DAY 1 Monday March 27
It's day 1 of our new conversation aimed at exploring the idea of personal pedagogy - the particular ways and means by which we, as individuals, encourage and enable other people to learn, develop, create and achieve. Our aim is to encourage lots of people to share their perspectives so that we might gain new insights and develop new meanings for this idea.
As in previous explorations I am using the affordance in this experience to think about my own practice - more particularly how my own pedagogical thinking and practice has evolved. How and why did I come to know, believe and value the things I value in learning and education? and how do these things affect the way I try to encourage and enable others to learn? These are some of the key questions that underlie our inquiry.
The idea of personal pedagogy has emerged through our project on Creative Pedagogies for Creative Learning Ecologies. A creative pedagogy implies that we personalise the abstract idea of pedagogy in our uniquely creative way in order to create opportunities for learners to use their creativity. Therefore studying this process of personalising pedagogy seemed worthwhile. I immediately looked for opportunities (affordances) in my life and three different opportunities were available to me in March. I incorporated these into my learning ecology and these are shown in the diagram. In fact, one of the key influences on my thinking, beliefs and values about the way people learn in order to achieve something difficult and challenging is my own attempt to understand and explicate the idea of a learning ecology.
I have been developing this idea over the last few years so I have thought about it deeply and written about it. If an idea about learning is worth having it has to be applied to our own experiences so I try to be conscious of my conceptual model of a learning ecology whenever I design a process to enable other people to learn and also try to evaluate my experience using this model as a reference in an attempt to improve the model. So this messy picture documents my activities during March 2017 to develop the idea through a process of social interaction and learning involving 1) #LTHEchat 2) TLC seminar 3) face to face seminar & workshop at Dublin Institute of Technology and 4) #creativeHE conversation.
I am the architect of this #creativeHE conversation so to answer my own question how did I arrive at this particular pedagogical practice... It's a long story but one element of it is the 'see one, do one, teach one' mentality that my wife, who is a GP is fond of telling me is how she learnt when training to be a medic. First I observed a #creativeHE course led by CN without joining in. The next time it ran in I joined in as a facilitator and learnt what it meant to facilitate, then I offered to facilitate a conversation which I did. So that is an important part of my pedagogical narrative with Chrissi Nerantzi the key person WHO afforded the opportunity and then introduced me to the tools and the process showing me how it worked through her own example.
But it was in the 'doing one' that the real insights came. The insights you need to attract people who are willing to contribute so that you achieve a critical mass of engagement and to create the sort of assets that will stimulate thinking and engagement. This is the fourth time I have led a conversation so I now have experiences to draw from and build upon. In this one I have included an online questionnaire as part of the knowledge building process which is a something I often use when I present at an institutional teaching and learning conference. Another element I have added to the basic #creativeHE process
is to facilitate curation of the assets developed through the social learning process through Creative Academic Magazine. I can trace both of these add on's to a deeply held beliefs that: 1) make me turn events into longer processes and 2) try to derive the maximum benefit in terms of knowledge development from any situation. These beliefs and practices I think can be traced back to my work as a sort of knowledge broker working for several different HE organisations (HEQC, QAA, LTSN & HEA).
But to answer the question of who were the big influences, who shaped me in a fundamental way, I think it's, my mother and father who instilled in me my work ethic, a grammar school teacher 'Mr Miller' who taught me the value of believing in a student and who introduced me to geology, which became my passion. Some teachers do more than teach a subject they inspire you and shape the course of your life. It was my good fortune to have this teacher spot something in me and give me a second chance and then enthuse me with a new subject called geology. He helped me get a place a university and then the rest was down to me but he was the one who influenced the direction of a significant chunk of my life.
It was also my good fortune to find myself, thanks to a chance conversation with a lecturer at Imperial College (another important influence of the direction of my life) at a postgraduate teaching and research institute in Saudi Arabia working with two colleagues, Colin Ramsay and John Roobol, who taught me the meaning of collaboration. They had a serious influence on my professionalism as a teacher and they were the biggest influence on my early formation as a geology teacher and academic scholar.
Since then I have been subject to many influences and I guess we are the accumulation of many small influences. I am fortunate to have met and worked with many good teachers including, Professor John Cowan, who although I did not see him teach, his thinking, wisdom and mentoring have influenced me greatly. I also pay tribute to Fred Buining who introduced me to a number of facilitation techniques that expanded my pedagogical repertoire, and Chrissi Nerantzi who introduced me to the world of social learning through social media who has been a significant influence on my thinking and practice in recent years - including my practice in facilitating this #creativeHE conversation.
And I should not forget my own children who have taught me many things but above all shown me the value of a lifewide perspective on learning and achievement.