which holds two abandoned chalk quarries that sit near the top of the hill and can be seen for miles.
I often take my grandson Max for a walk up chalk mountain and these were always full of chatting about giants and other mystery's that little boys like to talk about in order to comprehend the world.
When I came to think of a name for my new company I decided that Chalk Mountain would capture what I felt about it. Learning to create a business has been one of my main challenges in the last 12 months and I have learnt much through the process. I have one employee who I work closely with, and a number of associate animators, illustrators, graphic facilitators, film makers and web designers. All are very talented and creative and they are all great to work with and keep me alive.
Our purpose is to help people and organisations participate in the world or rich-visual media by helping them visualise & share their knowledge. We do this by:
The reality has been that during this year I have put more time and effort into my family and Lifewide Education.
Lifewide Education Making the transition to 'retirement' is no easy matter. You work your socks off trying to create something which you believe in and then suddenly... its thanks and goodbye. This happened to me at the end of the SCEPTrE project I led for five years at the University of Surrey and tipped me into something I was not at all prepared for.
Well, we create the meaning of our lives through what we choose to do and how we do it and work is an important part of what we do. I have always carried ideas and beliefs from one job to another and this transition is no different. I have no intention of giving up on the ideas and practices we developed in SCEPTrE: ideas and practices that seem to me to be fundamental to living and learning in the complex, turbulent and disruptive world we live in.
So I decided to try to take the legacy of educational ideas and practices that was SCEPTrE's gift and create an enterprise to try to help others make use of them. This was how the Lifewide Education Community Interest Company came into being. It's a not for profit social enterprise working for and with the communities of practitioners who care about the development of people in a holistic, whole of life sense.
The organisation was registered in August 2011, it was launched publicly in November 2011 and our campaign to raise awareness began in January 2012 with the launch of our community website.
I have a great team of volunteers who also believe in and practice these ideas and lots of connections with good people inside and outside education that will help us make a difference.
Day to day my work at the moment is concerned with generating ideas, planning, raising awareness, negotiating and persuading others to join us.
Freeworld Like many 15/16 year olds in the 60's I wanted to be in a rock band so. My dad bought me an electric guitar for my 15th birthday and a kind friend taught me a few chords. Then a few of us got together to form a 'group'. We were not very good at all but being in a band gave us street cred. More importantly I had felt what it was like to create 'music' with other people.
In 2000, a year after my wife died, I bought myself a drum kit and taught myself to play listening to bands and trying things out. My teenage children were very tolerant.
I started playing with Graham the same year and we have played together off and on ever since. We formed our first band called 'Tangle' and did a few gigs. We stayed together until 2004 when I got married again. In fact, the band played at our wedding reception - much to the annoyance of my new wife who had no-one to dance with!
Then in 2006 two guys from our local village knocked on the door and asked me if I wanted to form a band. I said yes and got in touch with Graham and we formed a band called 'Freeworld'. We have had several line ups over the years but musically we have our best one now.
RSA Fellowship - I have always admired the work of the Royal Society of Arts and I have known people who have been Fellows. Their commitment to helping people develop has also been an important part of my life as a teacher and educational developer. I applied successfully for Fellowship in late 2011 and I am now finding out what it means.
My garden & other stuff. My 'garden' is a big feature of my life. I feel I am the custodian to a wonderful landscape that includes lawns, a lake, woodland and a meadow. Its hard work sometimes but everyday I look out of the window I think how lucky I am and when I'm out toiling I just think this is doing me a lot of good.
I have created another set of landscapes that are virtual. In these I work, learn, socialise, network, play and involvement in them is one of my main areas for day to day experience and personal development. I often spend six hours or more a day searching and communicating on-line. These spaces include - email, personal website/ blog, professional networking sites like Linked-in and Academia.edu. Facebook and maintaining the Lifewide Education suite of websites and my wikis.
Holidays & Travel
We try and have a family holiday every year and its an important way in which we are all able to expose ourselves to the way other people live. Last year we had a great holiday in Spain the Costa Tropical.
In 2013 our holiday was in Italy where my daughter is getting married. My blog describes the event.
In October I am attending a conference on creativity in Macao. China and visiting my family in Australia.