The workshop involved inviting participants to think of a learning project they had been involved in and to try in about fifteen minutes to record the key elements of their learning process. Each then told their story of learning and as a group we tried to think about the ecological aspects of the story. The process was quite revealing and on the train journey home (in true ecological spirit) I decided to email the people who had participated to invite them to continue working on the ideas that had emerged and to write them up as a co-authored paper to illustrate how such a workshop methodology can work in revealing the ecological process involved in lifewide learning. So far only two people have responded so I'm uncertain as to what will emerge from the process. But I feel sure that something useful will come from it.
On Thursday I was thinking ahead to the next issue of Lifewide Magazine and thinking of potential contributors when I googled Jay Lemke - who has written extensively on ecosocial theory and who I had really enjoyed reading. I came across a beautifully written and inspiring chapter he wrote in 2002.. on becoming a village.. I cite a passage below to illustrate..
An old saying has it that it takes a village to raise a child. As children, we know how much we need to learn about everything and everyone in our communities to live there successfully. As we learn, we gradually become our villages: we internalize the diversity of viewpoints that collectively make sense of all that goes on in the community. At the same time, we develop values and identities: in small tasks and large projects, we discover the ways we like to work, the people we want to be, the accomplishments that make us proud. In all these activities we constantly need to make sense of the ideas and values of others, to integrate differing viewpoints and desires, different ways of talking and doing. As we participate in community life, we inevitably become in part the people that others need us to be, and many of us also find at least some of our efforts unsupported or even strenuously opposed by others... The challenges of living in a village define fundamental issues for both education and development.1
His website had a contact email address and in the spirit of nothing ventured nothing gained I decided to invite him to write a feature article for the next issue of the Magazine.. Within a few hours I had a very encouraging response which indicated that although in the midst of travelling from Europe to San Diego he had taken the trouble to follow the link I had given him to my website and had made a relational connection.. What a wonderful illustration of our ecologies in action.
Fortified by insights gained at the CRA workshop, the other important decision I made this week was to reframe the conference we are planning for next year to focus attention on the way that universities are supporting lifewidelearning ie I turned it from a criticism of inaction to the opportunity to celebrate achievement and progress. In spite of uncertainties I went ahead and booked the venue thus committing Lifewide Education to the conference in March next year. Making these decisions brought a sense of relief, as so often decision making does, and I was much happier at the end of the week than I had been at the start.
1 Lemke J L (2002) Becoming the Village: Education across lives, in G. Wells and G. Claxton (eds) Learning for Life in the 21st Century: Sociocultural Perspectives on the Future of Education Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford, UK available on-line at http://www.jaylemke.com/storage/becoming-the-village.pdf